Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Birthday Book Haul



      I love my birthday. I really do. I’m one of those people who look forward to it all year and starts planning their special deal months in advance, and in the week running up to that faithful date I hardly shut up about it! I love the creamy, candle-lit birthday cake, the room filled with balloons and I won’t lie, as an aspiring actress, I love all the attention too – Most people find a room full of people serenading you with ‘Happy Birthday to You’ very awkward and embarrassing, but not me, I bask in it! But of course, like most teenagers in Britain, one of my favourite things about my birthday is the presents… More specifically, the book-shaped presents.
      Most people my age want laptops and iPods and BMX bicycles for their birthday, not me - I always use and abuse my birthday to top up my to-be-read pile and this year was no exception. I asked for books and books only from almost everyone who posed the question, ‘and what do you want for your birthday?’ in fact, my parents even asked me to compose a list, which let me tell you, was definitely not an unenjoyable task. So, when my lucky day finally rolled around I was able to come downstairs to a birthday-table absolutely teeming with gorgeous crisp new novels from almost every author I asked for.

          By the end of the day I had transformed from innocent birthday sweetheart into present-drunk spoilt brat. It was wonderful. My lovely dad, who lives quite far away, had taken it upon himself to order me almost every book on my list to celebrate my change of age. This combined with the generosity of a few other friends and relatives brought my book count to an astonishing 22 books - Happy birthday to me, right?! Today, I want to share my excitement with you guys and go into detail about a few of favourite new novels.  

    1.The One With the Prettiest Cover

I am absolutely in love with the cover of ‘Firecracker’ by David Iserson. So much so, in fact, that I had to read it first just to find out what wonderful story could possibly lay beneath a design that delightful. The gorgeous cover was actually the main reason it made its way into my library, something that pretty had to be good, right?  I was not disappointed. The story follows the awesomely named, incredibly-rich and totally heartless, Astrid Kreiger (What a great name right? I’m going to have to name a kid that when I’m older) as she is forced out of prestigious private school, Bristol Academy, and into local public school, Cadorette Township High School, much to her dismay. Astrid is a sneaky and sparky and absolutely horrible, she lives for herself and 
herself only. It was a really awesome read and a 
one to kick off this reading bonanza that I’ve just entered. 
Good show, Iserson!

    2.The One I Just Couldn’t Get My Hands On

As a teenager with a purse full of tumbleweeds, I have been searching for a cheap copy of ‘Love, Rosie’ by Cecilia Ahern for weeks. The movie recently came out here in the UK. It features dead-gorgeous Sam Claflin and the trailer looks so fun and cute and hilarious that I’ve been dying to see it. But, of course, I must be faithful to my books and I will not let myself watch the movie until I have read the novel. I figured I would be able to find a cheap and battered copy of it under its previous name, ‘Where Rainbows End’  in a local charity shop, but luck has not been on my side and I refuse to cough up £8 for it, so as of yet, I still haven’t seen that movie. But, I will. I have it now and there’s nothing to stop me! 
Sam Claflin, here I come.

    3. The Series Everyone’s Talking About

I have heard only good things about Keira Cass’ ‘Selection’ series. It’s a trilogy that seems to be on everyone’s tongue and quite frankly, I feel majorly left out of this discussion. A friend laid down the plotline of the first book, ‘The Selection’ to me and from what I’ve heard it seems to be a series after my own heart, combining dystopian fiction with dating programmes and a hefty dose of romance too. I have all three books in the series line up and ready to read and though I mustn’t let the hype spoil my experience, my expectations are quite high. I am dying to get in on this fandom and now, thanks to my good ol’ Dad, I can. I’m expecting to love this series so get ready for some top-speed book chatter for this one!

     4.The Long Awaited Sequel

‘If I Stay’ by Gayle Forman is a book that left both me, and a large portion of the rest of the world, in a state of tears and turmoil. The book, though short, was an emotional roller-coaster from start to finish. It was the kind of book that was so gripping and intense that I had to read it all in one day, in one sitting. This was a book that was not going to wait. But though I did not have to wait with ‘If I Stay’, I have waited months for the sequel, ‘Where She Went’. I am so ready to find out the rest of Mia’s story. So much was left unsaid and I simply cannot live the rest of my life not knowing what happened next. I cannot. I will not let Gayle Forman trample all over my heart and crush it into a thousand pieces without her at least telling me if I’ll ever get to put it back together again. I need 
this sequel. I really do.

     5. The Most Important One

Though I love each of my books very much and I will read them all with an equal amount of care and attention, there was one book I wanted more than all of the others put together. Finally. Finally! I own a gorgeous copy of ‘My True Love Gave to Me’. Edited by literary goddess, Stephanie Perkins, the book is a compilation of twelve different Christmas stories, each written by a famous YA author.  As soon as I knew about it I needed it!  This was a book that contained words from Rainbow Rowell, Stephanie Perkins, and David Levithan (to name a few) all in one place. It was like someone had taken my exact reading tastes and try to make a book tailored entirely to my preferences. It has almost all my favourite authors, It’s got romance, It has a beautiful cover and to top it all off, 
It’s a Christmas book! This book is going to be 
magnificent I have no doubts! The only question now is 
whether I can actually wait until Christmas time or not!

            I could talk about my birthday books forever but this is a blog post, not a novel. This was just a few of the highlights of my book haul, there is still so much to be said. All my friends and family have been so generous and lovely this year and you have no idea how grateful I am. I want to give special thankyou’s to my fantastic Dad who sent me the majority of what’s currently in my new to-be-read pile. I am so excited to read all of this new stuff.  Though I am sad it’s over, the day was perfect. Thank you, everyone. It really has been a magnificent birthday!

Monday, 17 November 2014

I Know You Judge a Book By Its Cover.

     Ever since I was a small child it has been drilled into me that you must never judge anything on appearance alone; places, people and most importantly of all – books. No matter what picture happens to be on the front or what title is written down the spine – you must never judge a book by its cover.
         However, as much as this phrase had been force fed to me over the years, I still haven’t quite absorbed it. As I walk through Waterstones on a lazy Sunday afternoon my eyes fly restlessly around the room, searching for a place to land. I skim over the dull looking books sporting grey or black dust jackets, barely giving them a second glance before I move on. I finally settle on a bright red book decorated with white sparrows that stands in a crowd of navy and dark purple – ‘Ketchup Clouds’ by Annabel Pitcher. I read the blurb with a smile; it is exactly the kind of book I want to buy. I am guilty, but I enjoy it immensely.
         This is almost always my tactic when book shopping and it has not failed me yet. Unless a friend has particularly recommended something, I will not pick up a book that doesn’t catch my eye. I have betrayed the golden rule of reading. But I am not sorry. When you think about it, there is no other way to shop for books. When in a bookshop you are faced with the mammoth task of deciding which book you will buy out of the hundreds in the room. Yes, you could pick each book up and read them one by one until you find the few that you like, but that could take hours for only one section of the shop.
       You can’t pick up everything, so how do you decide what to focus your attention on without looking at the cover of the book? You don’t. The most efficient way to find something you like is to search for the colours you like. We pick up the bright ones because they are the ones with the most obvious advertising. And as much as you may not want to hear it – the system works.  
          I have found, during my many Waterstones adventures, that the authors of the kind of books I fall in love with are also the authors who print books with bright, eye-catching covers. Now, this may just as easily be because the books I tend to buy are the ones with colourful covers. All I know is that my favourite bookshelf is a violently beautiful mess of reds and oranges and blues.

           However, despite my tendency towards book cover racism, I still remain open to just about everything. Though when buying books I’m more likely to pick up the books with a spine of neon yellow, this is because they are the most obvious. I still remain opinion-less about all books until I have read them – I just get a little bit more excited for the pretty ones. I firmly believe that the colour of the cover does not affect the quality of the content inside.
       I don’t think there is anything wrong with being charmed by illustration or vibrancy. We as humans are practically programmed to enjoy pretty things from the get-go. That does not exclude books. So what if I would prefer to buy the bright blue copy of ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ as opposed to the movie edition?! That doesn’t mean that my enjoyment of the story differs between the two styles. All it means is that I might just quite enjoy the colour blue. Is that really so bad?
          I know this is not a popular opinion. I understand why we must never use this theory on people, but why not judge books by their covers?  We all have preferences and interests. Even the most self-righteous readers are prone to ‘accidentally’ forgetting to consider the beige book in the top corner of the shelf. We all do it without even thinking. Really, we’re all a little bit book-cover-racist.  And I say that that is okay.


Tuesday, 11 November 2014

My Top 5 Favourite Teen Romance Novels

If you are a regular to my lovely little blog you will probably know that I like teen romantic fiction. A lot. Instead of going to wild parties like most teenagers in this country do, I love to curl up on a Friday night with a mug of hot chocolate, a cosy blanket, a box of tissues close to hand and a good bit of chick-lit in my lap. I’ve read an awful lot of romance fiction in my time and I thought that, what with my experience and all, I’d give you a little idea of what to look out for! So, without further ado, here is my top 5 favourite Teen Romances!

5. Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison

            Okay, so it may not be the most mature love story out there but it’s still has a warm spot in both my library and my heart. Written as if it were the diary of fourteen year old Georgia Nicolson, ‘Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging’ was the first romance novel that I ever read. I must have been about ten or eleven when I first stole this off of my older sister’s shelf. I was curious as to the contents of a book with the word ‘thong’ on the front cover. I snuck off to my room and read it in secret. It was the funniest book I had ever read. Georgia’s crazy antics and randomnosity had me giggling wildly and though I did not much care for love interest, Robbie, at the time, I still told all the girls in my class at school about it. ‘Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging’ is a book that refuses to take itself seriously
 and that is exactly why it has earned its spot on this list.

4. The Boyfriend List by E. Lockhart

            When I first read it, I was addicted to this book like crack cocaine. For the day it took to get through it, getting me to do anything was about as easy as trying to walk through a thick brick wall.  ‘The Boyfriend List’ follows Ruby Oliver as, throughout the course of 11 ‘shrink’ appointments, she explores 15 important relationships (not all of which are romantic) that she has had with guys throughout her life. The stories are interesting and well-paced and the narrative is hilarious. This is a romance novel that for once does not actually promote the importance of love, but promotes self-confidence and friendship instead – strange, I know, but it completely works! Start reading it and I promise, you’ll be done before the day is out.

3. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (Or any Rainbow Rowell really)

            Would this really be a reliable list if Rainbow Rowell wasn’t on here somewhere? Just thinking about ‘Fangirl’ and its colourful array of characters (particularly tall and lovely, Levi) makes me sigh and drift off into a Rowell induced dream. One of the main reasons I think I loved this book so much was because of its unusual set-up. We all know the story of the cute under-appreciated girl desperately trying to get her high-school crush to notice her, but never before have I heard the tale of one awkward twin, trying to run a successful fan-fiction page and refusing to adapt to her new life at college (University to us Brits)! The difficult changes that happen at college are rarely addressed in teen romance fiction and I absolutely loved ‘Fangirl’ for being one of the first to do so! The whole story was just 
lovely from start to finish. With quirky characters 
and beautiful illustrations, ‘Fangirl’ is definitely one to look out for!

2. 10 Things We Shouldn’t Have Done by Sarah Mlynowski

            I have read this book every single summer for about three years now and it never fails to amaze me. ’10 Things We Shouldn’t Have Done’ is the most unpredictable piece of romantic fiction I have ever read. I found myself laughing with glee at some of the cleverer plot twists. The story follows sixteen year old April as she and her friend Vi spend a year secretly living on their own together while their parents are out of town. Of course, as expected, they abuse this newly-found freedom and after a few wild parties and a washing machine disaster find themselves in a good bit of trouble. Hot-tubs, kittens and drunken mermaid impressions are just three of the 10 things I absolutely loved about this book.

1. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

                Oo gosh. My heart still aches a little bit from the brilliance of this one. As regulars to this blog will know, ‘Anna and the French Kiss’ has been one of my favourite books for a very long time. It actually has a whole other blog post to itself – and rightfully so. ‘Anna and the French Kiss’, in my opinion, is the perfect teen romance novel. It has everything you could possibly ask for: a beautiful Parisian setting, a charming romantic interest, and most importantly, a whole lot of nearly-kisses, almost-kisses, not-quite kisses and finally, French kisses. There has never, in all of Waterstones teen section, been a more indulgently romantic novel. It destroyed me emotionally and left my crying on my bed. It really is that good. I may have written this list just so that this book could reign supreme. 
So, join me now, let us raise our metaphorical wine glasses in 
celebration and give a toast: To ‘Anna and the French Kiss’! 

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Sisterhood of the World Blogger Award

Thank you so much, Jay, for nominating me! You should check out her blog: Books By Jay, it really is phenomenal. I’ve been dying to do this tag for ages and I am locked and loaded to write down the best darn answers to any tag you’ve ever read!  So…  let’s do this thing

1.   What was the best dystiopian book you've ever read?

Now this is a very difficult question indeed because I do love my dystopian and trust me I have read a lot of it! However, if you really are going to be so cruel as to make me choose then I would probably have to go with… ‘Delirium’ by Lauren Oliver. That book made me weep all kinds of ugly. I must have cried out around 50% of the water in my body. My friend told me what happens in the other two books though and with an ending like that I can’t bear to even attempt to read them… Aren’t spoilers the worst?

2.   How many books are on your TBR shelf?

I’m quite new to this whole blogging thing compared to some of you keyboard dinosaurs out there, but I think this is like a goodreads thing? In which case, I don’t know, because apparently I’m too stupid to work out how to use goodreads. You can find mehere if you want to try and figure it out for me…
However, if you’re talking about the books in the massive wobbly pile by my bed then I have about 10! Though it is my birthday this month so with any luck, that’ll double!

3.   What is the book that you really want to read but can't get your hands on?

So, recently in the UK the movie adaptation of ‘Love, Rosie’ by Cecilia Ahern came out and my friend pointed out in Waterstones that it had this really wicked writing style! Of course, it made me want to read it right then and there, immediately. But, what with being a teen n’ all my pockets are perpetually empty and I decided that £7 was far too much to pay for this book. Luckily, my town has about a thousand charity shops so I figured I’d just hunt the book down under its old title ‘Where Rainbows End’ (cheesy, I know).
I looked for that book for hours. I swear, I must have gone into more than twenty different odd-smelling shops and bumped into enough of the elderly to have me banned from all care homes ever, but it wasn’t there…
All of this just makes me want it more!

4.   What book is your most anticipated book of the year?

I can’t wait for ‘My True Love Gave To Me’! It’s a compilation of twelve different Christmas stories written by some of my absolutely favourite authors, including the Romantic Rainbow Rowell and the Spectacular Stephanie Perkins! It’s actually already out in the shops but I can’t afford it and it’s glorious pink pages… So, I will wait until my birthday and hope with all of my might.

5.   Who is your most read author?

I actually admitted in my recent blog ‘Defending Jacqueline Wilson’ that I have read a total of 32 of her books… I honestly don’t know how I did it! I was a massive fan of hers as a kid, every time we went to the bookshop I would pick out one or two of her books without fail. My brothers and sisters were fantasy addicts and they used to get annoyed by my total devotion to something that didn’t even have a single hobbit in it.

6.   Do you have any signed books? What are they?

Ha! I wish! The authors I love are mostly American but even the British ones never hop on over to my part of the UK! I never get any chances to get anything signed. I don’t buy the signed books from Waterstones again because of price, but even if they were cheaper it’s still not as exciting as having the actual living breathing author in front of you scrawling down your name… Maybe if I wish hard enough John Green or E. Lockhart will suddenly be compelled to jump on a plane, hunt me down and write a deep personal message in the front of my book, but until then, I can only dream.

7.   Who is your favourite contemporary author?

I cannot stress enough the love I feel for Stephanie Perkins and Rainbow Rowell. Every single one of their books so far has managed to break down my floodgates and turn my eyes into some kind of Niagra Falls lookalike. They have such a beautiful writing style and I am most comfortable when immersed in one of their gorgeous romances… *sigh*

8.   What is your favourite book to movie adaptation?

Book to movie adaptations are always better if the writer was in some way involved and that is why ‘Perks of Being a Wallflower’ was so on point! Chbosky himself wrote the screenplay for the movie so it was always destined for greatness. The characters were so well cast (even if Emma Watson's ‘American’ accent was so annoying…) and it was such an emotional movie. Seriously: Read it. Watch it. Rip your heart out of your chest. And then lose the ability to feel emotions entirely.

9.   Who is the most relatable character you've ever read about in a book?

I often find it quite hard to relate to a character because obviously in fiction the situations can be so extreme. I mean, I’ve never been forced to participate in a battle for the death against 23 other teens in which I nearly die of dehydration, fire, flying bug attacks and angry dogs who look weirdly like that guy I once knew, all the while being broadcast to millions of rich costume-lovers – so how the hell can I say I relate to Katniss Everdeen? That said, I would probably say I’m a bit like a few different characters. I’m stubborn like Emily in ‘A Heart Shaped Bruise’ (though, er… not to such a murderous extent) and I’m quirky like Lola in ‘Lola and the Boy Next Door’ – my friend says I even dress a bit like her!

10. Which book that you own has the prettiest book cover?

This one! (AND it has illustrations on the inside too!) 

My Questions:

If I’m going to do this, I’m going to do this good and proper!
1.    If you could change the ending of any book, what would it be and what would you change it to?
2.    If you could dump hot noodle soup over the head of any one book character, who would you choose?
3.    You’re getting married! Choose your soon-to-be spouse, your best man, your bride’s maids and your DJ?
4.    Sum up one book with an album or playlist
5.    You’ve stole a chocolate fudge cake from the local bake and you’re about to be shoved into prison for twenty two years with one book character of your choice, who would it be?
6.    If you could ask any author three questions who would it be and what?
7.    You can attend one fictional school for an entire year, which would it be? (Hogwarts is banned from this answer because, well… duh!)
8.    Would you rather snog Draco Malfoy, Luna Lovegood or Ron Weasley? State why!
9.    If you had to get a tattoo of one characters face on a body part of your choosing, who and where would you choose? (Keep it clean people!)
10.                       You can bring one fictional character back from the dead, but by doing so you have to kill another: which two do you choose?

I Nominate:
Anastasia from Cuddle Reads
Emily from Forever Literary
Ellen from Quest Reviews
Monica from My Island of Books

Good luck girls!