#NaNoWriMo2017 – Week 1

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So the first week of NaNoWriMo kicked off on a Wednesday this year, so I spent every night after work writing down those words needed to get to the fifty thousand benchmark. Let’s have a look at my stats!

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I kicked off this writing month completing almost 2,000 words in the first couple of days, which has given me a massive head start on my word count. As I said before, I’m reworking an old manuscript that I worked on last year for the Camp edition of NaNoWriMo. Having something concrete to work from has definitely helped give me a foundation, and I’d recommend it to anyone to enter into NaNo with as much material as possible, whether that be a thorough outline or a first draft like me, I’ve found it really, really helps.

Something I did struggle with this week, particularly on Saturday, was writing outside of my routine. I found that coming home from work and sitting down to write every day made it much easier for me to get into the groove. When I tried to write on a Saturday afternoon, I found it hard to get my head in the right space to write, so I’m going to try and keep it the same each day to keep with a routine. Whether I’ll be able to do that or not, I don’t know but I’m hopeful.

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year? What’s your progress like? And what genre are you writing? Let me know in the comments!

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Preparing for #NaNoWriMo2017

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Yes, it’s that time of year again! National Novel Writing Month, also known as November, is upon us, which means all your author friends will drop off the face of the earth as they try to write 50,000 words in a month. I’ve participated for the last two years and once again, I’ll be tackling the big 5-0 this coming November.

My project this year is a second draft of a story I wrote during Camp NaNoWriMo 2016. Losing Lola was the name of the project, and although I achieved my 50,000-word goal, and although it was only a first draft, I’ve had time to think about what I want the story to be and the improvements I want to make on the story.

The narrative is set in my hometown of Bexhill and tells the story of Warren and Javi who are thrown into a whirlwind after Javi’s sister, Lola, goes missing. Her body is found and ruled a suicide but Javi and Warren are convinced that actually Lola was murdered.

The first draft was really the bare bones of the story, and I concentrated on getting from A-B, using very simple language of “this is the scene, these are the characters, where they’re going, where they’ve come from, and this is the dialogue”. It was useful to do it this way as I didn’t have to worry about how I wanted to tell the story, but only the story I wanted to tell.

So going forth, I’ll be working from the original draft I did back in April 2016, using the scenes I wrote as a structure and fleshing out my original ideas, adding in a few more and cutting others. I’m feeling confident I’ll achieve my goal of 50,000 words this time as I achieved it with my first draft on not much content.

Are you doing NaNoWriMo this year? Or are you taking a break? Let me know in the comments!

Great Reads: Short Stories

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Sometimes, a bite-sized read is just what you need. Whether you’re on the bus or just want to digest something quick before bed, short stories can really hit the spot. Here are a few I’ve read that I think should be recommended!

These books are in no particular order.

1.

Brokeback Mountain by Annie Proulx

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Ennis del Mar and Jack Twist, two ranch hands, come together when they’re working as sheep herder and camp tender one summer on a range above the tree line. At first, sharing an isolated tent, the attraction is casual, inevitable, but something deeper catches them that summer. Both men work hard, marry, have kids because that’s what cowboys do. But over the course of many years and frequent separations this relationship becomes the most important thing in their lives, and they do anything they can to preserve it. – from Goodreads.com

The story that inspired the famous film with Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal, and coming in at only 55 pages, or just over an hour if you listen to the audiobook like I did. The story of Ennis and Jack is a beautiful one and really makes me love the film even more.

2.

Bluebeard (and other Fairy Tales) by Angela Carter

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Angela Carter’s playful and subversive retellings of Charles Perrault’s classic fairy tales conjure up a world of resourceful women, black-hearted villains, wily animals and incredible transformations. In these seven stories, bristling with frank, earthy humour and gothic imagination, nothing is as it seems. – from Goodreads.com

In this little collection, Angela Carter manages to rework, and reignite, what keeps us going back to the classic fairy tales again and again. This collection includes Bluebeard, Little Red Riding Hood, Sleeping Beauty in the Wood and Cinderella!

3.

Kindred Spirits by Rainbow Rowell

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If you broke Elena’s heart, Star Wars would spill out. So when she decides to queue outside her local cinema to see the new movie, she’s expecting a celebration with crowds of people who love Han, Luke and Leia just as much as she does. What she’s not expecting is to be last in a line of only three people; to have to pee into a collectable Star Wars soda cup behind a dumpster or to meet that unlikely someone who just might truly understand the way she feels. – from Goodreads.com

Rainbow Rowell wrote this short story for World Book Day 2016. I don’t think it would be selfish of me to ask for a full-length book based on this little snippet, as lots of people seem to love it as much as I do!

4.

Different Seasons by Stephen King

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This gripping collection begins with “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption,” in which an unjustly imprisoned convict seeks a strange and startling revenge—the basis for the Best Picture Academy Award-nominee The Shawshank Redemption. Next is “Apt Pupil,” the inspiration for the film of the same name about top high school student Todd Bowden and his obsession with the dark and deadly past of an older man in town. In “The Body,” four rambunctious young boys plunge through the façade of a small town and come face-to-face with life, death, and intimations of their own mortality. This novella became the movie Stand By Me. Finally, a disgraced woman is determined to triumph over death in “The Breathing Method.” – from Goodreads.com

My first experience with Stephen King was watching The Shawshank Redemption and Stand by Me in English class, so when I realised that these films were based on actual short stories, I thought I better get around to reading them. The films captured the essence and tone of King’s short stories perfectly, and these are amongst my favourites!

5.

Tales of Beedle the Bard by JK Rowling

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The Tales of Beedle the Bard, a Wizarding classic, first came to Muggle readers’ attention in the book known as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Now, thanks to Hermione Granger’s new translation from the ancient runes, we present this stunning edition with an introduction, notes, and illustrations by J. K. Rowling, and extensive commentary by Albus Dumbledore. – from Goodreads.com

In the same vein as Angela Carter’s revised fairy tales, JK Rowling has compiled a collection of stories most loved by wizard children, that had been passed down in wizard families from generation to generation. It was interesting to read and compare to our own fairy tales and see their differences and similarities.

So these are some of my favourite short stories that I think you should all read. Got any recommendations for me? Let me know in the comments!

Great Reads: Graphic Novels

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In the last couple of years, I’ve really gotten into reading graphic novels. They’re the perfect hybrid between watching a film or an episode of a TV show and reading a book, and sometimes the illustrations are just gorgeous! Anyway, here are the graphic novels I think are great!

1.

Wires and Nerve by Marissa Meyer

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When rogue packs of wolf-hybrid soldiers threaten the tenuous peace alliance between Earth and Luna, Iko takes it upon herself to hunt down the soldiers’ leader. She is soon working with a handsome royal guard who forces her to question everything she knows about love, loyalty, and her own humanity. – from Goodreads.com

This is a recent read for me, as I was bought Wires and Nerve Volume 1 for my birthday this year. I absolutely loved all of the books in the Lunar Chronicles series, including the companions, Fairest and Stars Above. Although Wires and Nerve is not integral to the Lunar Chronicles timeline, it’s certainly a wonderfully entertaining addition.

2.

Blankets by Craig Thompson

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Wrapped in the landscape of a blustery Wisconsin winter, Blankets explores the sibling rivalry of two brothers growing up in the isolated country, and the budding romance of two coming-of-age lovers. A tale of security and discovery, of playfulness and tragedy, of a fall from grace and the origins of faith. – from Goodreads.com

Blankets was one of the first graphic novels I read and I really loved how big it was. A lot of graphic novels are very short but this one really felt like a novel. It’s also autobiographical so it really tugged at my heartstrings.

3.

Manga Classics: Les Miserables

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Adapted for stage and screen, loved by millions, Victor Hugo’s classic novel of love & tragedy during the French Revolution is reborn in this fantastic new manga edition! The gorgeous art of TseMei Lee brings to life the tragic stories of Jean Valjean, Inspector Javert, and the beautiful Fantine, in this epic adaptation of Les Miserables! – from Goodreads.com

Les Miserables is one of my favourite books, but to say it’s long is an understatement! In this version, Manga Classics, Stacy King has taken the best bits of Victor Hugo’s novel and strung them together, illustrated by the wonderful TseMei Lee, making this one of the best adaptations to read if you want to get to know the story of Les Miserables.

4.

Sherlock: A Study in Pink

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Sherlock Manga – printed in English in the US for the first time! Adapting the episodes of the smash-hit TV series starring worldwide superstars Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. Holmes and Watson tackle brain-teasing crimes in modern-day London in this stunning Manga, presented in its original right-to-left reading order, and in the full chapters as originally serialized! Meet Holmes and Watson for the first time… all over again! – from Goodreads.com

This edition of Sherlock Manga is adapted from the TV series Sherlock, not the original stories from Arthur Conan Doyle. The characters, brought to life by Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, have been perfectly memorialised in this Manga collection. It also adapts the first episode, A Study in Pink, really well and keeps all the elements of the episode that we love.

5.

Murder on the Orient Express: Agatha Christie Graphic Novels

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A snowdrift stops the Orient Express in its tracks. The luxurious train is full at this time of the year, but by the morning, is one passenger fewer. An American lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside. Hercule Poirot must identify the murderer – in case he or she strikes again. – from Goodreads.com

One of the problems with classics is that they can be quiet dense, so to have them in a bite-size graphic novel form can make them much easier to consume. This is the case for Murder on the Orient Express and other crime classics, as there are usually lots of threads that make up the final mystery. Having classics as graphic novels also brings the stories to a wider audience.

So these are my top five classics that I think are great. Have you read any of these? Or are there some you’d like to recommend to me? Let me know in the comments!

Most Read Authors

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Ever since I started reading independently, and choosing books for myself, I’ve racked up quite a few books by the same author. In my opinion, there’s nothing better than waiting with bated breath for an author to release their new book and sliding it onto your shelf alongside their others. So over the years, here are the authors I’ve read (and loved) the most.

These books are in no particular order.

(Disclaimer: I’ve tried not to include authors whose series I’ve read)

1.

Dorothy Koomson

 

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Fiction and storytelling were still a HUGE passion of mine and I continued to write short stories and novels every spare moment that I got. In 2001 I had the idea for The Cupid Effect and my career as a published novelist began. – from Goodreads.com

My sister bought me The Cupid Effect when I was a teenager and I gobbled it up. Luckily, Dorothy Koomson is one of those authors than manages to release a book every year, so I didn’t have to wait long for my next read. I got a bit out of sync with the releases whilst I was at university, but so far I’ve read eight of her twelve books!

2.

Jacqueline Wilson

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One of Jacqueline’s most successful and enduring creations has been the famous Tracy Beaker, who first appeared in 1991 in The Story of Tracy Beaker. This was also the first of her books to be illustrated by Nick Sharratt. – from Goodreads.com

I, like most young kids, was introduced to the world of Jaqueline Wilson thanks to the TV show of Tracy Beaker on CBBC. Cue me reading every single Jaqueline Wilson book ever released! I don’t think there was a kid in my school who didn’t read and love JW books. They became a cornerstone of a 90s kid’s childhood!

3.

E Lockhart

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E. Lockhart is the author of Genuine Fraud, We Were Liars, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, The Boyfriend List and several other novels. – from Goodreads.com

The Boyfriend List was gifted to me when I was 14 by my Mum and I absolutely adored it. I didn’t read another E Lockhart book until We Were Liars, released in 2014, but I made the effort to go back and read all of the books I’d missed. I haven’t caught up with the Ruby Oliver series yet, but Lockhart’s latest, Genuine Fraud, is down to be one of my favourites of the year!

4.

Roald Dahl

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His first children’s book was The Gremlins, about mischievous little creatures that were part of RAF folklore. The book was commissioned by Walt Disney for a film that was never made, and published in 1943. Dahl went on to create some of the best-loved children’s stories of the 20th century, such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda and James and the Giant Peach. – from Goodreads.com

All of Roald Dahl’s books were published before I was born, so after reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory first, I methodically went through and read all of Dahl’s books throughout my childhood. I haven’t read all of them, but some of his stories are my absolute favourites, and I hold a soft spot for Dirty Beasts and Revolting Rhymes. I think it’s where my love of poetry was born!

5.

John Green

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John Green’s first novel, Looking for Alaska, won the 2006 Michael L. Printz Award presented by the American Library Association. – from Goodreads.com

John Green’s Looking for Alaska really kick-started my love of YA when I first read it in 2011. I didn’t actually get into YA properly until 2014 but this book always held a special place in my heart, and still does! Then, when The Fault in Our Stars was released in 2012, I quickly ordered the rest of his books and went on a binge reading spree to get caught up. I’m so excited for Turtles All the Way Down to be released this October!

So these are the authors whose books I’ve read the most! Are any of these authors on your list? Or do you have different authors whose books you’ve read the most? Let me know in the comments!

Best Books of Jul-Aug-Sep

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I’ve been rounding up my favourite books every quarter, as some of the books I read and love don’t quite make it to my end of year list. This is the third blog post I’ve done, which means we’re about three-quarters of the way through the year. At this rate, it will be almost Christmas! So here are the books I’ve really liked in the last three months, ones I’m not sure that will make the final list.

These books are in no particular order.

1.

Girlhood by Cat Clarke

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Harper has tried to forget the past and fit in at expensive boarding school Duncraggan Academy. Her new group of friends are tight; but Harper can’t escape the guilt of her twin sister’s Jenna’s death, and her own part in it – and she knows noone else will ever really understand. But new girl Kirsty seems to get Harper in ways she never expected. She has lost a sister too. Then Kirsty’s behaviour becomes more erratic. Why is her life a perfect mirror of Harper’s? And why is she so obsessed with Harper’s lost sister? How can Harper get back to the person she wants to be, and to the girls who mean the most to her? – from Goodreads.com

I managed to get an ARC of this book on NetGalley. If you don’t know what NetGalley is, it’s a website where you can apply for and download advanced reader copies granted by the publishers. Cat Clarke’s latest book gave me some serious Pretty Little Liars vibes!

2.

The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani

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This year, best friends Sophie and Agatha are about to discover where all the lost children go: the fabled School for Good & Evil, where ordinary boys and girls are trained to be fairy tale heroes and villains. As the most beautiful girl in Gavaldon, Sophie has dreamed of being kidnapped into an enchanted world her whole life. With her pink dresses, glass slippers, and devotion to good deeds, she knows she’ll earn top marks at the School for Good and graduate a storybook princess. Meanwhile Agatha, with her shapeless black frocks, wicked pet cat, and dislike of nearly everyone, seems a natural fit for the School for Evil. But when the two girls are swept into the Endless Woods, they find their fortunes reversed. – from Goodreads.com

I found my copy of this book in an Oxfam Bookshop and read a decent chunk of it on the train home! The friendship between Sophie and Agatha really reminded me of Elphaba and Glinda’s relationship in Wicked. Good and Evil! Not sure whether I’ll read the rest of the series but it was still super fun!

3.

Aurabel by Laura Dockrill

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It has been two years since Rory drowned, and Lorali is in Hastings, living the quiet life of a normal teenage girl. But her safe life on land won’t last for long. Life in The Whirl has become a hotbed of underwater politics and as the council jostles to oust the king, one Mer in particular has her eye on Lorali as the key to her own rise to power. Meanwhile, Aurabel, a lowly Mer from the wrong side of the trench, is attacked by sea beasts and left for dead – and without a tail. Raging with righteous anger, she rebuilds herself a mechanical tail and reinvents herself as a fearless steampunk Mer seeking revenge. But she never expected the most important job that was about to drop into her lap. – from Goodreads.com

Lorali by Laura Dockrill holds a special place in my heart, as it’s set in a nearby town to me called Hastings! Not many people know about our little corner of the world, and so when we get a starring role, especially in a book about mermaids, it’s hard not to resist! So when the ARC for Aurabel was available to request on NetGalley, I jumped at the chance!

4.

Blind by Rachel DeWoskin

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When Emma Sasha Silver loses her eyesight in a nightmare accident, she must relearn everything from walking across the street to recognizing her own sisters to imagining colors. One of seven children, Emma used to be the invisible kid, but now it seems everyone is watching her. And just as she’s about to start high school and try to recover her friendships and former life, one of her classmates is found dead in an apparent suicide. Fifteen and blind, Emma has to untangle what happened and why – in order to see for herself what makes life worth living. – from Goodreads.com

I’d had this eBook on my Kindle for a long time, but it was actually the audiobook on OverDrive that spurred me on to read it. It was amazing to hear about Emma’s story, and how the feelings of loss and bereavement could be applied in this situation.

5.

STAGS by M.A. Bennett

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Greer MacDonald is struggling to settle into the sixth form at the exclusive St. Aidan the Great boarding school, known to its privileged pupils as S.T.A.G.S. Just when she despairs of making friends Greer receives a mysterious invitation with three words embossed upon on it: huntin’ shootin’ fishin’. But when Greer joins the other chosen few at the ancient and sprawling Longcross Hall, the students are at the mercy of their capricious host, and, over the next three days, as the three bloodsports – hunting, shooting and fishing – become increasingly dark and twisted, Greer comes to the horrifying realisation that those being hunted are not wild game, but the very misfits Henry has brought with him from school… – from Goodreads.com

STAGS was another NetGalley ARC and was quite a hyped release on Goodreads and Booktube. Again, it gave me Pretty Little Liars vibes and was quite an exciting read. I felt overall it needed more pace but it’s certainly in the same vein as Cat Clarke in terms of mystery and thrills! A definite must-read for fans of Clarke’s books.

So this concludes my list of books I really enjoyed in the last three months. Did you read any of these books? Or do you want to recommend some you think I’ll like? Let me know in the comments!

Great Reads: Historical Fiction

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The appeal of historical fiction lies in the ability to be nostalgic for a time long ago, whether you yourself were present or not. I love the occasional historical fiction novel, and I’ve read a few in my time that I’ve loved, so these are the ones I want to share with you.

1.

A Little in Love by Susan E. Fletcher

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As a young child Eponine never knew kindness, except once from her family’s kitchen slave, Cosette. When at sixteen the girls’ paths cross again and their circumstances are reversed, Eponine must decide what that friendship is worth, even though they’ve both fallen for the same boy. In the end, Eponine will sacrifice everything to keep true love alive. – from Goodreads.com

I think most people have heard of Les Miserables, and even more know the story. But do you know Eponine’s story? If no, fear not, Susan E. Fletcher has got you covered. Written from Eponine’s perspective, this companion novel chronicles her journey in Victor Hugo’s classic novel.

2.

Lydia: The Wild Girl of Pride and Prejudice by Natasha Farrant

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A spirited, witty and fresh reimagining of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice! Lydia is the youngest Bennet sister and she’s sick of country life – instead of sewing and reading, she longs for adventure. When a red-coated garrison arrives in Merryton, Lydia’s life turns upside down. As she falls for dashing Wickham, she’s swept into a whirlwind social circle and deposited in a seaside town, Brighton. Sea-bathing, promenades, and scandal await – and a pair of intriguing twins. Can Lydia find out what she really wants – and can she get it? – from Goodreads.com

Similar to A Little in Love, Natasha Farrant’s Lydia narrates the story of Pride and Prejudice from Lydia Bennet’s perspective. We know she runs away to Brighton and ends up marrying the devilishly handsome George Wickham, but what do we know about what she got up to there? In Farrant’s novel, we can certainly find out!

3.

All the Truth That’s in Me by Julie Berry

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Judith can’t speak. Ever since the horrifying trauma that left her best friend dead and Judith without her tongue, she’s been a pariah in her close-knit community of Roswell Station; even her own mother won’t look her in the eye. All Judith can do is silently pour out her thoughts and feelings to the love of her life, the boy who’s owned her heart as long as she can remember – even if he doesn’t know it – her childhood friend, Lucas. – from Goodreads.com

When I first picked this book up, I didn’t realise that it was historical fiction. I’m not sure where I first read the synopsis but my brain assumed it was a contemporary, and so when I began reading the opening pages, I was definitely surprised. Having said that, the book gripped me from the first page and I still think about this book a lot even to this day, even though I read it two years ago. I definitely haven’t read a book like it since!

So these are my recommendations to you for historical fiction. Have you got any for me to try out? And are you going to put these books on your TBR pile? Let me know in the comments!