Friday 30 December 2011

2011 - End of Year Wrap Up

Hey guys, just wanted to say that I hope you all had a fantastic Christmas and wish you all the best for the new year! I’ve met some great people and have read some amazing books and can’t wait to see what 2012 brings!

Here’s my Top Ten Reads of 2011 - in no particular order…

  The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins – loved this series!
Shadows on the Moon by Zoe Marriott – Mega favourite set in a fairytale Japan!
Dance of Dragons by George RR Martin – Must read series!
New York to Dallas by JD Robb – The fact that it’s JD Rob should say it all!
Beauty by Robin Mckinley – Loved this fairytale retelling!

Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles – Yummy Romance and bad boy’s!

A Most Improper Magick by Stephanie Burgis – I love Kat!

My Sister lives on the Mantel Piece by Annabel Pitcher – Touching but funny!

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson – Fab Debut!

Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini – Modern Day Homer, yes please!

I Would totally recommend all of these as they are all brilliant books!
See you all next year!

Thursday 1 December 2011

NaNoWriMo – Final count

Ok so I’ll admit, hands up that I didn’t finish my Nanowrimo this year.
Yet having said that, I don’t think 32,000 words is too shabby either, however as predicted life got in the way of actual writing. Still I’m really pleased with myself and hopefully sometime soon I’ll have at least a half workable novel to revise and keep me busy during 2012.
Anyway this was just a quick post to say thanks to everyone who supported me and put up with all crabbiness/ranting and general demoness tantrums this passed month, and also to congratulate all those people who did win Nanowrimo this year. You guys rock!


Monday 31 October 2011

Halloween Reads

Coraline – Neil Gaiman
Middle Grade Horror

Coraline’s often wondered what’s behind the locked door in the drawing room. It reveals only a brick wall when she finally opens it, but when she tries again later, a passageway mysteriously appears. Coraline is surprised to find a flat decorated exactly like her own, but strangely different. And when she finds her “Other” parents in this alternate world, they are much more interesting despite their creepy, black button eyes.
When they make it clear however, that they want to make her theirs forever, Coraline begins a nightmarish game to rescue her real parents and the three children imprisoned in a mirror. With only a bored-through stone and an aloof cat to help, Coraline confronts this harrowing task of escaping these monstrous creatures…
It may be a book for kids but I personally think Coraline is one of the creepiest stories I’ve ever read. Hair-raisingly chilling, it is a total must-read story for Halloween night!
Neil Gaiman is an amazing writer who skilfully brings to life a nightmarish world that hovers just close enough to reality to be truly frightening. With rats, ghost children, a stalking dismembered hand and especially the ‘other’ buttoned-eyed people, this book had me completely captivated from the beginning to end. Not to mention the fantastic illustrations - which in truth - creeped me out just as much as the writing.  
And, while it may sound strange, I think the older you are the scarier you will find this book to be. My younger self would probably have thought this story was about a girl on a great adventure to battle evil. Now at 22, I think it’s a book about a girl (who will probably have nightmares for the rest of her life) trying to escape the clutches of evil. Trust me, there is a huge difference.
Yet either way, Coraline is a fantastic read that truly stirs the imagination and rattles the nerves. It is so much more than a children’s book. Adults (and Y/As), I suggest you go find yourselves a copy and make sure you’re not in the house alone. Trust me, after reading this you will definitely want to sleep with the light on.
Have a Happy Halloween! J
*Note: there is a movie version but I have never seen it. For me the book was more than creepy enough but I would be interested to know which you guys think is scarier?

Monday 24 October 2011

Inspirational Writer-ly Quotes

Hey guys, I know I know I haven’t posted in over week. I have fallen victim to the evil demon of winter, the horrid, soul sucking monster of dread that has rendered me helpless and completely incapable of doing anything productive – so yeah, I have a cold.  
Therefore, rather than posting another book review (which I admit I attempted and failed miserably to write), I thought I’d share with you some of my favourite inspirational quotes. I have them pinned up near my computer to help me with me sluggish, less motivated and more brain dead days.
Also forgive me, I don’t actually know who I’m quoting here so if you know who said what please let me know :)

1) ‘The worst novel that you put on paper is far better than the best novel that you have in your head’
2) ‘Idea’s are not the hardest part, making yourself sit down and write is.’

3) ‘Even the best books like to repeatedly punch you in the face while you are working on them.’

4) ‘You don’t need to be inspired to write, You need to write to be inspired.’

5) 'If there is a book you really want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.’

6) ‘I do not like to write, I like to have written.’

7) ‘Write with your heart and the story will follow.’

Hope you guys have a good week. I’m going back to bed now armed with my books, cup-a-soup and favourite panda-teddy hot water bottle. *Sniff* I’ll see you all when I come out of hibernation.

Saturday 15 October 2011



So I was curious, is anyone else out there taking part in this year’s national novel writing month? If so, are you all targeting 50,000 words?
I have to admit I feel a little bad. November is probably the worst month for me to try and write a novel. I mean for me it’s a month of Christmas shopping, Uni deadlines and of course my birthday -which naturally I try and drag out in a weeklong celebration :) Also did I mention I’m meant to be starting my dissertation?  

Of course these are all just excuses. Each month of the year I have at least two important dates marked on my calendar - and day to day life soon takes up the rest of the month. I’m pretty certain this is the same for everyone? So, as I finally realised that these things aren’t ever going to change, I’ve decided this year that I’m going to stop procrastinating. This year I’m challenging myself to nanowrimo!
As much as I’d like to dream that a writer’s life involves lazy mornings in bed and days spent working in my pyjamas, I know the reality is rather different. Writers have lives, they have jobs, they have family and friends, dogs to walk, kids to chauffeur and a million other everyday commitments… and yet they write.

Whether it means writing on the train, on their lunch breaks of even getting up that extra hour early – they find ways to fit writing into their lives. So therefore what’s the excuse?  50,000 words, ok that’s a lot but even if it’s 30, 000 or 20,000 or even just 5,000, it’s all progress that will bring us that much closer to our dreams.

So I’ll ask again. Are you participating in NANOWRIMO 2011?

Sunday 25 September 2011

Reasons to Write

Lately I’ve found that when I sit down to write… nothing happens. No matter how many hours I spend in that chair I’m lucky if I get down 50 words and even then I usually go back and delete/rewrite them all the next day. So after suffering with this problem for the last few weeks I finally had a ‘Eureka’ moment last night at about 2am when I realised my mistake. My reasons to write were wrong!
Now instead of just sitting and typing away like I used to (not caring or thinking about anything other than writing my story) I would antagonise over every single sentence, plagued by thoughts such as;
Would that scene that I love put an older reader off my book? Would my use of exclamation points put off an agent? Is my choice of wording to advanced? Does that comment make my character to unlikable?’
Do you spot the problem? Rather than writing the book I want to write - I had began writing the book I thought everyone else would want to read. You see somewhere in the midst of my writing journey I lost my way and suddenly EVERYTHING became about becoming published and impressing agents which believe it or not, was never my goal.
OK sure, I admit I’ve thought about it (and in great detail to I might add) I even have my thank you speech and first book dedication all written out :) but until recently, getting a publishing contract was never the REASON for my writing. Last night I had to remind myself of this and getting out my notebook, I sat and wrote out my motivation behind it all. Here is my list:
Reasons to Write (Plus a few reminders)
1.      Because writing is awesome and I LOVE doing it.
2.      Originally, this story was only intended for me, Skittle and Sqwoo (my best buds who I promise are actual people and not the imaginary kind that there nicknames suggest).
3.      It’s my story, my world, my rules.
4.      It’s the book I’ve always wanted to read and should remain the story I’ve always wanted to write (And If I write it wrong my characters will never forgive me)
5.      Also because this is a hobby try and remember there is no deadline!
6.      It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.
7.      Anything else that happens is a bonus!
8.      Remember publishing can be a goal but never the reason you sit down and write every day.
So after laying all this out I felt much better. Also luckily the damage to my WIP isn’t too extensive. All my worrying over words, exclamations and sentence structure has thankfully left me with little to fix.
Anyway, I think my point to all this is that while in some ways it’s good to consider target audience and marketing appeal to agents and publishers, I think it’s more important to write the book that you love and want to write. After all if you don’t love your story, how is anyone else meant to love it either?
Therefore if my story is enjoyed by other people then great, if it’s loved by Skittle and Sqwoo even better. If it is the best book I’m capable of writing and tells the story I want to tell, then everything I set out to do will have been achieved.
What do you guys think? What are your reasons for writing?

Monday 12 September 2011

Perfect Chemistry - Book Review

Perfect Chemistry – Book Review
Simone Elkeles
YA Contemporary Romance
Brittany Ellis seems to have it all; wealthy parents, the perfect boyfriend and the ‘right’ group of friends. But when Brittany is forced to become lab partners with Alex Fuentes, a gang member from the wrong side of town, her perfect life starts to unravel. Alex is a bad boy, and he knows it, so when he makes a bet with his friends to lure Brittany into his life, he thinks nothing of it.
But as Alex and Brittany grow closer, sparks begin to fly and they both realise that sometimes appearances can be deceptive. Will there emerging feelings be enough to keep them together when the world is determined to tear them apart?
To say it bluntly, this book was amazing! Nice girl meets sexy, bad to the bone gangster boy = lots of romance and a fantastic read! Honestly, I started this book at 11pm thinking I would just read a few chapters then suddenly it was 6am! (Thank goodness it was a weekend) Where that time went I don’t know but this is a definitely a, ‘I’ll just read one more chapter’ kind of book.
Told through the eyes of both Alex and Brittany, their point of views altered between chapters yet the story flowed smoothly and kept me engaged throughout. I really liked this as it allowed me to immerse myself in both their worlds, letting me understand both their characters and how each was affected by the other.
Complete opposites, Alex is a Mexican (and absolutely gorgeous) gangster from the wrong side of town while Brittany is the rich and seemingly perfect cheerleader… yet beneath the surface their characters are so much more. Forced into the roles society expects of them, they hide behind false smiles while striving to meet the expectations and obligations put on them by family and friends… yet everything changes when their lives collide.
Separated by social and financial status, as well as the racial barriers upheld by their families and peers, Alex and Brittany are brought together through a bet and chance circumstances. Written with the premise that there is always more to a person than meets the eye, the story shows how together, they overcome their prejudices and discover the truth about themselves and each other.
However while I have to admit that the book did have its faults and many cheesy parts with lines that made me giggle, blush and swoon… I loved it all! I really don’t know what it is about this book but I couldn’t put it down and can’t wait to read its sequel ‘Rules of Attraction’.
Also while this is the first book I’ve read by Simone Elkeles she has totally been added to my list of favourite authors! Highly, completely and definitely recommended – it is a must read for all red blooded females! :)

Friday 2 September 2011

Goddess of Troy - Book Review

Goddess of Troy – Book Review

P.C Cast

Readers 16+

Fantasy Romance

Goddesses Hera, Athena and Venus have had it up to here with the Trojan war. So much devastation – all because of male egos. The worst of the bunch is Achilles, the Greek champion whose powers have made him practically invincible. To stop him would be to end the war. But the only way to stop a man like Achilles is to distact him – with something far more pleasurable than combat…
The three Goddesses seize there chance when a twenty-first-century beauty named Kat and her best friend perish in a car crash in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In no time, they shift the friends’ souls into the bodies of a Trojan Princess and her handmaiden, having no doubt that Kat will catch Achilles attentions. But can her independent, fiery spirit match the unquenchable fire of his epic rage?
 While I have to admit I have never been a massive fan of PC Cast, this is the second book I have read in her Goddess summoning series and I absolutely loved it! Telling the story of two modern day women, plucked from their time and dropped into to the middle of the Trojan War by three scheming Goddesses, Goddess of Troy is filled with witty humour, sarcasm and romance.
With both Achilles and Patroclous serving as the main (and absolutely gorgeous) love interests this book kept me hooked from page one. I loved how sweet and gentle Achilles could be as well as the heart-breaking revelations he would make about his past. He particularly was a character you really felt for which made the romance between him and Kat all the more sweet.
Also, I liked reading the banter between the Goddess Hera, Athena and Aphrodite. It was so entertaining to read and through them P.C Cast made the story her own. For instance I especially like how she uses them to make fun of the myths of the golden apple and Trojan horse idea by having the Goddesses comment that only ‘mortal men’ could have come up with such farfetched ideas, and of course blame women for starting the war.
The book also had a really good ending that I wasn’t expecting and I like how P.C Cast turned a tragic classic into such a great love story. Although anyone whose read Homer’s Iliad will probably agree, the old man must be turning in his grave at the new spin P.C Cast has put on his work. I must admit though, I like her ending better.
Sassy and funny ‘Goddess of Troy’ was a book I really enjoyed. Also while I must stress that it’s for older readers it does make a perfect, light read for anyone who wants a quick fix of romance, humour and hot-naked-guy goodness :)

Wednesday 24 August 2011

Spindles End - Book Review

Spindles End – Book Review
Robin Mckinley
YA Fairytale Fantasy
The princess has been missing since she was a baby. And Rosie, an ordinary girl, is growing up in an unremarkable little village far away from the royal city.
Unremarkable, that is, in a land where magic is so common that it settles over everything like dust. But a fairy curse is the kind of magic nobody wants, because it always comes true. And Rosie cannot stay ordinary forever…
Robin Mckinley reweaves a classic fairytale sparkling with adventure and magic, some wonderful animals and birds and – of course – fairies, both good and bad.
A retelling of Sleeping Beauty, ‘Spindles End’ is an odd book in many respects. Written in a voice that is all narrative it took me awhile to get into, however even though it was heavily descriptive with very little dialogue I thought it had the perfect fairytale ring to it – So much so that I could picture myself sitting around a fire having someone read this book to me rather than actually reading it myself (Those who’ve read it will understand what I mean).
Also ‘Spindles End’ doesn’t really have a main character. Written into five parts it sort of follows the life of one character until about halfway through the book until Rosie is old enough to take over, from which point the story starts truly being about her. While some people may find this a little disjointed and I thought it worked rather well, giving plenty of back-story and allowing the underlying tension to build up slowly.
However that leads me to the writing style itself. As I mentioned earlier the story is heavily descriptive and honestly, at times incredibly random. For instance several pages could be devoted describing the customs of magic or the speech of animals and birds, or as in the opening chapters – the magic dust that gathers in tea pots. While interesting to read these pages don’t really progress the story any further and makes the book unravel at a very slow pace. (However as I discovered – this makes it perfect for long train journeys)
Yet I really liked how Mckinley used aspects of the original fairytale throughout the story, shaping and twisting them into her own moulds to create a more compelling read that kept me engrossed for hours. With lots of unexpected plot twists and again – much randomness – ‘Spindles End’ created a vivid magical world full of unique characters who were always doing the unexpected.
All of which led up to an ending that I never saw coming – at least not in the way I imagined – and closing the book I was left with that nice, satisfied feeling that always comes after finishing a good story. I must comment though that due to the heavy text and descriptions I don’t think that this book would be for everyone yet if you love unique retellings of fairytales, massive amounts of world building and much randomness that doesn’t always make sense (but is fun to try and work out), or are just wanting to read something a little different then this is a book for you.
Magical, old-worldly and all sorts of other things in-between, ‘Spindles End’ is a bed-time-story perfect for people of all ages and I’m looking forward to reading other works by Robin Mckinley, she is a truly talented author :)

Friday 19 August 2011

A Most Improper Magick - Book Review

A Most Improper Magick – Book Review
Stephanie Burgis
Middle Grade Fantasy
9 – 12+


At twelve years old, any proper young lady should be sitting quietly at home practising her embroidery, learning French and keeping her opinions to herself.
But Kat Stephenson is no ordinary young lady.
Kat’s father may be a respectable vicar, but her late mother was a notorious witch, her brother has gambled the whole family into debt, and Kat herself is the newest target of an ancient and secretive magical order.
In this first thrilling instalment of ‘the unladylike adventures of Kat Stephenson’, Kat sets out to win her older sisters their true loves, battling highwaymen, practicing magic and breaking all of society’s rules along the way…


I must admit that when I first picked up ‘A most Improper Magick’ I had never heard of it before. In fact I just thought that it had a really nice cover and I only ever intended it be a light read to kill some time while I waited for my friend to finish her shift at the library.
 I never imagined how quickly I would get drawn into Kat’s world of magic and mayhem and an hour later I was completely engrossed!
I think Stephanie Burgis is a genius!  ‘A Most Improper Magick’ was extremely well written and although I may sound a little old fashioned, the phrase ‘it was simply a delightful’ seems to fit it perfectly. 

 Light-hearted with plenty of plot twists, Kat is a fantastic character. Funny and outspoken, this book is about her determination to save her family from both social and financial ruin, find her sisters love (even if she doesn’t really understand the point of a husband herself) , all while discovering how to use the powers left to her by a mother she has no memory of. All, while enduring the endless rules and etiquette enforced upon her by her stepmother and older sisters. 

Yet despite their determination to keep her out of trouble Kat constantly finds ways to break the tight fitting rules of society, all of which lead to her adventures with magick mirrors, secret orders and daring highwaymen.
Honestly this book was such a fantastic read I think it would be loved by people of all ages, but most especially young girls, tomboys and anyone with annoying older siblings! 5 stars :)