I Like D&D Now?

When the first series of Stranger Things came out back in 2016, I had no idea what Dungeons & Dragons was. Now I run a D&D group with my friends. How did I get here, you ask? What do I like about it so much that I wanted to right a post on it? Well, I am here to answer!

Like, I think, many other people, I was drawn into D&D by listening to other people play. There are a whole host of podcasts/series based in D&D and other tabletop games, but The Adventure Zone was really what got me hooked. Although it does not follow the rules very strictly, before listening I really had no idea about these types of games, so for introducing me to that (as well as general entertainment) I am very thankful.

Previously, my very hazy image of D&D was as an intimidating, very rules-heavy game that was primarily the stuff of nerd-bros. But recently it feels like it’s had a bit of a revival; somehow a lot of people I follow on social media have now started playing! It’s really nice to discover that yes, there are rules — but you can pick which ones you enforce. You can make it your own.

At the moment, I’m fairly new to running the game — I mean, we started this group over a year ago but we meet pretty infrequently so it still feels now to me — and what I really love about it is getting to spend time being creative with my friends. I don’t want to be one of those preachy-screenager people but I do sometimes feel that when we hang out it can be based around sharing funny things on our phones, just checking social media and stuff. (Not all social media is bad! I just find moderation and variety is better for me.) It provides a really nice structured place to just enjoy the activity. As my school workload has increased and I spend more time out of school doing academic stuff, D&D is something I can work on that’s purely for fun. It’s purposeful fun, I suppose…?

It makes me organise meeting up with my friends and not just hanging around in my house and not talking to people — although there’s nothing wrong with that, of course, my brain needs to interact with other humans to feel good but is not as efficient as actually organising that interaction.

I am probably not the best person to DM (basically to be the person who runs it all) but at the time we started the group none of my friends knew how to play so I somehow had the most experience, lol. I mean, I’m sure some people will criticise the way we apply rules and I’m still improving at improvisation, describing stuff, roleplaying NPCs and all that. But like…it’s nice to accept that doesn’t really matter. I’m not going to be given a mark on it. This is a JOYFUL and EXCITING thing.

It isn’t the most easy game to pick up. Even when I try to read through the rulebook I feel kind of overwhelmed. The most useful thing has been listening to snippets of other RPG podcasts to get an idea. Even this blog post is probably going to be a little confusing to read if you have no idea what I’m talking about, for which I apologise. But it is 6pm and I’m tired, sorry.

Anyway, I like D&D now! I think it’s neat and I am excited to play it later this week with my friends! That’s all for today. 🙂

P.S. This post is somewhat haphazard but I am embracing this new blogging style. I forgot how nice it is to have a place to just express myself, you know? (I know that social media does this but I have way too many bad habits associated with it, so.)

Birthdays, Sixth Form, etc.

Hi! It is half term currently and I am so glad that I’m on holiday because this first half term has been a LONG 7 weeks. I almost don’t know where to start.

Let me begin with my birthday – I turned 18 last month! I’m officially an adult now! It’s super weird! I mean, I can legally buy alcohol now so, there you are. I was quite ill over my birthday but I still enjoyed it a lot thankfully.

I also got a notification last week telling me that it was my 6th anniversary on WordPress. That means I’ve been blogging for a third of my life which is…A Thing. It is weird for me to think that this blog has been a document of all that time – in fact, it’s an online record of my whole time at secondary school. I’ve changed a lot over the course of that time, and there are definitely posts that I’m embarrassed about now. I like that I wrote them, though.

Obviously, my relationship to my blog has changed. I no longer post as much, and I would say that it is no longer one of the primary sources of communication that I have. But I like the little space that I’ve made for myself here. In a way, it’s like a 21st century version of a diary.

So yeah – Year 13. The final year of school. I can’t lie, it hasn’t been the easiest first half of term. I enjoy all of my subjects very much but the workload has stepped up. On top of that I have university application which has been taking up a LOT of time and mental energy.

It feels weird to talk about university stuff on here, just because I haven’t shared what I’ve been doing that much so it’s a bit of a departure from any content that I regularly posted. I don’t know, maybe you’re all a bit surprised that I’m applying for Classics since I haven’t talked about it that much? (I am a bit too. Life works in weird ways. I might be doing something different if we didn’t have to pick just one subject for university, but there it is.) I’m nervous, but I’m also excited, and I genuinely believe that I will really enjoy studying this subject at university. The university system has many flaws but I am just VERY hyped to learn stuff!! Now I just have to, like, actually get in somewhere and get the grades… A problem for future me.

What else have I been up to? I’ve also been doing some climate activism — I went on the world climate strike in September which was good. I’m still stressed about climate change and I am trying my best to strike a balance between doing what I can to help and not being so anxious about it that I am unable to function in my daily life. If anyone has tips, please let me know.

Getting older is weird. I’m not going to pretend that I know the answer to everything now, but I do feel like my future is starting to become more concrete. I am much better at knowing my limits and knowing when I feel bad, even if I don’t always take the right steps to make it better. I know the things that I find fun and that I want to do in the future. I am realising that if I want to do something, I need to make time for it or else it doesn’t happen — and that’s okay. It’s okay to change what I’m doing.

I dunno. I’m sure this will all change in the future. I’ve got some big things coming up. I’m worried about university and A-Levels and politics and about 1382 other things. I am very much muddling through this all. It’s going to be alright, I hope. (Isn’t that what we all hope?)

Bye for now and see you soon. 🙂

 

Monthly Mixtape #15: Flight

A cassette tape with the words 'monthly mixtape' in a brush script above and below.

Hello again, and welcome back to Monthly Mixtape after a little break. (Because life happens and, you know, it’s fun to keep you all on your toes.) Monthly Mixtape is a music feature created by me, Eve @ Twist in the Taile, and Evi @ Adventuring Through Pages. Here’s how it works: each month, we give you a one-word prompt, and you make a playlist. We welcome you to interpret the prompt however you want and with whatever music you’re into.

Please link back to the original Monthly Mixtape prompt whenever you make a playlist. You are welcome to use the title image for your blog post if you wish. You can create a playlist in response to any of the previous prompts as well if you like. The next Monthly Mixtape will most likely be up in the first week of September! (AAH, Year 13 *screams*) And this month’s prompt is…

#14: flight

Add or view playlist links HERE

Now for my own playlist! I did not make a pretty cover because my computer is being dodgy at the moment, but there we are. And yes, that is a Eurovision song, and also yes, it’s very good. There’s an interesting collection of genres here, haha, but that’s just me I guess. Some of them are songs that just make me feel weightless listening to them, some of them have that flying vibe, and some of them are actually slightly flight-related. (The Wind Rises makes me think about flight because of the movie, so.) I do hope you enjoy. 🙂

listen on spotify

cut to the feeling – carly rae jepsen
sucker punch – sigrid
zero gravity – kate miller-heidke
it’s okay to cry – SOPHIE
clarence difference – baths
main theme (from “the wind rises”)
hummingbird – the both

How is your August going? Are you on holiday or back to school? Have you been listening to any good music lately? I would love to hear! 🙂

Mid-Year Freak Out Book Tag

The text 'mid-year freak out book tag' over a pastel green background with various squiggles and scribbles.

I’m glad I managed to publish this before the end of July so that I can at least PRETEND that I did it close to the middle of the year — but all of summer is basically the middle of the year anyway, right? AND I’ve even managed to get out two posts in one week, so I’m doing very well here.

Anyway. It’s absolutely wild to me that we’re more than halfway through 2019. We are almost a fifth of the way through this century! And 2020 is a really cool year because it has two 20s next to each other which makes me very happy! It feels like a while since I did a bookish post, even though I did do some mini reviews not long ago, so I thought it’d be fun to catch up on what I’ve been reading so far with the Mid-Year Freak Out Book Tag. I wasn’t tagged for it (as far as I know), I just felt like doing it haha 🙂

Cover of The Poppy War. Watercolour illustration of a person holding up a bow and arrow. The title text is turning into smoke. The subtitle reads: 'They trained her for a war. She intends to end it.'

Best Book You’ve Read So Far in 2019

The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang. I couldn’t put it down and it was so incredibly written. It does deal with some dark topics and I think it was even more impressive that I was further captivated with the book as it developed. The best SFF I’ve read in a long time!

Cover of Muse of Nightmares. A white bird flies across a purple starry sky.

Best Sequel You’ve Read So Far in 2019

Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor. I haven’t actually read many sequels this year, but I’m not just picking this because it’s there — it was an awesome read! Taylor’s writing style beautiful and I loved the characterisation.

Cover of Crossfire. A blac figure with short hair and a white figure with long hair stand back to back. Their shirts are made up of the title letters in red.

New Release You Haven’t Read But Want To

Crossfire by Malorie Blackman. It’s the fifth book in her Noughts & Crosses series which I love, and it came out earlier this month! I need to read it ASAP.

Cover of Full Disclosure. The back of a black girl wearing a vest on a blue background. Her hands hold the opposite arm. The title is in a scribbled font.

Most Anticipated Release for the Second Half of 2019

I confess I’m not really keeping on top of releases, but I’m excited for Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett. The cover is absolutely beautiful too.

Cover of Catullus' bedpsread. A Roman mosaic depicting a naked woman walking away from a goose, with the subtitle 'the life of Rome's most erotic poet'.

Biggest Disappointment

Probably Catullus’ Bedspread by Daisy Dunn. I was really excited when I saw this in the library, but it was quite frustrating because it just sort of used Catullus’ poetry to try and piece together a biography and I was like…OK but can we really infer something from this poem and present it as a fact? Some parts were interesting, but yeah.

Cover of The Hazel Wood. The title is covered over by silvery-blue leaves. The text reads 'Stay away from... the Hazel Wood.'

Biggest Surprise

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert. This book had been sitting on my shelves for several months and I was rather reluctant to read it for some reason. However, when I started it I realised how much I enjoyed it!

Cover of Fire From Heaven by Mary Renault. Gold and black geometric patterns with illustrations of men on horses at the side.

Favourite New Author

Mary Renault. I’m midway through the final book in her trilogy about Alexander the Great which is absolutely fascinating. She has really made me inspired to discover more about Ancient Greece for which I am very grateful!

Cover of Blanca & Roja. Abstract illustration of a swan turning into petals and the title in fairy-tale font.

Newest Favourite Character

Oh this is so hard! I’ve talked about this book so much, because it’s incredible, but like ALLL of the characters from Blanca & Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore.

Cover of I Wish You All the Best. A person with medium brown hair leans their head on the back of a person with dark skin in a yellow t shirt.

Book that Made You Cry

I Wish You All the Best by Mason Deaver. I cried because of the sad bits and also because of how hard I related to the MC Ben.

Cover of Red, White & Royal Blue. The words of the title are in their respective covers. Two figures lean on the bottom word. One wears a suit and blue trousers and the other is in a red military jacket. The subtitle reads 'true love isn't always diplomatic'.

Book that Made You Happy

I picked up Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston during my revision for mock exams and I am so glad I did. This is not by any means a completely fluffy book, but it’s a satisfying end and it gave me a lot of feelings.

Favourite Book to Film Adaptation

I mean…I’m not even sure that I’ve watched any book to film adaptations apart from To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before? But it was absolutely EXCELLENT so I would choose it anyway. I can’t believe that released this year, to be honest.

Favourite Post This Year

I mean, I haven’t posted that much this year, but I’m proud that I wrote my post I Am Worried About the Future. I put a lot of myself and my worries into that. It was both scary and cathartic to write.

Cover of the Silence of the Girls. Four women are depicted running, with storm clouds, plants an abstract waves surrounding the outside of the cover. An Ancient Greek hero on a plinth stands out in the background.

Most Beautiful Book You’ve Bought This Year

Maybe The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker? I was actually given this one, but the cover design is just so beautiful, and the texture of the cover is lovely. It’s such a nice book to handle physically.

Cover of Kick the Moon. A blue tinted-face looks out from the graffiti-d shape of a fist. The title is in a graffiti-esque font.

Book that You Need to Read Before the End of the Year

Kick the Moon by Muhammah Khan. I can’t believe I haven’t read it already since I enjoyed the author’s previous book and the premise for this one is awesome.

Thanks for reading! I would love to hear if you have any thoughts about the books I’ve mentioned, or if you’ve been reading any other good books so far this year.

Year 12: an honest review

Hello again! As the academic year draws to a close, I’d like to do a bit of a recap/review of how this year has gone. Because friends, it has been a WILD ride. I genuinely feel like this academic year I have experienced some of the most dramatic changes of my life — not just at school but also personally, although today I’m going to focus on the school aspects.

Overall, I enjoyed Year 12. It was a pleasant feeling following Year 11 and GCSEs, which really took it out of me and kind of made me hate the subjects I was studying. Although I’ve always been kind of a nerd and liked school, this year has really allowed me to pursue my own academic interests. I’ve felt so excited and privileged to be able to learn things! I’m so glad that I get to do this! I’ve sort of decided on university and I’m hyped to learn even more! There’s certainly been some ups and downs but in general it’s been a good one.

sixth form life

Okay, I’ll start with sixth form life. I continued at the same school, so it’s still a school environment rather than college — I have to be there every day for lessons. However, I still had more independence. I was able to wear my own clothing, which although it does pose its own problems, has made me feel a lot more comfortable in my own body and gender expression. Free periods were the most new thing coming into Year 12 and I’ll be honest, they’re not that exciting. I have fewer than most people since I have an extra Spanish lesson, and generally I just do my homework since I prefer to do it at school than at home.

Probably the nicest thing has been the change in attitude of the teachers. I now have smaller classes and it’s a slightly less school-y environment, if that makes sense? My lessons are generally more based around discussion, and like if you forget your pencil case one time it’s your own problem, you’re not going to get a detention for it or whatever anymore.

This year we also had several people join school in sixth form which was nice. I still don’t know everyone in my year, especially if they’re not in any of my classes, but I’ve made some new friends across new and existing students.

subjects

This year I was taking Spanish, History, Maths, and Latin. I’ve ha a bit of an…Experience, shall we say, with my subjects this year. I started off thinking that Spanish and History would be my favourites, and that I’d drop Latin at the end of this year. However, I have struggled a lot more with those first two and now I think I might be applying for Classics so, oops?

Don’t get me wrong, I love Spanish as a language and I definitely want to continue learning it. I’ve also found the study of a film fascinating. At the start of the year it felt like the biggest step up from GCSE but I think I’ve made it. BUT. I’m a bit scared to say this in case, like, someone finds this and uses it against me (I don’t know how lol) but I really don’t like one of my teachers. They can’t speak Spanish very well, I don’t think they’re a good teacher, and I just don’t really get on well with their teaching methods or classes. I was intending to drop it next year but then I did really well in the mock exam so…yeah, I don’t know. My issue is that Spanish is a far less stressful subject for me than History, but if I continue I’ll hate half the lessons.

ANYWAY. Let’s discuss History. History A-Level is DIFFICULT, y’all. I spend the most time and effort doing History. This year was a bit of a shock because I’m used to doing well in the subject, and then I got a couple of bad marks for essays which really made me doubt myself. However, I managed to pick myself back up and improve to get a predicted grade I’m happy with, so. I do think History is in many ways my most useful and intellectually stimulating subject — I’ve learnt some VERY useful essay-writing and analysis skills. I just find revision and writing essays in the exam incredibly stressful, unfortunately. At the moment, I feel like I’ll continue with History over Spanish, but I’ve still got a bit of time to decide. (I got the same predicted grade for both so it’s more about workload and how I’ll find the lessons for each subject.)

Maths has been really fun! Like any other subject, it’s challenging at times but I enjoy it as a break from my other essay-based subjects; I find it very satisfying. I don’t have that much to say about it except that I’ve liked the first year and I’m really proud of my mock result. I was a little concerned before the exam because practice papers had been very mixed, but thankfully my revision paid off which was lovely. I just hope that Year 13 Maths isn’t super difficult and makes me regret taking it *sweats*

Finally, I’ve also very much enjoyed Latin. I’m extremely grateful that I am able to study this since it’s not offered at many schools. It was a bit of a rogue choice coming into Year 12 (I almost took Chemistry and I’m pretty glad I didn’t) but I’ve found myself looking forward to all of the lessons, including the literature which I was a bit unsure on previously.

I’ve gotten quite into the ancient world in general so I’m thinking I’ll apply for Classics at uni now? I mean, it’s kind of terrifying because whilst I’ve always been into languages and books, it’s only a subject I’ve come to really love this year. But, you know, if I’m not going to study the thing that I’m super enthusiastic about, I don’t know what else I’d do that would be equally useful? *sighs* Life decisions are so difficult.

learning outside lessons

One of the major changes to my education has been an increase in independent learning. Here I’m referring not as much to completing homework independently (though there has been more of that) but the extra work that I choose to do for my lessons. Basically, I’ve been consuming a lot more non-fiction books and podcasts — and I’ve been loving them! It’s so fun when I go to the library and I get super excited by the history section. There are also a lot of great podcasts and lectures out there which I hadn’t much listened to previously, although unfortunately not all of them provide transcripts. It’s just EXCITING to be able to LEARN NEW THINGS! And now I know more about how to find them! If society is going to be destroyed by climate change I want to learn as much as possible, you know?

To conclude: I feel that Year 12 has been in general positive academically. It’s definitely been a step up that has come with many challenges, but I’ve made it through and I’ve learnt a lot from the experience. I can’t believe that next year will be my final year of school! It’s so weird! In many ways, I don’t feel at all ready, but in others I do feel like life is moving appropriately onward with me as I mature. One year left, everyone!

Monthly Mixtape #14: Ocean

Hi again, and welcome to Monthly Mixtape, a music feature created by me, Eve @ Twist in the Taile, and Evi @ Adventuring Through Pages. Here’s how it works: each month, we give you a one-word prompt, and you make a playlist. We welcome you to interpret the prompt however you want and with whatever music you’re into.

Please link back to the original Monthly Mixtape prompt whenever you make a playlist. We welcome you to use the title image for your blog post if you wish. You can create a playlist in response to any of the previous prompts as well if you like. The next Monthly Mixtape will hopefully be up in the first week of June! And this month’s prompt is…

#14: ocean

Add or view playlist links HERE

I did not get around to making this playlists before my exam season started, despite my best efforts, so it’s up to you all this time. I may well make one as the month goes on. However, at the moment I am mainly just studying and watching TV with my cats… I definitely need to make a playlist with the new Carly Rae Jepsen album though, oh my goodness. (At the moment my faves are Too Much, No Drug Like Me and Want You in My Room, fyi.)

I hope you’re all doing well! 🙂 I’m sending joy and good vibes your way.

I Am Worried About the Future

I just got a very sudden urge to write a blog post, so HERE I AM.

I’m just going to jump right in and say — if I’m honest, this blog has not been the place where I truly write about all my feelings for some time.

I always feel like there’s a strange tension (for me at least) between trying to put your blog out there as a ~brand~ and between using it as a diary to discuss your innermost feelings. As my blog expanded and I’ve shown it to be more people, it has become less of a diary. I think part of this is down to me; I’m not very good at discussing my feelings with people in real life, and when I write them down I feel worried about what people I know IRL who could read this blog might think of them. (I’m kind of doing it now.) I’m not sure why that scares me so much, but there it is.

I think it’s also due to fear that whatever I publish on the internet is permanent, in some way. I shy away from posting precise details about my life because a) I don’t want people to be able to find me and b) it just freaks me out that this might all be…there for people to find. I want to keep something for myself.

Anyway. I’ve recently got a couple of things on my mind, and I wanted to talk about them a little bit (mainly to get them off my chest because, lol, this blog barely gets traffic anymore). Mainly, I am worried about the future: specifically, about climate change and university/post-school plans. It feels trivial to worry about university in comparison to climate change, which is obviously a WAY bigger issue, but I guess uni is something that I have more control over, so there we are. I can’t change my brain.

If you’ve been reading the UK news lately, you might be familiar with the Extinction Rebellion and Youth Strike for Climate Change protests, both of which call on the government for far quicker action. I’ve always cared about the environment, but the recent protests (partly inspired by Greta Thunberg) has really brought it more to my daily agenda of thoughts. I’m so stressed, folks! The IPCC report says we have to achieve net zero emissions by 2050! We’re already seeing the devastating impact of climate change across the world, particularly where people are already the most vulnerable. If we don’t take direct action to keep global warming below 1 degrees Celsius then this will only worsen, as will the loss of biodiversity — I mean, if we reach a warming of 2 degrees then 99% of coral is going to die out. NINETY NINE PERCENT.

It makes me so worried for the future. It feels hard to have hope and enjoy my life when I know that everything I do is damaging the planet, and that before I’m 50 years old the world and society could be irreparably damaged. This is only added to by the absolutely inconceivable lack of political will to DO ANYTHING. I know some politicians are trying to be good but honestly can some people just stop trying to further their own ambition and actually do something good for the country and the world! The point of being a politician shouldn’t be the power itself! (Basically, the Tory leadership contest is absolutely dismal. And I continue to be frustrated that Labour still think they will win an election by not really changing any of their policies. Argh.)

We have declared a climate emergency, but if concrete policy that strengthens and increases current measures aren’t carried out, then what’s the point? We’re not just going to get to zero emissions by recycling now and then. And we need to do BIG things that limit companies rather than just pointlessly targeting vulnerable individuals (like with the plastic straws).

I feel very hopeless around the whole thing. I’ve written to my MP and downloaded the search engine Ecosia which uses the revenue from its advertising to plant trees (which can absorb carbon dioxide), as well as trying to be more active about recycling and plastic use, but it doesn’t feel like enough. Several of my friends have gone on the Youth Strike for Climate Change which I really admire. I wish I could do that, but every time it comes around I feel so worried because I know I’m missing work that will be in our exam.

Which brings me onto my next topic…this might be a bit of a strange transition, because it’s going from a huge issue that affects all of us and needs global action to an extremely personal one. And I do feel bad worrying about university when it’s not actually important in the grand scheme of things. But as I said, it is something I have more control over and, you know, if society is going to disintegrate then I want to make the most of the time that I have.

Before I started Year 12 I thought that I’d want to study something like Spanish, History, or Politics after leaving school. (I take Spanish, History, Maths and Latin.) However, as the year has progressed I’ve realised that a) one of my Spanish teachers is really not great and b) whilst History is extremely interesting and useful, it requires so much work and it’s not the work that I really look forward to. It feels like it takes so much time  from my other subjects. I’m just sort of…meh. I don’t know. And whilst I still care about politics in general, I’m just not really finding myself motivated to do extra work around it? Especially in comparison to other things I’ve been drawn into like ancient history.

Yeah. So, now I have ended up trying to decide which of these  two subjects — that I was most enthusiastic about at the start of the year — to drop, which is strange. I’ve got mock exams next week so I’m going to see how I do in those… I’ll be honest, they’re quite stressful because they’re giving me my predicted grades, but at least I don’t have to go through the whole shebang of public exams.

The idea of leaving school is stressful. I have decided that I want to go to uni but obviously I don’t know where or studying exactly what yet. My life has changed quite a bit in the last year and I feel like it’s only going to change so much more after sixth form ends. I’ll have to make new friends! I’ll probably have to discover a new place to live! I’ll have to learn about organising my own time! I really hope that I’ll be able to come out and get people to use the right pronouns for me but I know that there’ll probably be a lot of explaining to do. But it’s a nice thought.

It’s all just exciting but also terrifying. At the same time, I feel bad for getting excited because the world is also collapsing around me and I KNOW that I can’t function on worry all the time but my brain still does that I guess. I’m not exactly sure how to move forwards. At least writing this post helped; I’ve actually written a lot here, which is kind of wow. If any of you are going through or have gone through similar things — let’s share our thoughts?

Reading Recap: Blanca & Roja, The Wicked King, Mary Renault

The words 'reading recap' in a white brush script over a blue patterned background, with the words 'at twist in the taile' and an illustration of an open book below.

Hi everyone! I haven’t written a books-related post in like…A Good Time. (By which I mean a very long time.) Perhaps because recently I have read more non-fiction books for school which don’t lend themselves as well to blogging. However, I’ve been on a very  good streak for books in the last month, so I wanted to share a few mini-reviews and a small TBR with you!

Cover of Blanca & Roja. Abstract illustration of a swan turning into petals and the title in fairy-tale font.

Blanca & Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore

This book has affirmed yet again that McLemore writes some of the most breathtaking YA fiction I have read in recent years. I can’t believe I didn’t read this sooner. The writing is so poetic and beautiful, and I fell in love with all four of the characters — the book features two Latinx sisters Blanca and Roja, who fear the family curse that one of each sister will be turned into a swan, and two other characters from the town, Yearling and Page. (I don’t want to reveal too much! ‘Tis so hard!) Personally, it was just so incredibly wonderful for me to read a story with a trans character who uses both he/him and she/her pronouns. Basically, I adored the cast, the relationships, the writing — it was just THAT GOOD.

Cover of The Wicked King. A side view of a crown splashing down and sinking into the water. The title is half-submerged in water.

The Wicked King by Holly Black

I’m not going to lie, I had a pretty limited memory of what happened in the previous book when I picked this up. But it was all good! Although I very much enjoy all the political intrigue, I’m more than happy to let it just pull me along without trying to figure out what’s going on, who’s behind this particular event. I also give it to Holly Black: she is very good at writing this hate/love relationship dynamic. I don’t want to spoil too much (again) but, like, I NEED the next book.

Cover of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. A person wearing red lipstick, red nailpolish and a green shirt with a low neckline poses. Her eyes and the rest of her face cannot be seen.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I am SO glad I finally got to read this book! It came on sale on the UK Kindle store so i was finally able to get hold of it. And like…WOW. I loved the form of it — how it used present day narration from a journalist, Monique, looking to interview the famous movie star Evelyn Hugo, as well as Evelyn’s own words to Monique and newspaper headlines from the events Evelyn was describing. I was drawn in so completely to Evelyn’s story. I really needed this book at a time when I needed an escape from everything in my life. . I’m definitely interested in Jenkin Reid’s new book, Daisy Jones and the Six, which sounds like it further develops the form used in Evelyn Hugo. Also, just to say, it was way better than The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle.

Cover of Fire From Heaven by Mary Renault. Gold and black geometric patterns with illustrations of men on horses at the side.

Fire From Heaven & The Persian Boy by Mary Renault

These are the first two books in Renault’s series about the life of Alexander the Great, covering up to his death at the end of The Persian Boy. I’m talking about them together because they are technically part of the same series, but in truth they felt more like standalone novels that just happen to follow on chronologically. The first book is written in a 3rd person narrative that switches from person to person — sometimes a little jarringly during a passage, though that could be my eBook format — whereas the 2nd is in the 1st person, exclusively from the point of view of Bagoas.

But, anyway, even if they are somewhat fictionalised, I found them both to be a very interesting and immersive introduction to Alexander the Great (and this period of Ancient History in general because I didn’t know much about Ancient Greece or Persia!). Also, I think Renault gives a good take on Alexander’s potential romantic relationships that isn’t just ‘these 2 bros are VERY close friends’ whilst also not transposing modern ideas of sexuality too much? (I mean, it’s hard for me to say. But I’ve read some books with extremely bad takes, so, it wasn’t that.)

on my tbr

There are several books that I’m looking forward to reading at the moment: Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan, which I FINALLY managed to buy as an eBook, I Wish You All the Best by Mason Deaver (non-binary main character!!! by a non-binary author!!), and Baker Thief by Claudie Arseneault which I picked up from the Gay’s the Word bookshop in London. Also so many more books! But these are the fiction ones that I’m planning to pick up in the very near future.

have you read any of these? do you have any recs for me? i’d love to hear!

Monthly Mixtape #13: Ethereal

A cassette tape with the words 'monthly mixtape' in a brush script above and below.

Hi again, and welcome to Monthly Mixtape, a music feature created by me, Eve @ Twist in the Taile, and Evi @ Adventuring Through Pages. Here’s how it works: each month, we give you a one-word prompt, and you make a playlist. We welcome you to interpret the prompt however you want and with whatever music you’re into.

Please link back to the original Monthly Mixtape prompt whenever you make a playlist. We welcome you to use the title image for your blog post if you wish. You can create a playlist in response to any of the previous prompts as well if you like. The next Monthly Mixtape will hopefully be up in the first week of June! And this month’s prompt is…

#13: ethereal

Add or view playlist links HERE

*whispers* I would love to see some more playlists from other people! I don’t think we got any last time so it would be really nice to see some this month.

A foggy view of rolling hills which blend into the background. The text 'ethereal' in white in the centre.

listen on spotify

geyser – mitski
handmade heaven – marina
born to die – lana del rey
saint claude – christine and the queens
pendulum – fka twigs
extrasolar – baths
i saw you in a dream – the japanese house
k&f thema – apparat

I’m really feeling this month’s playlist! It includes some artists I haven’t listened to in a while. In a previous draft I also included some very good clarinet music but it wasn’t fitting, so HOPEFULLY in the future. Are there any music releases you’re enjoying/looking forward to at the moment? I’ve been listening to Lizzo’s new album Cuz I Love You and I’m also pretty darn hyped for new Carly Rae Jepsen music this month. It’s all go here.

 

GCSE Spanish and Modern Language Revision Guide

The text '#evestudies modern languages gcse revision tips' over a photo of a notebook strewn with coloured pens.

¡Hola! Bonjour! As GCSE season approaches, I’d like to share another revision tips post. I am, in fact, currently revising Spanish so this is very relevant to my daily life.

I know many people take modern foreign languages for GCSE, whether that be Spanish, French, German, Mandarin, or anything else. Revising for languages can seem intimidating, and so I’m here to provide you with some starting points. I also want to reassure that you do not have to be completely fluent to achieve the grades you want at GCSE, or to communicate with people from another country. It’s all a matter of taking small steps to get there, wherever ‘there’ might be for you.

So, for some context I took Spanish GCSE and am now taking it at A-Level. Although this will be based on my experience revising for Spanish, I also believe that many of the strategies can be applied to other modern languages too. These are the strategies that work best for me, but as always keep in mind that all our brains work differently so if a certain method doesn’t work for you then it’s not a problem! You can try another!

The GCSE exam is split into four parts, so it makes sense to split your practice into four broad categories: reading, writing, listening, and oral. 

However, before it comes to practising these skills, it’s important to revise the foundations of the language — grammar, vocab, and subject content. I prioritise basic grammar (such as being able to use verbs in different tenses) and vocabulary over everything. Both of these central pillars are important in EVERY aspect of the exam.

But how exactly can you revise these elements of the language? My favourite resource for studying up on grammar is languagesonline.org.uk. (They also have French, German and Italian) Before doing anything else I like to go through the most important tenses to refresh my memory. If you struggle with figuring out how to form a tense I would definitely recommend spending some time looking at the present, preterite and future. You can do a few exercises each day and then come back to them later. With languages, I find that spreading out your practice often helps it stick in your memory more than trying to cram everything in during one concentrated session. I also used the Viva Edexcel grammar and translation workbook for Spanish which is excellent.

There’s just too much vocab to learn — how can you make a meaningful start on it?  Of course, learning vocab throughout your course will prove very useful. But it’s OK, there’s still time! Instead of attempting to work from the whole 1,500 word vocab list for the entire GCSE (or whatever it is), I went through the textbook and created a Quizlet set for all the words that I didn’t know and thought were the most important. This left me with three sets of 100-200 words which grouped the modules together. I love Quizlet because whenever I’m on the train, waiting in the lunch queue etc I can revise a little bit of vocab and get just that little bit further.

I know that many people (myself included) find language orals very nerve-wracking. The degree to which you prepare your oral answers is up to you — in the new exam board we did, they penalised us for sounding too prepared which I absolutely understand. However, if you’re not confident I’d advise doing at least a little practise of some questions, especially for the roleplay, even if that’s practising improvisation. (Which in the end is better for learning to speak the language!)

I did prepare some answers, but tried to focus on learning content I might have to bring up, like where I did my work experience, rather than on the language. I do think it’s a decision you have to make based on your experiences and fluency in the language though.

I would absolutely recommend trying to listen to some non-exam-based Spanish because I found that it really helped not only my listening but my speaking. By forcing me to ‘think’ more in Spanish rather than constantly translating and thus not speaking so well. In particular, I like the Notes in Spanish podcast and News in Slow Spanish. This could also include TV shows or Youtube videos — hopefully there’s something you’ll find interesting.

Finally, speaking in the language with your friends is a fun way to not only be building up your language skills but also having fun! Even if it’s not the most beautiful complex language, I find that talking to my friends is a very relaxed atmosphere where I can build up my confidence.

So, to recap some concrete strategies you might use whilst revising, you could be:

  • Going through the textbook, noting down important content and unknown words
  • Going through grammar on languages online or in a grammar workbook
  • Revising vocab on Quizlet
  • Doing a mock oral card, recording yourself and listening back
  • Going through the oral answers and speaking them to yourself or someone else
  • Doing practise listening/reading exercises from the textbook
  • Building up listening skills by watching TV, listening to podcasts etc.

I hope you find this post useful, and good luck with both your exams and language learning. 🙂 You can also check out my other revision tips posts for GCSE Music and GCSE Science.

are there any languages you’d like to learn? I have SO MANY! do you have any tips for revision for language gcses, or learning languages in general?