Monday, 17 July 2017

13 Little Blue Envelopes [Book Review & Giveaway!]

Hello there!

Title: 13 Little Blue Envelopes
Author: Maureen Johnson
Publisher: HarperTeen
Published Date: 23rd August 2005
Rating: 3 Stars


Synopsis: Inside little blue envelope 1 are $1,000 and instructions to buy a plane ticket.

In envelope 2 are directions to a specific London flat.

The note in envelope 3 tells Ginny: Find a starving artist.

Because of envelope 4, Ginny and a playwright/thief/ bloke–about–town called Keith go to Scotland together, with somewhat disastrous–though utterly romantic–results. But will she ever see him again?

Everything about Ginny will change this summer, and it's all because of the 13 little blue envelopes.


Review: 13 Little Blue Envelopes was a book which had been in my TBR pile for quite some time. I was glad to finally be able to read it after I discovered Anissa @ TheBookworm Central wanted to reread it. We read it together and it was so nice to discuss this read with someone!

What I loved the most about the story would have to be the traveling side of things. Ginny’s trip takes her all across Europe to places like London, Denmark, Amsterdam and so many more places. As she is an American, she really gets culture shock and the author highlights elements of the cultures that I didn’t know, or hadn’t realised were so unique. As I am from Europe, I’d been to quite a few of these places, or lived in them, so it was nice to see them represented realistically and so beautifully depicted. It’s almost like an international road trip – who can’t appreciate that?

I liked reading these envelopes for ourselves, and discovering a little bit more about her Aunt in each one. It’s important to remember that everything happening is part of Ginny’s grieving process as well. I’m not sure whether I like her aunt or not still – she was wonderfully wacky, but scared to really be herself and settle down. And she hurt people because of that. But you have to admire her really independent and artistic nature at the same time.

I also liked Ginny’s character. She was extremely quiet and shy – even more so than me. I can be pretty shy sometimes but Ginny took it to a new level. I liked her weirdness and quirkiness. Although sometimes, I have to admit that I found that Ginny was the kind of person who let things happen to her, rather than took advantage of them herself. She was kind of innocent and oblivious to some things around her which bothered me at times. But not too much.

I think this novel showed the benefits and the cons to traveling solo as well. But then again, she didn’t have much guidance throughout the whole thing.

What I didn’t like about the novel had to be the ending. I was really getting invested, when all of a sudden the ending came. It did close some ends, but then it didn’t close some either. I didn’t agree with the choice that Ginny made in the end. It’s a personal thing, but I was also pretty disappointed.

You’re probably thinking it’s the only negative thing I mentioned in the review, so why does it only get three stars? Because although I did enjoy the novel, it wasn’t mind-blowingly amazing. The pace was slow and steady the whole way through, and it didn’t have enough suspense or build up for me to be fully immersed in the novel.


Gif Summary:


Links: Goodreads and Amazon!

Giveaway! Enter to win a signed copy of Article Three and some swag! Open internationally :)

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Olivia’s Question: If you could write a letter that one deceased person would receive, who would you send it to?

Olivia-Savannah x

Sunday, 9 July 2017

June Wrap Up & Giveaway!

Hello everyone!

Before I get right into the wrap up, I wanted to start with the main point. You may be wondering where my posts have gone, or why I will not be active for a little while into the future. The truth of the matter is: Olivia's Catastrophe is going to be changing. The design will change, the layout and niches shall change a bit, and the biggest news of all - we're going to be moving to Wordpress!

I hope you'll bear with me through all the changes. And I shall definitely have the occasional post going live, so don't worry, I won't be gone completely! I also fully intend to shower you with giveaways in my absence to make up for it. Don't worry ;)

First of all, I posted an epic guest post with Rogue Cart about the top 10 books you HAVE to read in summer! If you're looking for more books, you should head over there. 

I had a very nice start to the summer. I went out to lunch with my Mum a couple of times, and my best friend had her 19th birthday party which was a nice celebration. We had a family over to dinner at our house and we made a Jamaican themed meal for them. I went out shopping quite a bit.

I also had my last day working at the nursery. It was so hard to say goodbye to all the lovely kids, and the brilliant teachers I had been working with. I was only there for a short period of time, but I really appreciated my stay. 

I went to see Wonder Woman with my little sister and another good friend, and it was FANTASTIC! I absolutely loved it, and that's coming from someone who hasn't been enjoying superhero movies lately. I also finally watched White Chicks like I had been meaning to for ages. It was hilarious :D

BUT NOW FOR THE MOST EXCITING NEWS. I am currently in Spain, where I am working as an Au Pair until August. I'm staying with a lovely family. The are a foster family, and have three kids. One of them is a premature newborn, and the other has Alcohol Syndrome, which means I had a lot to learn. But we are falling into a routine, and they are lovely. Although the family does eat sugar-free and are vegetarian, so I feel like I am still adapting to that. 

We've also been doing some touristy stuff. We go to the beach at least once a week, if not more, because the kids love it. I love it too, so that makes me happy. Every Tuesday we go hiking. I went hiking in my converse the first time, and it was incredibly steep. Since then I have bought proper hiking boots, and we climb every Tuesday. The peaks are at about 1,100 - 1,300 metres high. I'm also scared of heights. I'm so afraid of them that I feel like I have conquered the world once I reach the peak.

We celebrated the night of San Juan on the beach, making wishes, burning them in the fire and then humping over them. The next day we went into the city to watch the monuments burning. It was a beautiful experience. I've been to meet many families. One family made me paella because I had to try the Spanish dish, and I've been out partying with a bunch of university students I meant. In Spain, the party goes on till 7-8 am. I would've been completely okay if I hadn't had to go meet the host family's extended family at 10am the next day. Two hours sleep is NOT enough. :P

I'd never walked walked through a vineyard before, so that was nice. And we've been cycling around. Basically, very active. I'm loving it and I will let you know about more of my adventures around Alicante next month. I'm filming a lot and hopefully will be able to make a series of vlogs about the trip. But make sure to follow my snapchat if you want to keep up to date with all the cool things happening. 

Eight books. But I am counting that as a jolly good number because one of them was 913 pages long, and the other was 1015 pages. 

I have reviews posted of Internet Famous by Danika Stone and The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue already, so head over there for my thoughts on those!

I also read Insight and Oversight by Santino Hassell. I was so excited to get into this series because it's a spin off on the family mentioned in one of my favourite novels of his - Stygian. The new adult aspect is good, but the plot is mind blowing. Which is why I love the paranormal storyline. Although I liked Oversight less than Insight due to there being a new main character introduced who was a bit too stoic for me, I still really loved both books.


The Agency series by Santino Hassell and Ais is an unpublished series which you can get in ebook form, but not in physical. It's because it started as an online series and they didn't want to publish an unedited work, but haven't had the time to do so yet. However, there are edited versions of the first two books, Evenfall Part One and Evenfall Part Two availible. I read those and FELL IN LOVE with Boyd and especially Hsin Liu Vega, an assassin with a serious hatred of other people. Then there is also the mission plot line, their whole crazy new adult love story, and the writing is unbelievably good.

I was doubtful at first, but after finishing the first books I had to read the unedited versions of Afterimage and The Interludes too. The story gets all the more complex and intense and I was fangirling until the early hours of the morning. I flew through the 913 and 1015 pages. And I'm already reading the finale.

Nope. No TBR this month. I've been so busy here in Spain that I haven't been reading much. I'm just gonna read what I feel like reading, whenever I feel like it.

Giveaway! Enter to win a $25 Amazon Giftcard!

Video version of the wrap up, for those who find it easier to watch than read!

Olivia's Question: What did you get up to in the month of June? What was your favourite read?

Olivia-Savannah x

Thursday, 29 June 2017

The Black Unicorn [Poetry Collection Review]

Hello there!

Title: The Black Unicorn
Author: Audre Lorde
Publisher: Norton & Company LLC
Published Date: 17th August 1995
Rating: 5 stars


Synopsis: Rich continues: "Refusing to be circumscribed by any simple identity, Audre Lorde writes as a Black woman, a mother, a daughter, a Lesbian, a feminist, a visionary; poems of elemental wildness and healing, nightmare and lucidity. Her rhythms and accents have the timelessness of a poetry which extends beyond white Western politics, beyond the anger and wisdom of Black America, beyond the North American earth, to Abomey and the Dahomeyan Amazons. These are poems nourished in an oral tradition, which also blaze and pulse on the page, beneath the reader's eye."


Review: It’s always hard to review a collection of poems, but this is something I want to do for the words of Lorde because it was an absolutely amazing read. In only two days I had raced through the collection – which says something because you can’t speed read through poetry. When you read a poem, after each and every one you need a moment of pause, of reflection and a gaining of understanding. The fact that this collection only took two days means I wanted to do nothing but immerse myself further in the words Lorde wrote.

I originally read this as a recommendation from my sister. A little bit about Lorde: I have learned that she was a black African-American who was born in New York but traveled around the world in her lifetime. She had sisters, was lesbian, a civil rights activist and also a feminist. Knowing how to be all those things in her time could not have been easy, and you can only come to imagine what level of strength this woman might have.

Her poetry was beautifully written because she uses various techniques that make the words what they are. I loved her use of repetition, especially in poems such as Sahara and Hanging Fire. She expertly uses the technique in the latter poem to build the eerie suspense and leaves an open end to the poem that has the reader hooked.

Alongside her clever use of metaphors, the imagery never becomes too vivid that it is impossible to determine the meaning of the poem. Sometimes the clue is in the title. Sometimes you just need to think a little and it’s within your reach. You come to learn that Lorde was someone who was immersed in current news and an array of her poems reflect events and situations which happened in her time.

Most of all, I loved the themes she chose to cover. There is a distinct number of poems which deal with the difficulties that came along with being coloured in the time of which she wrote this collection. And yes, some of those poems are still relevant for today. She also perfectly captures what it is to be a woman, and needing to stand strong and affirm yourself when being looked down upon. She brings fourth all the emotions, love and care that come along with it too. I think these two themes stood out most to me.

All I can say is, if you’re an appreciator of poetry or are looking into trying it, this is a collection I can’t recommend enough.


Quotes: “I am a woman. Whether or not you are against me, I will braid my hair, even in the season of rain.” –Dahomey, Audre Lorde

“I come as a woman / dark and open / sometimes I fall like night / softly / and terrible / only when I must die / in order to rise again.” –Women of Dan Dance with Swords in their Hands to Mark the Time When They Were Warriors, Audre Lorde

“Grow up black and strong and beautiful / but not too soon.” –Eulogy for Alvin Frost, Audre Lorde

“Our labour has become more important than silence.” –A Song for Many Movements, Audre Lorde

“What you know can hurt. but what you do not know can kill.” –But What Can You Teach My Daughter, Audre Lorde


Gif Summary:


Links: Goodreads and Amazon!

Olivia’s Question: What themes do you find most pressing and important at this current moment?

Olivia-Savannah x

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

The Troubles of Eating Healthy while Eating Out...

Good morning :3

Today I wanted to briefly discuss the troubles of eating healthy while eating out. I've been trying my hardest to eat clean a lot, and for the most part I manage to succeed. And while I am a fan of having a little break and eating whatever I want occasionally, it sometimes gets hard when you find yourself eating out a lot. Especially as there seem to be so many places that just... fail at knowing how to make a salad? (A salad is NOT just lettuce >.>) Or simply don't have a single healthy option on the menu? So I wanted to share some important things I've learned since eating clean and eating out with friends. 

1. Talk it out with whoever is coming along!

Communication is key, and that's even when it comes to something as simple as going out to eat with friends and family. Letting them know beforehand that you want somewhere with a healthy option on the menu isn't going to completely compromise their enjoyment of the event. Also, if they're people you're eating out with, it usually means you have some sort of good relationship and they're usually more than happy to make sure where you're eating is suitable for you too. 

2. A little research never hurt anyone. 

If you really don't know a place with a good option, research it online beforehand! Menus are online and who knows, you might find a new place! Even if you have somewhere that you're consistently comfortable with, it can be nice to look into your options and find something new. 

3. Fast food doesn't work for anyone.

As a young adult, when I go out with friends it's usually to somewhere cheap and affordable. Which mostly ends up being fast food. I've managed to steer my friends away from that option a bit. First and foremost, fast food places often have rubbish healthy options? Secondly, it's not really good for anyone - the environment, the quality, whatever ends up in it. You don't exactly have to explain all of this, but maybe saying you want better quality (and having looked up some fast food cheap places that are more ideal than say, KFC) you can all be happy. 

4. When you have a friend who commits to eating healthy with you, life is 100% easier. 

I'm saying friend here, but for me it was my mother. Recently, the two of us have been going out to eat, and as she has started to eat healthier too, it has made it so much more fun to go out regularly. I've recently discovered I absolutely adore salmon salads, and we've been trying out a bunch of places. By the time we're done I'm pretty sure I will know the best salmon salad that there is in my city. 

5. Fake it till you make it. 

I've never done this before, but you can always go for the vegetarian or vegan option even if you're not actually a vegetarian or vegan. It's not a guarantee, but there are usually healthier options. I also look for restaurants that advertise that they do have those options even if I'm not necessarily going for them -- it often means there will be something good to eat.

6. You're allowed to take a bit of a break, y'know ^.^

But most importantly, clean eating is not a diet. If you're going out to eat, treat yourself a bit! If a meal seems mostly healthy and has that one ingredient inside that you disagree with, go for it anyway! It's just a little ingredient ;) I usually end up treating myself to cheesecake or apple pie after a good salad anyway. Eating out is a treat, after all :D

Olivia's Question: Where's your favourite place to eat out? What's your usual order?

Olivia-Savannah x

Sunday, 25 June 2017

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue [Book Review]

Hello everyone!

Title: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue
Author: Mackenzi Lee
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Published Date: 27th June 2017
Rating: 5 Stars

*Thanks to the Sunday Street Team for the review copy*


Synopsis: An unforgettable tale of two friends on their Grand Tour of 18th-century Europe who stumble upon a magical artifact that leads them from Paris to Venice in a dangerous manhunt, fighting pirates, highwaymen, and their feelings for each other along the way.

Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.

But as Monty embarks on his grand tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.

Witty, romantic, and intriguing at every turn, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue is a sumptuous romp that explores the undeniably fine lines between friendship and love.


Review: I’ve been struggling with finding a good YA book that I could enjoy, and then this one came along and it completely BLEW MY MIND. There were so many different elements to it that added so much depth that I was completely sucked in. I’m going to try my best to coherently portray my thoughts in this review, so that you can understand what a fantastic book this is.

Firstly, this is a historical fiction novel. I know that might turn off some people, but I want to plead the case of this book. Although it is set in the past, and there will be some things different – like the manner of talking (it’s never complicated! Just exclamations such as ‘Dear Lord!’ over ‘OMG!’), the clothing choice, and the way they are supposed to behave in society. However, it’s still a book about two teenage boys who have their fair share of problems and don’t want to grow up the way they have been told to. They want the freedom to choose their own path in life. I’m sure that’s something a lot of teenagers (and let’s be honest, adults too) can relate to.

Despite this being set in the past, it dealt with a lot of modern day controversial topics. I was doubly impressed at how Lee managed to keep it within the time frame the novel is set in, and had the character’s judging it justly, but then also was alluding to the way we treat those people in the current times. For example, the main character, Monty, is bisexual. As he isn’t very discreet, this is commonly known, and the abuse he gets for it is shown throughout the novel in a different manner of ways. Monty also has a sister, Felicity, who has been told that she needs to know how to sew and be a woman of the house when she wants to study medicine. Her storyline and character alone proved how boss women can be and tapped into the feminism theme. But Lee doesn’t stop there. Percy is coloured, and he has his own issues because of that. He also has another storyline which relates to a topic which is often discussed today (but no spoilers from me!). Yes, there are a lot of themes being covered in this book, but not once does it feel like the author is preaching to us or that it is too much crammed into one novel. It’s perfectly balanced and woven into the story.

Yet, the main theme is about growing up and not letting someone determine your life for you. As Percy and Monty work towards doing just that, we get to see a lot of different adventures and suspenseful moments unfolding. I loved how much trouble they all ended up getting into. Because I never knew what to expect next, it made the whole reading experience a lot more fun.

The characters were wonderfully flawed and perfect at the same time. It’s obvious that Monty is a tad self-centered, but I couldn’t dislike him either. There was something about the way his character is written that makes us completely aware of his flaws and short-comings, but that we can also see the good in him. That element is reflected in all the characters and I truly believe it to be a representation of people today.

The writing style is perfectly suited to that of a YA novel. It’s simple enough to fly through the book, but never too simple that it gets dry. The writing style is befitting of the time period and also has a fun element to it. It was just another building block to the ideal read.

The romance was just right too – it wasn’t over powering and taking over the story, but it was still a lingering presence throughout the entire journey, making it a sweet romance that slowly and steadily built up.

I feel like I could go on and on about this novel, but all reviews need to end somewhere! I greatly enjoyed reading this one and am eager to read whatever Lee releases next. If it’s anything like this one, I know I am going to love it.


Gif Summary:


Links: Goodreads and Amazon!

Olivia’s Question: Do you think history repeats itself? Or are we more creative than that?

Olivia-Savannah x

Friday, 23 June 2017

Abstract Art [Nails Extravaganza]

Good morning everyone!

I'm kind of in one of those moods where I am feeling tired for absolutely no reason and everything is tiring. Even writing a blog post makes me feel pretty exhausted, so I'm just going to keep this one short and sweet? 

Nails extravaganza is a meme here on Olivia's Catastrophe where I share my nail art designs. 

This nail art design was done kind of on a whim where I decided I just wanted some colour on my nails and to keep it simple. Even though I played around with duel colours, this one wasn't too difficult. I did some squiggly black lines on it as well - I'm not quite sure what it's meant to be now that it's finished, but my sister said, "Ooh, it looks like abstract nail art." So that's what I'm calling it! Abstract nail art!

Even though in reality, I find abstract art pretty hard to understand >.> Even though I'm usually a fan of art, that type of art still evades me. 

Olivia's Question: What do you think of abstract art? Do you "get" it?

Olivia-Savannah x

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Fireworks [Book Review]

Hello there!

Title: Fireworks
Author: Angela Carter
Publisher: Quartet Books
Published Date: 1974
Rating: 4 stars


Synopsis: In the short fiction of Angela Carter, the landmarks of reality disappear and give way to a landscape of riotous and uncensored sensibility. The city of Tokyo turns into a mirrored chamber reflecting the impossible longings of an exiled Englishwoman abandoned by her Japanese lover. An itinerant puppet show becomes a theatre of murderous lust. A walk through the forest ends in a nightmarish encounter with a gun-toting nymph and her hermaphrodite ‘aunt’. Not simply a book of tales, Fireworks is a headlong plunge into an alternate universe, the unique creation of one of the most fertile, dark, irreverent, and baroquely beautiful imaginations in contemporary fiction.


Review: This is a short story collection recommended to me by my older sister. I decided to read it without quite knowing what I was getting into, and I quite enjoyed the short stories here. Angela Carter is an author new to me, but she certainly does know how to vividly paint pictures in the reader’s mind and bring across subtle messages with her words.

All of Angela Carter’s stories were so beautifully written. I can’t say it any better than my sister did when she described it to me – the author uses very purple writing. Occasionally, I must admit, it made it a little difficult to understand some of the stories or what I was supposed to be thinking about when reading them. However, in some stories it perfectly worked with the voice and the message to make a mini masterpiece in itself. I don’t think her writing will cater to everyone’s taste, but if you generally enjoy classics then I am sure it can be something for you.

I also really liked that all of the stories were set in Tokyo. If you know me, you know I am someone who is big on culture and having stories set in different countries than the usual Britain or USA that I always seem to be reading about, makes me incredibly happy. Some of the stories were also set in alternate worlds that weren’t exactly Tokyo as well. But I was happy.

Of course, with every collection, there were some stories I liked more than others. I’m going to discuss some of my favourites here in this review.

A Souvenir of Japan: I really liked this story because of the message behind it. I found it to be about the difference between appearances vs reality, and you can think of this best when it comes to first impressions, which almost never really add up to who you really are. This message was described through a romance in the short story, and I really liked how it was done.

The Executioner’s Beautiful Daughter: This one I understood to be about humanity and what that word itself entails. Right about the same time as reading this collection I was also reading The Summer That Melted Everything byTiffany McDaniel, and I was so intrigued in this topic. It was interesting to see how Carter handled that.

The Lovers of Lady Purple: Now this was a story I had a mix of emotions about. It said something about language and communication, both in verbal terms and those of the body. It said something about seductiveness. It said something about your own creation occasionally growing bigger than you and how it can overwhelm you if you are not careful. The ending was twisted and I'm still not sure what to quite make of it yet. But this one definitely held my interesting.

Penetrating to the Heart of the Forest: Again, this one seemed to be dealing with humanity. How it is best when at one with nature. I also got quite a few Adam and Eve like vibes from this story, and yet it was twisted away from that too. Almost like a sinister version of a retelling.

Elegy for a Freelance: As the last of these stories this one was almost a bittersweet ending to a collection I didn’t want to leave. It was also the most interesting of them all. It dealt with murder, death and idolization of someone close to you. Love can be blinding and Carter played on that common saying.

All in all, these short stories were a quick read, but left me thinking about them between reading story to story. I especially loved the meanings of the novel and Carter manages to add sinister or dark twists to almost all of them. Definitely thought provoking and worthwhile reading.


Gif Summary: 


Links: Goodreads and Amazon!

Olivia’s Question: What do you think defines the word humanity?

Olivia-Savannah x