I’m excited to share that my poem, “In Remembrance,” was published in Rogue Agent last month and I would love for you to read it. I also have another poem, “Aftermath,” published in the Literary Lancashire Award Anthology this summer because it was shortlisted in the poetry category for the Literary Lancashire Award.
Aside from writing, I’ve been thinking a lot about what else I want to do and other potential career options. COVID has had so many unforeseeable consequences but it also forced me to reevaluate my life plans. I chose my English Lit and Creative Writing degree for the obvious reasons (my love for the two subjects) but now I’ve realised I also want to explore other subjects.
So this summer, I started taking coding classes online – learning about front-end web development, and UI/UX design. Details about all of this are on my brand new website and I’ve also been blogging about my coding and design projects for my courses. I’ve been trying to think less about whether I’m good at this (I just started so objectively speaking, I’ve probably got a long way to go) and more about how much I’m enjoying it (which is A LOT.). Also, most of my work ethic and productivity was based on the structure that school and then college provided so knowing that I can still thrive outside of those institutions is a relief.
With that in mind (and COVID of course), I’ve decided to take a gap year! I have a long and exciting list of things to learn and projects to attempt but my plan isn’t set in stone. There will be plenty of metaphorical detours to take and books to read and stories to write. Time is precious and I want to spend as much of it doing things I love.
And lastly, I want to recommend two books I absolutely loved reading this summer. I fell in love with the first book in The Daevabad Trilogy several years ago and since then, I’ve spent a great deal of time thinking about this world and these characters. So I was ecstatic when the final book in the series, The Empire of Gold, came out two months ago!
Considering how this is the third book, it’s hard to really talk about this book without venturing into spoiler-y territory. But I’ll do my best. This book was an incredibly satisfying ending to the series and it contained so many plot twists. There were a lot of ‘dark family secrets’ (how else to describe them!) revealed that were genuinely surprising and unexpected. I had questions about most of the main characters’ pasts since the first book and all of these questions were finally answered.
S.A. Chakraborty did not hold back in this book – she puts these characters through hell. But this also provides her with opportunities to explore the characters’ relationships in more depth. Ali and Nahri in particular proved to be my favorite (and most wholesome pair) in this book. I think their motto could be: “Friends don’t let each other get killed by [redacted].” The way they lose track of time in each other’s company and can easily share whatever is on their mind reminded me so much of my own friends. And of course, I also adore the Qahtani siblings who embody the best of sibling love and sibling rivalry. They might be at each other’s throats more often than not but when it counts, they’ll show up.
Dara is still the character that I have the most mixed feelings towards. I think there’s a very thin line between forgiving someone and justifying their evil actions and Chakraborty does a great job of navigating those gray areas. And despite all the bloodshed and suffering in this book (I guess it was inevitable considering how The Kingdom of Copper ended), there are also moments of hope and joy. Nahri is fighting for her happiness and it is both empowering and inspiring to see her on this journey.
I also listened to the audiobook of this adult contemporary romance, Boyfriend Material, and fell in love with Luc and Oliver. It was really good and really gay and basically had all the tropes I love to see in a book. It’s been a hot second since I saw a good fake-dating to real-lovers plot in a romance novel and despite its predictability, there was still a lot to learn about the characters themselves. I really adored the quiet, sweet, moments that filled this book – watching television with someone you love or texting each other throughout the day to check in when things are rough at work. It’s fun watching the characters confront their own and each other’s flaws and fumbling through the firsts of being in a new relationship. They’re both really messy and lost in their own ways. But that changes as they grow together and make some much-needed life changes. I think the character arcs in this book are some of the best I’ve seen. And the effort these two put into their “fake” relationship is so impressive. It’s refreshing to see some open communication and honesty between love interests.