New Year, A Better Me | 2016 Resolutions

January 1, 2016

*insert typical comment over how quick the year has gone*

Yes, 2015 is over and 2016 has just begun, and with a new year comes a new set of resolutions I’m hoping to work on in the next twelve months. I’m not going too specific in these resolutions, I’m aiming for more generalised, but still attainable goals.

New Year, a Better Me 2016 resolutions

Unsurprisingly, my number one resolution for 2016 is to get healthy, and be a lot more active than I currently am. I do have some pretty good motivation in the form of a holiday to Cuba in April, and I’d love to feel healthier and happier with myself by the time we step on the plane. I feel like I’m finally in the right mindset to make these positive changes and actually get behind the idea of healthy living, instead of making yet another half-hearted attempt and giving up after a few days because, chocolate.

I’m going to be monitoring my progress on MyFitnessPal, purely because I’ve had success with it in the past, and I love the app and the website. I know it’s not for everyone, but it’s what works best for you, right?

I’m also looking at self-improvement in 2016, in all areas of my life. I want to better myself as a person. I want to feel totally, 100% happy with the person I am, and finally feel at peace with myself as a person.

I’m also considering a career change soon. Possibly. I’m in two minds about it. I really do enjoy my job, but not as much as I did when I first joined. I think I need to look into how I can be happy in my current role, and if the answer is that I can’t, then it’ll definitely be time to move on.

So those are my personal resolutions for 2016, I’ll be sharing my bookish resolutions with you all on Tuesday.

What’s your number one resolution for 2016? Or do you not bother setting them? 

Bout of Books 15 Sign-Up

December 31, 2015

by Bout of Books 15
Oh yes, it’s happening
Bout of Books
I’m signing up for my first Bout of Books in a very long time, but I honestly couldn’t be more excited. Everyone loves Bout of Books. Bout of Books is awesome, and the perfect way to kick off a new year of reading!
As always, here’s the official blurb for Bout of Books: The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, January 4th and runs through Sunday, January 10th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 15 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. – From the Bout of Books team
I’m not planning what books I’m going to read, I’m just going with the flow and reading whatever takes my fancy, which sounds pretty ideal for me.

From Idea to Page|Nick Bryan Guest Post

December 2, 2015

I’m thrilled to be sharing a guest post Nick Bryan has kindly written for me. I hosted Nick Bryan on a Hobson & Choi book tour, and even though I haven’t gotten round to starting the series yet,but I love the premise for The Girl Who Tweeted Wolf (Goodreads Link) and I cannot wait to delve into the series, which seems like it will be witty and full of dark humour. (Hello me in book form…)from idea to page florian klauer

How To Write A Hobson & Choi Book In 50 Easy Steps

I’ve now written three separate books in the Hobson & Choi series, focusing on mismatched detectives John Hobson and Angelina Choi and their attempts to solve crimes for a living in a post-modern satirical-yet-grim London where some kind of corruption can be found literally everywhere.

After three full run-throughs and a decent start at a fourth, I’ve got some kind of a routine on writing these books, so if anyone wants to know how to write their very own H&C novel (or ‘fanfiction’ to give it the technically correct term), here is a easy-to-follow list, which could also double as some kind of Choose Your Own Adventure if you like that sort of thing…

  1. Leave house, go about your business. Try to go about your business in an area of London where you haven’t yet set a book, but don’t worry, you can always just lie and say it happened in a new place.
  2. Keep going until something annoys you. This could be a huge crowd at a shopping centre, an angry dog or, best of all, an annoying phone call/email from a recruitment agency, thus meaning you didn’t really even have to leave the house.
  3. Go and have a drink.
  4. Repeat #3.
  5. Imagine how the observation from #2 could be part of a massive conspiracy that somehow makes money or produces some other benefit. (If you struggle to get into this mindset, there are YouTube channels that might help.)
  6. Repeat #3.
  7. Write a plan or enormous diagram attempting to make your criminal enterprise seem at least vaguely plausible.
  8. Leave it for a few days, wait until sober.
  9. Rewrite your plan so it looks kinda-slightly-plausible.
  10. Try to imagine how someone involved in this plan might actually feel. Repeat #3 if necessary.
  11. If you can’t manage #10, your idea was too OTT. Start again from #1.
  12. Work out the angle at which the person from #10 might come in contact with Hobson and Choi and how investigating it might affect them.
  13. Go and check the last novel to remember where the ongoing character subplots were and what you intended to do next.
  14. Combine #12 and #13 until the two strands intersect coherently with each other. Use a hammer if you have to.
  15. Repeat #14 and #3 until you have the start of an outline.
  16. Find a way to end the book that resolves #12 and makes #13 much worse for everyone. (Or will make it much worse for them in a future book.)
  17. Sit down to start writing the book.
  18. Expect #16 to change several times during the course of the first draft. Repeat #3 when this happens.
  19. #12 and #13 will probably change at least a couple of times too. Repeat #15 if necessary.
  20. Finish first draft. Repeat #3 for a month or so and then return to it.
  21. Book cover designer.
  22. Read all the way through, noting where it stops making sense.
  23. Rewrite all scenes, adding jokes and consistency.
  24. Add Markus the dog back into all the scenes where you forgot he existed.
  25. Read the whole thing out-loud to make the phrasing less clunky. Repeat #3 whenever the boredom starts to physically hurt.
  26. Send to your editor.
  27. Spend a month repeating #1, #2 and #3 for next Hobson & Choi book or working on something else.
  28. Brief cover designer by answering many questions about the book and your preferences. Worry that you have to make up the answer to many of these on the spot.
  29. Get book back from editor. Read notes. Feel sad. Repeat #3.
  30. Re-read notes, write lists of necessary changes, up to and including rewriting the entire ending.
  31. Repeat #23 and #24.
  32. Repeat #22, #23, #24 and #25.
  33. Shake self awake.
  34. Send to proofreader.
  35. Repeat #27.
  36. Get book back. Make suggested changes, which hopefully won’t be too awful.
  37. Receive cover proofs from designer. Give feedback.
  38. Repeat #37 until cover perfect.
  39. Become excited, post pictures on internet, repeat #3.
  40. Convert book into HTML for ebook formats. This isn’t as bad as it sounds.
  41. Put book into print layout, including elimination of all possible widows and orphans. This is far worse than it sounds. Repeat #3 as needed.
  42. Order proof of print book.
  43. Read over ebook for annoying HTML formatting errors.
  44. Get print proof back.
  45. Repeat #39.
  46. Repeat #22, with added joy and attention because this is hopefully the last time. Focus on print formatting problems and final niggling typos.
  47. Repeat #36, with annoying extra stage of needing to make changes in several different files.
  48. Submit final text to various online stores.
  49. Promote on internet.
  50. Repeat #3.

Book Review: Can We Live Here? by Sarah Alderson

November 30, 2015

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Can We Live Here? by Sarah AldersonCan We Live Here? by Sarah Alderson
Published by Blink on 6th August 2015
Pages: 256
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
four-stars
Last week, I was sitting in seven layers (two of them thermal) next to a fire, with a blanket wrapped around me. Now, I am sleeping in kickers and a vest under a fan. Let the mosquitos bite me. They can have me ... Can we live here? ... If I don't become roadkill in the next few days, I'll let you know my thoughts.

In 2009, Sarah and John Alderson quit their full-time jobs in London and headed off, with Alula, their three-year-old daughter, on a global adventure to find a new home. For eight months, they travelled through Australia, the US and Asia navigating India with a toddler in a tutu, battling black magic curses in Indonesia and encountering bears in North America asking themselves one defining question: Can We Live Here?

Inspirational, hilarious and fascinating this is an unforgettable travel memoir and a unique guide to quitting your job, following your dreams and finding your home in a far-flung paradise

I generally don’t read non-fiction, but I couldn’t resist picking up Can We Live Here? by Sarah Alderson. I already follow her on Twitter, and have been meaning to read more of her books since Conspiracy Girl, so this was the perfect place for me to start.

I absolutely loved this book. It’s more like you’re having a chat with Sarah about her travels to Goa, Singapore and Bali (amongst other places) instead of reading her blog-turned-book. I loved the underlying theme of the book, the “fuck it, yes” mentality, as it’s something that we all secretly wish we could say to most things. It’s easy to daydream about quitting our jobs and travelling the world, but instead of daydreaming about it, Sarah Alderson actually did it, and that’s what made reading Can We Live Here? all the more entertaining.

And this book is hilarious. There were parts that had me giggling out loud, chuckling away to myself during my lunchbreak, parts that had me cringing at the sheer awkwardness of the situation, and parts that just made me feel obscenely jealous that Sarah had the balls to say “fuck it” and just go for what she wanted to do.

I would urge everyone to pick up this book, not just fans of Sarah Alderson, but those who feel they’re stuck in a rut, and want help in pushing themselves out of their comfort zones and dipping their toes into unknown waters.

Unexplained Absences

November 18, 2015

unexplained absences

I feel like I’m writing these posts far too often. So, once again, I do apologise.

I’m currently in the middle of decorating and moving house with my parents. My radio silence was rather unexpected, thanks to our internet supplier unceremoniously cutting off our broadband supply in the middle of October, and we can only afford to have one lot of broadband running, the connection went into the new house. Thanks to working long hours, I’m rarely down here for longer than ten minutes a day, meaning I haven’t had time to blog. On the plus, I’ve had plenty of time to read. I’m not going to start throwing around guesses of when I’ll be back. It’ll happen when we’re moved in and settled, I would imagine. But you never know. I’m currently sitting in an empty house waiting for my new desk to arrive, so I’ll probably bash out a few posts as I’ve got the time to this morning. I’ve never owned a desk before. I’m excited. Is that sad? Probably.

To the authors and publishers I owe posts to: they will be posted on here, I do promise you. I cannot thank you for your patience. (Maybe some will be on here sooner rather than later, depending on what words I can type out!)

Guest Post: A Day in the Life of Chele Cook | Out of Orbit Blog Tour

October 23, 2015

I am thrilled to be taking part in the Out of Orbit Blog Tour! I hosted Chele Cook on the blog many, many moons ago for a previous blog tour, so it was a no brainer to host her again today! I have an excellent guest post to share with you, all about a day in Chele Cook’s life, plus there’s a tour-wide giveaway for you to enter as well!

Displaying out of orbit banner1.png

 “When asked to write about a general day in my life, my first thought was ‘well, that’s going to be boring’. In fact, my life probably quiet compared to a lot of people. I’m an introvert, and I enjoy spending a lot of my time alone. Of course, that’s a rather helpful situation when it comes to writing and spending vast quantities of time in front of a computer.

 I am still at the point in my career where I need a day job to bring in most of my income. I work day to day as a Residence Assistant for a London University, so eight hours a day is spent in an office. It’s a decent job and, when the office is quiet, it gives me the chance to jot down ideas.

 I’ve always been a bit of a night owl, so most of my writing gets done in the evenings once I get home from work. I’ve also always been a big fan of afternoon naps, so it isn’t strange, if I’ve been on an early shift at work, for me to nap for an hour upon getting home before I start on my second job as a writer.

 Anyone who tells you writing a book is easy is lying, and anyone who tries to imply that self-publishing is the easy way out has never tried to self-publish to a professional standard. You’re regularly trying to keep up with two jobs, author and publisher, all in your free time.

 I’m spending about 30 hours a week keeping up with publishing. Sometimes that will be writing, other times it’s the various stages in the publishing process including marketing and social media.

 I’m currently writing 1,000 words a day of first draft and then I’m in editing, formatting, doing website design and upkeep, and marketing. I occasionally have a social life, like the writing group I go to at Big Green Bookshop in Wood Green each Wednesday, but in general, I’m a homebody. I watch episodes of my favourite TV shows between writing sprints, and when my brain is too fried, I cross stitch or knit. (I have as many cross stitching projects as I do writing ones. I suffer from Startitus!)

 Sometimes, I think I’m crazy. Other times, I know I am, but I love it just the same.

 One question I’ve been asked a few times by non-writing friends has been: “How do you keep up with everything that needs doing?” Well, I’m a big fan of check lists. I currently have four stuck to the wall in front of my computer: Daily word count, project progress, publishing check list, and monthly To-Do list. The monthly list is always the most crammed, and I know I won’t get everything done, but it’s a good baseline for the things I want to accomplish.

 Again, some people think I’m a bit nuts for having it all written out, or perhaps they think it takes the creativity out of it, but for me, it’s the only way to keep on top of everything. When trying to fit in a full-time job around evenings and weekends, it’s great to have a list of jobs ready and to know the work that needs to be done first.

 Maybe, at some point, I’ll be able to leave my day job and focus completely on the career I have wanted since I was a teenager. Perhaps, but not yet. For now, I’ll just stick to writing in every spare minute, and always trying to catch up on sleep.”

About the Out of Orbit Series

(There are currently 3 books in this series, but I’ll only share the synopsis of book number one, to avoid any possible spoilers!!)

Dead and BurydDisplaying dfw-cc-dab-cover-ebook.jpg

“You are an inmate, not a medic. You should get used to that.”

On the planet Os-Veruh, the native Veniche have endured a decade under the oppressive rule of a race of invaders, the Adveni.

When Georgianna Lennox, a Veniche medic, discovers her childhood friend has been sold into slavery, she seeks help from a revolutionary outlaw group.

As Georgianna’s struggle to save one life ignites a battle to liberate her homeworld, is she about to discover that it is better to be dead than ‘buryd’?”

Author: Chele Cooke
Title: Dead and Buryd (Out of Orbit #1)
Genre: Sci-Fi
Publisher: Self-Published
Format: Paperback
Pages: 410
Published: 10th April 2014
Goodreads
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Also released: Book two: Fight or Flight and book three: Rack and Ruin (links to Goodreads Pages)

About Chele Cook:

Part time author and full time fantacist, Chele Cooke is a sci-fi, fantasy, and paranormal author living in London, UK.

While some know they want to write stories since childhood, Chele first started writing as a teenager writing fanfiction and roleplaying. Before long playing in other people’s worlds wasn’t enough and she started creating her own. Living in San Francisco at the time, she found a lot of inspiration in her favourite city, some of which can be found in her books.

With a degree in Creative Writing, Chele’s first novel was published in 2013. She currently has three books published: two books in a sci-fi series, Out of Orbit, and the first book of a vampire serial, Teeth.

Twitter
Facebook
Goodreads
Website

Giveaway

There is a tour wide giveaway during the Out of Orbit Blog Tour! The prizes include;

A full set of Out of Orbit series in paperback and a £25 Amazon giftcard

Ten ebook sets of the Out of Orbit series

If you fancy your chances, head on over to Chele Cook’s website to enter!

 

The 6 Best Books I Read This Summer

October 17, 2015

I went on a massive reading binge throughout the summer, and I managed to get a ridiculous amount of reading done. And they were all good books! I didn’t read a single mediocre or worse book throughout the summer months, which I’m taking as a personal achievement. And because I’ve been so lax with getting my reviews written and posted, I thought I’d share with you my 6 favourites.

6 best books i read this summer

I’m only including the books I read after I went to Mexico, so from mid-June onwards, up until the end of August, because that was when my reading kind of pattered off again and I kind of stopped reading…again.

6 best books I read in summer collage

I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson – this book just confirmed that if Jandy Nelson writes it, I will read it. Wow. ALL THE FEELS. This left me broken, deflated, uplifted, all in the turn of a page. Easily one of the best reads of the year for me.

Mud Vein by Tarryn Fisher – totally took me by surprise! Do not let the cover fool you, this is an intense mystery/thriller that will leave you guessing til the very end.

One by Sarah Crossan – I’ve already written about my thoughts on One, so I won’t go into too much detail. But this is a book for you if you want an emotional rollercoaster.

Simon Vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Alertalli – Whatever hype you’ve heard surrounding this book, you need to believe it. Seriously. It’s that good.

Because You’ll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas – YES. Just a blissful YES. It’s not a sweet, fluffy read, but my goodness, it’s worth reading.

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick – I’m so cross with myself for waiting so long to read this book, but I’m also so happy that I waited until summer to read it. Seriously, the most perfect time to pick this one up.

What were your favourite reads of the summer?

Book Review: Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider

October 15, 2015

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Extraordinary Means by Robyn SchneiderExtraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider
on 4th June 2015
Pages: 336
Source: Netgalley
Goodreads
four-stars
A bitter-sweet, coming-of-age novel that's perfect for fans of John Green and Stephen Chbosky.

When he's sent to Latham House, a boarding school for sick teens, Lane thinks his life may as well be over.
But when he meets Sadie and her friends - a group of eccentric troublemakers - he realises that maybe getting sick is just the beginning. That illness doesn't have to define you, and that falling in love is its own cure.

Extraordinary Means is a darkly funny story about true friendships, ill-fated love and the rare miracle of second chances

As I write this review, I’m sitting on my lunch break. I finished Extraordinary Means an hour ago, and I still feel like someone’s punched me very hard in the stomach. When I started reading this, I wasn’t expecting to fall in love with Extraordinary Means. I didn’t think I would connect with the characters. I underestimated Schneider’s ability to make me fall in love with them.

It’s not difficult to imagine such a thing as total drug resistant TB. And Schneider did such a fantastic job at making it seem so real. I can imagine somewhere like Latham House existing. And I can imagine how society would react to those staying there. And Schneider captures this perfectly. It could be easy to forget what these teens are going through, but Schneider makes sure that we don’t. And that’s important. It’s remembering why these teens are at Latham that makes Extraordinary Means so powerful.

I flitted between liking Sadie and Lane and not feeling much towards them at all. I’ve read books with characters similar to these two, and despite their individualities that set them apart, it was difficult to shake that feeling. I loved how Sadie changed Lane and stopped him from living out the life he thought he should be living. However cliche it is, she did breathe life into Lane’s character, which instantly made me connect to him more. I loved Charlie, so the ending tore me into shreds, but it kind of had to be done. It brought the horrors of their reality back to the forefront of my mind, but it still hurt to read. I loved that whilst the thought of a happy ending was there, Schneider didn’t give it to us all neatly wrapped in a bow. A story like this one shouldn’t end with everyone getting their happily ever after, it’s not realistic.

Extraordinary Means is one of the most thought-provoking books I’ve read this year, and certainly a story that will stay with me for a long, long time.

8 Series I Just Won’t Give Up On

October 6, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday Broke and Bookish

Top Ten Tuesday is a fun meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

We all know by now that I’m slightly obsessed with starting a new series and then abandoning them, but this year, I’ve been pretty strict with myself when it comes to starting a new series or finishing up an old one. I’ve already waved goodbye to a few series, but there are just some that I won’t give up. Even if I am far behind on them.

top ten tuesday 6/10/2015

Lucky Harbor by Jill Shalvis – I’ve managed to read the first three, and I have the fourth and fifth books on my shelf, but I just cannot keep up with this series! It’s so good though, I know I won’t be putting it to one side any time soon.

The Iron Fey by Julie Kagawa – I should probably give this up as a bad job, BUT I CAN’T. I might have only read the first two in the series, and I’ll definitely need to re-read them before continuing on with book three, but I will definitely finish it soon.

Lux by Jennifer L. Armentrout – I loved the first book, but then got distracted by other series, and just never got round to reading the rest. Definitely one to be rectified soon.

Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry – I even bought the rest of this series to binge read earlier this year, and I’m STILL not caught up. Naughty me.

Fool’s Gold by Susan Mallery – I feel like these books are all very similar in style, but they are so addictive that I cannot stop reading them. Even if there are tons of them.

Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi – I didn’t LOVE this book the first time around, but I’m willing to give it another go, and finish up the series whilst I’m at it.

Losing It by Cora Carmack – Losing It made me laugh so much that I cannot wait to read the rest of the books. (Remind me why I haven’t already?)

Gallagher Girls by Ally Carter – I stopped reading this series because my library didn’t stock the rest of the books after book three, but I really enjoyed them, so I’m hoping I can track down the entire series and finish it off!

What series do you refuse to give up on?

Book Review: One by Sarah Crossan

October 1, 2015

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: One by Sarah CrossanOne by Sarah Crossan
Published by Bloomsbury Children's Books on 27th August 2015
Pages: 448
Source: Netgalley
Goodreads
five-stars
Grace and Tippi are twins – conjoined twins.

And their lives are about to change.

No longer able to afford homeschooling, they must venture into the world – a world of stares, sneers and cruelty. Will they find more than that at school? Can they find real friends? And what about love?

But what neither Grace or Tippi realises is that a heart-wrenching decision lies ahead. A decision that could tear them apart. One that will change their lives even more than they ever imagined…

From Carnegie Medal shortlisted author Sarah Crossan, this moving and beautifully crafted novel about identity, sisterhood and love ultimately asks one question: what does it mean to want and have a soulmate?

I want to rave about this book forever. How I’ve never read a book by Sarah Crossan before is a total mystery, and I’ll definitely be rectifying that soon, as One is an absolutely amazing, emotional read.

One is the first book I’ve read written in free verse, and it is such a beautiful style of writing. I doubt One would have had such an emotional impact on me if it had been written in regular prose, each word in One is written for a reason, it remains descriptive without using extra words just for the sake of it. I found I really got into Grace’s head a lot easier than I expected, and my emotions quickly became linked to the emotions I was reading on the page.

One is probably one of the most emotionally-charged books I’ve read in a very, very long time. As I just said, everything that Grace felt, I felt. Her despair, her hurt, her frustration all hit me very hard. This really surprised me, and it’s made me love Sarah Crossan for getting me to connect to this book and feel these emotions. One is a book that can’t just be read, it needs to be felt.

Everything about this book felt authentic to me, and it’s clear that a lot of research has gone into One. It really felt read, from how Tippi and Grace go about their daily lives to how the rest of society react to them. I liked how they weren’t accepted by the school (sounds strange, but bear with me), they were made to feel like outcasts, which I reckon wouldn’t be too far from the truth in the real world. I really admired Tippi’s integrity. She refuses to allow the media into her family’s lives until it’s absolutely necessary, until they have absolutely no other choice. And she still protected her family as best as she could. The documentary process was wonderful too – limits were made and respected, certain parts of Tippi and Grace’s journey weren’t touched, and that was the end of it. No ifs, buts or maybes.

The ending of One took a slight twist for me. I thought I knew how it would end, but Crossan threw in a tiny curveball and actually made reading the rest of the book quite painful for me. I can’t say anything else without giving things away, but the ending was, and still is, very raw to me.

One is an excellent book. There’s nothing left for me to say.