Wednesday, 28 May 2014

An explanation...

So, it would appear that I have some explaining to do. So much for Blogging every day in May...

I've been away from this blog for just over two weeks now, and I must admit, I think it was just what I needed. 

I only started this blog in January, and it received attention from publishers quickly. I started receiving books to review and it all became a little overwhelming for me. Reading started to become something that I had to do and this break really was the well-needed rest I needed.

My time away has made me realise how much I love being a part of the blogging community! I've been reading the same book now all month, The Good Children by Roopa Farooki - It's quite lengthy, and I didn't think I had any updates to share with you. 

However, the Blog Every Day in May challenge, although unsuccessful, taught me that it's okay if I post something that isn't book related.

So, I'm back - expect to see a lot more posts from me pretty soon! 

I hope you're all well. Let me know how you've been!

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Monday, 12 May 2014

Because I'm happy...

When you're not feeling 100%, it's important to remind yourself of the little things that make you feel positive.

Here's a selection of things that make me happy:

Congratulations if you can read my handwriting. You win at life.

I'd love to know what makes you happy. Let me know by either commented or tweeting me @amandajtweets.

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Sunday, 11 May 2014

Reading for pleasure...

I hope everybody's having a great Sunday.

I thought I'd blog about something that has been on my mind a lot today, and that's reading challenges.

It's brilliant to challenge yourself to something. I've got quite a few challenges going on at the moment, including Blog Every Day in May and my own book challenge for this year. 

Challenges are a great way to test yourself and discover something, but what happens if a challenge stops becoming fun? 

I think that reading should always be a joy, and if you're not enjoying it any more, put the book down and move on to the next. Life's too short for books that don't make you happy! 

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Saturday, 10 May 2014

Ed Sheeran in The Fault in Our Stars Soundtrack!!

I can't even. 
Without a doubt one of the best books that I read last year was John Green's The Fault in our Stars. 

I'm also a big Ed Sheeran fan, so my little heart couldn't take it when this song was released yesterday:

JUST LISTEN TO IT! It's so amazing. 

I challenge anybody who has read the book to listen to this song and not to cry. I was welling up throughout the whole thing. 

It's too beautiful not to share. 

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Friday, 9 May 2014

BEDM Day 9: Motivation

Motivation. This topic couldn't have come at a better time.

I must be honest, I wasn't in the mood for blogging today, but with an hour until midnight left I'm sat here typing away.

Why? Because I've set myself this challenge. Testing myself is my way of self-motivation. I like to know my limits and setting myself mini-tasks (like blogging every day in May) help me do that. 

It's a strange thing motivation, sometimes I can sit down and just write reams and reams. I'll have tons of ideas and I can't wait to get pen to paper, and other times there's absolutely nothing. It feels like my brain is empty. 

In those moments it's not motivation or inspiration that spurs me on, it's routine. And I think that's just as important as being inspired. Once you get yourself in a routine to write or do something creative, that's when you'll start noticing improvements. 

One of the best pieces of advice I got from World Book Night was to just keep writing - even when you don't feel like it. 

And that's why this post has not structure or photographs or anything that's aesthetically pleasing, but I did it. I blogged when I didn't feel like it. I pushed myself and that's my motivation. 

Now it's your turn, what do you use as motivation? 

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Thursday, 8 May 2014

Currently Reading: The Good Children by Roopa Farooki

The Good Children - Roopa Farooki*
I don't have any book reviews to share with you at the moment, so what I thought I'd discuss the book I'm currently reading instead. 

I started The Good Children a couple of weeks ago but haven't managed to make much progress with it as I've been busy. And I've gotten into a horrible habit of forgetting to take it to work with me. (Being bookless on a train is awful!) 

The Good Children is set in the Punjab in the 1940s. It follows a strict family and the theme of honour and obeniance is constant throughout. It follows the lives four siblings, Sully, Jakie, Mae and Lana. 

At times it's heartbreaking, one example is that the two young boys are unable to do anything else but study. Their mother wants them to succeed, wants them both to be doctors for no other reason than to brag about them. 

This desire and pressure is forced upon them so much that they don't have time to be children... They can't play, they're not allowed to go to the cinema. They just get beaten and told to study harder. 

I'm really looking forward to having some time to myself this weekend to really emerge myself in the story - I think it's going to be a good one! 

What's everybody else reading at the moment? 

*A big thanks to BookBridgr for sending me this copy to review!

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Wednesday, 7 May 2014

BEDM Day 7: Gadgets!

Hello again! 

It seems like only yesterday I was here posting here - oh, wait... 

I must admit, I thought for a moment that I wouldn't find time to blog today but I've forced myself and very glad I did! (I refuse to let 'Blog Every Day in May' beat me!) 

Today's topic is gadgets, so I thought I'd share some of the tools that help me with this blog. 

Firstly, my laptop. That's pretty self-explanatory one. I write all of my posts, edit photographs and store information and projects on it. I use the calendar feature a lot for work, personal and blogging. I'd be lost without it! 

I've also been using my iPad a lot more recently. I find it perfect for browsing other blogs and commenting on them. It's been great using it to check up on everybody else's BEDM progress!

And last my phone. Of course. I get my emails, blog notifications and personal texts through this. I also use it to note down ideas that automatically sync to my laptop and phone so that I don't forget them. 

I love my gadgets, but I also think it's important to put some time aside every day to unplug. It's sometimes hard to have "you" time when there's notifications flashing all over the place. So, that's something I'm trying to do a bit more often this month, too.

What are your favourite gadgets and what do you use them for? I'd love to know! 

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Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Bank Holiday Round Up #1

I hope everybody has as much fun as I did during the bank holiday weekend.

I spent it in Tamworth visiting my boyfriend and his family. Here's a round up of some of the photographs I took over the weekend. (See, I told you I'd be taking more photos!

1. I've been spending a lot of time on my laptop writing blogs for BEDM and reading everybody else's posts.

2. I treated myself to a lovely mint green playsuit from New Look - I couldn't resist!

3. My boyfriend cooked me one of my favourite dinners, pasta puttanesca. (I also found out that this dish is nicknamed 'Tart's Spaghetti', because puttanesca means 'lady of the night' in Italian...) 

4. I munched a double veggie burger in the sunshine at a friend's BBQ on Sunday.

5. And on the evening my boyfriend and I went to the pub to see his dad preforming at open mic night.

6. We had a relaxed time on Monday wondering around town and sitting the castle grounds - which are beautiful this time of year (even if my hay fever didn't agree!)

A very good bank holiday weekend for me! What did everybody else get up to? 

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Monday, 5 May 2014

Out of my comfort zone: Kidd Pivot The Tempest Replica

Try something a little out of your comfort zone today. You might just enjoy it.

On Friday night I went out with my mom to the Birmingham Hippodrome. There's currently an International Dance Festival in Birmingham at the moment with lots of different plays and performances happening across the city. 

I've never had much of an interest in dance before, my theatre experience is limited to musicals and plays. So what better time to try something new than at a dance festival?!

I decided to see Kidd Pivot The Tempest Replica as the performance is based on Shakespeare's The Tempest. It seemed ideal seen as I'm going to be reading Shakespeare this month

I must admit, I was a little apprehensive beforehand as I didn't know what to expect. However, I thoroughly enjoy myself. The dancers were spectacular. Some of the dancers wore full angular masks making them look like puppets. 

There was no dialogue, however there was a large projection screen where text, images and videos were played. It was a truly breathtaking performance. I'd definitely watch another Kidd Pivot performance in the future as it was unlike anything I'd ever seen before. 

So, the moral of the story is: try something different!  

Let me know if you've stepped out of your comfort zone this week. I'd love to hear about it. 

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Sunday, 4 May 2014

Showcase Sunday #10: The Three by Sarah Lotz

The Three by Sarah Lotz*
Showcase Sunday is hosted by the lovely Vicky at Books, Biscuits and Tea. It's a chance for bloggers to show of their weekly book swag and an opportunity to meet other bloggers and talk about all things bookish!

A much smaller Showcase Sunday this week. I'm secretly glad as I have so many books in my TBR pile now! 

This week I received a hardback copy of The Three by Sarah Lotz to review. I'm really looking forward to this, it sounds incredibly gripping.

The story follows the events after Black Thursday, a day when four passenger planes crashed at the same time at different points in the world. The only three survivors are children and what happens next could change the world... 

It sounds like a mix between the television series Lost (which I adored) and Lord of the Flies. Stephen King sings the praises of this book, with such high recommendations I can't wait to start reading it!

What did everybody else receive this week? 

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*A big thanks to Hodder and Stoughton for sending me this copy to review.

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Monthly Goals: May

Woo! It's an extra long week. What's everybody got planned for it?

I spent last night with my mom watching a dance production inspired by Shakespeare’s The Tempest, and later on today, I’ll be heading over to Tamworth to spend the weekend with my boyfriend. (and he's cooking!)

But for now, I'm going to introduce a new monthly feature where I blog about the goals I'm going to set myself this month. So let’s get started!

1)   Write more

Last month I attempted to complete a creative writing challenge with CampNaNoWriMo. I’m not ashamed to say that I didn't reach my goal word count, however I’m really proud of myself for trying.

It taught me that it’s important to set time aside in your day for creative writing, so alongside my blog, I’m going to start writing every day to form a fictional story. Even if I only have time for five minutes, I think it’s important for creative development.

If I plan on writing a story, I'm going to have to write all the time as opposed to waiting for inspiration to find me.

I'm also going to be blogging every day in May. Even more writing!

2) Improve my confidence

I think even the most confident person in the world could benefit from this. Remaining positive about yourself and your abilities is the key to happiness. 

This month I’m going to try and worry less and believe in myself more. Who's with me?!

3) Take more photographs

I always used to be the person who’d take the photographs on a night out. I’d find any excuse to get my camera out. However, recently I’ve noticed that I’ve been taking fewer photographs.

So expect to see a lot more photos on this blog, book related and otherwise!

I’ll write a follow up post in June to measure how well I did with these goals. I feel confident now that they are down in a list. (I can only work when I have checklists to follow...)

What are you planning to achieve this month? Let me know! 

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Friday, 2 May 2014

May Book Challenge: Macbeth by William Shakespeare

Another month, another book challenge! And I'm truly challenging myself this month, as not only will I be continuing with my 2014 calendar book challenge, but I'll be blogging every day in May...

Quite a mean feat, but I am ready to put myself to the test! 

If you're new to my blog firstly, hello! Secondly, every month I set myself a challenge to read a book from the writer displayed on my Waterstone's literary quotes calendar

This month I'll be visiting old Billy Shakespeare again!

Macbeth by William Shakespeare
I brought this version of Macbeth a while ago in a secondhand shop. It was only 50p and although very well worn, I love the look of it. The creases and the rips on the cover give it character. It looks like it's been read quite a lot of times and that makes me happy. 

This will be the second time I'll be facing off against Shakespeare this year as I read Much a Do About Nothing in March. That particular play was a lighthearted comedy which is why I thought it would be good to to try something a bit darker this time. 

I've read it once before in school and am really looking forward to revisiting it.

What are you planning on reading this month? 

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Thursday, 1 May 2014

April Book Challenge Review: Everyman's Poetry by William Wordsworth and #BEDM!

Everyman's Poetry - William Wordsworth

Last month I completed the April book challenge by reading a collection of poems by William Wordsworth. 

I must admit, I struggled slightly with this month's challenging as I haven't read much poetry since leaving college. I love poetry, but I think it's better celebrated with other people. One of the things I loved most about A Level English Literature was the fact that after reading poetry we'd all discuss the different meanings and perceptions. 

The fact that I read this book alone, like I would a fiction book, made me enjoy it slightly less. However, this isn't a critic against the poetry because as expected it was beautifully written. 

William Wordsworth writes a lot about the beauty of nature, so it was perfect reading this during the springtime when most trees are starting to blossom. 

Overall, I enjoyed it and I've decided that I want to read more poetry and make myself find the joys in reading it alone. 

May's book challenge is slightly delayed this month (I've been rushed off my feet this week) but all will be revealed tomorrow so keep your eyes out for that! 

And on a completely unrelated note, I've decided to participate in this: 

Blog Every Day in May badge


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