Monday 29 December 2014

Review: Let It Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle

Let It Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle
Let me start off by saying that this book is magic. I started reading this on Boxing Day and when I was about 10 pages in, IT STARTED TO SNOW! It's like Jumanji but in book form (and with snow...)

The three different stories take place in Gracetown on Christmas Eve during the worst snow blizzard in fifty years. Each of the characters, locations and themes are intertwined making it feel a little like an American Love Actually, which is always a good thing this time of year. So let's take a look at each of the stories:
  • The Jubilee Express by Maureen Johnson 
This story started off with so much promise. We meet Jubilee, her boyfriend and her parents who are obsessed with a set of ceramic winter-scenes called Flobie Santa Village. You can only buy the pieces once a year in Florida, so of course her parents go but what they didn't expect was to get caught up in a riot over the valuable collectables and end up in jail!

Spoiler alert: Due to her parents spending the night in prison, Jubilee is forced to spend Christmas with her grandparents. This also doesn't go to plan as her train breaks down due to the heavy snow. The thing that really really reallyyyyy bothered me about this is that all of a sudden it becomes a love story between her and someone she's just met. She spends Christmas Day with him and gets annoyed when she finds out he has an ex girlfriend he didn't tell her about. After. One. Day! Sigh.
2/5 - Well written but the unbelievable and gushy plot twist let it down
  • A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle by John Green
...But not to fear, John Green comes in to save the day! I adored this story. We meet school friends the Duke, Tobin and JP who are having a Christmas Eve James Bond marathon, however this plan gets swiftly interrupted by a phone call from their other friend who works at the Waffle House twenty miles away.
There's cheerleaders there! Lots of them. They're stranded and they want to play Twister - hurry hurry! So, in the worst blizzard in fifty years, the three friends set out in Tobin's parents beat up car in the hopes of getting a Christmas kiss from one of the cheerleaders. 
4/5 - Hilarious characters and a heartwarming love story.
  • The Patron Saint of Pigs by Lauren Myracle
Meet Addie. She's spending Christmas Eve alone because of one stupid mistake that cost her her one true love. The beginning of the story is all self-reflection and strikes a chord with anyone who's experienced heartbreak. A lot of mopping, sad music and picking apart every last photograph ensues.

Just when you think this story is just about Addie's failed relationship, her kooky best friends enter, one of which is eagerly awaiting the arrival of her new pet pig. The fate of a teacup will soon lie with Addie, but can she get past her self-obsessed ways to help her friend? The of of this story is where all of the other characters from the previous two stories are introduced and it's great to see how everybody is interlinked. 

3/5 - Started off slow but the introduction of the teacup pig saved it!
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Monday 22 December 2014

Review: How Not to Write a Novel by Sandra Newman and Howard Mittelmark

How Not to Write a Novel by Sandra Newman and Howard Mittelmark
First of all, if you've ever toyed with the idea of writing your own novel: read this book!

As some of you may know, I completed NaNWriMo last month. I still can't believe that I managed to hit the 50,000 word count in just one month. Despite most of it being complete drivel that needs completely rewriting, I'm really proud of myself.

However, before I entered into the deep dark world of the second draft, I wanted to make sure that I was clued up on some of the writing sins that should not be in my book. How Not to Write a Novel is an absolute joy to read and has really helped me figure out what I need to do next.

It starts by explaining that there are countless ways to tell a story and the only thing most authors would agree on are the things not to do. It is broken down into sections such as: Plot, Character, Style and it presents short paragraphs of bad writing and then details how these mistakes can be corrected.

It's both funny and informative and I've definitely learnt a lot from reading this. I've now got quite a few of my own writing sins to be edited out such as my main character having a cat for no reason other than the fact that I wanted there to be a cat... (I really like cats.)

A must-read for anyone looking to write their own book.

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Sunday 7 December 2014

What I'm reading in December

If you're anything like me, you have a lot of books - too many unread ones to keep track of, in fact. So this month, what with Christmas coming up and time off work coming up, I'm excited to get through a lot of books!

This month I'll be reading The Woman in White as a part of my 2014 book challenge (I can't believe it's almost over!) but I've also picked out a few personal reads that I'm looking forward to starting this month.

  • How Not to Write a Novel by Sandra Newman and Howard Mittelmark
It's always been a dream of mine to write my own novel. Storytelling has always been something that I have been fascinated by (obviously...) but I've never really given it much thought in the past as I have always doubted my abilities. Well, this year I decided to cast those fears aside and take part in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and I won! I hit 50,000 words in a month and I couldn't be prouder.

But here comes the hard part: revising my novel. It is far from perfect. In fact, it's a lot closer to the awful category but this gives me a great start and a lot of material to work with, revise and mold into what I want it to be. This book outlines exactly what not to do, and I must admit, I've already committed quite a few of the sins outlined in this book, so I know that there will be a lot to learn from it!

  • Let it Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle
This book is a compilation of YA love stories set during the holiday season. I've heard that these stories intertwine with characters and locations which I'm looking forward to. I've got a mental image of a young adult and American version of Love Actually. Although, this might be because I have recently rewatched that film. (Tis the season!)

My own book is actually in the YA genre and once I'd completed NaNoWriMo, I wanted to revisit the works of authors that had inspired me in the past, one of which being John Green. I'm also really looking forward to getting stuck into a Christmas read.

  • Shopaholic to the Stars by Sophie Kinsella
The seventh Shopaholic book is here (!!) I've been a loyal fan of Sophie Kinsella and particularly the Shopaholic series for a long time now. I read the first one about six years ago and have been hooked ever since, devouring each new novel as it came out.

I love Sophie's writing style - it's so relatable and realistic. It almost feels as if an old friend is speaking directly to you. Full of wit, humour and out-of-control situations, self-confessed shopaholic, Rebecca Bloomwood has always kept me at the edge of my seat wanted to know what was going to happen next. I can't wait to read the latest installment and all of the crazy situations she's bound to get herself into!

What books are you planning to read this month?

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Wednesday 3 December 2014

December Reading Challenge: The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

It's finally here, my final reading challenge of the year! It's been an absolute blast so far and I've read many books that I wouldn't necessarily have chosen for myself. 

This month I'll be reading The Woman in White, which is considered to be one of the first mystery novels. I've heard great things about this book and I'm looking forward to seeing if it lives up to the high recommendations. Themes of abduction and wrongful imprisonment are explored which is very Christmassy... Ahem.

However, the calendar art for this month is! I absolutely adore it. It matches perfectly to my bedroom wall and adds a touch of festive cheer. Although, I must admit, the quote does remind me of that quote from Game of Thrones

I'm really looking forward to catching up on a lot of reading over the Christmas and New Year! What are you planning to read this month?

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Monday 1 December 2014

NaNoWriMo treats

After completing my 50,000 word goal for National Novel Writhing Month (NaNoWriMo) yesterday, I decided that I deserved a treat (or three!) So let's take a little look at my most recent haul.

In the haze of my achievement, I picked out Let It Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle. The story that I wrote for NaNoWriMo was a YA novel. What better way to get my creative juices flowing again than to read some short stories from some of the most acclaimed young adult novelists? Each story is also focused on Christmas which I was very excited about! My festive decorations are now up and I'm feeling very Christmassy, so this will be a perfect read for me over the holidays.

The second book I picked up was How Not to Write a Novel by Sandra Newman and Howard Mittelmark. I couldn't wait to get my hands on this book so I could cross reference style and tips with my own story. (Although my boyfriend had already bought it me for a Christmas surprise... Which shows how well he knows me!) I can already tell that this is going to be a God send when it comes to the editing process and I've already made a lot of my own notes and I'm only 25 pages in!

And lastly, I picked up a Baby Frostie from Lust, two gorgeous smelling bath bombs wrapped in a scarf to look like a snowman! The perfect way to relax now all of the initial work is over. 

If you completed NaNoWriMo this year, what was your November treat?

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