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

x

Sunday, 11 October 2015

What is Love?

What is love?

Is it in what we see?
When you look into each other's eyes
And watch them gleam

Is it in what we hear?
Them sweet noises
That we cherish so dear

Is it in how we feel?
When we hold someone close
That it doesn't seem real

Is it in what's inside?
Those feelings that can't escape
And cannot hide

Is it different to each of us?
A feeling, an emotion
That we want to discuss

Is it in all of these things and more?
Something that we want to delve into
And just explore

What is love?
We surely cannot say
But it's inside each of us
And we feel it everyday

I Wake Up

I wake up to the glow of the morning sun
My glorious day has just begun
What will happen I cannot say?
But I will find something, come what may
I could go and read under the trees
And feel the gentle summer breeze
I could drink tea with an old friend
And talk for hours on end
I could find the love of my life
And become Husband and Wife
I could also do nothing on this glorious day
And watch time melt away
But no matter what I do, I will always feel blessed
As spontaneity is always the best

The Meadow

She closes her eyes and she's transported there
To a beautiful meadow without a care

She feels at peace, like nothing will go wrong
She feels like dancing, like singing a song

She walks around with such ease
She feels the grass, the flowers, the breeze

The sun it shines, sparkling all around
And birds make the most beautiful sound

She really is in her happy place
This feeling is something she will never erase

She has finally found a place she does belong
It's just a shame she can't bring others along

But all of a sudden she opens her eyes
And she's in for a big surprise

The meadow was happening inside her head
And that is something that fills her with dread

Why did it have to seem so real?
And will her disappointment ever heal?

Grandad

This Poem is dedicated to my Grandad who I sadly lost at the start of this year.

It’s been a while but I still miss you
And I know I should say it more than I do
I miss how you always used to be there
Even when it seemed like I didn’t care
You always seemed to make me smile
Couldn’t you have stayed a little while?
I remember when I was little
And we used to get into all sorts of pickles
I loved sitting on your knee
Giggling away with laughter and glee
You were one person I looked up too
And you didn’t have a single clue
When you got ill you still stayed strong
And just carried along
Your courage was something I really admired
And something that I hope I can acquire
Even though you are now gone
Your memory will still carry on
I know you are looking down on me from up there
And your spirit will travel on through the air
You will be always be in my heart
Until I meet you again wherever you are.

Booktober!

So last October youtuber/actress/singer/writer and very big inspiration to me - Carrie Hope Fletcher started up Booktober - where you read one book each week in October. I tried to do it last year, but due to life and work I couldn't finish it which was a big shame! However, it is back this year and I am determined to finish my four books this year! It took me a while to choose what books to read, but I finally decided after much deliberation.

The books I shall be reading for Booktober 2015 are;

  • The Colour Purple - Alice Walker (I've finished this already and a review will be up soon!)
  • Forever - Maggie Stiefvater (the third book in The Wolves of Mercy Falls series! I am halfway through it and I am loving it!)
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings - Maya Angelou (my mum told me about Maya Angelou and I am very excited to see what her writing is like!)
  • All The Bright Places - Jennifer Niven (I have heard so many good things about this book and I can't wait to read it!)
So there are the four books I shall be reading. I really hope I can finish on time, but I'm sure I'll be able too. I just need to make sure I make time for it. 

Are any of you doing Booktober this year? Let me know what you are reading!

Amy 

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Welcome!

Welcome to the Land of Books and Pens! I'm Amy, and I have started off blogs before but they were usually about things that I got bored of easily and I forgot about them after a month or two. However, a few days ago a idea came to me! As a self confessed bookworm and as a writer in the early stages of discovering my passion for the art I thought "why don't I start up a blog about books and writing?". Alas! The Land of Books and Pens was born! I will be posting all things to do about books on here, such as book reviews, book hauls, books I've read recently etc and also I shall be posting my writing on here too such as Poetry, Short Stories, Story Samples and articles I've written for the music site that I write for. I am really excited about this and I really hope that you keep coming back for more. I'd also love to read other blogs based on books/writing so if you know of any let me know!

Amy

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