Top 10 Books of 2017 (8&7)

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Following on from yesterday’s post, here I’ll be counting down the numbers eight and seven on my list of top ten books of 2017. Without further ado, here we go!

8.

Animal by Sara Pascoe

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Women have so much going on, what with boobs and jealousy and menstruating and broodiness and sex and infidelity and pubes and wombs and jobs and memories and emotions and the past and the future and themselves and each other. Sara Pascoe has joked about feminity and sexuality on stage and screen but now she has a book to talk about it all for a bit longer. Animal combines autobiography and evolutionary history to create a funny, fascinating insight into the forces that mould and affect modern women. – from Goodreads.com

As I said, I’ve been on a real non-fiction kick this year, particularly memoir and this book (and the next one) were really up there with the collection I’ve read. I’ve only seen Sara Pascoe on panel shows, and not many either, so when this book was recommended to me over and over again, I was a bit hesitant because she wasn’t on my radar. However, after my Mum got a copy and lent it to me, I’m so glad I read it. Pascoe’s take on the female body and perspective is hilarious and brutally honest! I would especially recommend listening to the audiobook!

7.

Year of Yes: How to Dance it Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes

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Before her Year of Yes, Shonda Rhimes was an expert at declining invitations others would leap to accept. With three children at home and three hit television shows on TV, it was easy to say that she was simply too busy. But in truth, she was also afraid. In the before, Shonda’s introvert life revolved around burying herself in work, snuggling her children, and comforting herself with food. And then, on Thanksgiving 2013, Shonda’s sister muttered something that was both a wake-up and a call to arms: You never say yes to anything. Then Shonda, the youngest of six children from a supremely competitive family, knew she had to embrace the challenge: for one year, she would say YES to everything that scared her. – from Goodreads.com

Another memoir which I adored this year. Shonda Rhimes is the creator, writer, and producer of one of my most favourite TV shows, How to Get Away with Murder. I didn’t realise she had written a book, but when I did I knew I had to read it immediately. I wasn’t disappointed. Rhimes talks about more than just her life in showbiz, but also her about her family, her home life, her anxiety and depression and other struggles. It truly is an inspirational tale!

Join me tomorrow for numbers six and five of my best books of 2017. The book that just missed out on the top five and the other book that just scraped through.

 

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Top 10 Books of 2017 (10&9)

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If you are a newcomer to my blog, you won’t be aware of my Christmas tradition, where I count down the best books I’ve read this year. They don’t need to be new releases, they can be older publications that I’ve just gotten around to reading, but as long as I rate them in my top ten, they’re on this list. Today, I’ll be telling you my tenth and ninth favourite books of the year, tomorrow the eighth and the seventh and so on. So here we go!

10.

Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher

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(Honourable mentions go to Shockaholic and The Princess Diarist, also by Carrie Fisher)

In Wishful Drinking, adapted from her one-woman stage show, Fisher reveals what it was really like to grow up a product of “Hollywood in-breeding,” come of age on the set of a little movie called Star Wars, and become a cultural icon and bestselling action figure at the age of nineteen. – from Goodreads.com

We lost dear Carrie on the 27th December 2016, and in the new year, I vowed to read her memoirs, to help get to know the woman who inspired so many. Carrie had her own struggles with mental health, and as you may or may not know, I’ve struggled with mine. I wanted to hear what this beloved icon had to say and I wasn’t disappointed. She wrote with a rare charm that I found completely infectious. I read all three of her memoirs this year.

9.

A Mother’s Reckoning by Sue Klebold

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On April 20, 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold walked into Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. Over the course of minutes, they would kill twelve students and a teacher and wound twenty-four others before taking their own lives. For the last sixteen years, Sue Klebold, Dylan’s mother, has lived with the indescribable grief and shame of that day. In A Mother’s Reckoning, she chronicles with unflinching honesty her journey as a mother trying to come to terms with the incomprehensible. – from Goodreads.com

I was approved by NetGalley to receive an ARC of this book, which I was desperate to read. I have a sickening fascination with books like this, and I’ve been on a particularly strong non-fiction kick this year so Klebold’s memoir has ticked all the boxes for me. Klebold’s writing was so raw and honest, and at times very, very painful to read. Not only did she speak so frankly, but she also spoke a lot about mental health which was very interesting to me.

So these are the first two books on my top ten list of 2017. Stay tuned tomorrow for books eight and seven!

Promises and Wishes: 2017 Edition

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(Me in January and December of this year)

Once again, we find ourselves at the time of year where nostalgia and reflection overcome us! Every year on Christmas Eve, I round-up my yearly achievements and set some goals for the new year. To say I made a tonne of progress is an understatement!

Here’s my list from last year:

  • Learn to drive.
  • Go abroad again.
  • Visit Stonehenge.
  • Write another book.
  • Go and see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child again.

Let’s see how much I achieved:

Learn to drive.

Erm… the less said about that the better.

Go abroad again.

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(Dan, Brendan and Me)

Does going to Scotland count as going abroad? Some might agree, some may not. I didn’t use my passport, let’s just say that. But going to Scotland has definitely satisfied some of my wanderlust and has also given me the travel bug. In fact, Dan, Brendan and I are planning to go away in 2018 as well. We got to see a lot of Harry Potter and Outlander sites as well as some historical ones, particularly to do with Mary, Queen of Scots. (More on that later!)

Visit Stonehenge.

Nope. Didn’t happen.

Write another book.

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Yes. NEARLY. I did CampNaNoWriMo this April and managed to write fifty thousand words of a first draft for a book titled The Elementals. I also re-wrote another draft of my mystery novel Losing Lola. A 100k word count for 2017 ain’t bad!

Go and see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child again.

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Well, yes, Part Two anyway. I had a ticket for Part One but I couldn’t get the time off work, so I could only go and see Part Two, which I loved. Good job I knew what happened in Part One!

So, three out of five! Not too bad in my opinion.

Now, here’s my list for 2018:

  • LEARN TO DRIVE.

I really, really need to get around to doing that. Really, really.

  • USE MY PASSPORT.

As I said, Brendan, Dan and I are thinking about going on holiday again together in 2018, and there are a few European cities on the list so who knows!

  • Get into full-time work.

I’m already working part-time in schools which I’m absolutely loving. Ideally, I’d be looking to move into a full-time teaching assistant position. Let’s keep those fingers crossed.

  • Write another book.

If I could write a book a year. I’d be happy with that. I’m aiming to do NaNoWriMo 2018 and have an idea still developing in my mind, so I’m sure this would be an achievable goal for me.

  • Read 100 books. 

I’ve read 100 books the last two years and I really want to keep this number up, even if I’m going to be trying to get into full-time work. Reading is my greatest passion, and I want to keep my favourite hobby going at all costs!

So, let’s see what 2018 brings! What’s on your bucket list for this year? Let me know in the comments!

#NaNoWriMo2017 – Week 3

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We have passed the halfway mark of NaNoWriMo and in theory, three-quarters of the novel should be finished! Let’s look at the stats and see how I’m getting on.

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I haven’t yet completed today’s word count, but I am hitting the target each day, still with difficulty. I’ve completely lost confidence in this project. Not as myself as a writer, I just am struggling with this project and what I want it to be. It feels as though the idea in my head isn’t translating to paper the way I want it to. I’m thinking that after NaNoWriMo is over, I’m going to put this idea on a shelf and spend a lot of time thinking about it.

I find that if I think about projects long enough, and really spend some time fleshing them out in my head, almost playing the story live action in my head, I can better understand the direction and purpose of what I’m trying to achieve. I think that’s what I need to do with this story. I’m happy with the characters, I’m happy with the basic plot, but something else needs to change.

In a way, I’m quite happy about this revelation because ultimately it’s going to make me into a better writer, and it’s going to make my project better. So even though it feels frustrating at times, there’s still a positive to be drawn from it.

How are you getting on with your NaNoWriMo project? Only one week to go! Let me know in the comments!

#NaNoWriMo2017 – Week 2

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The first full week of NaNoWriMo is almost complete so let’s see how I’m getting on.

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This week has been a struggle, to say the least. Even having an original framework to write from hasn’t helped me get motivated, but luckily I’ve still been able to hit the word count every day, with a lot of difficulty though.

I’m not sure why this week has been so hard for me to write. Perhaps because it’s always easier to start at the beginning, but when you have to write the middle and build a foundation that it’s easier to not bother. I’ve struggled a lot with negative thinking this week towards my novel idea. It’s always been the weakest narrative in compared to all the ones I’ve plotted, and I don’t really feel confident about the story or where I want it to go. I can never imagine showing it to anyone. It’s been very much a sense of “It’s not that good, so what’s the point?”.

I need to remember why I tried writing this story in the first place. I’ve always wanted to write a mystery. Maybe this isn’t the mystery that I imagined. At least it will be a stepping stone to another mystery piece. Maybe one I’ll eventually be happy with? Who knows. But I remain hopeful. And hopefully, next week will be better.

How are you getting on with NaNoWriMo? Are you steaming ahead? Falling behind? Or plodding along just like me? Let me know in the comments!

#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!

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!