Wednesday, 30 December 2015

New Year, New Goals

So, I know this blog is mainly based on all things books, but I've decided to add a few personal posts on it from time to time from now on. 2015 is coming to an end in two days and for a lot of us it means leaving the past in the past and aiming for some new goals for 2016. I have decided to set myself some goals to achieve in 2016, also and I'd like to share them with you.
  • Gain a following on this blog - TheLandofBooksandPens is fairly new and so far I don't really have a big following. In 2016 I am aiming to post regularly, advertise it and gain more readers and hopefully get noticed. I know it's not going to happen overnight but I am willing to work at it.
  • Finish my novel - In November I took part in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and I achieved the goal of writing 50,000 words. Since then however, I haven't actually revisited it. My aim is to finish writing it and then start editing.
  • Apply for my chosen Masters course - 2016 is going to be the year where I hopefully go back into education again, since graduating in 2014. I am hoping to have applied for my chosen courses at my chosen universities by the end of January. I am going to be applying for Creative Writing Courses at London Metropolitan University, Birkbeck University and The University of Essex.
  • Go 100% Cruelty Free - I will probably do a bigger post about this topic in the near future, but for now I will just write a brief summary. I'm a vegetarian and have been for nine years. I have tried my best to use cruelty free products since then, but after doing some research a few months ago I realised that some of the brands I'd been using weren't 100% cruelty free. So I have started using cruelty free products and I've done a lot of research into what brands are and what brands aren't cruelty free. My aim for 2016 is to be using 100% cruelty free products in all aspects of my life.
  • Stay at my target weight - In February 2015 I started my Slimming World Journey and since then I have lost 4st 5lbs and gone down four dress sizes. I reached my target weight at the start of December and I am hoping to stay at it for 2016 and for many years to come.
  • Keep in contact with people - I admit, this year I have sucked at keeping in contact with friends. This has mainly been down to being so busy at work and in my personal life, but also due to anxiety which I've finally managed to get under control. I want to meet up with friends at least once a month for a catch up and make sure I keep in contact with them regularly.
  • Read 50 books - Last year I set myself a challenge to read 40 books, which I smashed! in 2016 I want to read 50 books, and I also want to widen my choice of books and venture into reading genres that I haven't read before. 
Do any of you have any goals for 2016? Let me know!

Amy

x

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Festive Reads

So Christmas is nearly upon us and throughout this time of the year I love to immerse myself in a few festive reads. I feel like reading christmassy books just helps me get into the spirit of the season and makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. So, I thought I'd share with you a few of my favourite Christmas reads that I've read this year and in previous years.

Let it Snow - John Green, Maureen Johnson & Lauren Myracle


Let it Snow is a series of three short stories written by three well known Young Adult writers - John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle. What I love about this is that all three stories are intertwined with one another, although you don't find that out until later on. A storm on Christmas Eve buries the residents of Gracetown under many feet of snow, and starts to cause a lot of chaos. One girl ventures into the snow from her abandoned train and sets of a chain of events that will change the lives of many. Over three days this girl takes a risk with an adorable, likeable stranger, three friends set out to win a race to the Wafflehouse and the fate of a teacup pig rests in the hands of a lovestruck barista. Let it Snow made me feel so very festive and I loved how all the stories ended up as one. It brought all the magic of the christmas season to life with added happiness, love, romance and festivities.

The Parisian Christmas Bake Off - Jenny Oliver


I love a bit of chick lit at Christmas and The Parisian Christmas Bake off was a perfect chick lit festive read. Paris meets The Great British Bake Off in this stunning book, set in one of the world's most beautiful cities. Rachel Smithsons English Village seems a million miles away, as she's in Paris to take part in a search for Paris' next patisserie apprentice under the eye of famous chef  Henri Salernes, who is known for his tough and confidence shattering approach. Despite this, Rachel is determined not to let her confidence falter, as she only has a week of tough competition to prove she is a star baker. There's also a touch of Christmas magic in the air, as despite vowing not to be looking for a romance, Rachel may have found one. First of all, this story is set in Paris and that in itself makes it an amazing read and secondly its set in Paris at Christmastime, which of course makes it a thousand times better. This book is a perfect christmas treat, and throughout reading I found myself salivating at the descriptions of all the treats the bakers were making. 

My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories - Edited by Stephanie Perkins


My True Love Gave to Me is an anthology of twelve short stories all by well known YA authors and is edited by Stephanie Perkins (who wrote Anna & The French Kiss). All twelve stories are holiday themed, and unlike Let It Snow, none of the stories are intertwined. I won't go into too much detail about all twelve stories but all I am going to say is that each story is different and themed around a different part of the holiday season. There is a story for everyone in this book whether you celebrate Christmas, Winter Solstice, Hanukkah, New Years etc. I did enjoy some stories more than others, but that is what is to be expected from an anthology of short stories as big as this one. 

Dash and Lily's Book of Dares - Rachel Cohn & David Levithan


Dash and Lily's Book of Dares is a fun story set in the heart of New York during the festive season. To cure her boredom over the festive season, Lily leaves a red notebook full of dares on a shelve in her favourite bookstore, and waits for the right person to come along and take it. Is Dash that right person? Are they only destined to swap dares, dreams and desires in the notebook that they trade back and forth or is there more to happen between these two? Can their real life selves connect as well? This is a really cute, fun festive young adult love story. I also love the setting for the story. New York is known as a great place to be at Christmastime and by reading this it made me just want to visit it and enjoy all its wonders this time of the year. It was also brilliant to experience two writing styles in one book, I'd already read a few of David Levithan's books so knew his style well, but it was great to experience a new author in Rachel Cohn. 


Christmas at Lilac Cottage (White Cliff Bay #1) - Holly Martin


This is my most recent festive read and it was recommended that I read this. I was a bit sceptical at first after reading the blurb, but I went in with an open mind, I may well enjoy it. Penny loves her home in the village of White Cliff Bay - a lilac cottage decorated with sparkling lights, and great views over the village. She loves her job as an Ice Sculpter, but lacks a certain social life. So when Henry and his daughter Daisy arrive to rent her annex, Penny is overjoyed at the thought of company. As Penny gets to know Henry, she discovers there's more to him than meets the eye, and soon finds herself falling for him in a big way. With the upcoming Christmas Eve ball and the spirit of the season, is Penny about to receive the Christmas she has been longing for? Although I did enjoy this book, and I loved hearing about White Cliff Bay and it's residents, I did have a few minor problems with it. I hated how fast the romance between Henry and Penny moved, I love a slow burning romance in books and I hated how quick this one was. Saying they loved each other after not even knowing each other a week didn't really cut it  for me and didn't seem realistic. I would've loved to have had them get to know each other more and go on more dates. However, apart from that I had a great time reading it. It's not my favourite festive read, but it's one that I would certainly read again with an open mind. 

Dream a Little Christmas Dream - Giovanna Fletcher


Dream a Little Christmas Dream is a novella, taking part after the events of Dream a Little Dream. I absolutely adored Dream a Little Christmas Dream, so I was dying to read this as soon as I preordered it. I couldn't wait to hear more about Sarah, Brett and their friends. Although her dreams are still crazy, Sarah's real life is certainly back on track. She's got a great boyfriend, amazing job and awesome friends. However, after a night of strange dreams Sarah wakes up to her housemate announcing that she's moving out, and later Brett starts acting strangely. Is he hiding something? Beginning to think she's living in a festive nightmare, will any of Sarah's dreams come true? Although this was a short read, it was so heartwarming and I found myself smiling to myself throughout. Giovanna certainly knows how to bring her characters to life, and I think I fell in love with them even more. The ending of the novella brought me to tears and I can honestly say it made me feel so warm and festive inside. 

So there you go, just a few of my favourite festive reads. I hope you all go and check at least one of them out.

Merry Christmas!

Amy 

x




Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Goodreads Reading Challenge - Books 31 - 40

Here we are on the home stretch of my Goodreads reading challenge books. Here are books 31 - 40.

31) Three Amazing Things about You - Jill Mansell


I'd been dying to read this book for a while and was overjoyed when I finally found a copy in my library, which I borrowed straight away. I'd heard from quite a few people about how good this book was, so was rather looking forward to reading it. The story follows the lives of three different people, who's lives are intertwined. Hallie is in love. He's perfect for her in each and every way, but it could never happen. Her friends won't help her as they know that Hallie doesn't have long to live. Flo really likes Zander but his sister is standing in the way of their blossoming relationship. Tasha's new boyfriend is an adrenaline junkie and she is worried that one of his adventures will soon go badly wrong. The book begins as a donor has been found for Hallie. She is going to be receiving new lungs, but whose? This story gave me a lot to think about regarding organ donation. It really struck me how important it is and because of this book I signed up to become an organ donor right away. The stories of all three characters each got to me and I admit I was sobbing come the end. This was the first book of Jill Mansell's that I'd read and I will certainly be reading more.

32) The Scorch Trials - James Dashner


I'd read The Maze Runner about a year before, and with the release of The Scorch Trials movie coming up I knew I'd have to read the book. The book takes off just after the events of The Maze Runner, Thomas thought his ordeal would be over, but he was wrong. WICKED have moved them into phase two - The Scorch Trials. Thomas and the gladers have two weeks to cross the intense heat of The Scorch and make it to the safezone. However, WICKED have made sure to make it as hard for them as possible. They soon meet others and their survival depends on the destruction of the Gladers. I love a good dysptopian novel and I enjoyed The Scorch Trials a lot more than The Maze Runner. There was more action, more character progression and the plot really intrigued me. I was left thinking and wondering moments after I turned the last page. It's certainly a great follow on to what was a great first book.

33) Stargirl - Jerry Spinelli


Stargirl is a book all about non conformity and learning to love yourself despite others. From the moment she arrives at the normal school of Mica High in a hive of colour and sound, hallways and classrooms hum 'Stargirl'. She manages to capture Leo's heart with just a slight smile. She sparks a school revolution with one cheer and soon she has enchanted everyone she knows. Until one day when things come crashing down. Leo tries to encourage her to be 'normal', which in her eyes could surely destroy her. This was a short, sweet read that really touched me. The lesson to this story is to love yourself and not care what other's think. It's about embracing all your 'flaws' and learning to love them. I also admit I found myself wanting to be Stargirl once or twice through reading.

34) Linger - Maggie Stiefvater


Linger is the second book in The Wolves of Mercy Falls series and I was so looking forward to reading this as I loved Shiver. Now that they have found each other, Grace and Sam must find a way to fight to stay together. For Sam this means confronting his werewolf past and for Grace this means facing an uncertain future. Soon a new wolf called Cole comes crashing into their world. He is wrestling with many demons whilst embracing the life of a wolf and also denying the ties of being human. For all three of them life is a struggle between two forces, wolf and human. As their worlds begin to fall apart, love is the thing that lingers, But will this be enough? I was so happy to be back into the world of Sam and Grace, and I enjoyed every moment. I also loved the character introduction of Cole, who despite all his flaws and demons, I fell in love with. This had everything I wanted in a sequel and I knew that I'd found a new favourite book series.

35) To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee


I'd never read this classic before, so though is high time that I did. Most people know the story of To Kill a Mockingbird. It's a story of compassion, love, kindess, cruelty, racism and sexism. It deeply moved me and made me realise how different things were in older times. I won't go into much detail about this book as it is so highly known, but I now know the reason why it's a classic and I won't ever doubt that.

36) The Colour Purple - Alice Walker


I borrowed The Colour Purple from my Mum, who had insisted that I read it, so following her advice I did. Celie is the protagonist of this amazing tale of growing up as a person a colour in 1930's. Her story is told through a series of letters, first to god and then later on to her sister Nettie. As an abused, uneducated woman, who was only ever shown love by Nettie the letters are Celie's way of expressing herself. This book really deeply touched me, despite all the abuse she went through Celie still had so much love in her heart. I also loved the amount of strong female characters in this book, showing us that woman do have power. If you are looking for a read that will touch you emotionally in ways you haven't before, than The Colour Purple is the book to read.

37) Forever - Maggie Stiefvater


After loving Linger, I couldn't wait to read the last book in The Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy - Forever. When Sam and Grace first met, he was a wolf and she was a human, and their loved moved for curiosity to a shared life. Now Grace is the wolf, and the wolves of Mercy Falls are about to be killed in one final hunt. The past, present and future are about to collide in one pure moment of life or death and farewell or forever. This was the perfect book to end the trilogy on. It was action packed, full of excitement and gasping moments and you end up so immersed in the action and love that you don't want to put it down. I loved this series and I can promise you now that I will be reading it all over again in the future.

38) I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings - Maya Angelou


I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is the first in the series of autobiographies by Maya Angelou. I don't usually read autobiographies but after hearing snippets about her life, I just knew I had to read it. Sent by their mother to live with their grandmother in a small southern town, Maya and her brother Bailey endure prejudice by the local white community. At eight years old, whilst living with her mother, Maya is raped by a man twice her age and has to learn to live with the consequences of the attack for a lifetime. Years later, Maya soon discovers that the love for herself, her spirit and the ideas of great authors will allow her to be free. Maya Angelou is one inspiring woman, I was so inspired by her story and it was only the first instalment of her autobiography. I am so looking forward to reading the others and hearing more of her incredible walk through life.

39) All the Bright Places - Jennifer Niven


This book had been recommend to me several times, so I knew from all the hype and great reviews that I had to read it. This follows the story of Finch, who is fascinated by death and constantly thinks of ways to kill himself and Violet, who lives for the future and who is counting down the days till she can escape her hometown and the aftermath of her sister's death. When Finch and Violet meet on the top of the school's belltower it is rather uncertain who saves who and when they pair up on a school project shortly after a relationship blooms. With Violet Finch can be himself a funny guy who is in noway a freak and with Finch Violet can forget about counting down the days and start living them instead. However, as Violet's world grows, Finch's begins to shrink. This story is intense and gripping and deals with the harsh realities of depression, grief and suicide. It really makes you think and I can guarantee by the end you will be so emotional that you won't know what to do with yourself. This a great debut novel, and I cannot wait to see the movie when it is released.

40) Sinner - Maggie Stiefvater


Sinner is an add on book to The Wolves of Mercy Falls series and it follows Cole St Clair and Isabel Culpeper. Cole has come to LA for one reason - to get Isabel back. She fled from his damaged life, causing even more damage. He doesn't want her, he needs her. Isabel is trying to build a new life in LA, however it's really not working. Cole and Isabel share a past, but can they share a future? They have the power to save each other, but also to tear each other apart. Only one thing is certain, they cannot let go of one another. It was great to have story about these two characters, who I'd grown to love throughout the series. I loved reading about their fiery relationship and throughout the book I was screaming at them to just admit their feelings and be together. It is the perfect add on and all fans of The Wolves of Mercy Falls series need to read this.

So there you have it, all 40 books. I've had a great time reading them all, and for 2016 I am going to be aiming to read 50 books, and of course I'll be talking about them.

Amy

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Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Goodreads Reading Challenge - Books 21 - 30

Here are books 21 - 30 of my Goodreads reading challenge.

21) All Little in Love - Susan Fletcher


I love Les Miserables and the character of Eponine so this book was right up my alley. I was lucky enough to get a hardback signed copy of this book also, which made it even better. This is basically an insight into the life of Eponine from childhood to her untimely death. What happens when Eponine falls for the same boy as her families former slave Cosette? Will she sacrifice everything she has for a chance at true love? This was amazing! It gave me a bigger insight into Eponine and made me love her even more, even though I knew the ending was going to bring me heartbreak. Any fan of Les Miserables needs to read this.

22) How to be a Woman - Caitlin Moran


I've become more intrigued by feminism over the past few years and thought that this book would give me an insight into it, which it certainly did. This book looks at feminism from a light hearted, funny point of view. Caitlin puts her views across in a comedic way, and also enlightens us about her life as a woman growing up. It's a great read if you are new to feminism and I'd certainly recommend it.

23) Dream a Little Dream - Giovanna Fletcher


I love Giovanna's books! I absolutley adored Billy and Me and You're the one That I Want, so it's no surprise that I also loved Dream a Little Dream. Dream a Little Dream follows the story of Sarah who is plodding along through life, despite being single, in a job that she doesn't actually like and feeling like a disappointment to her mother. So when she starts dreaming about a handsome stranger, she begins to start looking forward to falling asleep and escaping reality. But what happens when her dream stranger makes a real life appearance? This book is so heartwarming and had me laughing, crying and really feeling for the characters. Giovanna has a really unique style of writing and really cannot wait to read her next bestseller.

24) My Love Lies Bleeding - Alyxandra Harvey


I'm a sucker for a young adult vampire novel, so I couldn't resist picking this up after seeing it in my library. Its quite a short book and is part of  series. The Drakes are vampires and some of them date back to the twelfth century. One of the children, Solange is the only female vampire known, so poses a threat to the vampire queen. Her closest friend Lucy is a human and when Solange is kidnapped it is down to Lucy and Solange's brother Nicholas to save her. Lucy soon discovers that she's falling for Nicholas, but how can she date a vampire? Especially her best friends brother? I did enjoy it, and it was a quick read, but it was lacking a spark that I usually find with other young adult vampire novels. Not sure I will be reading the sequel anytime soon. 

25) Little Beach Street Bakery - Jenny Colgan


Jenny Colgan is my go to author when I fancy reading a bit of chick lit. I'd go as far as to call her the queen of chick lit. I've loved all of the other books of hers that I've read and Little Beach Street Bakery is no expectation. Recovering from a toxic relationship and unable to afford her flat, Polly moves to the seaside town of Mount Polbearne, where she lives alone above an abandoned shop. To let out all her frustrations Polly soon starts making bread. What was first a hobby, becomes something else as with each loaf her talent rises. Causing her life to somewhat soar. This book made me so happy and I really did fall in love with the fictional town and all the characters in it.

26) The Sky is Everywhere - Jandy Nelson


The Sky is Everywhere is the debut novel of Jandy Nelson. Lennie Walker is a self confessed book lover and band geek and spent her time in the shadow of her older sister Bailey. However, when Bailey suddenly dies, Lennie is forced to centre stage and to take control of her life. She soon finds herself struggling to choose between two boys, Toby - Baileys boyfriend and Joe - the new boy in town. One boy takes her out of her grief and the other comforts her in it. What will happen when they collide? I loved every page of this book, I found it to be heartbreaking, emotional, but also rather joyous. It's a great debut novel, by an author who I know is going to go places.  

27) The Other Normals - Ned Vizzini


This was a 'blind date book' that I picked up in an English book store when I was out in Amsterdam in July. I was shocked when I opened it up to find that it was by an author I loved! I'm not one for RPG's but I love a good coming of age of story. Fifteen year old Perry is obsessed with Creatures and Caverns a role playing game full of fantasy and magic. Concerned that Perry lacks social skills, his mother sends him off to summer camp to potentially become a man. However, when he gets to camp Perry stumbles into the world of 'The Other Normals', there he meets the creator of Creatures and Caverns and other characters from the game, including the beautiful Ada Ember. They needs Perry's help to rescue a princess and as they embark of their quest Perry realises that his nerdy tedencies can make him a hero. But to save the princess Perry must also make connections in the real world. This was a great mix of fantasy and coming of age and although I was worried I wouldn't like it at first, I was soon sucked into Perry's world. It had me hooked and I'm so glad I had the chance to read it.

28) Shiver - Maggie Stiefvater



I'd heard a lot of hype about this particular book, so was really looking forward to delving into it and I certainly wasn't disappointed. For many years Grace has watched the wolves in the woods, behind her house and one yellow eyed wolf in particular is a presence she cannot live without. Sam has lived two lives, in the winter he's a wolf under protection by his pack and in summer he's a human, until the cold comes to cause him to shift back into a wolf. In the present day Grace meets a yellow eyed boy, who turns out to be Sam - her wolf. As winter comes, Sam must prepare to fight to stay human and to keep Grace in his life. This is a perfect young adult read! I fell in love with the story concept and the writing style of the author almost straight away. I was pulled into the world of Mercy Falls and I didn't want to leave it. To be honest I felt rather disappointed as I turned to the last page.

29) Another Day - David Levithan


Another Day is the story of Everyday, but told from Rhiannon's point of view. I loved Everyday, so was rather intrigued to relive the story again from another point of view. Everyday is the same for Rhiannon and she's accepted that. She tries to convince herself that she deserves her moody, rather distant boyfriend Justin. However, one morning she notices a change in Justin. He wants to be with her, he seems interested in her. Something that Justin doesn't remember the next day, causing Rhiannon to question everything, until a stranger tells her that the Justin she spent that perfect day with wasn't him at all, causing Rhiannon to go on a journey to discover the truth about how love can change you. This was the perfect companion to Everyday and I was so interested in Rhiannon's life, and how she slowly started to fall for A. It was honestly amazing and if you have read Everyday you need to read this.

30) Summer at the Little Beach Street Bakery - Jenny Colgan


Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery is the follow up to Little Beach Street Bakery, which I loved! I was really looking forward to getting stuck into this book and into the world of Mount Polbearne. Summer has arrived in Mount Polbearne and for Polly life couldn't get any better. She's in love with the town, her boyfriend Huckle and her bakery. However, when recently widowed Selina shows up, things start to become unsettled. Polly has a secret that could destroy her new friendship with the widower. Also, responsibilites that Huckle left alone have come back and Polly is finding it hard to cope with his long periods of absences. Is Polly about to loose everything she loves? This was a great summer read and yet again I longed to just get up and move to Mount Polbearne. All my favourite characters were back, and I become so immersed in their stories that I soon felt like they were friends of mine. A great summery read for anyone and I promise you will fall in love with it, just like I did!

Books 31 - 40 will be up very soon!

Amy

x


















Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Goodreads Reading Challenge - Books 11 - 20

So as promised here are books 11 - 20 of the Goodreads Reading Challenge that I completed. Enjoy!

11) Lost and Found - Lilian Carmine


Lost and Found is the third and final book in The Lost Boys trilogy. I LOVED this series. I read the first two books back in 2014, and was so happy when Lost and Found was finally released. Freshly married to her childhood love Tristan Holloway, Joey is looking forward to a carefree future, free from the terrors that her and Tristan have endured. But first, she must face up to her past. Enrolling at 'The Gathering' Joey searchers for answers, but there is something/someone that doesn't want her to find out. Lost and Found was a great ending to the trilogy, however the ending left me wanting more! If you think this book is up your street, I suggest reading The Lost Boys and The Lost Girl first.

12) The Shadow Cabinet - Maureen Johnson


The Shadow Cabinet is the third book in The Shades of London series. I loved this book and this series. Rory and her friends are left reeling from a series of tragic events and are all racked with grief. Meanwhile, her classmate Charlotte has been kidnapped by a terrible organisation. Evidence is uncovered of a forty year old cult and several murders. Time is running out for Rory as she tries to save Charlotte and stop a nightmare being unleashed into London. This book had action, suspense and it kept me hooked.

13) Under My Skin - James Dawson


I picked this book up in my local library and to be honest I picked it up because it mentioned tattoos on the blurb, and I'm a big tattoo lover. Under My Skin is classed as a horror, but I didn't find it too scary if I'm honest, but it all depends on what your limits are. The book follows 17 year old Sally, a plain, average girl as she gets a tattoo, despite all of the warning signs. She soon starts to hear voices in her head, and soon realises that it's the tattoo - a pin up girl called Molly Sue who she can hear. Sally realises further on that she is unable to control Molly Sue and soon enough things take a nightmareish turn. It was a interesting concept and I did enjoy the story and the plot, but it's not a book I would read again.

14) Isla and the Happily Ever After - Stephanie Perkins


I have read Stephanie Perkins other books 'Anna and the French Kiss' and 'Lola and the Boy Next Door' so I was really excited to read Isla and the Happily Ever After. Plus, I do love a good teenage love story (I'm a romantic at heart). Isla has a crush on Josh and has done ever since their first year at the School of America, based in Paris. After a chance encounter in the summer, a romance blooms between them. However, as they begin their senior year back in Paris, they must confront problems that young couples face, such as being apart, families and the uncertainty of the future. I found it to be a good read, but I got so bored of Isla. She seemed very obsessive over her crush, and I just don't think it's a good message to send out for younger readers. However, I loved how characters from both of her previous books such as; Anna, Etienne, Lola and Cricket made cameo appearances. 

15) Juvie - Steve Watkins


I heard about Juvie via Youtube, and realised that it would be a book I'd be interested in reading, and it certainly didn't disappoint. Juvie is the story of two sisters and the sacrifice that they make. It follows teenager Sadie, as she takes the wrap for a crime she didn't commit, which was actually her sister, Carla's doing. She sacrifices everything to stop Carla going to prison and her daughter Lulu going into care. Sadie is forced to spend 6 months in Juvie. Can she survive her time there? and will things ever be the same? This story felt so real, and I almost felt like I was Sadie. I could feel her emotions, her sacrifice and her loss of freedom. It made me stop and think that things like this do happen. It was a real eye opener.

16) All I Know Now - Carrie Hope Fletcher


I am a BIG fan of Carrie! I love her vlogs, her music and I've seen her perform as Eponine in Les Miserables (and I met her!). I was so excited when I found out that she was writing a book based on her blog - All I Know Now. I pre-ordered it and got it on the day of release. This is a non fiction book and it's all based on how to survive the teenage years. Although I am 22 (21 when I read this), I still took a lot away from it. The book gives you advice, facts and also how Carrie dealt with things such as bullying, sex, love, puberty etc. Her writing style is so informal that you feel as if she's talking to you directly, just like it is in her vlogs. Carrie is such an influential, inspiring young woman and I am so proud to call myself a Hopeful!

17) Geekhood: Close Encounters of the Girl Kind - Andy Robb


I found this book in my local library and picked it up as the cover and the blurb intrigued me. If you love comedy then this book is right up your street. The book follows fourteen year old, Archie. A self confessed geek who loves role playing games and re-enacting fictional battles at his favourite place, The Hovel. However, when he meets the beautiful Sarah, who seems to like him, he starts trying to shake off his geekhood for good in means to impress her. I didn't think I'd love this book as much as I did to be honest. I loved the character of Archie who kept me laughing for ages after I closed the book, and I feel that many teenage boys could relate to this. 

18) A Kiss in Time - Alex Flinn


A Kiss in Time is basically a retelling of Sleeping Beauty. I love anything to do with fairytales and princesses so was really excited to read this book that I borrowed from the library. This retelling of the classic fairytale follows teenager Jack as he discovers a comatose town whilst on a trip of Europe. He finds the sleeping princess, Talia and can't help kissing her, awakening her and her town. What happens next is a mix of adventure and peril for Jack as he's now stuck with this bratty, spoilt princess in the modern day. I really enjoyed this book, it was a great twist to a classic fairytale and I can't wait to read more of Alex Flinn's work!

19) Everyday - David Levithan


I loved, loved, loved this book and it's gone down as one of my favourites of all time. I won't give much away as I want you to discover it's brilliance for yourselves, but I'll give you a sneak peak. What happens if you wake up everyday in a different body? This has become the norm for A, who since being born has woken up everyday as someone else. He has made peace with that, and follows a few simple rules. However, what happens when you fall in love with someone? How can you have a normal relationship when you are a different person each and everyday? I adored the concept of this book and loved every single word. You all need to read this book without fail!

20) Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist - Rachel Cohn & David Levithan


If you love quirky young adult fiction then you will love this. Although it didn't really stand out to me personally, I found it to be a quick, fun read. It all starts when Nick asks Norah to be his girlfriend for 5 minutes, to make his ex girlfriend jealous. What starts off as a 5 minute thing soon turns into a crazy adventure across New York. It was fun, fast paced and had all the wonders of first dates, anxiety and joy. 


So there's books 11 - 20. Tune in for books 21 - 30!

Amy

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Friday, 23 October 2015

Goodreads Reading Challenge - Books 1 - 10

At the start of the year I set myself a challenge on the site Goodreads to read 40 books throughout 2015. I was well and truly up for the challenge and was determined to beat it by Christmas. However, I must've gotten well into it, as I am now reading my fortieth book and we are only in the middle of October. So, as I have nearly completed the challenge I thought I would got through the books that I read as part of the challenge. As I have read nearly 40 books, I thought I would talk about 10 at a time, and do a weekly segment about them over 4 weeks. Some books I enjoyed, and some I wasn't too keen on, but I loved the challenge!

Here are the first 10 books I read;

1) Girl Online - Zoe Sugg


I started off the year by reading Girl Online - which I'd received as a Christmas present. I personally don't watch Zoe's YouTube videos, but I thought the concept of the book sounded really interesting, so wanted to give it a go. The book is about Penny, who runs a successful blog under the alias 'Girl Online'. When she is whisked away to New York with her family, she meets Noah, and soon enough feelings come into play. But what happens when you find out he's hiding a secret and you are thrust into the spotlight, not being able to hide behind your internet alias. Despite this book being part 'ghost written', I quite enjoyed it. The plot was interesting and I liked how it touched on issues such as anxiety, depression, bullying and first love. The sequel Girl Online on Tour has recently been released, and I think I'll have to read that too.

2) The Drowning of Arthur Braxton - Caroline Smailes


My second book was The Drowning of Arthur Braxton and I LOVED it! I'm so glad it's being made into a film and I'm so excited (also the director Luke Cutforth is one of my favourite YouTubers so thats a plus!). This book is described as a 'modern fairy tale' and I certainly have to agree with that! The plot of this book is rather dark, and deals with themes such as depression, sex, rape and suicide. So I'd say to read this you need to be at least 16. I won't give much away about the book, but it follows the story of bullied, depressed teenager Arthur Braxton as he finds out about The Oracle, and the secrets it holds. Everyone needs to read this book, it's honestly that good.

3) As Red as Blood - Salla Simmuka


I found this book in my local library and from the cover and the blurb thought it seemed rather interesting, so brought it home to divulge in. However, I was slightly disappointed with it. It centres around teenager Lummiki, who one day finds a stash of blood stained money hanging in her school's photography darkroom, as she's swept into a whirlpool of events to find out the origin of how they money got there. Despite the plot sounding interesting I found myself become quite bored. It didn't excite me, and it just wasn't a book that really wowed me.

4) The Body Finder - Kimberley Derting


This book was right up my street! I had found out about it via youtube and goodreads itself, so was really excited to get my hands on it. I love young adult novels with fantasy elements so this was a must read for me. The Body Finder is about 16 year old Violet, who ever since she was younger has had the power to 'sense' dead bodies. It's an ability that hasn't had much use, until a serial killer begins terrorizing her town, and she realises that she may be the key to stopping them. This book kept me hooked all the way through, and I found myself finishing it within a few days. I was rather upset when I finished it, as I wanted to keep reading on and on.

5) West End Girls - Jenny Colgan


I do love indulging in some chick lit from time to time, and as I'd read some Jenny Colgan before, I knew that I'd probably like this. Lizzie and Penny are twins, but complete opposites Penny is thin, outgoing and blonde and Lizzie is larger, quiet and thoughtful. However, they both share a desire to do something with their lives. So when they find out they have a grandma living in Chelsea, and that they need to house sit whilst she's in hospital they both jump at the chance. However, they soon realising that becoming 'it' girls is harder than it seems. I love Jenny Colgan's style of writing and this story had me laughing, but also had me crying. Jenny Colgan is honestly the queen of chick lit.

6) The Name of the Star - Maureen Johnson


This was another book that I knew I'd love straight away, due to the young adult fantasy themed elements within it. It's the first book in the Shades of London series, and it's a great one! American teenager Rory arrives in London, to start a new chapter at boarding school in London. She arrives just as a series of murders, similar to those of  the Jack the Ripper murder breaks out across London. The police are left with no witnesses and absolutely  no leads. However, Rory thinks she may have spotted the killer, but she's the only one who saw him and now she has become his next target. This book had action, it had suspense and it had great character development. Rory is a great heroine and you'll love her from the moment she is introduced.

7) Desires of the Dead - Kimberley Derting


As I loved 'The Body Finder', I couldn't wait to read the second book in the series - Desires of the Dead. This take place a little while after the events of the first book. Violet, despite trying to keep her ability a secret has attracted the attention of the FBI, which seems to threaten her way of living. She's also falling objective to a dangerous obsession, which she's convinced is something to do with her boyfriend Jay's new friend Mike. As she tries to work out the tragic history behind Mike and his family, she stumbles upon something that could put them all in danger. This was a great way to move the story forward and becoming hooked wasn't the word! This series is great, and I think it should get more recognition. 

8) The Art of Being Normal - Lisa Williamson


I had never read a book with LGBT+ themes before, so was really interested  to see how it was portrayed in The Art of Being Normal. David has always been an outsider. He's branded a freak by the school bully and his parents seem to think he's gay. However, that isn't true. David has always wanted to be a girl. When he joins his new school Leo has one goal, to stay invisible. However, he seems to attract the most attractive girl in year 11, which wasn't part of the plan. When Leo stands up for David during a fight, a friendship forms. This book follows two Transgender teens as they go through a journey of self discovery. This book really got me thinking about gender dysmorphia and what people must go through to become the person who they've always wanted to be. It's a topic that isn't touched on a lot, and I'm really glad I read this book. It was an eye opener for me.

9) The Madness Underneath - Maureen Johnson

I try to read book series as close together as possible, so I was pleased to be able to read The Madness Underneath - the second book in the Shades of London series quite close to when I read the first book. After a near fatal run in with the Jack the Ripper copycat, Rory is living in Bristol under the watchful eye of her parents. When it's suggested that she returns to her school in London,, she jumps at the opportunity. However, her run in with the ripper as turned her into a human terminus, able to eliminate ghosts with single contact. She then finds out that the shades - the secret ghost fighting police were responsible for her return. Now there is a new series of deaths across London, and Rory must convince the Shades to listen to her. This is just like the first book, full of action, suspense and excitement. 

10) Marly's Ghost - David Levithan


This is a retelling of Charles Dickens famous novel 'A Christmas Carol'. When his girlfriend, Marly, dies, Ben takes a thought provoking journey through Valentines Day past, present and future. Will he be able to change his ways? Despite loving A Christmas Carol, I was disappointed with this. As it was a retelling I was expecting it to be somewhat similar, but not as similar as it actually was. It was like the author had gone through the original and just changed characters and the theme from Christmas to Valentines. It had the potential to be a great little story, but I was let down.

So there's the first 10. I shall be coming back with numbers 11 - 20 next week.

Amy

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Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Libraries

Libraries – they can be great places. You can walk in, borrow as many books as you like for free, enjoy them and then return them weeks later. When I was younger I used to go the library where I lived, in Harwich, Essex a lot. I think that library help me learn to love books and reading. I remember borrowing books by authors such as Jacqueline Wilson and Roald Dahl (who both became two of my most treasured authors), and loving being able to escape into an interesting and exciting story. I remember being amazed that I could do this all for free! There was also loads of activities aimed at kids, such as the six week reading challenge during the Summer Holidays. I did the challenge a few times and won.

As I got older and school, exams and then college started to happen, I didn’t visit the library as often, which was a shame. I did keep reading, but I often found myself buying books and sometimes not enjoying them. So I would feel like I’d wasted my money, which is never a good thing. When I started university, I visited the library there a lot, but it was mainly to get books out for academic reading related to my course, I also noticed that it didn’t actually have any fiction in its stocks. However, whenever I paid it a visit I would be reminded of my childhood spent in my local library. I loved seeing all the books and the shelves and walking around for what seemed like hours. It made me realise what I had been missing out on during my teenage years.

When I finished University in 2014, I had to move back home, which was now in a different town, Ipswich. I’d made a promise to myself to join the library there, and I didn’t go back on my word. I got myself a library card, and on my first visit I was so happy. The library itself was in an old, historical building which made it even more exciting. I was thrilled to be amongst so many books, of so many different genres. I honestly felt like Belle when she first saw the library that the Beast gave to her in Beauty and the Beast. I spent a rather long time wandering, searching and eventually finding books. I was finally in a place where I belonged, being a major bookworm and all. I tend to go to my local library every week, just to see if there is anything to interest me. I always say I won’t stay long, but I end up taking a rather long time.

Despite my love of libraries, I have noticed that people don’t use them as much as they did a few years ago. In this age of e-readers, online shopping etc. some people may not feel the need to venture to their local library to take out a physical copy of a book. Yes, I know some libraries offer a service to borrow books on an e-reader but it’s just not the same in my opinion. I personally, love being able to spend hours amongst books, searching for the right one, and being able to take as many as I want home for free. There’s something magical about it, believe it or not. With this in mind, I was intrigued about what other people thought of libraries, so I asked people on a facebook group I'm part of, who I know a large majority of them are bookworms and this is what I got:

I don't use my local one, but I think libraries in larger cities can be an amazing thing, it's just a shame that ones in smaller areas are less cared for

I love libraries. I spend so much time in them!! LONG LIVE LIBRARIES!!

I'm 22 and I love libraries and I use my local library! I'd be broke without them! Thanks to libraries I get access to a lot of different books without having to necessarily buy them. I also love the fact that there's entire buildings with just books”

“I love libraries, if I lived nearer I would use it all the time, but I used to use it tons when I was younger. I like that you can try new books, that there is a range of choice, that you can read a book you're not sure about without buying it. I love the smell of a library and that fact there a building full of books I would love to live in a library

I'm 19 and love libraries. I use my university library all the time! I also used to use my local one back home but I think it's either closed or the opening hours were cut because hardly anyone goes in there. I love the feel of a real book in your hand and the smell of dusty bookshelves rather than reading stuff online. It's also much easier to write in textbooks (although you can't write in the ones you borrow from the library, obviously)

It was so great to read these comments, and realise that despite technology, that the love of libraries is still alive within people’s hearts. I don’t think I’ll ever get bored of visiting my local library, and I really hope it is around for years to come!

What do you think of libraries? Let me know!

Amy

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Tuesday, 13 October 2015

NaNoWriMo Teaser

So in November I shall be taking part in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) where you aim to write a novel of 50,000 words in the 30 days in November. I attempted to do it last year, but failed. However, I am determined to win this year and have been planning the novel that I am going to be writing. My novel will be a Young Adult fantasy romance, and I thought I would share with you the short paragraph outline that I have written (I have left out character names as I am still deciding on them).

A teenage girl, for as long as she can remember has been able to see the spirits of the dearly departed, an ability that she tries to hide from everyone close to her. One night, in the grounds of her boarding school near a murky lake she spots a mysterious boy. Despite everything, she is drawn into him by fascination and curiosity. The two spark up an unbreakable bond, even though they know they cannot ever be together. Girl ends up realising this and tries to break all ties with her ghost, however she starts to find out about how she got her abilities and things start to make more sense to her. After finding out about her past and her ability, she soon finds a way to be with her ghost, but it’s costly. Will she sacrifice everything for a chance at true love?  

I shall be blogging throughout November to keep you updated with my progress and how I'm doing. It will probably be a weekly segment, like a diary.

Anyone else doing NaNo this year?

Amy

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Monday, 12 October 2015

Top 5 Boys in Books

So I am a huge bookworm (well I must be otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this blog) and most of the fiction books I read are young adult, dystopian and chick lit based. Meaning lots of male characters for me and many other girls to fantasise over. I know there are many strong female characters in these books too, and I shall be writing a post about them in due course. However, for this post I shall be focusing on male characters and will be sharing with you my top five. This post was partly inspired by the song “Boys in Books are Better” By Carrie Hope Fletcher which you can watch the video too here:

The fictional boys in this list are based on my opinion and if you have any different fictional boys who you love or think should have been in this list please comment and let me know.

5. Jacob Black – The Twilight Saga


Yes! I know the whole Twilight craze has died out a little, but that still hasn’t stopped me from reliving the books over again. When I first read Twilight back in 2008 when I was just 15 I admit I was Team Edward. However, when I moved on to read New Moon I was suddenly converted to Team Jacob. I felt sorry for Jacob throughout the whole saga; he was there for Bella when Edward left her in New Moon and despite Bella practically leading him on, he still stayed loyal to her. Although I must say I thought he was a bit of an idiot when he forced himself onto her in Eclipse. I was really pleased when he finally got his happy ending in Breaking Dawn when he imprinted on Renesmee. Meaning he could still be a part of Bella’s life, but in a totally different way. Oh and who wouldn’t want them muscles eh?

4. Sam Roth – The Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy


I promise there’s not a  theme of wolves in this list! I have only recently read this series and I am just over halfway through Forever (the last book in the trilogy) and I am in love with Sam! As soon as I started reading Shiver I fell in love with him. He’s just the kind of boy you would want for your own, and I am slightly jealous of Grace! His love and loyalty to Grace is just something else, he loved her from the moment he saved her from the pack. He’s been through a lot and when he gets flashbacks of the moment his parents tried to kill him I find myself welling up. I just want to hold him close. He is that mysterious, book loving, musician that you just want to love.

3. Tobias Eaton – The Divergent Trilogy


I love this trilogy and I love Tobias! At first I thought he was a bit of a dick, but the further you get into the series the more you find out about him. Going into his fear landscape was an eye opener for me and I found out we had similar fears, such as confinement. Also learning about his relationship with his father, Marcus, was heartbreaking. He is worthy of Dauntless, he’s tough, he’s strong and he’s willing to do anything for Tris.

2. Ron Weasley – Harry Potter Series


This is not just because I have a soft spot gingers. Most people when mentioning their favourite boys from this series would mention Harry or Draco etc. But not me! I love Ron. He may not be famous or that smart or that strong, but is certainly loyal, brave and one of the best friends you could have. He stuck by Harry no matter what, despite feeling like just his stupid sidekick. Even when he left the tent in Deathly Hallows, he wanted to come back straight away. Oh and he faced up to his fear of Spiders in Chamber of Secrets and destroyed a horcrux in Deathly Hallows. If that isn't bravery, I don’t know what is. Oh and he got the girl in the end.

1. Augustus Waters – The Fault in Our Stars


The Fault in Our Stars is probably my favourite modern YA book and I have lost count of how many times I have read it. I was in love with Augustus from the moment he got introduced in the book. He was this slighty cocky, arrogant teenager who I couldn’t help but fall for. His charm didn’t just captivate me and many others, but also Hazel Grace. The way he complimented her and showed his love was just adorable and I felt myself wishing I was her. He’s quirky, funny, smart and rather attractive. His love for Hazel Grace till the end was so inspiring. I cry every time at the end of the book, as I just didn’t want him to go. He needed to stay and live out the rest of his life with his Hazel Grace. Damn you John Green!

So there you have it. There are my top 5 boys in books. Let me know if you agree or if you have any others you love.

Amy

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