I Will Go Down With This Ship | Reliving Tumblr

1/25/2020


Growing up I've been in my fair share of fandoms, especially on Tumblr. I've made so many of those GIF selection posts that I'm pretty sure I single-handedly slowed down the Internet. As with any TV show, I have had my heart ripped out multiple times by couples I shipped with every inch of my youthful heart. I wanted all the forbidden romances, hate-to-love, basically anything hella angsty. I was always a little.. self deprecating, what can I say? Over the years I got played by so many forms of fiction. Here's a list of all the ships I so desperately wanted to jump on board with, but that never amounted to anything. *grabs my box of tissues*

Jayne Cobb x River Tam, Firefly/Serenity



I was rooting for these two space rebels the moment River said that Jayne was a girls name, and the not-really-but-most-definite flirtation began. River's age is never entirely known to us in the series nor the movie, so I'm unsure as to whether these two could've legally been together without a huge creep factor, but I'm going to stay in my bubble of denial and say that it would've all worked out. River could handle Jayne in a way that no other person could (like, literally. In the words of Wash "Start with the part where Jayne gets knocked out by a 90-pound girl 'cause... I don't think that's ever getting old."), and their brief banter rivalled that of Zoe and Mal's. They would've made a very cute couple.

Sydney Bristow x Julian Stark, Alias



Yeah, yeah, Sydney and Vaughn were the power couple of this J. J. Abrams show, but come on.. we were all secretly rooting for Sydney and Stark, right? Otherwise known as Stadney Sydark(?) Rebellious Bristow was the best version of Sydney, and I lived entirely for the scenes between these two archenemies. I don't know whether their on screen chemistry was meant to be a point in the show, or whether Jennifer Garner and David Anders were just flirty but *fans self* the sexual tension was knife-cutting worthy. They gave me Hermione/Draco vibes, which I'm very supportive of.  

Barry Allen x Caitlin Snow, The Flash



This is one I'm surprisingly bitter about as all it took was one episode of them singing karaoke and I was unpacking on my belongings on the Snowbarry ship. These two never got an actual chance to blossom. I'm all for Caitlin and her husband finding each other again, but that didn't last in the show. If anything, it felt like the creator panic broke Caitlin's story arc just to lead the whole Ronnie/Firestorm onto Legends Of Tomorrow. Meh. And I think we can all agree that Iris is far too annoying to be a convincing main love interest. *cries into my snowcone... get it?*

Clara Oswald x Missy, Doctor Who



Just me...? 'K.

Max x Alec, Dark Angel



This may have been a case of the sow getting cancelled but throughout season two (the last season) they really built up the chemistry between these two genetically-enhanced attractive people. Jessica Alba and Jensen Ackles? Imagine the children! But really, Max's main love interest throughout the show was Logan, in other words, one of the worst characters to ever exist. Her, Alex, and Joshua could've all lived happily ever after together.


Beth Greene x Darryl Dixon, The Walking Dead



I will go down with this ship, literally. Beth and Darryl are one of my favourite could've been couples in a show. Viewers are very divided on this. Some seem to think that there are no feelings at all between them, while others will argue to their deathbed that the show was hinting at a romantic relationship during their solo episode. I personally find them so endearing. He is broken from the world before, she is broken because of the current world. Her optimism and his pessimism make for a perfect duo. Thank god for Fanfiction.

Tell me about an almost couple that you fiercely ship!

VCF Contraceptive Gel Review | The Roaring Twenties

1/18/2020


Contraception is a very personal matter. Women are all different, and because of that our bodies and choices vary. Throughout my teenage years I had issues with my periods. I was too heavy and quite irregular, so I made an appointment with a doctor and went over my options. I was also meeting my boyfriend of a few years for the first time in the upcoming year, so I wanted to discuss birth control. It flopped big time. Not only couldn't she recommend the pill because of a disease that runs in my family, but the copper coil wasn't an option for the same reason. We discussed the implant but something about that just didn't sit right with me, I didn't want to have something inserted into my flesh that affected fatality. I left with the option of something I didn't feel comfortable with or condoms. Grand. Since moving to the US, I've had a look at their options. I'm gearing up to make an appointment to discuss the possibility of the now non-copper coil options that are in the world (I'm still very confused why I wasn't offered that in the UK..?) However, for the past year or so I've been using the VSF Contraceptive Gel that I stumbled across in a CVS and figured, why not? Read on to know my thoughts, and what the hell it is.

I'm going to be brutally honest in this post, and maybe too graphic for some more modest readers I'm going to answer the questions that I had when I first started to use the gel, so be prepared for too much information.

Condoms are a perfectly valid option, and definitely more enjoyable for the girl in comparison to this. If you just want to double up, fair enough. I was happy using condoms but they were acting as a cold shower for my now husband. They were awkward, gave us too much time to get in our heads, and usually got wasted. If you catch my drift. So we wanted to find something else, and I figured I'd take the plunge and try out something myself. I didn't want to try the sponge after so many horror stories and the just overall icky feeling it gives me, and I didn't trust the equivalent of a 'female condom' as the pressure to put it in the right place was just too stressful. When at the aisle to buy more dreaded condoms, I saw the VCF collection. They had the gel pre-filled applicators, a foam, and strips of the formula to insert yourself. The latter gave me too much anxiety despite it seeming like the less messy option, and the foam just looked a little scary so I went with the pre-filled applicators. It's wasteful, yes, but when it comes to birth control I'm willing to be a little more lenient.

As stated on the box, these are:
  • Safe and effective 
  • Hormone free
  • Easy to use


The method to the pre-filled applicators is, you open the pack like you would a tampon. Inside you'll find the filled tube with a lid, and a syringe applicator. You push the applicator into the tube until you feel it give way, and then go ahead and insert the applicator like you would a tampon and eject the gel into yourself. I was absolutely terrified of not ejecting far enough, so I tested out a few of the applicators before even agreeing to use them for sexy time. I wanted to know whether there were any side effects and get comfortable with this new thing that I'd never done before. I also recommend you doing this, and it creates less pressure. I definitely didn't inject far enough the first time as the entire process felt foreign to me and I didn't know how far I was willing to put it in. It sounds stupid to say 'you'll just know' but you really will. Much like inserting a tampon, you know if it's wrongly put. If you insert a finger after putting in the gel, you shouldn't feel like your fingertip is in a pool of gel. It will just feel like you're a little lubed up, seen as the gel surrounds the tube as you remove it. I didn't receive any side effects, but be cautious just incase.

Once inserted you have 60 minutes until it is no longer viable. Yes, you're having sexy time to a Countdown style timer. It can be a buzzkill and a little bit of a faff as I got stuck in a habit of almost scheduling our time together. I recommend keeping a packet in your side cabinet and find humour in the very unattractive process of squirting something inside of you in front of your partner. My biggest issue with the product is how it does kill the woman's pleasure in a sense. It tastes vile, absolutely vile, so if you're someone who usually finds her pleasure after your partner with his help, it does make it semi impossible. Unless you full on shower, the taste is going to linger on your flesh. If you usually get pleasured before the act of penetration, then you're laughing. But I personally found the entire thing a little awkward as I was just continuously thinking 'gotta use the gel' and all too often skipped out on my own satisfying, let's say, 'ending' in a bid to use it. This of course all comes down to communication. You have to be comfortable with taking maybe a little longer in the foreplay section for yourself, I'm not good at that. Again, just something to keep in mind.

The part I find most peculiar is that exactly 60 minutes after you've used the gel, it comes back out. I'm not even going to try and understand the science of this, but it's like magic. It doesn't necessarily feel weird, merely like you've just come on your period. You know when you just know? It's like that. So unless you're comfortable being in a sticky situation, you may want to make sure a bathroom is available. This never bothered me, but if you want to get down and dirty before a trip outside, you're going to need to either put on a sanitary pad or know where exactly you're going. It's messy, like most sexual actives, not really surprising.

All in all, I like the ease of the gel and it's really fulfilling to be in charge of our birth control. But I do wish it was a simpler process, and perhaps tasteless. Here's a little Q&A between me and myself with all the questions I had when starting to use the VCF gel.

Is it hard to insert?
No. If you're already familiar with tampons, it isn't hard at all. It doesn't hurt, despite the length of applicator (I find I have trouble with some tampons, but this was a breeze). It feels a little weird when the gel 'releases' but not painful at all. You can't tell it's there once inserted.

Do you feel protected?
Honestly, yes. The first few times I felt a little on edge with the newness of it, but I think that's normal when it comes to something that you're relying on so heavily. We have now gone through at least 6 boxes and haven't had any trouble. The odds are the same as condoms, so you just have to decide whether you personally feel comfortable to put your trust in this product.

What's the price point?
In CVS it's $19.99 for 10, but only $10.99 in Target for the same quantity. Target also offers delivery which I know is preferable for a lot of people. They are an expensive option, but if condoms don't personally work for you both, then it isn't too bad for a form of contraceptive.

Can either of you feel it?
No, neither one of us could feel it. It wasn't messy during the act, as it really just had a lube-like formula.

In comparison to condoms, what's the application like?
This is an answer that differs hugely between man and woman. For my husband it was better as I could insert the gel before even getting to the foreplay, so we didn't need to stop at any point to 'prepare'. For me, it was a little disheartening to use it before as it made it clear that I wouldn't be getting all the ways of foreplay that there are. It is easier than condoms though, you just have to get in a natural rhythm of when to insert it.

If you have any other questions, feel free to comment on this, reach out to me via my twitter @RootingBranches, or if you want discreteness send me an email at rootingbranches@gmail.com. I'll answer anything as best as I can.


Most Anticipated Book Releases Of 2020

1/08/2020

I've never been one to count down for a book release, mostly because I'm a cheap skate and my library in Wales was never regularly updated their selction. So imagine my surprise when I moved to the US and saw that libraries here have a 'Lucky Day!' section filled to the brim with brand new releases, even down to the exact day of publication. These are all the books I'm going to be on the look out for in 2020.



Goodreads summery: In 1956 Sarah Dewhurst's father shocks her by hiring a dragon to work the farm. The dragon is a smaller blue rather than the traditional larger reds, though even the reds are now scarce. When the blue dragon, Kazimir, unexpectedly saves Sarah and her friend Jason Inagawa from the attentions of the racist police deputy, Kelby, everything changes. Sarah is part of a prophecy and she must escape the clutches of Malcolm, an assassin from a Believer Cell, the dragon-worshiping cult. When Sarah, Malcolm and Kazimir eventually converge, they are thrown into another universe, where dragons seem never to have existed. Can they save this world and the one they left?

My thoughts: I have read a good majority of Patrick Ness's work, and I've loved all of it. He has mystical knack for making me enjoy magically realism which is honestly mind blowing. If you haven't yet read A Monster Calls, do yourself a favour and get to it. Just be prepared to have a box of tissues.. maybe two. This new novel by him sounds really intriguing, I mean, dragons! I'm all in.

Publish date: May 7th



Goodreads synopsis: When Jack left Eleanor West's School for Wayward Children she was carrying the body of her deliciously deranged sister--whom she had recently murdered in a fit of righteous justice--back to their home on the Moors. But death in their adopted world isn't always as permanent as it is here, and when Jack is herself carried back into the school, it becomes clear that something has happened to her. Something terrible. Something of which only the maddest of scientists could conceive. Something only her friends are equipped to help her overcome. Eleanor West's "No Quests" rule is about to be broken.

My thoughts: Do I just want to read this to further fuel my husband's rage? A little. Though he has only read the first book in this YA series, he had a whole lot to say about it. Check out his post that I'll link at the bottom of this post. I, however, kinda really like this series. I loathed the third book, but absolutely adored the fourth. I can't exactly put my finger on why  enjoy these short novella-like books, but I keep coming back or more.

Publish date: January 7th 



Goodreads synopsis: Leading Ladies do not end up on tabloid covers. After a messy public breakup, soap opera darling Jasmine Lin Rodriguez finds her face splashed across the tabloids. When she returns to her hometown of New York City to film the starring role in a bilingual romantic comedy for the number one streaming service in the country, Jasmine figures her new “Leading Lady Plan” should be easy enough to follow—until a casting shake-up pairs her with telenovela hunk Ashton Su├írez. 

My thoughts: Goodreads is marketing this as 'perfect for fans of The Kiss Quotient and Jane The Virgin. That's all I needed to read. Can't wait.

Release date: July 7th



Goodreads synopsis: The Carls disappeared the same way they appeared, in an instant. While they were on Earth, they caused confusion and destruction without ever lifting a finger. Well, that’s not exactly true. Part of their maelstrom was the sudden viral fame and untimely death of April May: a young woman who stumbled into Carl’s path, giving them their name, becoming their advocate, and putting herself in the middle of an avalanche of conspiracy theories. Months later, the world is as confused as ever. Andy has picked up April’s mantle of fame, speaking at conferences and online about the world post-Carl; Maya, ravaged by grief, begins to follow a string of mysteries that she is convinced will lead her to April; and Miranda infiltrates a new scientific operation . . . one that might have repercussions beyond anyone’s comprehension.

My thoughts: When I read An Absolutely Remarkable Thing I had no idea there was going to be a sequel, so I was very happy when I saw this as I really enjoyed this sci-fi-modern-day-YA book. It took me by complete surprise, and though I would've been happy with the open ending, I'm happy to jump back into the world and see what the hell is going on.

Release date: July 7th



Goodreads synopsis: To most people, Quan Diep is nothing but a surly-looking, underachieving playboy. The problem is he’s not any of those things. And now that he’s the CEO of an up-and-coming retail business, he’s suddenly a “catch,” and the rich girls who never used to pay any attention to him are looking at him in a new way—especially Camilla, the girl who brushed him off many years ago. Anna Sun dislikes Quan Diep almost as much as germy bathroom door handles. Or so she tells herself. She will never admit that she has a secret crush on him, especially because he only has eyes for her charismatic and newly engaged younger sister Camilla. Over the years, Anna has worked hard to overcome her OCD, but she’ll still need to find a way to bury her anxieties and seduce Quan so he doesn’t ruin her sister’s engagement, and with it, a crucial real estate development deal. Slowly, Anna breaks down Quan’s dangerous and careless exterior while peeling off her own tough, protective shell. But when Quan discovers Anna’s true intentions, he’s forced to confront his own hurtful past and learn to forgive, while Anna must face her greatest challenge: truly opening herself up to love.

My thoughts: I'm torn on this book, it's my most risky pick on this list. I adored The Kiss Quotient but was thoroughly disappointed with it's sequel The Bride Test. So this is going to be a hit or miss. Quan is my second favourite character in the series, which definitely makes me more interested. This will be my deciding vote on whether I want to continue checking out Hoang's work. No pressure, book.

Release date: May 4th



Goodreads synopsis: The plan is to leave. As for how, when, to where, and even why—she doesn’t know yet. So begins a journey for the twenty-four-year-old narrator of Days of Distraction. As a staff writer at a prestigious tech publication, she reports on the achievements of smug Silicon Valley billionaires and start-up bros while her own request for a raise gets bumped from manager to manager. And when her longtime boyfriend, J, decides to move to a quiet upstate New York town for grad school, she sees an excuse to cut and run. Moving is supposed to be a grand gesture of her commitment to J and a way to reshape her sense of self. But in the process, she finds herself facing misgivings about her role in an interracial relationship. Captivated by the stories of her ancestors and other Asian Americans in history, she must confront a question at the core of her identity: What does it mean to exist in a society that does not notice or understand you?

My thoughts: This book popped up on my Goodreads homepage one day and now I'm counting down the days until my library gets it in. This synopsis touched my heart without even trying, and the cover is gorgeous. I'm so very intrigued. 

Release date: March 31st



Goodreads synopsis: When Type-A Manhattan lawyer Dannie Cohan is asked this question at the most important interview of her career, she has a meticulously crafted answer at the ready. Later, after nailing her interview and accepting her boyfriend’s marriage proposal, Dannie goes to sleep knowing she is right on track to achieve her five-year plan. But when she wakes up, she’s suddenly in a different apartment, with a different ring on her finger, and beside a very different man. The television news is on in the background, and she can just make out the scrolling date. It’s the same night—December 15—but 2025, five years in the future. After a very intense, shocking hour, Dannie wakes again, at the brink of midnight, back in 2020. She can’t shake what has happened. It certainly felt much more than merely a dream, but she isn’t the kind of person who believes in visions. That nonsense is only charming coming from free-spirited types, like her lifelong best friend, Bella. Determined to ignore the odd experience, she files it away in the back of her mind. That is, until four-and-a-half years later, when by chance Dannie meets the very same man from her long-ago vision. Brimming with joy and heartbreak, In Five Years is an unforgettable love story that reminds us of the power of loyalty, friendship, and the unpredictable nature of destiny.

My thoughts: Booktube brought this book to my attention, and I'm so thankful it did. It sounds like a mix between One True Loves and Maybe In Another Life, both books by Taylor Jenkins Reid but that I equally enjoyed. This sounds like it's going to destroy my heart and I can't wait to sob into my pillow.

Release date: March 3rd

Honourable mention:

Anxious People
by Fredrik Backman

This doesn't have a synopsis or a page on Goodreads, it does however pop up when you Google Fredrik Backman and says that it's expected release will be sometime in August. I don't need to know more than that it's written by Backman. His books take up so much room in my heart, and I will always pick up whatever he writes (or whatever gets translated).

So there we have it, all the books I'm anticipating. I now release that all of them come out in the first half of the year, so perhaps there'll be a part 2 sometimes in June. 

What book release are you waiting for?


*The First Quarterly TBR Of 2020 [January - March]

1/05/2020


I was playing with the idea of doing monthly TBR posts in 2020 but it just didn't seem plausible as I tend to change my mind a lot. However, quarterly TBR's seem more flexible and gives me ample time to read my picks. Here's my first one of the year.


Forever, Interrupted 
by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Elsie and Ben are a whirlwind romance. Within months of meeting they're married and settling down to a full life together, but fate doesn't follow along with their plan. Ben is hit and killed in a tragic accident leaving behind Elsie who has to not only come to terms with the loss of her newly wedded husband, but deal with the mother-in-law she had never met.

Told semi in reverse, we follow two story arcs, one about Elsie's life after losing Ben, and the other of Elsie and Ben's love story. Taylor Jenkins Reid is my favourite author of all time, so I have no doubt that this book will absolutely shatter my heart into a billion little pieces. How else does one start the New Year?


*Beyond The Moon
by Catherine Taylor
Two people, two battles: one against the invading Germans on the battlefields of 1916 France, the other against a substandard, uncaring mental health facility in modern-day England. Two journeys begun a century apart, but somehow destined to coincide - and become one desperate struggle to be together.

I kindly got sent this for review, but I would've been interested if I stumbled upon it in a bookstore. I'm a big fan of historical fiction, especially when it's split between two time periods (think The Alice Network, The Girl You Left Behind, and The Last Letter To Your Lover) and this offers me just that. Expect a full review soon after I've finished it.


Americanah
by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Ifemelu and Obinze are young and in love when they depart military-ruled Nigeria for the West. Beautiful, self-assured Ifemelu heads for America, where despite her academic success, she is forced to grapple with what it means to be black for the first time. Quiet, thoughtful Obinze had hoped to join her, but with post-9/11 America closed to him, he instead plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London. Fifteen years later, they reunite in a newly democratic Nigeria, and reignite their passion—for each other and for their homeland.

I've only seen glowing reviews for this book, and that is purely why it's on my list. I've seen many people call it a modern classic, which is probably one of the biggest compliments you can give. Late last year I listened to the authors most known work 'We Should All Be Feminists' and found her words powerful, so I'm excited to try out her fictional work.


Becoming
by Michelle Obama
Described by the author as a deeply personal experience, this memoir by the former US first lady talks about her roots and how she found her voice, as well as her time in the White House, her public health campaign, and her role as a mother.

This was meant to be read by me in 2019 but I only just managed to get the audiobook through my library. As a girl born and bred in the UK I don't know a whole lot about this beloved woman so I'm quite enthusiastic to delve into her life. She's so inspiring and I just know I'm going to finish this book feeling empowered.


The Fifth Season
by N. K. Jemisin
This is the way the world ends...for the last time. It starts with the great red rift across the heart of the world's sole continent, spewing ash that blots out the sun. It starts with death, with a murdered son and a missing daughter. It starts with betrayal, and long dormant wounds rising up to fester. This is the Stillness, a land long familiar with catastrophe, where the power of the earth is wielded as a weapon. And where there is no mercy.

This is the first book in The Broken Earth trilogy, and though I'm not entirely sure what it's about, I'm excited to pick it up. I have previously read N. K. Jemisin's book 'A Hundred Thousand Kingdoms' and though I didn't love it, I was able to appreciate her flawless way of building fantasy worlds and the diverse characters entwined into those worlds, so I'm excited to try out this much loved series.


Heidi 
by Johanna Spyri
Little orphan Heidi goes to live high in the Alps with her gruff grandfather and brings happiness to all who know her on the mountain.

When I was a child my mum would sit me down at night and tell me her own versions of classic children's literature. The Secret Garden, Anne Of Green Gables, and Heidi would all have witches, vampires, and something supernatural involved. I was at an embarrassing age by the time I realised that there were no souls being sucked in The Secret Garden, and Heidi wasn't in fact a witch. (mind blowing) So I'm slowly making my way through the classic versions and am always disappointed by how.. plain they are. Heidi is up this month. Here's hoping for at least some potions! At least Wind In The Willows is still about shapeshifters.. right?


Tin Man
by Sarah Winman
Ellis and Michael are twelve when they first become friends, and for a long time it is just the two of them, cycling the streets of Oxford, teaching themselves how to swim, discovering poetry, and dodging the fists of an overbearing father. And then one day this closest of friendships grows into something more. But then we fast forward a decade or so, to find that Ellis is married to Annie, and Michael is nowhere in sight. Which leads to the question, what happened in the years between? This is almost a love story. But it's not as simple as that.

This was purely a cover buy, but since picking it up I've seen it recommend on Booktube as a great portrait of bisexuality, which makes me want to pick it up sooner rather than later. Plus it's under 250 pages, which is always great for a TBR pile.


And Every Morning The Way Home Gets Longer And Longer 
by Fredrik Backman
This is an exquisitely moving portrait of an elderly man's struggle to hold on to his most precious memories, and his family's efforts to care for him even as they must find a way to let go.

Fredrik Backman is an instant buy author for me. I love his writing, the simplicity of his stories, and I have yet to finish one of his books without crying at least once. This is a short novella at only 96 pages, but there isn't a doubt in my mind that it's size won't lessen to punch to my heart.


The Underground Railroad
by Colson Whitehead
Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hell for all the slaves, but especially bad for Cora; an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood—where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape.

This historical fiction novel has been on my TBR shelf for at least a year now but I keep making excuses to not pick it up as there's just something about it that I find daunting. So I now pledge to read it within the next 12 weeks. This has nothing but positive reviews so I'm almost positive I will not regret it.


Red At The Bone
by Jacqueline Woodson
This novel centres around two black families who come together when a girl and a boy in high school, Iris and Aubrey, become pregnant. Iris is from a life and family in which, “even as a child, she'd never doubted that she'd one day go to college”: Having a baby at 16 was never part of the plan.

I randomly picked this up from my library not having heard much about it, the premise merely intrigued me. Since then I have seen it everywhere (isn't that just the way it is?) and people seem to appreciate it as a great work of fiction. It was also shortlisted in the Goodreads Choice Awards, so that's cool.


The House On Mango Street 
by Sandra Cisneros
Presented in a series of vignettes, this 110 page book tells the story of Esperanza Cordero, a 12-year-old Chicana girl growing up in the Hispanic quarter of Chicago.

A personal goal of mine this year is to read at least one non-fiction and one classic novel a month. Though Heidi could probably fill the latter category quite well, I'm instead going to use The House On Mango Street as it's been gathering dust on my TBR for much longer, that and the fact my husband read it last year and said I would enjoy it. It seems like a quite beloved read, so what's the harm in adding one more book?


I will undoubtedly pick up a few other books to go alongside this list throughout the next 3 months, but as I'm a huge mood reader I'm leaving those up to future me. This is just my definite TBR pile. 

What book are you hoping to pick up this year?




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