Sunday 26 October 2014

Showcase Sunday #16

“It’s such a surprise that Amanda spent a lot of money in Waterstones” said no person ever.

I had a little bit of birthday money left over (for those of you who forgot - I like books and coffee… Just sayin’) so I headed off to my nearest book shop as it was itching to be spent. I’m so happy with all of my purchases and can’t wait to show you all what I bought.

Firstly I picked up the first and third books in The Hunger Games trilogy. I managed to get the second book, Catching Fire a coupe of weeks ago for an unbelievable 50p (gasp!) I’ve wanted to read the books from beginning to end for a while, and have refused to watch the movies, bar the first, until I do. (And I devoured the first book in just a couple of days - review coming soon!)

Then, I noticed the latest shopaholic book, Shopaholic to the Stars! I knew that it was coming out this year but completely missed its launch in September, so I’m glad to finally have my hands on this. I’ve loved Sophie Kinsella’s books for the longest time - she has such a great wit and her books are incredibly entertaining. I always manage to read them in a few days. 

My final purchase was The Writer's Toolbox. I’m planning to participate with NaNoWriMo next week and although I’ve now completed Ready, Set, Novel in preparation, I thought that this fun looking planner kit would also help. It’s full to the brim with writing promts, games, cue cards and a writer’s manual.

So quite a splurge for me, but I’m very excited about every single one of these purchases and know that my birthday money was spent well!

I’d love to know what book swag you’ve gotten this week!
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Friday 24 October 2014

Goodread Reading Challenge: Complete

With two months to spare, I got a nice surprise last night, I realised that I'd completed my Goodreads challenge of reading 25 books this year! 

I've really enjoyed the challenge and made a conscious effort to read as many different books as I could. As you can see from the collage it's a nice mixture of YA, comedy/drama, classics, thrillers and horror. 

But there's always going to be favourites, so here's my top five:

1. A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby
2. The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer
3. The Humans by Matt Haig
4. Lolito by Ben Brooks
5. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

But that order could all change in the new two months as I make my way through some more novels. I've mentally raised the bar of the challenge to 30 now I have just over two months left!

What are your favourite books you've read this year? 

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Wednesday 22 October 2014

Currently reading: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Yes, I'm late to the party. In fact, the party is almost drawing to a close with the looming first part of Mockingjay to be released in cinemas before the end of the year.

However, I've finally arrived and loving it! I remember the first Hunger Games film coming out in 2012. The only thing I knew about the phenomenon was that it was a book trilogy. I was intrigued but not enough to investigate. I come from the Harry Potter generation you see, and because of this I've been too complacent to form attachments to any other major book series slash movie adaptions since. (Yes, I'm looking at you, Twilight.) 

But I couldn't walk away from a reduced copy of Catching Fire in HMV last weekend (50p!) and so my Hunger Games addition begins.... 

I started The Hunger Games on Sunday and I haven't been able to put it down since. I've been reading countless chapters before bed, filling my lunch break with it and sneaking in pages while spending time with my family.

I've essentially been neglecting everybody in favour for this book - and I'm okay with that.

Written in a simple prose, the story follows Katniss Everdeen who has volunteered in the annual Hunger Games, a televised bloodbath between 24 teenagers, two from each of the twelve districts. The main aim of the game is to kill and the last person standing is the winner. 

This brutal event is used as a way to control society and remind its residents that the government, called Capitol, holds ultimate control. (I'm sure 99% of you already know this, but spare a thought to the 1% that missed out on the craze as I nearly did.) 

I'm really looking forward to finishing this thrilling first instalment and can't wait to start the next two!

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Sunday 19 October 2014

October Reading Challenge: Flappers and Philosophers by F. Scott Fitzgerald

F. Scott Fitzgerald has a remarkable way with words, in just a single sentance he is able to fully transport you into an entirely different world. It is no secret that I absolutely adore The Great Gatsby so I was very pleased that I had the opportunity to visit one of my favourite authors this month for my 2014 reading challenge.

Flappers and Philosophers is a series of short stories set in the 1920s. Money, power and society are strong themes that are referenced throughout each tale. In usual Fitzgerald style, the lives of the incredibly wealthy and breathtakingly beautiful are fully explored.

It is widely believed that Fitzgerald often took inspiration from his own marriage when writing, and I've noticed more turbulent and troubled relationships depicted in these stories than other Fitzgerald books I've read. It's interesting for me, as a fan, to pick apart the stories and speculate which parts are fact and which parts are fiction.

I really enjoyed reading this collection of stories, however certain parts did let it down for me. A couple of the stories often seemed shallow - which proves that Fitzgerald was a young writer at the beginning of his career and had not yet developed into the superb storyteller than he is now celebrated for.

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Thursday 16 October 2014

NaNoWriMo prep

I'm determined to take part in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in November. I've always loved writing fiction and I'm always joking about writing a book, however I never seem to find time and am always putting it off. "I'll write a book one day" is something that you'll hear me joking about quite often.
Well, I'm pulling my socks up and making a pledge to try and write as much as I can next month. Like a lot of others, I've always doubted my ability to take part. (In fact, I tried to participate in NaNoWriMo Camp in June but failed miserably because of my own insecurities.)
But with just over two weeks to go - I'm forming a plan of attack! If you're anything like me, you'll love a good list so in preparation for November I'm going to do the following:

Complete Ready Set Novel workbook

This book is incredible. I've been slowly making my way through it since July. It's full of helpful tasks and worksheets that encourage you to flesh out your characters, plot and setting. It's also a very fun read! Image Wreck this Journal but for authors.Complete Ready Set Novel! workbook

I also have a workbook packed full of situations and writing prompts that will also help me along the way for when I inevitably suffer from writers' blocks.

Re-visit my favourite books

I'm going to make a list of all of my favourite books and pinpoint exactly why I love them so much. What themes are prominent? What's the writing style like? How does the story create suspense and intrigue? I'll then use this to form the basis of my own writing.

Join a community

One of the great things about NaNoWriMo is the amount of different communities you can get involved with. The organisation is hugely active on social media and there's an endless amount of helpful forums on the website.

You can even tailor forums by region so you can find out exactly who's taking part near you. I've already been sent a couple of emails about write in events that are happening in Birmingham - so I might pop along to a few.

Don't put pressure on myself

This one is a biggie. To me, putting pressure on myself is a daily occurrence. I'm unashamed to say that I like to succeed and when I fall short I can get very frustrated with myself. However, I'm determined to not let that stop me this time.

I have no plans to try and publish my work. I'm doing this challenge simply because I love to write and I want to see if I can. Also, NaNoWriMo looks fun! That's what attracted me in the first place and if I'm beating myself up about not achieving a certain word count it's not going to be enjoyable.

Plus, I'm a big believer that writers who enjoy it and have fun produce the best work!

So, there you have it - I'm going to try and that's all that matters at the moment. I'd love to know if anyone else is planning to take part this year. Are there any other hints and tips you could offer me?

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Sunday 12 October 2014

Showcase Sunday #15

Good morning, bookworms! 
Hope you're all having a great day. My boyfriend and I are viewing our first flat today - very exciting! We also had a lovely day out yesterday - a delicious lunch at Wagamamas followed by an obligatory trip to HMV. 

While I was busy rummaging through the buy one get one free Disney movies (I chose Frozen and Mulan - thanks for asking!) I noticed that The Hunger Games: Catching Fire was being sold off for 50p! The copies are a little worn, but I think it adds to the character. It's only going to get battered in my bag anyway... Let's be honest. 

My second book is The Roald Dahl Treasury that one of my best friends bought me for my birthday last week. I had a great time but my weekend was so busy I didn't get around to posting about it. It looks great with extracts from his famous books, poems and all of the famous illustrations.
I'd love to see what books you've bought/received this week!

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Thursday 9 October 2014

Review: Solitaire by Alice Oseman

Sometimes the hardest reviews to write are about the books that you loved... But here I go:

Alice Oseman perfectly captures the conflicting emotions, thoughts and beliefs most people feel when growing up. (They don't call them 'growing pains' for nothing!) The main character comes in the form of Tori Spring - a cynical teenager who likes nothing more than to waste hours on end on Tumblr and sleep.

Tori is quite content plodding through her teenage years and is perfectly comfortable in her contradictions. For example, she hates reading by studies English Literature and she silently judges the vast majority of her "friends". Enter Solitaire, an anonymous group of internet pranksters that force Tori to face her problems head on.

Alice Oseman is a very talented young writer - all of the characters felt real and psychologically whole. Honest is the best word to describe this book. Influences from Catcher and the Rye drip from it and honestly, who best to write about being a teenager than a teenager?!

I adored this book. Seriously, read it.

Oh, and just one last thing: This is NOT a love story!

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Monday 6 October 2014

October Book Challenge: Flappers and Philosophers by F. Scott Fitzgerald

This month I'll be whisked away to the land of the 1920's 'Jazz Age', where glamour, finger-waved hair and wild wild parties prevail, as I read Flappers and Philosophers by F. Scott Fitzgerald. It's that time of the month again, where I embark on another Waterstones literary calendar adventure!
The Great Gatsby is probably one of my all-time-favourite reads, so it's great that I've got this challenge as a reason to revisit this great author. 
This copy of the book was a gift from my boyfriend for Christmas last year and has unfortunately sat on my TBR pile until now. It's a gorgeous hard back edition and I'll be taking extra care to make sure it doesn't get scuffed during its morning commute in my bag! 

It even came with its own tear out bookmark - I think all books should have this included!

I'm looking forward to getting stuck in to this book. I'm very pleased that F Scott Fitzgerald was this months writer as October is my birthday month and autumn is my favourite time of the year - so it's very fitting that the man that wrote my favourite book is showcased this month!

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Wednesday 1 October 2014

A Poem a Day Keeps the Doctor Away....


This book will soon hold all of the deepest darkest depths of my mind in eloquent and thought-provoking prose. (Pfffft. Yeah right...) But I go in with all good intentions for Poem A Day October!

I was lucky enough to accidentally discover this group on Facebook and I just knew I had to take part. One of my goals for the longest time is to write more - having fallen short at June's Camp NaNoWriMo, I thought this would be a great way to ease myself back into creative writing.

October has always been my favourite months (and not just because of my birthday!) I've always loved autumn - the gorgeous burnt orange colours and crunchy leaves. I adore the summer, but I always look forward to dusting off my old woolen coats. Hot drinks, Halloween and darker evenings will ensure that I'm not short of any inspiration!

Also, October is all important NaNoWriMo planning and preparation time. I've been in two minds whether to participate this year. It would be my first time and I've slowly been making my way through Ready, Steady, Novel (would recommend it to any aspiring fiction writer!) So a daily poem might give me some much-needed inspiration!

Are you setting yourself a challenge this month? Let me know! Also, if you have any tips or experiences about NaNoWriMo I'd love to hear them.
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