Thursday, 27 October 2016

Nanowrimo 2016


Yes that time of year is upon us again, it's Nanowrimo time!

I've posted about doing Nanowrimo before. I've done it and won in the previous 2 years. I have no idea how I managed it last year whilst also writing an essay for my masters and having a very stressful job but I loved what I was writing and it totally spurred me on! (I just logged on the the Nanowrimo website and apparently I skipped last year it was the year before that I last wrote-how did I miss a year?!)

Basically Nanowrimo challenges writers to write a first draft of 50K words in 30 days. What's great about it is that it is just pure writing and there are loads of incentives to spur you on and lots of things to get involved in online and IRL! I love that fact that there are twitter sprints and I get to update my word count online and there are even online forums for ideas for if you ever get stuck.

The great thing about the word sprints on twitter is that there is always one going on, you just need to follow the Nanowrimo word sprints account and you'll be challenged to see how much to can write in 10 mins, 15 mins, sometimes an hour and there's always a prompt of some kind too so if you are having a really hard writing day you can take the prompt of 'have your character find something scary' or 'introduce a tropical creature into your plot' and then you'll have some words for that particular word sprint (they might not be great words) but you'll have written something!

Another great thing about Nanowrimo is that you don't actually have to write many words in a day to meet the daily goal and then therefore meet your 50k goal at the end of November, its a little over 1600 words a day and you'll be there, easy peasy! I love the 50k words because its just a case of sitting down and writing, you don't have to be perfect but getting those 50 k words out there feels so satisfying.

Now, if last year wasn't challenge enough for me, this year is going to be even trickier because I don't actually have 30 days to get this all done. I am getting married in Las Vegas on 26th November. Both our parents are flying into Denver on 21st November and then we have wedding stuff from then until they leave on 29th November. So I really only have 20 days to write this first draft, 21 if you count the 30th November, but who am I kidding? That is going to be spent recovering from a wedding in Las Vegas not frantically adding to my plotline!

So I'm really looking forward to having a little longer to write in terms of hours in the day this year because I haven't got any teaching commitments right now,  but I'm a little nervous because I'm also going to be planning a big Thanksgiving and a wedding too. But I'm excited to see what community events happen in Denver during Nanowrimo because this will be a change of scene for me.

I also know exactly what I'm going to write about and no I'm not going to tell you!

If you're doing Nanowrimo too then let me know and maybe we can do some super-fun word races on twitter!

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Guest Review: The Unpredictable Consequences of Love

When Josh Strachan, newly returned to his home in north Cornwall from sunny California, first meets Sophie Wells, he's immediately smitten. Sophie's pretty, she's funny, she has lots of friends and she clearly loves her job as a photographer, despite the sometimes tricky clients. There's just one problem: Sophie has very firmly turned her back on love. It's nothing personal, she tells Josh, but she just doesn't do dates. And no one - even Sophie's scatty best friend Tula - will tell him why. Josh is sure Sophie likes him, though, and he's just got to find out what's put her off romance. And then put things right...

Review: Although she has written a large number of books, this was the first Jill Mansell story that I have read. I actually listened to it as an audiobook and found it a very entertaining companion on a long car journey. The storyline drew me in right from the start and kept my interest all the way through. 

The story has a really powerful cast of varied characters, all of them strong and interesting, with well-described back stories. Among the central characters, are: Sophie, a young professional photographer who has settled in the area; her friend, Tula, who moves from the city to join her; Josh, who has returned to the town to run a local hotel with his grandmother; and the apparently lazy and work-shy local boy, Riley, who lives with his writer aunt.

There are all sorts of storylines going on within the book. Sophie is struggling to overcome a tragedy in her past and trying hard to move on. Josh in particular, is puzzled by her attitude and is keen to help her. Tula's attitudes to men are also coloured by past experiences. Even the more minor characters are involved in dramatic situations. It's not plain sailing for anyone.

The action takes place in a small Cornish seaside town, lots of it in the hotel run by Josh and his grandmother. The hotel has a really picturesque setting overlooking the beach, with a path down to the sand. It sounds really idyllic. You can almost picture the beach, with its mixture of families playing in the sand and surfers taking advantage of the waves.

I thought that this story was really skilfully written. It has great depth to it and plenty going on to keep the reader's interest. It would make a great addition to anyone's pile of holiday reading. Having now read my first Jill Mansell book, I shall be looking out for her next one with anticipation. 

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Scary Books! 25/10/16

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because they are particularly fond of lists over there at The Broke and the Bookish. I'd love to share my lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

I've not read very many scary books but I do like a psychological thriller very now and then and they scare me witless sometimes so I'm going to do my best-apologies in advance if I don't make it to 10! 

1. The Accident by CL Taylor

2. The Girl on The Train by Paula Hawkins

3. The Lie by CL Taylor

4. Witchfall by Victoria Lamb

5. Cross My Heart by Carmen Reid (more tense that full on terror)

6. The Missing by CL Taylor

7. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

8. The Maze Runner by James Dashner

9. The Day We Disappeared by Lucy Robinson

10. Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman

Monday, 24 October 2016

Review: That Girl From Nowhere by Dorothy Koomson

‘Where are you coming from with that accent of yours?’ he asks.
‘Nowhere,’ I reply. ‘I’m from nowhere.’
‘Everyone’s from somewhere,’ he says. 
Not me,’ I reply silently. 

Clemency Smittson was adopted as a baby and the only connection she has to her birth mother is a cardboard box hand-decorated with butterflies. Now an adult, Clem decides to make a drastic life change and move to Brighton, where she was born. Clem has no idea that while there she'll meet someone who knows all about her butterfly box and what happened to her birth parents. 

As the tangled truths about her adoption and childhood start to unravel, a series of shocking events cause Clem to reassess whether the price of having contact with her birth family could be too high to pay...

Review: this was an interesting one for me, I actually started this book quite a while ago but I couldn't get into it so I downloaded the audio book and started it again. I'm glad I stuck with it because the issues that this books deals with are nothing like I have faced in my own life and are so wide-ranging and vast that I feel I learnt things from this novel. It was quite tough-going at points but I am glad that I stuck with it! This books covers the topics of divorce, infidelity, assisted suicide, adoption, racism, sexism and also what to do when you've found the perfect coffee shop but can't go there anymore-that last one I could empathise with!

The manin character of this novel was adopted as a baby and knows nothing of her birth mother. A chance encounter changes that for her and we get to see how it all unravels. I really struggled to relate to Clemency and so I found her very hard to like or bond with. I think this did affect my enjoyment of the books, but the book is so much more than just a bout her.the others characters in the novel we're similarly dispositioned and so I didn't develop an affinity with any of them in particular. The owner of the aforementioned coffee shop was the person I liked the most and I struggled to get along with the others to be honest. 

As I said though this book is about so much more than them. I found it really interesting to hear how Clem was affected by her adoption and by everything else that followed. Her relationship with her mother and her birth mother are really interesting and as that unravelled, that was the real story for me. She is also a small business owner and so the struggles with that and also with living and setting up in a new city were much easier for me to get along with. I thought that Dorothy Koomson dealt with these issues incredibly well and I would be really interested in reading more books by this author in the future!

To get this book now and see for yourself, just click here.

Friday, 21 October 2016

Review: Emmy a And Oliver by Robin Benway

Emmy’s best friend, Oliver, reappears after being kidnapped by his father ten years ago. Emmy hopes to pick up their relationship right where it left off. Are they destined to be together? Or has fate irreparably driven them apart?

Emmy just wants to be in charge of her own life.

She wants to stay out late, surf her favorite beach—go anywhere without her parents’ relentless worrying. But Emmy’s parents can’t seem to let her grow up—not since the day Oliver disappeared.

Oliver needs a moment to figure out his heart.

He’d thought, all these years, that his dad was the good guy. He never knew that it was his father who kidnapped him and kept him on the run. Discovering it, and finding himself returned to his old hometown, all at once, has his heart racing and his thoughts swirling.

Emmy and Oliver were going to be best friends forever, or maybe even more, before their futures were ripped apart. In Emmy’s soul, despite the space and time between them, their connection has never been severed. But is their story still written in the stars? Or are their hearts like the pieces of two different puzzles—impossible to fit together?

Review: a book about a boy who was kidnapped doesn't sound very readable or light-hearted but keep reading and I'll tell you why this is actually an enjoyable read. Firstly, I had this books recommended to me and had no idea what it was about but I love the name Oliver and I'd heard good things so I got it on a whim from the library. Can we also take a moment to appreciate the cover. How simple and lovely is it? I love the fact that these fingerprints form a heart and I totally didn't notice that when I first picked this up-so simple, so effective! 

So Emmy and Oliver, two interesting characters, we meet them just as Oliver is kidnapped and then we pick up with Emmy some years later. I totally didn't realise until Emmy said it had happened and was totally stopped in my tracks, the effectiveness of not reading the blurb first! I really liked Emmy as a character because she is strong willed, and independent. There is so much that she keeps from her parents in this book and, whilst that is something you shouldn't do, I do respect her for wanting to have her own life and her own goals and dreams! Oliver is equally independent and so the two mesh well together. He will naturally have a hard time adjusting to life back in the 'real world' or his 'former life' but he is so laid back he seems to take it all in his stride, I love that about his personality. Caro and Drew from the rest of their friendship group, although the parental characters form an important part of this story as well. 

This most definitely the beginning of a coming of age for all of theses character and it is interesting to see the young people grow and develop and see how their parents respond to that. There are a whole host of issues dealt with in this book but I would say the key message here is one of identity. This isnt a novel which is entirely issues based. It is very much character driven and I like that the issues aren't shoved in your face, you don't feel that it is all about them. I also learned quite a bit from this books, I won't tell you what about because of spoilers but be prepare for that too. Of course there is a love story aspect to this and also a hidden message of loyalty. I loved the way the story played out, I loved the ending, it was an easy read and an enjoyable one. This isn't a life changing novel but it is one that will enrich the life you are living today. 

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Guest Review: Christmas Under A Starlit Sky by Holly Martin

(This is Book 2 in the A Town Called Christmas series)
Step inside a beautiful winter wonderland where love, laughter and cosy nights by the fire will make this Christmas one to remember. 

Neve Whitaker loves managing the Stardust Lake hotel. She gets to work alongside her wonderful family and she’s spending Christmas on the most enchanting, snow-covered island in Scotland. So why is her heart so heavy this festive season? 

It might have something to do with the gorgeous actor Oakley Rey, the man she finished with before he left for California and the man she loves more than anything. With Oakley’s career in Hollywood soaring, Neve is convinced she’d only hold him back. She had to end it with him – at least that’s what she keeps telling herself. 

But now she has a secret she’s struggling to keep, and when Oakley arrives on Juniper Island determined to win her back, Neve is thrown off balance. Will Neve’s fear of having her heart broken again push Oakley away for good, or is it time for her to take a leap of faith? 

Get swept away by this deliciously sweet and heartwarming tale, and spend an unforgettable Christmas on Juniper Island. 

Review: This book, the second Christmas-themed story from Holly Martin for 2016, follows on from Christmas Under A Cranberry Sky. I absolutely loved the first book, and was itching to read this one as well. Again, it was a lovely, easy to read story that had me engaged from the word go and was finished in quick time, leaving me wishing that there was another book to follow. 

Like the first book in the series, this story is set at the Stardust Lake Hotel, a new holiday resort located on a northerly Scottish Island. All of the action takes place in just a few days from Christmas Eve to New Year's Day. The main characters in this story are hotel manager Neve Whitaker, sister of the resort's owner, Gabe, and her American actor boyfriend, Oakley Rey. The rest of the Whitaker family are also there, all celebrating the festive season together. The whole resort is full of guests enjoying their Christmas holidays in this fabulous-sounding place, where every last detail seems to have been covered. There is snow and lots of Christmas decorations everywhere, all so well described that you could almost smell the mince pies and mulled wine spices. Of course, the Northern Lights (or Merry Dancers as they are know locally) make an appearance as well, adding to the magic of the setting.

The story is absolutely full of romance, not just between the main characters, but others as well. There is plenty of drama as well, though. There was a great deal of tension between some of the characters at times, making me want to knock their heads together, but also some lovely scenes of reconciliation. I can honestly say that I loved all of the people in the story, with the exception of the press who were sticking their noses in where not wanted. The setting for the hotel again had me envying anyone able spend their Christmas holiday there - it sounds truly magical.

I would heartily recommend lovers of Christmas stories to add this book, and its predecessor, to their reading list. Once again, Holly Martin has come up with a winner!

You can download this right now and experience all the feels for yourself!

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Characters I'd Name a Pet/Child/Car after 18/10/16

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because they are particularly fond of lists over there at The Broke and the Bookish. I'd love to share my lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

Ooo this is a good one, I always struggle when naming pets, it's such an important thing. Who knows what I'll be like when I'm actually naming a child. Again this is probably going to be very much influenced by recent reads...

1. Wren (Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell)

2. Q (Paper Towns by John Green)

3. Alaska/Juno, well it's a derivative of... (looking For Alaska by John Green)

4. Romily (It Started With A Kiss by Miranda Dickinson)

5. Bilbo, would be an awesome pet name (The Hobbit by J R R Tolkein)

6. Bea (Bridesmaids series by Erin Lawless or I'll Take New York by Miranda Dickinson)

7. Atticus Finch (To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee) great pet name! 

8. Scarlet (Gone with The Wind by Margaret Mitchell)

9. Darcy (Pride and Predjudice by Jane Austen)

10. Aslan (The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis)

The list could go on, I've also always loved Oliver as a name but as I'm about to Marry one, I think that rules out a child/pet/car named Oliver! 

I'm just going to end with a non-book character but an author, I've always loved the name Rowan so naming a child/something else after Rowan Coleman would be cool too! 

Happy reading!