Six Easy Ways to Get Inspired

Six Easy Ways to Get Inspired

Everybody struggles with a lack of inspiration now and again, or a crippling sense of writer’s block that makes you want to tear up every page (or delete every word of the manuscript file). Hopefully these six ideas might help you feel more inspired in your writing journey when you feel like the empty white page is going to swallow you up whole.

1. Nature. Yes it’s cliche, and no, I won’t preach to you about the wonder of the sublime, but a simple walk through a field or a forest is one of the best places to arouse mental stimulation. Walking is also a good exercise!

2. Other modes of creativity. Do you like art? Head down to a local gallery, or try image-sharing sites such as Weheartit or Tumblr. You could even take some photography of your own. Or, you could check out some half-finished novels on your shelf, or pop in a DVD and let your mind be filled with creative stimulation.

3. Take a break. Sometimes you just need to let your mind clear a little, so that the next time you take a seat with your story, you’ll be able to think more clearly about where you want to go next in your story. Meditate, do some yoga.

4. Talk to people. Friends, family, or even just eavesdrop in other people’s conversations. You never know what inspiration you might draw from snippets of dialogue and observation – who knew that one of your friends has an uncle that used to be a spy?

5. Read some inspiring writing quotes. Relate with other writers about how difficult the process is. You could check out some great books on writing or memoirs by successful authors about how they also tackle a lack of inspiration.

6. Like #3, go and do something else completely different. Tidy your room, do some homework, head out for a run, bake a cake. Do something completely different so that by the time you return to your work-in-progress you’ll be itching to get stuck right back in with a fresh mindset.

If it’s a problem with a specific scene, you could also skip past that particular scene and draft a later one. Write the climax of the story, or the ending, so that you’ll have a better sense of direction that might help inspire you for the scene you’re struggling on.

Best of luck folks!

Do you agree with these points? Let me know how you guys cope with finding inspiration when you’re struggling with your writing.

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8 Underrated Standalone Books for YA Readers

8 Underrated Standalone Books for YA Readers

Hello lovelies!

As I’ve been reading through The Ultimate Reading Challenge List I’ve realised how many books I’ve read in the past that are severely underrated. To honour those books, I’d like to make a list for you to check out if you’re tired of over-hyped popular YA books that can often be unsatisfying. For the sake of narrowing the list down, I’ve only selected standalone books, as these seem to often be neglected most.
In no particular order…

1) The 51mpw2rp3hl-_sx272_bo1204203200_Traitor Game // B.R. Collins

It’s upsetting how underrated this book is. Although the story starts off a little slow, it delves into the mind of a a teenage body and his active imagination. All book lovers can appreciate the value of other worlds, but the book also has a beautiful depiction of realism that illustrates issues for young people. Also by B.R. Collins and well worthy of a read: A Trick of the Dark (very creepy), Tyme’s End (very mysterious) and Game Runner (not my favourite of the author’s, but still brilliant).

 

2) Th20613635ere Will Be Lies // Nick Lane

An absolutely beautiful book. A thriller that embeds realism and
fantasy through the mind of a mostly-deaf teenage girl, as she struggles to understand why her mother is on national TV for being Wanted by the police. The author also wrote the more popular In Darkness, a challenging prize-winning novel about a boy growing up in Haiti. There Will Be Lies will touch your heart, and appeals to fans of Silence is Goldfish (Annabel Pitcher) and The Shock of the Fall (Nathan Filer).

 

30925283) Unique // Alison Allen-Gray

Nobody seems to have heard of this book, but I remember it as vividly now as when I read it years ago. It’s a novel that really sticks with you: an ethical thriller following a teenage boy who finds out he is exactly identical to an older brother he never knew he had, who died before he was born. This will appeal to fans of Malorie Blackman’s Pig Heart Boy (which you should also read – with a box of tissues!).

 

135056554) Lovely, Dark and Deep // Amy McNamara

Those of you who recognise my reading habits might guess that I’m not a typical fan of contemporary YA with a focus on romance, but this book was simply beautiful. The story follows a teenage girl trying to piece her life back together after a violent car-crash killed her boyfriend and left her alive. She eventually finds solace in the friendship of a local teenage boy, and while there is a romance, it’s more of a story about a girl trying to heal from her past. This will appeal to fans of All The Bright Places (Jennifer Niven) and virtually anything by John Green.

 

private_peaceful5) Private Peaceful // Michael Morpurgo

I loved this author while I was growing up, and while everyone seems to have heard of War Horse based on its commercial success in film and play adaptations, nobody seems to have heard of Private Peaceful which I thought was just as good (even better). Private Peaceful explores two brothers growing up against the backdrop of World War One. Truly heart-breaking and beautifully written, and well worthy of a read. Also underrated by Morpurgo and just as good as War Horse is: Alone On A Wide Wide Sea.

 

and_the_mountains_echoed_book_cover6) And The Mountains Echoed // Khaled Hosseini

Everybody seems to have read Hosseini’s The Kite Runner or A Thousand Splendid Suns, but nobody seems to be as impressed by his third novel. While And The Mountains Echoed doesn’t share the same gut-wrenching tragedy and realism as his previous novels, the book is still equally as beautifully written, embedding the lives of many generations into a spread of human life and emotion. If you like his earlier novels, definitely give this one a shot for its magnificently written narrative (if you’re on the older side of the YA spectrum).

 

morethanthis-patrickness7) More Than This // Patrick Ness

I know the author is getting insanely popular (and rightfully so, his books are brilliant) but nobody seems to have read More Than This. Although it’s one of my least favourite of his works, it’s still a brilliant story about a boy who wakes up in his town one day, only to find that he might very well be the last person alive. Everybody has vanished and his memories are almost gone. The story in my opinion is a much better version of The Matrix, but without all the pretentious speeches.

 

51per8erocl-_sx315_bo1204203200_8) Sharp North // Patrick Cave

A futuristic story where anybody can be replaceable, how awesome does that sound? And yet, everybody seems to have missed out on this story. It is a little confusing to read at times, but I remember this book very vividly years later. It’s very difficult to describe the story without giving away spoilers, so if you’re in the mood to embed yourself in something a little different, definitely give this one a go. Appeals to fans of His Dark Materials.

 


So what are some of your favourite standalone YA books? Do you agree with my list? I’d love to hear what you think, please let me know if you have any recommendations of your own.

How To Start Your Book

How To Start Your Book

This week’s post comes from a desperate plea deep inside of me, born from the struggles of a conflicted reader who is simply tired and frustrated of starting a new book that simply doesn’t begin in the right place.

They say you have only a few seconds to make a good impression on the reader, providing they like your book’s genre, cover and description enough to make it to the first page. With such a short space of time to grab your reader’s attention, why would you even bother to waste time or risk deviating your reader’s interest through the opening pages?

To start your book is simple, start your book where the story begins, where an event directly impacts the life of the protagonist, hopefully in an active way.

Do not, I repeat, do not start the book before the story begins. This is simply irrelevant and any backstory can be blended in throughout the rest of the novel. I don’t want to read backstory, I want to read actions.

For example, in my story Anon, the first chapter begins when Ashley goes to see Mrs Morris, her latest therapist. This is important for several reasons:

  1. It introduces Ashley’s relationship with her Mother (a character who appears later)
  2. It introduces Ashley’s relationship with Mrs Morris (a character who appears later)
  3. It introduces a dark stranger that follows her there (who becomes a major character)
  4. It reveals Ashley’s powers, which are an important element of the plot
  5. It’s an interesting way of revealing things about Ashley in an active way, that still gives a substantial amount of exposition
  6. And most importantly of all, it kick-starts the plot. If Ashley didn’t go there, she wouldn’t have noticed the stranger or the light, which is important because… You get the idea.

The opening must start the story, whether this is through dialogue, narration, a new discovery. I can’t emphasise this enough. The reader doesn’t have the patience to skim through the backstory of a character they don’t care about, they want to get into the action.This is a common reason why most prologues are simply unnecessary.


Worst ways to start your book:

  1. Character wakes up to the sound of an alarm clock. I know, I can feel you rolling your eyes at the screen. Enough said, unless you’re going to take a new spin on it and an alarm clock isn’t an alarm clock at all, but some kind of warning – something or someone is attacking, a deadly force that has the potential to destroy the world…
  2. Character looks in the mirror and laments upon his/her appearance. The readers don’t care about Rochelle’s beautiful long hair or Max’s fine suit as they prepare for their mundane activities. Unless of course there’s a twist: Max is checking out his reflection to check that there’s none of Rochelle’s blood on his freshly pressed shirt.
  3. A description of the character’s mundane life: Rochelle wakes up, Rochelle goes to school, Rochelle goes home. Why would anybody care about that? Readers don’t need to read a book to experience anything mundane, that’s why books are supposed to brilliantly absorb the reader’s attention.
  4. Character goes through a brilliant, enticing scene only for them to wake up and realise that it’s all been a dream.
  5. Character introduces himself with his name, age, ethnicity, backstory, as if they are telling the reader their entire database. Please, don’t do this. The only time I’ve ever seen this done well is in Malorie Blackman’s Checkmate, where Callie introduces her name and age, and then confesses those are the only things she knows to be true.

These are just some examples, but I’m sure you’ll have read some weak opening scenes as well. Please read ahead for some better examples that succeed in introducing the story in an enticing way, that grips the reader as well as kick-starts the plot.

Excellent opening examples that pull the reader straight into the story:


All the Bright Places // Jennifer Niven

“Is today a good day to die?
 
This is something I ask myself in the morning when I wake up. In third period when I’m trying to keep my eyes open while Mr. Schroeder drones on and on. At the supper table as I’m passing the green beans. At night when I’m lying awake because my brain won’t shut off due to all there is to think about.
 
Is today the day?
And if not today – when?
 
I am asking myself this now as I stand on a narrow ledge six stories above the ground.”
This opening is simply brilliant. It hooks the reader straight into the story with the premise; the elements of teenage mental health are drawn out from the first line. And very quickly they link to now, to Finch standing on the ledge and getting us right into the story. He’s presented as an active character.
Note: If you like reading contemporary YA, All the Bright Places book is a must.

The Graveyard Book // Neil Gaiman
“There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife.”
How much better can an opening scene, and line, be?  Gaiman pulls us right into the action and the story, showing an immediate danger. What’s not interesting about a knife in the darkness? Everything the reader needs to know is established in just a few words, setting the tone of the story and plunging the reader into the plot.

Lolita // Vladimir Nabokov
“Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta.”
Straight away we are introduced to the main subject of the story, and then to the present narrative of Humbert’s conditions to which the reader can immediately question why he’s there in the first place – for what crime? With such an emotively obsessive first line, already it’s easy to suggest that Lolita does not have a reliable narrator.

That’s all for this week, folks! I hope that you found this post informative. Please let me know your thoughts about books you’ve read. What are your favourite opening lines or scenes? What are your least favourite?

The Ultimate Reading Challenge List

The Ultimate Reading Challenge List

Hey guys!

After checking out my Goodreads to-read list and my general bookshelves and wish-lists, there are so many books that I simply want to read, and yet for some reason or another I haven’t had a chance to get around to reading them. And quite simply, I love lists! So I set about diversifying my reading list with a reading challenge, as that is bound to motivate me to read all those books I’ve been wanting to delve into.

I had a look online (mainly through Goodreads, other book blogs, Pinterest and Google Images) but I found that most of them were really short, or not diverse enough. Therefore, I took some ideas from the ones I liked best and blended them all into a master reading challenge list.

Note to reader: While some of the ideas are my own, I don’t take any credit for the ideas that have been used elsewhere. I just want to share them in a list in the hope they may also inspire you also in your reading journey.

It also turns out that my friend, Polly has been struggling with the same thing. So together, we compiled this epic list and inserted some of the books we are planning to read this year to reach our reading goals.

Note from Polly: Hey guys! Because Sally started asking me for suggestions for this list I decided to join it, because I realised it would be cool to have an actual idea of what to read – plus I trust her taste in books. 😉 Generally I feel like I spend too much of my time reading YA contemporary for an easy read but with my lil’ reading buddy  who will no doubt yell at me if I get behind I know I can deffo read almost anything. :’)

(Also, since for some of the categories either Polly or I have already read one of the books, they may be marked in a different colours to indicate who they are for.)

Key

Black: both of us

Blue: Sally

Pink: Polly

X X = currently reading

  = read

ICP = in current possession (and highly likely to begin reading soon)


So, without further ado, here is our ultimate reading challenge list:

A book that…

Is over 500 pages:

  • 1Q84 // Haruki Murakami [ BOOK 0/1 ] [ BOOK 1/1 ICP ]
  • The Blind Assassin // Margaret Atwood [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • The Stand // Stephen King [ BOOK 0/1 ]

Is a class romance

  • Me Before You // Jojo Moyes [ BOOK 1/2 ✓ ]
  • Anna and the French Kiss // Stephanie Perkins [ BOOK 0/3]
  • The Mountain Between Us // Charles Martin [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • Far From the Madding Crowd // Thomas Hardy [ BOOK 0/1 ]

Became a movie

  • Stardust // Neil Gaiman [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • The Giver // Lois Lowry [ BOOK 1/4 ✓ ]
  • If I Stay // Gayle Forman [ BOOK 1/2 ✓ ]

Will become a movie

  • The Circle // Dave Eggers [ BOOK 1/1 RESERVED ]
  • Before I Fall // Lauren Oliver [ BOOK O/1 ]
  • The Dark Tower // Stephen King [ BOOK 0/8 ]

Was published this year

  • Carve the Mark // Veronica Roth [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • We Are Okay // Nina LaCour [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • The Autobiography of Malcolm X // Himself [ BOOK 0/1 ]

Was written by someone under 30

  • Red Queen // Victoria Aveyard [ BOOK 0/3 ]
  • One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest // Ken Kesey [ BOOK 0/1 FOR JULY ]
  • Frankenstein // Mary Shelley [ BOOK 1/1 ICP ]

Has non-human characters

  • A Shade of Vampire // Bella Forrest [ BOOK  0/41 ]
  • Shadow of the Wolf // Tim Hall [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • The Scorpio Races // Maggie Stiefvater [ BOOK 0/1 ]

Is funny

  • How to Be A Woman // Caitlin Moran [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • Emma // Jane Austen [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • The Importance of Being Earnest // Oscar Wilde [ BOOK 0/1 ]

Has a female author

  • I am Malala // Malala Yousafzai [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • The Extra // Kathryn Lasky [ BOOK 1/1 ✓ ]
  • Interview with the Vampire // Anne Rice [ BOOK 1/1 ✓ ]

Is mystery

  • Gone Girl // Gillian Flynn [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • City of Halves // Lucy Inglis [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • The Woman in Cabin 10 // Ruth Ware [ BOOK 1/1 ICP ]
  • Nobody Saw No One // Steve Tasane [ BOOK 0/1 ]

Has a 1-word title

  • Caraval // Stephanie Garber [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • Wonder // R. J. Palacio [ BOOK 1/1 ✓]
  • Butter // Erin Lange [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • Crewel // Gennifer Albin [ BOOK 1/1 ✓ ]

Is of short stories

  • The Bloody Chamber // Angela Carter [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • I, Robot // Isaac Asimov [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • Let it Snow // John Green [ BOOK 0/1 ]

Is set in another country

  • Seven Years in Tibet // Heinrich Harrer [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • Red Sparrow // Jason Matthews [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • City of Saint and Thieves // Natalie C. Anderson [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • Requiem for a Dream // Hubert Selby [ BOOK 0/1 ]

Is non-fiction

  • The Creative Spark: How Imagination Made Humans Exceptional // Agustin Fuentes [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • On Writing // Stephen King [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • Beginning Theory: An Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theory // Peter Barry [ BOOK 1/1 X ] 
  • Bird by Bird // Anne Lamott [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • The Writing Life // Annie Dillard [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • Zen in the Art of Writing // Ray Bradbury [ BOOK 1/1 ✓ ]
  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teenagers // Sean Covey [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • The New Laws of Psychology // Peter Kinderman [ BOOK 1/1 ✓ ]
  • Radical Self-Acceptance: A Buddhist Guide to Freeing Yourself from Shame // Tara Brach [ BOOK 0/1 ]

Is a memoir

  • Wave // Sonali Deraniyagala [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • Eat, Pray, Love // Elizabeth Gilbert [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • The Night of the Gun // David Carr [ BOOK 0/1 ]

Has moon in the title

  • Listen to the Moon // Michael Morpurgo [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • Moondial // Helen Cresswell [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • The Moon Dwellers // David Estes [ BOOK 0/4 ]
  • Maggot Moon // Sally Gardner [ BOOK 0/1 ]

Is a popular author’s first book

  • The Kite Runner // Khaleed Hosseini  [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • To Kill A Mockingbird // Harper Lee [ BOOK 0/2 ]
  • Jonathon Strange & Mr Norrell // Susanna Clarke [ BOOK 0/1 ]

Is from author you love that you haven’t read yet

  • The Crane Wife // Patrick Ness [ BOOK 0/1 FOR JULY ]
  • Will Grayson, Will Grayson // John Green [ BOOK 0/1 FOR JULY ]
  • Obsidian // Jennifer Armentrout [ BOOK 1/5 ✓ ]

A friend recommended

  • It’s Kind of a Funny Story// Ned Vizzini [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • A Mouthful of Forevers // Clementine von Radics [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • The Shock of the Fall // Nathan Filer [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • Every Day // David Levithan [ BOOK 1/2 ✓ ] 

Won an award

  • The Miniaturist // Jessie Burton [ BOOK 1/1 ICP ]
  • Atonement // Ian McEwan [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • The Goldfinch // Donna Tartt [ BOOK 0/1 ]

Is based on a true life story

  • Girl, Interrupted // Susanna Kaysen [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • The Bell Jar // Sylvia Plath [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • Twelve Years A Slave // Solomon Northup [ BOOK 0/1 ]

Is over 100 years old

  • Pride and Prejudice // Jane Austen [ BOOK 1/1 ICP ]
  • Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through The Looking Glass // Lewis Carroll [ BOOK 1/2 ✓ ]
  • A Christmas Carol // Charles Dickens [ BOOK 0/1 ]

Is based entirely on the cover

  • The Selection // Kiera Cass [ BOOK 3/5 ✓ ]
  • The Girl Who Fell From the Sky // Heidi Durrow [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • Dorothy Must Die // Danielle Paige [ BOOK 0/4 ]

A historical novel

  • Memoirs of a Geisha // Arthur Golden [ BOOK 1/1 X ]
  • The Hunchback of Notre-Dame // Victor Hugo [ BOOK 1/1 ✓ ]
  • The Sun Also Rises // Ernest Hemingway [ BOOK 1/1 ✓ ]

Has antonyms in the title

  • War and Peace // Leo Tolstoy [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • Angels and Demons // Dan Brown [ BOOK 0/5 ]
  • Wicked Lovely // Melissa Marr [ BOOK 0/5 ]

Came out the year you were born

  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower // Stephen Chbosky [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • White Teeth // Zadie Smith [ BOOK 0/1 FOR JULY ]
  • Battle Royale // Koushun Takami [ BOOK 0/1 ]

Has bad reviews

  • There Is No Dog // Meg Rosoff [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • Fahrenheit 451 // Ray Bradbury [ BOOK 1/1 ✓ ]
  • My Heart and Other Black Holes // Jasmine Warga [ BOOK 0/1 ]

Is a series

  • Eragon // Christopher Paolini [ BOOK 0/4 ]
  • Artemis Fowl // Eoin Colfer [ BOOK 0/8 ]
  • Gone // Michael Grant [ BOOK 0/6  ]
  • Illuminae Files // Amie Kaufman [ BOOK 0/3 ]
  • Game of Thrones // George R. R. Martin [ BOOK 1/5 ✓ ]
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events // Lemony Snicket [ BOOK 4/13 ✓ ]
  • Mortal Instruments // Cassandra Clare [ BOOK 0/6  ]
  • The Grisha // Leigh Bardugo [ BOOK 0/3 ]
  • The Infernal Devices // Cassandra Clare [ BOOK 0/3 ]

Is a trilogy

  • Chaos Walking // Patrick Ness [ BOOK 2/3 ✓ ]
  • End of Days // Susan Ee [ BOOK 0/3 ]
  • Shiver // Maggie Stiefvater [ BOOK 0/3 ]
  • The Fifth Wave // Rick Yancey [ BOOK 3/3 ✓ ]
  • Fifty Shades of Grey // E. L. James [ BOOK 1/3 ✓ ]
  • Divergent // Veronica Roth [ BOOK 1/3 ✓ ]
  • A Thousand Pieces of You // Claudia Gray [ BOOK 1/3 ✓ ]

Is apocalyptic

  • All the Birds in the Sky // Charlie Jane Anders [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • Dark Inside // Jeyn Roberts [ BOOK 0/2 ]
  • The End of the World Running Club // Adrian J. Walker [ BOOK 0/1 ]

Is set in the future

  • Brave New World // Aldous Huxley [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • The House of Tomorrow // Peter Bognanni [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • Exodus // Julie Bertagna [ BOOK 0/3 ]

Is set in school

  • Carrie // Stephen King [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • Seven Days // Eve Ainsworth [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • Fallen // Lauren Kate [ BOOK 0/4 ]

Has colour in the title

  • The Colour Purple // Alice Walker [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • The Girl in the Red Coat // Kate Hamer [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • The White Darkness // Geraldine McCaughrean [ BOOK 0/1 ]

I own but have never read

  • Great Expectations // Charles Dickens [ BOOK 1/1 ICP ]
  • Tess of D’Urbervilles // Thomas Hardy [ BOOK 1/1 X ]
  • An Orphan’s Christmas // Katie Flynn [ BOOK 1/1 ICP ]

Has an author with the same-letter initials

  • Snow White Must Die // Nele Neuhaus [ BOOK 0/8 ]
  • Enclave // Ann Aguirre [ BOOK 0/4 ]
  • Chinese Handcuffs // Chris Crutcher [ BOOK 0/1 ]

Was previously banned

  • Naked Lunch // William S. Burroughs [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • American Psycho // Bret Easton Ellis [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • Mein Kampf // Adolf Hitler [ BOOK 0/1 ]

I started but never finished

  • Daughter of Smoke and Bone // Laini Taylor [ BOOK 0/2 ]
  • 1984 // George Orwell [ BOOK 1/1 ICP ]
  • The Handmaid’s Tale // Margaret Atwood [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • Quiet // Susan Cain [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • Mimadamos // Chadi B. Ghaith [ BOOK 1/1 ✓ ]
  • Mansfield Park // Jane Austen [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • The Casual Vacancy // J.K. Rowling [ BOOK 0/1 ]

Has the weather in the title

  • The Snow Child // Eowyn Ivey [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • Gone With the Wind // Margerat Mitchell [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • Snow Falling on Cedars // David Guterson [ BOOK 0/1 ]

Is an emotional roller-coaster

  • The Walls Around Us //Nova Ren Suma [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • Women in Love // DH Lawrence [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • Everything, Everything // Nicola Yoon [ BOOK 1/1 ✓ ]

Set in a town

  • Bone Gap // Laura Ruby [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • Salem’s Lot // Stephen King [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • Plainsong // Kent Haruf [ BOOK 0/3 ]

Is sci-fi

  • Lexicon // Max Barry [ BOOK 1/1 ICP ]
  • Perfected // Kate Jarvik Birch [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • The Lunar Chronicles // Marissa Meyer [ BOOK 0/5 ]
  • The Diabolic // S. J. Kincaid [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • What’s Left of Me // Kat Zhang [ BOOK 0/3 ]
  • Artefact // Jamie Sawyer [ BOOK 0/1 ]

Is fantasy

  • A Darker Shade of Magic // V.E. Schwab [ BOOK 2/3 X ]
  • Poison Study // Maria V. Snyder [ BOOK 0/4 ]
  • City of a Thousand Dolls // Miriam Forster [ BOOK 0/2 ]
  • Six of Crows // Leigh Bardugo [ BOOK 1/2 ICP ]
  • Court of Thorns and Roses // Sarah J. Maas [ BOOK 0/3 ]
  • Snow Like Ashes // Sara Raasch [ BOOK 0/3 ]

Is suspenseful

  • We Were Liars // E. Lockhart [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • A Time to Kill // John Grisham [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • The Good Liar // Nicholas Searle [ BOOK 1/1 ✓ ]

Is an important book

  • Speak // Laurie Halse Anderson [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • V for Vendetta // Alan Moore [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • The Help // Kathryn Stockett [ BOOK 0/1 FOR JULY ]

Is set in space

  • Across the Universe // Beth Revis [ BOOK 0/3 ]
  • The Martian // Andy Weir [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • Glow // Amy Kathleen Ryan [ BOOK 0/3 ]

Has alliteration in the title

  • Ella Enchanted // Gail Carson Levine [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • Poison Princess // Kresley Cole [ BOOK 0/5 ]
  • When We Wake // Karen Healey [ BOOK 0/2]
  • Long Lankin // Lindsey Barraclough [ BOOK 0/2 ]

Has an unlikely romance

  • The Winner’s Curse // Marie Rutkoski [ BOOK 0/3 ]
  • Warm Bodies // Isaac Marion [ BOOK 0/3]
  • Throne of Glass // Sarah J. Maas [ BOOK 1/6 X ]
  • Hush, Hush // Becca Fitzpatrick [ BOOK 0/4 ]
  • Abducted // Evangeline Anderson [ BOOK 1/4 ✓ ]

Has faery creatures

  • The Iron King // Julie Kagawa [ BOOK 0/7 ]
  • Wings // Aprilynne Pike [ BOOK 0/5 ]
  • Lament // Maggie Stiefvater [ BOOK 0/1 ]

Is about time travel

  • All Our Yesterdays // Cristin Terrill [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • The Door That Led to Where // Sally Gardner [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • Passenger // Alexandra Bracken [ BOOK 0/2 ]

Is thriller

  • In the Woods // Tana French [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • Blood Ties // Sophie McKenzie [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • Trust in Me // Sophie McKenzie [ BOOK 1/1 ICP ]

Is horror

  • Lockdown // Alexander Gordon Smith [ BOOK 0/5 ]
  • Rebecca // Daphne Du Maurier [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • The Waking Dark // Robin Wasserman [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • It // Stephen King [ BOOK 0/1 ]

Has an interesting concept

  • The Declaration // Gemma Malley [ BOOK 0/3 ]
  • Numbers // Rachel Ward [ BOOK 0/3 ]
  • Shatter Me // Tahereh Mafi [ BOOK 0/3 ]
  • Blindness // José Saramago [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • Children of Eden // Joey Graceffa [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer // Michelle Hodkin [ BOOK 0/3 ]
  • A Crack in the Line // Michael Lawrence [ BOOK 0/3 ]

Is a zombie book

  • Undead // Kirsty McKay [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • Rot & Ruin // Jonathan Maberry [ BOOK 0/4 ]
  • The Reapers are the Angels // Alden Bell [ BOOK 0/3 ]
  • Z // Michael Thomas Ford [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War // Max Brooks [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • The Girl with All the Gifts // M.R. Carey [ BOOK 1/2 ✓ ]

Is about royalty

  • Finnikin of the Rock // Melina Marchetta [ BOOK 0/3 ]
  • Graceling // Kristin Cashore  [ BOOK 0/3 ]
  • The Young Elites // Marie Lu [ BOOK 0/3 ]

Is paranormal

  • Darkhouse // Karina Halle [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • The Ghost Bride // Yangsze Choo [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • The Raven Boys // Maggie Stiefvater [ BOOK 1/4 ✓ ]

Is steampunk

  • Leviathan // Scott Westerfeld [ BOOK 0/3 ]
  • The Girl in the Steel Corset // Kate Locke [ BOOK 0/4 ]
  • Mortal Engines // Philip Reeve [ BOOK 1/4 ICP ]

Is a short story

  • The New World // Patrick Ness [ BOOK 1/1 ✓ ]
  • Snowscape // Patrick Ness [ BOOK 1/1 ✓ ]
  • Silver Water // Amy Bloom [ BOOK 0/1 ]

Is about a ruined world

  • The Immortal Rules // Julie Kagawa [ BOOK 0/3 ]
  • The Road // Cormac McCarthy [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • I Am Legend // Richard Matheson [ BOOK 0/1 ]

Is urban fantasy 

  • Shadows // Paula Weston [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • This Savage Song // Victorian Schwab [ BOOK 0/2 ]
  • I Belong to the Earth // J.A. Ironside [ BOOK 0/10 ]

Makes you feel hungry 

  • Cracked // Eliza Crewe [ BOOK 0/3]
  • Red Dragon // Thomas Harris [ BOOK 0/3 ]
  • City of Thieves // David Benioff [ BOOK 0/1 ]

Has a badass heroine

  • Terrier // Tamora Pierce [ BOOK 0/3 ]
  • Angelfall // Susan Ee [ BOOK 0/3 ]
  • And I Darken // Kiersten White [ BOOK 1/2 ✓ ]

Has monsters

  • The Monstrumologist // Rick Yancey [ BOOK 0/4 ]
  • Dollhouse // Anya Alynn [ BOOK 0/4 ]
  • The Devouring // Simon Holt [ BOOK 0/3 ]

Is about magic

  • Skin Hunger // Kathleen Duey [ BOOK 0/3 ]
  • The Night Circus // Erin Morgenstern [ BOOK 1/1 ✓ ]
  • Sabriel // Garth Nix [ BOOK 2/4 ✓ ]

Has been on my reading list forever

  • The Book Thief // Markus Zusak [ BOOK 1/1 ICP ]
  • The Lord of the Rings // J.R.R [ BOOK 0/3 ]
  • The Great Gatsby // F. Scott Fitzgerald [ BOOK 1/1 X ]
  • Fangirl // Rainbow Rowell [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • Paper Towns // John Green [ BOOK 0/1 ]

Is about music

  • A Visit From the Goon Squad // Jennifer Egan [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • The Sea of Tranquillity // Katja Millay [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • The Sky is Everywhere // Jandy Nelson [ BOOK 0/1 ]

Is a twist on a fairy tale 

  • Teeth // Hannah Moskowitz [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • The Snow Queen // Hans Christian Anderson [ BOOK 1/1 ✓ ]
  • Red Riding Hood // Sarah Blakely-Cartwright [ BOOK 0/1 ]

Is set in another world

  • The Land Beyond the Portal // J.S. Bailey [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • Ink and Bone // Rachel Caine [ BOOK 0/3 ]
  • Flame in the Mist // Renee Ahdieh [ BOOK 0/2 ]

Is dystopia

  • Candor // Pam Bachorz [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • Wool // Hugh Howey [ BOOK 0/5 ]
  • Genesis // Bernard Beckett [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • All These Things I’ve Done // Gabrielle Zevin [ BOOK 0/3 ]
  • Legend // Marie Lu [ BOOK 0/3 ]
  • Uglies // Scott Westerfeld [ BOOK 0/3 ]
  • A Clockwork Orange // Anthony Burgess [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? // Philip K. Dick [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • City of Ember // Jeanne DuPrau [ BOOK 0/4 ]

Is contemporary

  • I Crawl Through It // A.S. King [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • Charm & Strange // Stephanie Kuehn [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • My Name Is Leon // Kit de Waal [ BOOK 1/1 X ]
  • A Note of Madness // Tabitha Suzuma [ BOOK 0/2]
  • Carry Me Down // M. J. Hyland [ BOOK 0/1 ]

Has numbers in the title

  • Thirteen Days to Midnight // Patrick Carman [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • Zeroes //Scott Westerfeld [ BOOK 0/3 ]
  • Catch 22 // Joseph Heller [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • Ready Player One // Ernest Cline [ BOOK 0/1 ]

Is set undersea

  • Dark Life // Kat Falls [ BOOK 0/2 ]
  • Oceanspace // Allen Steele [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • Zodiac // Neil Stephenson [ BOOK 0/1 ]

Is about an environmental disaster

  • The Carbon Diaries 2015 // Saci Lloyd [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • White Noise // Don DeLillo [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • The Snow // Adam Roberts [ BOOK 0/1 ]

Is a graphic novel

  • Watchmen // Alan Moore [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • Death Note // Tsugumi Ohba [ [ BOOK 0/12 ]
  • The Walking Dead: Vol 1: Days Gone Bye // Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore [ BOOK 0/1 ]

Is YA

  • Delirium // Lauren Oliver [ BOOK 0/3 ]
  • Under the Never Sky // Veronica Rossi [ BOOK 0/3 ]
  • The Darkest Minds // Alexandra Bracken [ BOOK 0/3 ]
  • Girl in Pieces // Kathleen Glasgow [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children // Ransom Riggs [ BOOK 1/3 ✓ ]
  • Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock // Matthew Quick [ BOOK 1/1 ✓ ]
  • Slated // Terri Terry [ BOOK 1/3 X ]

Is philosophical

  • Sophie’s World // Jostein Gaarder [ BOOK 1/1 X ]
  • Infinite Jest // David Foster Wallace [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • Utopia // Thomas More [ BOOK 0/1 ]
  • The Republic // Plato [ BOOK 0/1 ]

Is poetry

  • Salt // Nayyirah Waheed [ BOOK 1/1 X ]
  • We Were Young // Fortessa Latifi [ BOOK 1/1 X ]
  • Ariel // Sylvia Plath [ BOOK 0/1 ]

Wish us luck, folks! This might take us a while to get through, I’ll keep updating this list as we start reading. Feel free to tag along with this challenge, or allow it to inspire you with some great reads!

Happy reading!

Reading Challenge Progress (mid-February 2017)

Reading Challenge Progress (mid-February 2017)

Hello everyone, I hope this year has treated you well!

This year started off pretty good, but after a painful ear infection and then a subsequent stomach bug, illness has hindered some of the progress I expected to make. Nevertheless, I am pleased to report that as of 12/02/17, I am 10% through my reading challenge of reading 100 books in 2017. And according to Goodreads, 1 book behind schedule.

Books I’ve Read so Far (In Chronological Order)

  1. The Girl with All the Gifts (M. R. Carey)
  2. The Girl on the Train (Paula Hawkins)
  3. Studying English Literature: A Practical Guide (Tory Young)
  4. The Scorpio Races (Maggie Stiefvater)
  5. Lord of the Flies (William Golding)
  6. Suite Secrets (Kristina Royer)
  7. The Graveyard Book (Neil Gaiman)
  8. The Elite (Kiera Cass)
  9. 7 Best Things Smart Teenagers Do (John C. Friel, Linda D. Friel)
  10. A Thousand Pieces of You (Claudia Gray)

All in all, not bad for the first month or so of the new year! 

My Favourite Book so Far

the_girl_with_all_the_giftsWithout a doubt, the best book I’ve read so far has to be The Girl with All the Gifts; it was simply stunning. I’m so glad that this was the first read I kick-started 2017 with. The first third of the book is perfection, the middle part is a little slow (which the film actually changed for the better, in my opinion) but the ending blows everything out of the sky. It’s one of the best endings to any book I’ve ever read. You can read my full review here.

The film adaptation had some brilliant elements to it and did capture the essence of the book, but likewise, there were some parts that I thought were less successful. I might even do a book-to-film comparison sometime. But if you haven’t already, go ahead and check out the novel! It’s not at all another attempt to get on board the zombie-bandwagon. There’s also a prequel coming out in March too: The Boy on the Bridge.

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Look how nicely the covers match! It’s like they were meant to be…

My Least Favourite Book so Far

10626594Although I gave Suite Secrets the lowest review (you can find out why here) my least favourite book I’ve read so far in 2017 is actually The Scorpio Races, simply because it was far more difficult to get through. It’s such a shame because the writing is incredibly beautiful, but the plot and characterisation are painfully slow. A fear years ago I tried to read Shiver by the same author and I was about halfway yet I still couldn’t get into the story. Perhaps I’m just badly-suited to her writing style, I’m not sure. I will try to read another book of the author’s though, because she is a good writer, but perhaps a less successful storyteller. I’ve heard good things about The Raven Boys so I might try that next!

The Book I was Most Excited to Read

22557272I was a bit behind the craze when I read this, but I wanted to read the book before I saw the movie starring Emily Blunt (and the trailer looked awesome, too). The book was brilliant, but I wasn’t as blown away by the ending as I wanted to be. I found it predictable, you can read the full review here. However, the novel was still enjoyable and the first 75% was beautifully written, full of suspense and mystery. I really love the author’s writing style, and I hope to read more from her in the future. The film felt completely different from the book in my opinion, I thought that the tone was inconsistent and the twist was even less satisfying on the screen, but I’d still recommend it for some great acting and for the thriller elements.

The Book I was Least Excited to Read

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As you might be aware from last week’s post, Why “The Elite” is far superior to “The Selection”, I really disliked the first book. In fact, the only thing I liked was the cover. However, for the sake of the popular interest in the series and with rumours of a film release, I wanted to see if the series gets any better. And boy, yes it did! The Elite was by no means perfect, but like Divergent, it was simply so enjoyable! I actually cared about the characters and the series seemed to delve beyond its superficial surface of princesses and fancy dresses into an underground look at the resistance, at a corrupted society, at what it means to love someone. I still detest the love triangle, it’s wholly unnecessary. I mean, would you rather date the Prince who is actually a nice guy, and can give you and your family a better future, or a guy far inferior to you socially who seems sketchy and put another girl before you when you needed him the most? At this point, I’m torn about getting stuck into the third book because I don’t want the brilliance of The Elite to return to the same style of the weaker first instalment, The Selection. 

I am currently reading, and hope to shortly finish, these beautiful books:

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That’s all for this week, folks! Best of luck with your own reading progress!

Which books are you guys currently reading? Any favourite reads or any that you’re struggling to finish?

Why “The Elite” is far superior to “The Selection”

Why “The Elite” is far superior to “The Selection”

 

For those of you who don’t know, The Selection is the first of a series set in a futuristic version of our world after World War Four. In this near future, society functions as part of a caste system, ruled over by the monarchy.

When Prince Maxon comes of age, there is a grand process where a number of eligible young women are selected as contenders to be his wife. American Singer (I know, and no the name does not get any less ridiculous when you read the book) is from a lower caste and applies to enter this competition of sorts. She is accepted against the odds and alongside the other candidates, she gets time to date the Prince.

Somehow, I’m not quite sure exactly, but she wins over Maxon’s affections. I don’t see how or why, since the only thing that America actually does in The Selection is assault Maxon and later take her servants to the royal safe house during a rebel attack on the palace. 

Right at the end of the first book, her ex-boyfriend, Aspen, shows up in a very awkwardly paced ending to form a cringe-worthy love triangle. Literally, it was an extremely abrupt ending and gave no satisfying end to a book that I struggled to get through.

The series is marketed as The Bachelor meets The Hunger Games and I can see why. I reviewed The Selection and in short, I thought it did not deserve the hype it was receiving. There was very little plot or conflict and all of the characters seemed very one-dimensional. However, I had hope that the series would improve, and boy was I blown away by the sequel.

The Elite continues the journey from the first book as America is one of six girls left in the process. And here there begins drama, conflict, tension, and I genuinely start to care about America. I care because she becomes an active character. She stands up for her best friend, she puts forth rebellious ideas on live TV, and she manages to become more complex in her intentions and actions. While she still makes incredibly unintelligent decisions, she does seem to develop as a character and finds a voice of her own.

There’s also more dystopian elements. We find out more about the rebels, have ideas about what they want, and questions are asked. There’s an atmospheric shift and not all is as it seems within the castle walls.

The Elite is by no means perfect. The dialogue is extremely cringey; Aspen reduces himself to nothing more than America’s plaything; Maxon refuses to send the stereotypical one-dimensional bully back home for no reason other than to convenience the plot. And yet, I actually care about the other characters – the other candidates, the servants, even the guards. I find myself curious about the rebel cause too, even if I’m questioning how bad the security of the palace can actually be.

Overall, I optimistically look forward to the third instalment and hope that the series improves from the second to third book as much as the first to second.

The Importance of Taking a Break

The Importance of Taking a Break

Hello lovelies!

This week I want to talk to you about the importance of taking a break from your current work-in-progress once you’ve finished your first draft – and why this is vital when you get stuck back in for editing.

Maybe it’s already happened, maybe the moment has yet to come, but once you finish your current book there will be a whirlwind of emotions. Hopefully, they include satisfaction, fulfilment, longing, and the end of an experience of pure hard work, focus and determination. Writing a book is no easy feat, if it was, many more people would do it.

When I finished my first book, I couldn’t even believe it. Writing Anon took up my entire life, it seemed, and now that the journey was over, it all felt so surreal. A couple of days later I began rewriting, realising how much editing it needed, and then a year later I have a rewritten version with nearly half of the original word count (the original stood at above  160K). I thought the rewrite was much better, much cleaner, and a pretty decent book overall. But even now that I have finished, I am still finding typos, still finding inconsistencies, and some elements that make me want to tear my hair out.

That is why, once you have finished your manuscript, you must take a break. No matter how excited and satisfied you are, your first or second draft will not be the best it can be. You need to sit back, have a break  (with or without a KitKat), because it’s only when you look at your manuscript with fresh eyes that you can really work on polishing your work.

This does sound frustrating, but keep reminding yourself of how far you’ve come. Only a small number of the small margin of people that are crazy enough to write a novel actually finish it. While you’re on your break, work on something new. Engross yourself again with the joy and excitement of a new project.

That break will really take your mind away from the original novel, and you can read it more objectively when you get back to it a couple of months later. You can realise that you never actually fully explained that important point about the antagonist’s job description, or find out that you’ve accidentally given your blue-eyed character brown eyes halfway through.

Wherever you are on the writing journey, keep going! And if editing is something that you like to leave to the end or something you like to conduct as you go along, remember the importance of taking a break from your current work so that you can look upon your creation with fresh eyes and make it as perfect as you imagine it to be.

Good luck!