Wednesday, 26 February 2014

I've been nominated for a Liebster Award!

I'm so happy to let you all know that I've been nominated for a Liebster award. The lovely Karolina at Karolina's Bookshelf Reflections has nominated me for the award, along with a few other fellow book bloggers.

 The Liebster Blog Award translates to "the beloved" or "the dearest". The award is given as a way to celebrate smaller blogs. (Only blogs with under 200 followers can be awarded.) Before you accept the award, there are a certain set of tasks you must complete. The first is to reveal 11 facts about you, answer the 11 questions asked by the blogger who nominated you and then create 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer. Phew! Now let's get to it!

  11 Facts about Me

1) I have recently dropped out of a teaching training degree and although it was one of the hardest decisions I've had to make, it turned out for the best. I'm now in a job I love and am really excited for the future.

2) Every year I try to learn French. Every year I fail.

3) I have a pet chinchilla with only one back leg.

4) I play acoustic guitar.

5) I absolutely love board games and have seven different versions of Monopoly (and counting!)

6) I've been with my boyfriend for two years, and we're planning on moving out together this year.

7) My best friend looks like Chris O'Dowd (Roy from The IT Crowd).

8) My favourite authors are F. Scott Fitzgerald and Nick Hornby. 

9) I wear winged eyeliner so often that my face seems unrecognisable without it. 

10) In the future I'd like to live somewhere by the sea and be able to surf every weekend. 

11) At the beginning of last year I cut off most of my hair and donated it to The Little Princess Trust to be made into wigs for children going through cancer treatments. 

11 Questions from Karolina:

1) What prompted you to start blogging?

I've been blogging on-and-off for about three years, but this blog was made as a creative outlet for me to write and make friends. I set myself a reading challenge, and way I went!

2) If you could choose to marry any character out of any book who would you choose and why? 

I must admit, I've never "fallen in love" with a character from a book, but if I had to choose though I'd probably say Luke Brandon from the Confessions of a Shopaholic series. He's witty, successful and is romantic without being over-the-top or soppy. 

3) What is the weirdest thing you have ever done? 

I've done quite a lot of weird things! I've walked around town with a "free hugs" sign before and participated in a zombie walk. It was very fun scaring people! 

4) What is your favourite book series and why? 

Hmm, tough one! I think I'm going to have to go with The Chronicles of Narnia as they were some of the first books I read when I was a child.

5) What is the last book you cried over?

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne. Oh my god! I finished reading it before a lecture at university. Everyone wondered what had happened to me when I arrived as my eyes were bloodshot and puffy!

6) Which book would you like to give a different ending to than the author intended? What would it be?

This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper. I really enjoyed this book as it was very witty and reminded me of Nick Hornby's books, however not a lot of the problems were resolved in the end. It didn't seem fully finished to me. I'm not sure what I'd prefer though as an alternative ending.

7) What author (living or dead) would you like to meet given the chance?

F Scott Fitzgerald, no contest. I have a love affar with the 1920's and I'd love to know all about that time and what inspired his stories. I'd also want to know all about his relationship with Zelda! 

8) You are flying over the ocean with your whole library in two. The plane crashes but you can save three books. Quick! Which will you save?

A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby
The Curious Incident of The Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
The Great Gatsby by Nick Hornby 

(But my entire library of books would be far too heavy to carry onto a plane!) 

9) Two characters from different books are in a cage-fight. Who are they and who would win?

Scott Pilgrim (Scott Pilgrim VS the World) VS Tom (All My Friends are Superheroes). They'd be a good match because they're both in over-the-top fantastical books/graphic novels. I'm not sure who'd win though, but I think my money would be on Scott (After all, he defeated seven evil exes!) 
10) Say you never fell under the spell of reading. What would you be doing right now?
I'd probably be blogging about films (my other love).

11) You can be anyone you want, living person or fictional character. Who would you be and why?

I wouldn't necessarily like to be another person but I'd love to have experienced what it was like to be a flapper girl in the 1920s! 

I nominate these lovely bloggers:

My questions for the nominees:
  • Whats your favourite book and why?
  • What made you decide to start your blog?
  • What would you say has been your greatest achievement so far?
  • Who would be your ideal dinner guests (living or dead)?
  • Who are the top five people you'd most like to meet? 
  • If you had to live in a decade other than your own, which one would you choose and why?
  • What's your favourite season?
  • If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go, and why?
  • Where's your favourite place? 
  • What's your favourite type of food?
  • How do you like to spend your free time? 

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Showcase Sunday #2

Showcase Sunday is hosted by the lovely Vicky at Books, Biscuits and Tea. It's a chance for bloggers to show off their weekly book related swag and an opportunity to meet other bloggers and talk about all things books!

I've not brought that many books this week, as my TBR pile is growing and growing at a pace that I cannot keep up with! However, I couldn't resist getting these two books, as I'd been wanting to read them for a while. Firstly I managed to get an e-book of Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn. I completely adored Gone Girl and I'm looking forward to reading Gillian's debut novel. I have a feeling that this book is going to be another brilliant psychological thriller. 

I got my hands on this e-book thanks to Galaxy chocolate who are offering a free Kindle e-book with every chocolate bar. The special offer bars are quite hard to find, so if you manage to see some, snap them up quickly! They're a great offer as you get two of my favourite things - chocolate and books!!

The second book is 31 Songs by Nick Hornby. I spotted this gem yesterday at a second hand record store that my boyfriend had taken me into. Nick Hornby is one of my all-time-favourite authors, so I was very pleased to find this as a hard-back version, as I'd almost brought the paperback last week. It's also in very good condition despite it being second hand. Some of the colour has faded on the front, but I think that it gives it character. 

This book is all about the songs that Nick Hornby holds dear, and why. I love the idea of this book. I think it's so interesting to learn about other people's music taste and how people associate their songs with their life experiences. One of the favourite things is to go through my friends iPod or iTunes library and asking why they like each songs. It's really fun, I'd recommend it!

I'd love to know what you've all brought or been given this week. Let me know, or leave your Showcase Sunday links in the comments! 

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Saturday, 22 February 2014

How They Met and Other Stories by David Levithan Review

 In the UK, February is the month of Valentine's Day and LGTB History Month, so what better way to celebrate both than to read a romantic LGTB book?! Although, I must admit, I didn't realise that most of the stories in this book had a running theme of sexuality and identity until I started reading it. But it was a happy coincidence. It also made me realise that I hadn't read many books with gay characters as protagonists, so that was something I really enjoyed.

This book is a book full of mini love stories. As the title suggests, the main theme is about how the different couples meet. Each story was completely different to the last, offering up different genders, sexualities and ethnicities. I've never read David Levithan's books before, but heard a lot of great things, and I must admit, he writes each character with authenticity. Despite what the cover would have you to believe, not every story is a happy romantic one. Some were about heartbreak, loss and unrequited love, but these stories were just as interesting to read as the happy ones.

One of my favourite stories is about a young couple that meet on an aeroplane. They're sitting next to each other and are reading the same book! I've always fantasied about making a friend that way. One of the main criticisms I have with this book, however, is that some stories seemed underdeveloped in comparisons to others. But after reading the prologue, I realised that some of these stories date back to when David was in secondary school. He used to write love stories for his friends as Valentine's day presents, and these are the stories that are featured in the book. It is obvious to see how his writing style has developed and improved over time.

Overall, this book is a very enjoyable read. I really liked all of the different characters and perspectives David offered up. However, some stories seemed underdeveloped, and sometimes it was hard to imagine characters fully until half way into the story as their gender was not addressed straight away. A very lovely read none-the-less, and if you're looking for a sweet collection of YA stories, then I'd recommend this one. 

Favourite Quotes:

"We'd said we'd keep in touch. But touch is not something you can do from a distance. Touch is not something you can keep as soon as it's gone, it's gone.  We should have said we'd keep in words, because they are all we can string between us - words on a telephone line, words appearing on a screen."

"The minute I knew I was in love was the minute when there was no question about it."

"You have to believe there are kisses and laughs and risks worth taking." 

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Thursday, 20 February 2014

Free Kindle e-book with Galaxy chocolate!

As some of you may already be aware Galaxy chocolate have teamed up with Amazon, and are offering a free Kindle e-book with every chocolate bar brought. When I first heard of this campaign I couldn't contain my excitement, books AND chocolate?! What could be better?! 

What I didn't prepare myself for was how hard these bars actually are to find! I eventually found some yesterday in my local WHSmiths after about two weeks of searching. So if you see any of these on your travels I'd suggest grabbing as many as you can! 

Once you actually manage to find some, there's a little code that can be found inside the wrapper that can be swapped for one of ten books including Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn (which I've been wanting to read since finishing Gone Girl) and I Heart New York by Lindsey Kelk. Full list of books can be found here.

It's an amazing offer and I wanted to blog about it so all of my fellow book bloggers and book lovers were aware of it. Yesterday I ended up buying four bars, so for just over £3, I've got four books and four chocolate bars. Too bad I have to eat all of the chocolate to get the book code... Damn... Unlucky me!

I'd recommend that as soon as you find one of these special bars, you snap them up quickly. Happy hunting! 
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Sunday, 16 February 2014

Showcase Sunday #1

I'm so happy to be writing my first Showcase Sunday post. SS is a weekly event hosted by Vicky at Books, Biscuits and Tea. It's a chance for bloggers to showcase what books we've accumulated over the week. It is also a great opportunity to meet other like-minded bloggers and have a good nose through the books they've received too! I must admit, I'm a very nosey person, and love to get inspiration on what books to read next from other bloggers. 

I've always loved Vicky's blog, and since my blog has been live, she's been nothing but friendly and welcoming to me. I've always loved the Showcase Sunday posts, but never felt like I had enough books to show on a weekly basis. But boy, do I this week! 

1) Amity & Sorrow by Peggy Riley 
2) The Time Travelers Wife by Audrey Niffenegger 
3) The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer

All of these books were given to me for different reasons, and I found it funny that they all seemed to have been given to me at the same time. (The little neat freak living inside of me also really enjoys the fact that all of these books are colour coordinated! What a lovely coincidence.) 

As explained in my previous post, The Shock of the Fall was given to me by my boyfriend for Valentine's and International Book Giving Day. And after looking up some other Showcase Sunday posts, it seems that a lot of us have been given TSotF this week so it'll be really interesting to see everybody's differing opinions on this book once we've all read it. 

What I got in the post:

I was lucky enough to be sent Amity & Sorrow through speaking to the lovely author Peggy Riley on Twitter. Thank you again Peggy for this book, I seriously cannot wait to read it! It's about two teenage girls who have been rescued from a cult their father ran. It sounds like it's going to be a pulse raising thriller. The types of books you can't put down because you have to know what happens. 

And I anonymously received The Time Travelers Wife as I had taken part in LeeLeeLoves Blind Date with a Book. The idea was simple, we were each given a name and an address, and we all had to anonymously send out a book for our chosen "date" to receive on Valentine's day. And I was lucky enough to receive mine on the love day itself. 

I have been meaning to read this book for a while, as I was somewhat disappointed with the film, but heard that the book was miles better. I was also so touched to have an attached note from my anonymous book valentine! (On a CAT post-it note! CATS! I feel like this person already knows me!)

I've stuck the post-it note on the inside of the book cover now to prevent it from getting lost or folded. I think it's so lovely that my blind date attached a little note about why this book was chosen for me, and I want to keep it with the book for as long as I can.

Participating in the book blind date was such a nice experience. It's lovely to know that someone you've never met would go through the effort of buying and sending a book to you. It's also a great way to read books that you might not have chosen yourself. I would definitely get involved with another book blind date or book swap again, I absolutely loved it!

I'd love to know what books you've received this week. Drop off your Showcase Sunday links or just tell me what books you've brought, borrowed or been gifted this week! 

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Friday, 14 February 2014

International Book Giving Day/Valentine's Day Loot!

I hope everybody's been enjoying either Valentine's day and/or International Book Giving Day. I'm hoping that everybody received some shiny new books for their collection (or at least some chocolates!) 

My boyfriend and I decided to buy each other a book each for Valentine's day this year, rather than the usual presents. So it was a bit of a coincidence that it also coincided with International Book Giving Day. I brought him On The Road by Jack Kerouac, and I've received The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer. 

I've been wanting to read this book since it won the Costa Book of the Year Award. I was drawn to it straight away as the cover is so pretty, and it looked quite whimsical. It's actually about man's decline into mental illness (a topic that is very close to my heart.) And Amazon UK have described it as a book that will "keep you up all night" and "linger in your mind for days". I'm really looking forward to getting stuck into this book and for some reason, I think it'll be similar to The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold (which is definitely up there in my All Time Favourites.)

I was also lucky enough to receive TWO other books in the post this morning. I could not contain my excitement, and I'm still grinning from ear to ear. There is absolutely nothing nicer than receiving a book through the post, particularly when one of them is a surprise. There will be a blog post on Sunday talking more about those! 

I'd love to know if you've given/received any books today. And let me know if you've read The Shock of the Fall. I'd be really interested in knowing what you thought. 

I hope everyone's had an amazing day, whatever it is you've gotten up to. 

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Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Sharing the book love: International Book Giving Day & Blind Date with a Book

Valentine's day has always been a too commercial for my taste. I never brought into the idea of showing someone you love them on one specific day of the year. However, this year, I'm definitely going to be celebrating on the 14th February, as it's International Book Giving Day, too!

Giving someone a book on the 14th is the perfect alternative to the traditional Valentine's day presents. Who wants a boring box of chocolates when you can have a book? (or both!) Surprisingly, my boyfriend and I had actually already planned to just buy each other a book this year before I'd heard of International Book Giving Day. We even picked the books we wanted out together, which made a nice change from secret present buying.

A second way I'm involved with IBGD is through participating in my first blind date with a book, thanks to LeeLeeLoves. A group of book bloggers have all decided to  anonymously send a secret book to someone. I sent mine off at the beginning of last week, and hopefully my own secret book should be arriving before the 14th. (Another little love/book day treat for me!)

So, if you want to get involved, the instructions are simple: buy a book, and give it to someone. The person you choose is entirely up to you. It could be a friend, a family member, a stranger or you could even leave it in a waiting room for someone to find. Get creative!
I'd love to know if anyone else is getting involved with IBGD.

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Thursday, 6 February 2014

Book Haul #1

This week I went a little crazy at the Waterstones and Amazon sale... But honestly, who can resist 20% off and 'buy one, get one half price' deals?! Girl gotta buy herself some books when they're on sale! And now that I have a lot more books in my possession (and absolutely no more available book space to store them) I thought I'd write my first haul post!

1) How They Met and Other Stories by David Lavithan

In my last post, I mentioned that I wanted to read a love story this month, for obvious lovey-dovey reasons. I ended up getting some really great suggestions from you all on Twitter, so thanks for that. (Definitely going to be reading The Choice by Nicholas Sparks later on in the year, thanks to Emma Louise's suggestion.)

However, when I saw this book, I couldn't resist it. It's a collection of stories about love and how different couples have met. I've been recommended David Lavithan through the blogging community, and I'm really looking forward to reading his work for the first time.

2) Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Lavithan 

Another David Lavithan book (let's hope I enjoy his writing!) I picked this up as I wanted to read more John Green books. He has made quite a name for himself, and I really enjoyed The Fault in Our Stars, so thought that this would be a good one to read next as it seems completely different to TFiOS.

It's about two strangers who share the same name and become unlikely friends. There was also mention of a musical in the blurb, which appeals to the former-drama student in me. This book promises to be funny and heartwarming, something that I come to expect from John Green.

3) The Pig That Wants to be Eaten by Julian Baggini

Is it wrong to eat the pig that wants to be eaten? Julian Baggini asks that, and lots of other moral dilemmas in this book. I'm really looking forward to reading this as I have always been intrigued by moral philosophy, and would always play the "would you rather..." game at school.

There are 100 thought experiments in this book, that might change the way you think about certain topics and debates. I'm intrigued to see if it wavers my beliefs and ideas. I think this will be a very interesting read.

4) The Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuk 

I was suggested this book and JJJRH by Gary Vaynerchuk by my boss last week. (I start my new job as a social media assistant on Monday, by the way!) And I'm really looking forward to reading this book because Gary Vaynerchuk is a very inspirational character (Seriously, Google him!) He is an expert on social media and how businesses should use it to engage with their audience.

Through social media, he humanises his brand, rather than using social media to sell his product, he uses it to connect and engage with people. The Thank You Economy is all about how we interact with each other on social media, and how communication is drastically changing due to the internet.

5) Jab Jab Jab Right Hook by Gary Vaynerchuk 

The second Vaynerchuk book on the list, I actually finished this book last night and will be writing a review very soon (keep your eyes peeled). This book was very beneficial to me as I'm currently learning the ropes of social media for my new job. But I think it'd also be really helpful for bloggers to read to as it gives you ideas on how to interact with your readers. It's a great tool for anyone who is trying to open up/run their own business, but also people who are just looking to expand their network.

There are loads of really colourful examples, and Gary writes in such a way that is easy to understand, funny and engaging. It completely opened my eyes to how badly some brands are using social media. Social media is still so new, and it's so important to learn how to use it to the best of its ability.

I'd love to know whats in your book pile and if, like me, you also brought a hell of a lot of books this week!

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Tuesday, 4 February 2014

February's book | Light (The Night Has a Thousand Eyes) by Francis William Bourdillon

As a part of my 2014 Book Challenge, I am going to be reading a different book each month from a writer that is displayed on my Waterstones Literary Quote calendar. This months writer is Francis William Bourdillon, who was a British poet and translator. I absolutely love the design of this months quote, the beautiful mint greens and pinks sum up valentines day perfectly to me. (And it's colour coordinated with my room, which makes me very happy!)

The quote on the calendar is taken from Bourdillon's most popular poem, Light, although is often referred to as The Night Has a Thousand Eyes. The book challenge was slightly different this month, as rather than reading a whole book by the writer, I just read the poem that the quote was from. I tried to find an anthology of Francis William Bourdillon, however, had no luck, so had to make do with reading his poems online, instead. 

I've always loved poetry, and have quite a few different collections lying around that I dip in and out of. So this was a good opportunity for me to kickstart February by reading a poem: 

"The night has a thousand eyes, 
And the Day but one;
Yet the light of the bright world dies 
With the dying sun.

The mind has a thousand eyes, 
And the heart but one;
Yet the light of a whole life dies
When love is done." 

- Light by Francis William Bourdillon 

I really enjoyed this poem, and think it's so appropriate for this time of year. To me, the last stanza is about how your brain can jump from thought to thought with ease, however your heart, has only one true feeling, and that's love. And without love you are not living, you are merely existing. (It might sound very cheesy, but I believe it's true.) 

February is such an important time for me, as my moms birthday is actually on Valentines day itself. (I've actually just finished wrapping her presents!) And this also gives my boyfriend and I an excuse to celebrate Valentines in our special special way on a different day to most people. But regardless of if your single or taken, I think February is all about showing the people you love just how much they mean to you.

I'm also thinking of indulging in a love story this month due to it being the loved-up month. I have already read quite a few Nicholas Sparks novels and The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (OMG. Has everybody seen the trailer yet????) So if anybody has any similar suggestions for books that could warm the cockles of my heart this February, let me know by either commenting or tweeting me @amandajtweets

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