November 2020 Wrap Up

November ended up being a pretty good month for me. I managed to stay well and got LOADS of writing done! I only read 3 books but two of them were really long so I’m still happy with that.

Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – This is the second book in the Dark Artifices series and while I enjoyed it, I didn’t love it quite as much as Lady Midnight which was just absolutely brilliant.

It Only Happens in the Movies by Holly Bourne ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Holly Bourne’s books are just so good. This one picks apart clichés in romance films and portrays teen life in a way that was funny but also really realistic.

A Storm of Swords Part I by George R. R. Martin ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – I don’t know about other countries, but here in the UK the third book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series is split into two volumes because it’s so long! It was really weird how the book just finished in the middle of the story, so I will definitely be picking up Part II soon.

I had two amazing special editions arrive this month. Illumicrate’s book for October was The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue and their edition is just so beautiful! I also couldn’t resist a special edition of Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo as her Grishaverse is one of my favourite series. I got the Fairyloot edition which has exclusive stencilled edges. As I’ve mentioned before, I LOVE dragons, and I was so excited when I saw the premise for Blazewrath Games by Amparo Ortiz, it sounds amazing!

So… I did it!! I finished my WIP! In my October wrap up I didn’t think I would be able to finish it by the end of November, but I ended up having such a good month for writing. I wrote 22,000 words in November and managed to finish my YA Arthurian legend retelling. I am so so excited to have finished my first draft! The final word count is 75,674 which I am pretty happy with. My first drafts are usually quite short and then get longer as I redraft. Now I’m going to have a bit of a break from it before I start working on it again. But I’m so excited about it, I probably won’t be able to resist coming back to it in a week or two. I’ve just really connected with this project and I’m really looking forward to continuing working on it.

Have you read any good books this month? Did anyone take part in NaNoWriMo, how did you do? Chat with me in the comments!

September 2020 Wrap Up

Well I managed not to have any new ailments this month so I suppose that is an improvement on the last couple of months. I spent a few days (safely) at my grandparents in Devon and it was really nice to just get away for a bit. Due to being at risk from COVID I’m spending most of my time in the house so it was good to have a change of scene.

I started off the month with an eARC of The Invisible Life of Addie Larue which was absolutely brilliant. I really loved it and I can’t wait to share my review with you very soon!

I joined in the readalong for Fairyloot’s July book which was Shielded by KayLynn Flanders. Unfortunately, I didn’t love this one that much. It picked up in the second half so I am glad I stuck with it, but it was only a 3 stars overall.

I finished Jane Austen’s Emma which I’ve been reading for the last couple of months. I’ve read two other Austens – Northanger Abbey and Sense and Sensibility – and it was the recent adaptation of Emma which prompted me to choose it as my next Austen. I adored the film and I also loved the book.

As Daughter of Smoke and Bone is one of my favourite books, I had high expectations for Strange the Dreamer, which is the opener of Laini Taylor’s other series. It did not disappoint! Strange the Dreamer is so imaginative and lyrical and heartbreaking and I loved it.  

I ended the month with another slightly disappointing one. I was lucky enough to win an ARC of Kingdom of the Wicked. I haven’t read any of Kerri Maniscalco’s other books but I was really excited for this one. As much as I wanted to love it, there were quite a few issues for me and I ended up writing a really long review of it!

This month I bought a few special edition books and also had some pre-orders arrive. Unsurprisingly I pre-ordered Blood & Honey by Shelby Mahurin. I also pre-ordered Legendborn by Tracey Deonn because it sounds amazing! Plus I ordered The Red Scrolls of Magic by Cassandra Clare. From Fairyloot’s August box I had Star Daughter by Shveta Thakrar and Illumicrate’s August book was The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson. Owlcrate had a restock of some past books in their shop so I got copies of Goddess in the Machine by Lora Beth Johnson and The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd Jones.

I’m now halfway through my King Arthur retelling which is really exciting! I took a break from writing for a week when I went on holiday but I’m looking forward to getting back into it at full throttle next month!

What have you been up to this month? What books have you enjoyed? Chat with me in the comments!

August 2020 Wrap Up

So August wasn’t a great month. I had an infection in my eye which got really bad. All one side of my face was swollen and I was in a lot of pain. I also couldn’t see anything. So I had a week off work, didn’t read for a week, didn’t do much of anything actually. Because the medication I take effects the immune system, when I get ill, I get really ill, and it also takes a while for me to recover. So even though my eye was almost better after a week or so thanks to antibiotics, I’m still recovering energy-wise.

I’m really hoping September is going to be a better month because I’ve not been doing great health-wise lately.

Because I couldn’t see anything, I couldn’t read. So I ended up signing up for the Audible free trial and trying out audiobooks. I haven’t listened to an audiobook in years. I chose The Tales of Beedle the Bard and Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen, both of which I’ve read before. The Northanger Abbey audiobook had a full cast and I quite enjoyed it as it’s one of my favourite Austen novels. I have to say that I much prefer reading a physical book, though I can see audiobooks having benefits.

When I was able to see again, I read Forest of Souls by Lori M. Lee which was amazing. It’s a plot-driven YA fantasy with an intriguing magic system. It ended on a cliff-hanger so I’m really excited for the sequel!

A Heart So Fierce and Broken by Brigid Kemmerer was a really anticipated read for me as I loved A Curse So Dark and Lonely, but unfortunately I didn’t like it as much as the first book which was a little disappointing.

Finally, I read Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo which just blew me away. It was absolutely brilliant and I loved it even more than Six of Crows.      

This month I shared my book haul as a separate post because I ended up with so many thanks to winning a massive AtHomeYALC giveaway! You can see what books I got here.

Since I couldn’t see for part of the month and have been feeling pretty rubbish, I’m fairly happy with how much I’ve managed to write. I’ve written about 16,000 words for my King Arthur retelling and I’m nearly halfway through the book which is pretty exciting. My goal, so long as I don’t get ill again, is to finish it by the end of October. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to achieve that, but I’d certainly hope to have finished it by the end of November.

What have you been up to this month? What books have you enjoyed? Chat with me in the comments!

August 2020 Book Haul

I usually include my book haul in my monthly wrap up as I don’t usually buy many books, but I ended up with a massive haul this month thanks to a YALC giveaway! I’m really excited to read all these books! So let’s see what I got…

As part of AtHomeYALC, Hodderscape ran a competition on Instagram. You had to find 10 Pickwicks hidden in stories. I was lucky enough to be randomly selected to win the prize of 10 books! I really could not believe it when I saw the message. I’ve never won anything before! This is an amazing bundle of books. It was also lucky that I didn’t already own any of these and I’ve only read one as I had an eARC of Incendiary. I’m most excited for Girl, Serpent, Thorn as I’ve seen lots of great reviews for it and it sounds really interesting!

Chosen Ones by Veronica Roth

Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust

Incendiary by Zoraida Córdova

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan                

Emily Eternal by M. G. Wheaton

Nocturna by Maya Motayne

Light Years by Kass Morgan

10 Things I Hate About Pinky by Sandhya Menon

The Midnight Lie by Marie Rutkoski

The Extraordinaries by T. J. Klune

Amazingly, I also won two giveaways on Twitter as part of AtHomeYALC! I won an ARC of Star Daughter by Shveta Thakrar from a Harper360 giveaway, which is one of my most anticipated releases of the year! I also won an ARC of Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco from Hodderscape, but that one hasn’t arrived yet as the ARCs were due to be printed this month.

I had a Waterstones gift card for my birthday so I also ordered a few books this month. I miss going in physical book shops! Although shielding is paused at the moment, I’m still being super careful and not going in shops.

Plus, I received Shielded by KayLynn Flanders in Fairyloot’s July box. I’ll hopefully be posting an unboxing of that this weekend.

The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Midnight’s Twins by Holly Race

The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

Unravel the Dusk by Elizabeth Lim

Shielded by KayLynn Flanders

I think I’m still stunned from winning that competition. It was amazing to open the box. It arrived while I was really ill so it was great timing as it cheered me up!

June 2020 Wrap Up

This has not been a very good month unfortunately. A couple of years ago I hurt my back, it took months to recover, and a couple of weeks ago I managed to twinge it again. I’m in pain all the time and had to take a few days off work because I just couldn’t sit at my computer. That also means I’ve not been able to do as much blogging as I had planned and missed several posts that I had planned to write. It’s slowly getting better and I am able to spend some time at my computer now so will be back to blogging a little more regularly again, though I am still in pain.  

At the beginning of the month I finished The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins, a prequel to the Hunger Games trilogy. I was excited to return to this world and it was one of my most anticipated releases of the year. While it was good, I didn’t love it as much as the original trilogy.

I also read The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, which I have had waiting on my shelf for several months, as I don’t read much contemporary fiction. I’m very glad I finally read it as it’s a very powerful novel. I had no hesitation giving it 5 stars.    

Fear is the fifth book in Michael Grant’s Gone series. I have been working my way through this series quite slowly, though that’s more a reflection on my reading than enjoyment of the books! This book was good but I didn’t enjoy it as much as the previous ones. I’m still excited to read the final book though.

I just had to read The Guinevere Deception by Kiersten White as I love King Arthur legends. This retelling has a really interesting concept that Guinevere is not the real Guinevere, but has taken her place as fiancé to King Arthur so that she can use her magic to protect him. Although I enjoyed it, I only gave it 3 stars. I think perhaps the style was not quite to my taste and there were a lot of unanswered questions still at the end of the book. But I liked it enough that I will definitely be reading the sequel.  

I absolutely adored Autumn de Wilde’s adaptation of Emma, so decided to read the book. I’m only a little way in but loving it so far.

This month was quite a quiet book buying month for me, which is probably a good thing as I have many already on my shelf that need reading! I received a Word Cloud Classics edition of Emma for my birthday. And bought The Story of King Arthur and His Knights by Howard Pyle as part of my research for my next novel. It’s a lovely leather-bound edition with illustrations.

My back pain also put my novel planning on the back burner for a bit unfortunately. But I am still ready to write my King Arthur retelling for the July edition of CampNaNoWriMo! I’m excited to get writing as I am so excited for these characters and this story.  

What books did you enjoy reading this month? Let me know in the comments!  

May 2020 Wrap Up

This month has been really warm here in the UK. It’s felt like summer not spring! I’m still working from home full time which provides some structure to my days. I’m happy with the amount of reading and writing I have managed to do this month during my down time.

Reading

My first read of the month was The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. This book was okay but I didn’t love it. I don’t think it was for me. A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas was such a good conclusion to the original ACOTAR trilogy and I’m excited to read more books in this series. I took part in the readalong for Fairyloot’s delayed March box which was for Bone Crier’s Moon by Kathryn Purdie. It’s a really imaginative YA fantasy but I didn’t love it as much as some other YA fantasy I have read. 

I’m currently reading The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins which I had pre-ordered! The Hunger Games is one of my favourite series so I couldn’t wait to return to that world. I won’t say more until I’ve finished reading it, expect a review in the next few days!

Book Haul

My copy of Illumicrate’s special edition of Aurora Burning arrived and it’s gorgeous. The original cover is orange but their edition has a blue cover and edges and it looks amazing. The other exclusive edition I received was Bone Crier’s Moon in Fairyloot’s March box. Burn is one of my anticipated books of the year. I’m really curious to see what Patrick Ness does with dragons! I also got A Darker Shade of Magic on my Kindle because I’ve been meaning to try a V. E. Schwab book for ages so now I’ll hopefully actually get round to reading it.

Writing

I’ve been doing more research and planning for my King Arthur retelling. It’s going well so I will be continuing planning in June with the idea of hopefully taking part in Camp NaNoWriMo in July, but more on that nearer the time.

What books did you enjoy reading this month? What have you been getting up to? Let me know in the comments!  

April 2020 Wrap Up

April has been a strange month. Adapting the way we live has been a challenge. It’s been strange getting used to working at home all the time and not being able to meet and see people. NHS and key works are all doing such an amazing job right now keeping us alive and keeping the country moving. These are hard times but we will reach the other side eventually.

Since I’ve not been able to go anywhere, I have found more time for doing things I enjoy like reading and writing, which is one plus of this situation. Always look for the positives!

Reading

I finally started Cassandra Clare’s The Dark Artifices series. Lady Midnight was such a good book. I just loved getting to know this new cast of characters. I was one of the lucky people to get an eARC of The Court of Miracles by Kester Grant which was one of my anticipated reads for this year. Unfortunately it wasn’t as good as I was hoping. It was a good read but I didn’t love it. Since I loved Illuminae, I decided to pick up Aurora Rising, the first book in Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff’s new series. I adored this book so much. It was fast paced and I was hooked all the way through. Finally, I just finished reading Caraval by Stephanie Garber and will be posting my review for that soon. Sadly, this is another book I found a tad disappointing. I think perhaps this book just wasn’t for me.

Book Haul

I’m so missing being able to go into bookshops and browse! I pre-ordered The Deck of Omens by Christine Lynn Herman. The Devouring Gray was one of my favourite books from last year, so I had to get my hands on the sequel. More people need to read this book, so if you haven’t picked up The Devouring Gray yet, I’d recommend it! I also received my Fairyloot and Illumicrate copies of Chain of Gold. I won’t post photos of their exclusive editions here as I don’t want to spoil the surprise for anyone who hasn’t had their box yet!

Writing

It’s been full steam ahead for my Arthurian legend retelling idea. I’ve been doing lots of research around the legends and also getting to know my characters through making character charts. I’m having lots of fun planning this one!

What have you been getting up to? Are there any books you read this month that you absolutely loved? I hope you’re all managing to stay safe and well!

January 2020 Wrap Up

The start of 2020 could have gone better. I began the new year and the new decade with a cold. The rest of this gloomy month hasn’t been great either, but on the plus side I have managed to do quite a bit of reading.

Reading

I finished reading A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas at the beginning of the month and loved it! Her stories just really manage to draw me in; I’ve totally fallen for her books. I gave my first 5 stars of the year to Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. It’s so creative and visual, and I enjoyed reading something that used such different storytelling techniques. Blood Heir by Amélie Wen Zhao came in Illumicrate’s December box. Although I enjoyed it, I didn’t love it as much as other YA fantasy books I’ve read. Finally I finished reading Claudia Gray’s Defy the Fates, the final book in the Constellation trilogy. It wasn’t as good as the first book, but I still loved returning to the characters and seeing how their story ended. Now I’ve just started reading Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin.

Book Haul

I got two books this month from Illumicrate. The first is an exclusive edition of The Sisters Grimm by Menna van Praag with sprayed edges, which is absolutely gorgeous. The other was a bonus book – Infinity Son by Adam Silvera.

Writing

Having finished the first draft of my YA fantasy book at the end of December, I decided to have a few weeks break from writing so that I could come back to edit it with fresh eyes. Over the last week or so I’ve been making notes of things I need to work on or change, and am now ready to start work on the second draft! I’m excited to return to working on it, as I’ve really loved building this world and being immersed in the story.

December 2019 Wrap Up

It’s the start of a new year and a new decade! And I’m seeing it in with a horrendous cold… I’ve spent most of the last few days in bed and not left the house since Thursday, so I’m feeling a tad fed up at the moment.

I can’t believe it’s the end of a decade. So much has happened in the last ten years, good and bad. In 2009 I had major surgery. I’ve had two flare ups in my Crohn’s disease since then but have been well for the last two and a half years thanks to some new medication. So my health has been very up and down. I finished high school, did A Levels, went to uni, got a degree, passed my driving test and got my first full time job. In this decade I’ve also written five novels and one novella which is absolutely amazing. All I need to do now is get editing so I can start querying and pursue my publishing dreams!

I’m still feeling really rough so I’ll just focus on December 2019 in this post, rather than doing a whole year or decade wrap up!

Reading

The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman ended up being one of my favourites from this year. I wasn’t expecting to like it as much as I did, but the spooky atmosphere and interesting characters really drew me in.

I don’t read short stories very often. I much prefer novels. So I’ve been reading bits of The Bane Chronicles here and there rather than all in one go. I’ve also been reading The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J Maas which is a collection of prequel novellas. I’m about halfway through those.

Currently I’m reading A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas so there’ll be a review of that to come soon!

Book Haul

At the beginning of the month I got a set of 10 stamps on my Waterstones card thanks to buying Christmas presents, so that was a great excuse to buy books for myself! I bought Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. I’m not sure why I didn’t pick this book up sooner. It looks really unique and totally up my street. I also bought A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer. I’ve heard a lot about this book this year so I’m hoping it lives up to the hype.

I got two books for Christmas – the Collector’s Edition of Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas which is absolutely gorgeous, and Blood Heir by Amélie Wen Zhao.

Writing

This month has been a great month for writing! I finished the first draft of the YA fantasy novel I’ve been working on this year! I wasn’t sure I was going to finish it by the end of the year but I just managed to finish it before I got struck down with this horrible cold. The task for 2020 will be to work on editing it. I already have a list of things in mind that I need to go back and develop so I’m actually quite excited to begin working on a second draft.

Thanks to everyone who has read my blog this year. I hope you’ve been enjoying the content I’ve been posting. If there’s anything different you’d like to see, I’m always welcome to suggestions of how I can develop and improve my blog!

Happy New Year!

YALC 2019 Roundup

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I went to YALC for the first time this year! The Young Adult Literature Convention takes place annually for three days from Friday to Sunday in July, as part of London Film and Comic Con. This year I attended with two friends on the Sunday. I was really excited to finally go as I had been looking forward to it all year. Not only was it my first time attending YALC, it was my first time attending any kind of event like that. Following the advice of various bloggers, I brought a small, wheeled suitcase with me, which worked really well.

The day could have started better, as my train was cancelled and the next was delayed, but I still managed to make it in time for the first panel at 10am, which I really wanted to attend. So I headed straight for the stage when I arrived. The panel was called ‘New voices of YA fantasy’ and the authors on the panel were Adrienne Young, Bex Hogan, Christine Lynn Herman, Kesia Lupo, P. M. Freestone and Rachel Burge. It was really interesting to hear about how they found becoming a debut author and about the worlds they created for their books.

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