Saturday, 31 January 2015

January book round up


I'm off to a great start to the year to hit my challenge of reading 40 books in 2015. I'm currently averaging at four books a month (which is very speedy for me!) 
It's been a great months for books in general as I've adored reading all but one, and even that there was some funny moments that made it worthwhile. 

As for my favourite, I was completely enthralled by The Hunger Games Catching Fire. In fact, I found it hard to put down. It got to the point where the barista at the local coffee shop had to shout "Katniss Everdeen" just to get my attention.

In same same afternoon, I must have looked so engrossed that he walked by and said "Don't worry. No body important dies." I can only imagine what my face must have looked liked beforehand - probably stricken with worry!

Another resolution of mine was to review all of the books I read in the year, and I've made good on that promise too. Click the links below to be taken to the full review:

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Us by David Nicholls 
Paper Towns by John Green
Shopaholic to the Stars by Sophie Kinsella

What was the best book you read this month?
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Thursday, 29 January 2015

Review: Shopaholic to the Stars by Sophie Kinsella

In the seventh in the Shopaholic series, we’re reintroduced to Rebecca Brandon (née Bloomwood) and all of her wild antics. But this time she’s the Shopaholic to the Stars (like what I did there?) All of the familiar characters such as husband, Luke and best friend, Suze are whisked off to LA for an amazing new adventure.

Becky is tired of being a personal shopper and she’s set her sites on something much bigger, she wants to be a stylist! But not just any old stylist, a celebrity stylist! Luke’s new PR client is silver-screen super star, Sage Seymour and Becky is determined to get her on her side.

In typical Sophie Kinsella style, this book was filled with wit and humour. If you’ve read any of the Shopaholic books, you’ll know that Becky’s pride and greed can get her into some hilariously uncomfortable situations. These might seem like bad qualities in a person but Becky is a loveable character with a big heart, however, it didn’t translate well in this book.

All of the same situations and humour was included but it wasn’t as believable as before. I feel like I’ve grown up with Rebbeca’s character and she hasn’t shown any growth or progression. There was one scene in particular where Suze was distort and on the brink of bursting into tears and Becky continued to sneak glances at a new dress. I wanted to shake her!

I don’t think it’s believable to have a character behalf the exact same way as they did in the very first book. Becky is now married with a toddler. Her selfishness and the crazy situations that she gets herself in didn’t seem as genuine anymore. Her priorities should have changed however, her actions didn't.

Another big problem I had was the end. Oh my God, the end! To say that it ends abruptly is a complete understatement. It ends half way through a conclusion, which means to actually know what’s going on, you’ll have to wait until the next book.

I usually don’t mind waiting for books instalments, I expect it with series such as The Hunger Games, but not from Sophie Kinsella. Of course all of the Shopaholic books are linked but I’ve never read one that’s had such an ambitious ending. The great thing about the other books is that every loose end gets tied up. They've never ended on a cliffhanger before and I didn’t appreciate having a conclusion snatched away from me. 

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Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Book buying ban update #1

It's almost been a month since I first declared that I was going on a six-month book buying ban.

"Why would you do that?!" I hear you cry. Well, my bookshelf has so many books that have been lying dormant and untouched for years. The thought of buying new books was always very appealing to me but what's the point of having books that you haven't even read?!

That being said, I've made a conscious effort to avoid book shops at. all. costs! I doubt that my resolution would have remained as strong if I'd have had a sneaky look in Waterstones. I'm also saving to move out (flat hunting is both exciting and stressful) and hopefully the extra money that I'll save from not buying books would help that. 

Other than that, I'm doing pretty well. I haven't felt the need to rush out and buy a book just yet. Luckily, some work friends have lent me a stash of books to help fight off the buying temptation. 

However, it is hard to see all the wonderful sounding new releases on blogs. But rather than mope about all the books I can't buy yet, I've made a Pinterest board of all the ones I'd like when it's over. Obviously, I'm not going to buy all of these (not all at once anyway!) but will definitely be treating myself once it's over.

So far there's:
  • Yes Please by Amy Poehler
  • Trouble by Non Pratt
  • How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran
  • Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham
  • All I Know Now by Carrie Hope Fletcher 
  • Is Everybody Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kailing

I didn't mean to encompass the theme of funny woman, it's just something that happened naturally. I don't often read non-fiction either but I'm really excited for these as I look up to them all for different reasons. I'll be keeping the Pinterest board updated, so make sure you take a look throughout the ban.

What's your favourite book by a female author?

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Monday, 26 January 2015

Review: Paper Towns by John Green


Margo Roth Speilman is the coolest girl in school. The type that can easily waltz into the back stage of a rock concert and is completely adored by the whole school. Quentin has always admired her from afar, but one night, she bursts into his bedroom window and demands an all-night road trip pulling pranks on all the people who have wronged her.

The next day, Margo is nowhere to be found. She's completely disappeared. Quentin and his friends will now have to follow clues to discover her whereabouts, constantly wondering who the real Margo truly is. 

It's needless to say that I was gripped from the very first page. John Green has a way of sucking you straight into the centre of the action. His characters are always quirky, mysterious and full of witticisms and Paper Towns is no different.

The novel is set in his home town of Florida. I've been there a couple of times with my family on holiday and I loved spotting landmarks in the novel that I'd been to in real life.

The main theme of this book is facades. It turns out that Margo is a mystery, as the clues develop, it's clear that there's a lot more to her than meets the eye. Maybe she's not the "cool girl" everybody thought she was.

I found it a very relatable read as I think everybody's felt like they were hiding a part of themselves at some point in their lives.
And John Green can do no wrong in my eyes!

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Friday, 23 January 2015

National Handwriting Day

Writing is quickly becoming a lost art form. Don't believe me? Okay, when was the last time you wrote a letter to someone? ...Yeah, I thought so!
My friend, who's a teacher, told me yesterday that so many schools are replacing handwriting lessons with IT classes and soon English Language classes will be based in a computer suite. Learning to write and improving my handwriting was one of my favourite activities when I was growing up. In fact, I'd always practice throughout the summer holidays, I loved it so much.
It's heartbreaking to me that the joy I felt when writing won't be experienced by the next generation. To make sure that I never fall into this trap, I'm going to start practicing my handwriting and writing freehand more and what better time to start - it is National Handwriting Day, after all! 
One of my goals for 2015 is to write more often and this is the perfect opportunity to do so. Each day I will write down a thought, observation or just gibberish that will only make sense to me. Who knows, it might even help me with some novel ideas. God knows, I need some!

It's time to start actually using up all of my beautifully blank notebooks that I've had lying around for an embarrassingly long time. I've always had a stigma that everything written down needs to be perfect! Well, that barrier comes down today! Who's with me?
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Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Writing Wednesday: 5 resources


Who else has been lazy since completing/participating in NaNoWriMo? Don't worry, you're not the only one! I doubt I've even looked back at my words twice since finishing. I've rewritten some pieces and have read a few storytelling books, but I'm not writing often enough for my liking!

In order to kick that in the butt I'm introducing Writing Wednesday to my blog. These posts will always be about writing, whether it's tips, resources or - gulp - my own extracts. (I'm still contemplating whether I'm brave enough for that yet, though!)

I doubt this will be a weekly feature, just as and when I feel like it, but I will definitely be posting more creative writing posts as well as my usual book reviews and lifestyle posts. So, for my first Writing Wednesday, let's take a look at some of the super helpful resources you can find online to help you tell your stories.

I love the 'How to write a novel in 30 days' section of the website. It's filled with author interviews, hints and tips and incredibly helpful worksheets. I've been making my way through them for a while, and they've become invaluable when planning and researching for your story.

Not only does this website have so many pep talks from authors, but a members forum. Oh man, this feature was invaluable when I was trying to write 50k words in just one month. It's full of people from all over the world that are in the exact same situation as you are. I've only ever met friendly and insightful people on there. It's like a little community.

Amandaonwriting is such a great page and one of the main reasons I started using Tumblr again. It's filled with writing prompts and inspirational quotes that are bound to get you excited about creating stories and poems.

This page lists 100 questions to ask your main character from the important to the mundane. The more you know about your protagonist, the more their individual voice will shine through. A great way to start writing and to deepen your characters personality is to interview them. Try it - it's fun!

Not really a resource but an incredibly helpful (and cute!) tool. For every 100 words you write, an adorable photograph of a kitten pops up. This is perfect for when you just don't feel like writing. (and when you want to look at photographs of kittens, for me - that's often!) Don't like cats? Not a problem. You can change the settings to either puppies or bunnies. Prepare to squee!

 What tools do you use to help you write?
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Monday, 19 January 2015

Why I love well worn books

There's a lot of talk in the book blogging community regarding the look and feel of books. A lot of people I know are precious with novels, particularly paperbacks. The thought of cracking the spines and dog earring pages give them serious anxiety. I'm not one of those people.

I love a pristine book as much as the next person, however, seeing a well-worn book makes me so happy. It means that people have read them from cover to cover, completely immersed in the story. There's nothing sadder to me than a perfectly presented book in a charity or second hand shop. It means that nobody's read it and have given it away before they've even given it a chance.

There's nothing more satisfying to me than cracking a spine. A lot of my books start to wear away at the sides as I'm traveling to and from work every day on the train and if you're anything like me, you have to have a book on you!

As much as I hate the initial "damage" to the books, it shows how much I've enjoyed the book. There's nothing like picking up an old book and noticing signs of life. Although I would never write inside a book, I love spotting quotes that have been underlined and secret messages inside the covers. My boyfriend once bought a copy of Pride and Prejudice from a car boot that had a handwritten love letter inside! You wouldn't get that from a chain book store, that's for sure.

I'm not saying that I don't love the smell of an off-the-press novel, but older and worn books have more character. They have a history and I like the idea of books being able to tell something about the previous owner.

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Saturday, 17 January 2015

Review: Us by David Nicholls

David Nicholl's has been at it again, making me think long and hard about life, relationships and everything in-between with his beautifully written new novel, Us.

As usual, David presents a highly quotable book filled with emotion and humour. Main character, Douglas Peterson is a pedantically organised biochemist, whereas his wife Connie is a flamboyant and free-spirited artist. 
This book outlines their entire life together from when they right through to current day where they're taking their 17 year old son on a trip around Europe - the thing is, Connie has landed the bombshell of a potential divorce before the trip, which makes things spectacularly uncomfortable.
The narrative jumps back and forth between current day and the significant memories and milestones of Douglas and Connie's relationship. It was great as a reader to be drip feed information as it made you actively piece things together to fully figure out the characters. 
There was some highly comedic moments and there was definitely heartbreaking ones too. The emotion represented was raw and all three of the characters were presented in vulnerable states as well as comedic ones. The core of the novel is watching the strains of marriage slowly tear two people apart. 
One of the aspects I adored was the trip around Europe, the novel is split into parts that depict the country the family are traveling to. There are plenty of trips around all of the different art galleries were some of the paintings are described in details. There's even a map at the back of the book that outlines exactly where they went and which museums they visited, so you could do the trip yourself! (Hopefully without a family union that seems to be falling apart.)
Overall, a stunning book that I think anybody who has an interest in relationships and family life would enjoy. 

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Thursday, 15 January 2015

Borrowed Books #1

As soon as my lovely work colleagues caught wind of my six month book buying ban, they knew I'd probably crack! So to prevent this they came in bundled with books and high recommendations. I've now got five more exciting books to add to my TBR pile, which I'm very happy about. So let's take a look at my borrowed swag:
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Sometimes I feel like the only person who hasn't read this book. I also haven't seen the film yet as I'd like to read it first. The novel is narrated by Death in Nazi Germany, which is such an interesting concept. I've heard such great reviews about how touching the story is. I even filled up when I watched the film trailer which suggests just how emotional this will be to read! 
A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka
I haven't read any Marina Lewycka previously but I'm always excited to read work from funny female authors. This story is about two sisters who put their problems aside to save their engineer father from a gold-digging wife. My favourite type of narrative is about families and complex relationships, so this sounds right up my street. 
The Strain and The Fall by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan

These are the first two books in the Strain trilogy. I've been wanting to read more horrors for a while but didn't know where to start. When I noticed that the creator of Pan's Labyrinth is involved with these I was instantly excited to start them as I adore that film. There's also a TV series based on the books called The Strain which will be interesting to watch once I've finished reading the trilogy.

The Year of Reading Dangerously: How Fifty Great Books Saved My Life by Andy Miller

I've already got a feeling that I'm going to adore this book. It's about how the author read all of the books he'd claimed to have finished in just one year. He goes from classic to cult and everything in-between and explains how each book has changed his perspective on life.
Have you borrowed any books recently? I must admit, it's a great way to keep out of book shops and stick to my buying ban!
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Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Why you should meditate

When I was younger, I suffered from ADHD symptoms. I say suffered, I had a great time. I thoroughly enjoyed jumping over the child-safety stair guards and excitedly drawing my own masterpieces on to the freshly wallpapered walls - my parents however, not so much.
The only time I hated how much energy I had was just before I was about to go to sleep. It seemed that there would be so many thoughts and feelings bouncing around in my head that there was no possible way I'd be able to rest, regardless of how tired I was. And although I no longer think about childhood games and primary school lessons, my thoughts and energy can still affect my sleeping pattern. 
Sometimes it's hard for me to "shut off" which is why one of my resolutions is to meditate more. "What? That thing where you close your eyes and hum for a bit?" Yes, that's the one! Except it's not quite as silly as the cartoons would have you believe.
When I was younger, I asked my Dad how he managed to get to sleep. Did he count sheep? Take medicine? I was dying to know the secrets of people that dozed off without struggle. He told me that he imagined a crisp blank piece of paper. My six year old brain couldn't comprehend this at all. How does a bit of paper get you to sleep at night?! What utter rubbish! But now I understand and it's brought me to meditation.

1. Meditation clears your thoughts, making you more peaceful!

Imagine your mind as a notebook and during the day it gets filled up with every thought and idea you have. It could be something in passing or something important that you dwell on but towards the end of the day, as you can imagine, the pages are cluttered with so many different doodles and words that it's hard to keep track of it all. Meditation helps you wipe the papers clean, leaving you feeling a lot more peaceful.

2. Increased creativity and less stress

The benefits are vast: less anxiety, increased focus and increased creativity just to name a few. There's even studies that show exactly what happens to your brain when you meditate. I'm hoping that the more I meditate, the more focused I'll become for my own projects outside of work such as blogging and writing my own stories. The fact that meditation in its most simple form forces you to allow thoughts to pass, it's been proven that people who practice meditation regularly are a lot less distracted. So maybe I will finish editing that novel after all! (Maybe...)

3. Increased positivity 

And the best part of all, studies have suggested that meditation can make you more compassionate and emotionally intelligence towards others and yourself. This in turn can leave you feeling happy! What better reason to start meditating?
I'm no expert on the subject and am only just starting to learn. I'm still trying to fit in regular meditation sessions into my schedule but one of the great tools I've found is a mobile app called Headspace. If you're really unsure how to start, this is brilliant! There are 10 free sessions that will guide you through everything you need to know - and the instructors voice is smooth like butter. Very peaceful, indeed!
Let me know how you find it, or if you already meditate and have any tips!
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Sunday, 11 January 2015

Review: The Hunger Games Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

After finishing The Hunger Games, I doubted that I could love the following books anymore, turns out I was wrong.

When Katniss Everdeen won The Hunger Games she thought that was it - she would go back to her normal life; continue hunting with Gale and protecting her mother and younger sister back in District 12. Oh, how wrong she was.

Catching Fire picked up as The Hunger Games left off, Katniss and Peeta cheated the system and made history when they were the first victors who managed to win The Hunger Games together. They're still alive and the promise of a large house each, financial security and exemption from all future Games seems unbelievable to the pair but this sense of security doesn't last long.

This is the start of the revolution and rebellion between the districts, finally people have realised that reaping two children to ship off to a televised death match is no way to live and Katniss has unintentionally become the figure head of the movement. Catching Fire explores the struggle she faces as she chooses between fighting against injustice with the districts and protecting the ones she loves.

The arena in this book is definitely my favourite so far, although I could change my mind when I read Mockingjay. The Games are set in a tropical forest filled with danger at every turn: poisonous fog, rabid monkeys and lots of other sinister surprises.

You really start to see Katniss and Peeta's relationship develop as their feelings strengthen. It's clear that Katniss is still unsure of her romantic intentions between both Gale and Peeta, however the love triangle never takes centre stage in the novel - Katniss has more important things to think about such as saving her family and defeating the evils of the Capitol!

If you've watched the films and would like to read the books, I'd recommend reading them all in order starting with The Hunger Games. The films are a great representation but there's certain elements that have been omitted from them that really help to create a much bigger picture of the story. 

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Friday, 9 January 2015

Dixit Board Game Review

One of my absolute favourite things to do over Christmas and New Year is to play new board games accompanied by red wine and a cheese board. (How very decadent!) 

Each year Mom and I will pick out a new game that we like the look of purely for this reason. However, we usually end up with a slightly different version of Monopoly. Although a lot of people find it boring, I LOVE it and have racked up nine versions!

I was hoping to hit number 10 and had my eye on an Adventure Time themed board, but my Mom and boyfriend were close to breaking point if they were forced to play yet another game of Monopoly, so with a bit of research, we stumbled upon Dixit.


I'd never heard of it before and I'm annoyed that I hadn't discovered it sooner. It's a beautifully illustrated game that's all about storytelling. Each player chooses six cards, the next more beautiful than the last, and attempt to come up with a word, phrase or sound that will describe it. Players will have to match the pictures to the story and encourages you to use your imagination to its fullest. 

The board is a plush green forest scene complete with cobblestones and red and white spotted mushrooms. The player pieces are wooden rabbits of different colours, which I think is a lovely touch. It's a very whimsical game that can truly transport you to anywhere your imagination will take you. 

The structure of the game will not work unless there are at least 3 players or more players so it's definitely one to break out at a party!

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Wednesday, 7 January 2015

2015 New Year's Resolutions

If you're anything like me, you'll need at least a week to get your New Year's resolutions in order! The two big things I want to focus on in 2015 is my blog and writing my own novel, so with five resolutions for each category, I'm hoping this list will help me keep on top of things.

So here's my slightly belated New Year's resolutions:


1. Widen my content - include more lifestyle/writing posts
2. Post at least three times a week
3. Find more blogs to read and engage with
4. Read 40 books and review them all
5. Partipate in Twitter chats with other book bloggers


1. Write something every day
2. Read grammar books - never stop learning
3. Participate in NaNoWriMo 2015
4. Read more novels from authors who inspire me
5. Complete my own novel before my 25th birthday


1. Visit the gym regularly
2. Cut down on sugar
3. Move in with my boyfriend
4. Go on a Harry Potter studio tour
5. Meditate more and maintain a positive attitude
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Monday, 5 January 2015

1st birthday GIVEAWAY

Happy birthday to blog. Happy birthday to blog. Happy birthday to blogggggggg. Happy birthday to blog!

If you couldn't tell from my disastrous singing voice (sorry for that, by the way) it's Adventures from the Bookshelf's first birthday! My blog is now walking, talking and getting up to all kinds of mischief. At least I think that's what a one year old does, I don't know, I don't have children.

It's been a great year and despite my many stops and starts, I can't wait to get back into the routine of blogging. I've been welcomed by my fellow book and lifestyle bloggers with open arms and have felt so welcomed to the community. I couldn't be more grateful for the friends I've made so far.

And to show my appreciation to everybody who's helped back my blog what it is today in the past year, I'm hosting a little giveaway!

Get your mitts on a £10 Waterstones gift voucher to treat yourself to some lovely books in the January sale. No doubt I'll be very jealous of whoever wins as I'm currently on a six month book buying ban. (I had to get my Mom to purchase the voucher for me as I do not trust myself in a book shop at the moment...)

The competition is UK only - sorry to international readers - and will run until midnight on 19th January 2014. Good luck - may the odds ever be in your favour!  
a Rafflecopter giveaway 
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Sunday, 4 January 2015

What I'm reading in January

At the start of a new month I love nothing more than to sort through my books and to select a few unread ones to read. 
I always choose four and even though I rarely get through them all in the month, I like knowing that if I were to ever become such a speedy reader that I'd get through a book a week, I'd have the whole month sorted.

As I photographed the books I realised that I'd unintentionally gone for a blue and red theme with the book covers. Clearly my subconscious likes to colour co-ordinate!

As you can see from my newest bookmark, George the Giraffe (isn't he cute?!), I have already started on The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. I'm about half way through now and completely hooked. I haven't been able to put it down all week thanks to the pulse racing twists and turns.

Next I'll be reading Paper Towns by John Green. I know that the film adaptation will be coming out this year so I'd love to be able to read the book before I watch it. I'll also be reading Shopaholic to the Stars as I've read all of the previous Shopaholic books and adore them and Us by David Nicholls.

Let me know what you're planning on reading this month! So far, my six month book buying ban isn't looking too hard with all of these interesting books I already have to read. (Let's see if I'll be saying the same thing next month...)

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Saturday, 3 January 2015

2015 Book Goals

We're three days into 2015! Hands up if you've broken any of your New Year's resolutions yet... *hand slowly creeps up*. I think it would probably be best if we all started again on Monday morning.

I'm so excited to now be outlining my reading goals for this year. I'm determined to make this year an exciting and successful one and what with moving out of my Mom's and in with my boyfriend, I'm certain that it will be.

As for my book goals, I've got a couple in mind. Last year, I attempted to read a book or poem from each writer on my Waterstones calendar. I managed to read 9 out of 12 which is a lot more than expected! I also managed to complete NaNoWriMo and my Goodreads reading challenge of reading 25 books in 2014. So overall, a successful year!

However, this year I have a whole new challenge in mind. 

I'm going to attempt a book buying ban for six months! (Que the scary music.) As I have about a million books that are lying ignored on my TBR pile, I thought I'd cut that number down by attempting to not buy any books until the end of June.

I contemplated trying to hold out for the whole year but the thought of being away from book shops for that long filled me with dread.

The rules:

- I'm allowed to receive books as gifts from friends and family. (But I'm not allowed to ask for them)

- I'm allowed to receive books from publishers and/or authors (but I'm not allowed to request them)

- I'm allowed to borrow books from friends and the library  

- I can buy books as gifts for other people however I'm under no circumstances am I allowed to buy any books for myself.  

What have I gotten myself in to?!

I'm also going to up my GoodReads reading challenge goal to 40 books this year. So, I better get a wiggle on and start reading!

What are your reading goals for this year?

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