Discussion

Back to School Reading List | Autumn 2017

As I’m writing this, I have one week until I go back to sixth form, and when this post publishes, it’ll be one day (aaaahhh!) I’m sort of dreading starting year 13, especially after a really great summer. I’ve done so many cool things but now I’m preparing to return to a non-existent social life and even more academic pressure than I’ve ever had before.

Sooo, how am I gonna cope with that? BOOKS!

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This blog post is a list of all of the books I hope to read in the (little) free time I have during my first school term.

Disclaimer: I will probably not read all of these books during my first term back. I’m going to be so busy. But the IDEA of reading them is comforting to me, so this post is still valid, right? Without further ado, here’s the five books I’d like to read:

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Haddon Hall: Where David Invented Bowie by Néjib

My dad picked up a copy of this graphic novel, but I had to steal it from him! It’s a portrait of David Bowie’s life, right at the start of his career, documenting his time in Haddon Hall. I’m local to Beckenham and this place Bowie used to live, so I thought it would be a really interesting read. The cover is so vibrant!

Awkward and Definition: The High School Chronicles by Ariel Schrag

I purchased Likewise, another graphic novel by Schrag, before realising I didn’t own the precious books in the series. This graphic novel collects the first two memoirs she wrote, whilst still in high school. I’ve read so many fantastic reviews of this relatable and quirky memoir series, so I’m really eager to start it. And what better time to read it than my last year at school?

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Hollow City by Ransom Riggs

adored Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, the original book and the film. It’s probably one of my all-time favourite YA books. Despite having first read Miss Peregrine’s a while ago, I’ve never gotten around to its sequel. I’m putting this at the top of my TBR pile as I think it’ll be the perfect book for escapism on study breaks.

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Post Truth: The New War on Truth and How to Fight Back by Matthew D’ancona

One of my new resolutions is to read more non-fiction; more specifically about politics and society. It’s hard to stay away from the news in the current political climate, but so-called “fake news” has become so common that it’s difficult to know when and how to respond. I’m hoping to learn a lot from this!

They Can’t Kill Us All by Wesley Lowery

I’ve read so much about Black Lives Matter, but only in small snippets across social media. I’ve wanted to educate myself more about the situation of police brutality in America, so this book has been on my radar for the past few months. The writer is a journalist, who reported on related events over a number of years. This is going to be a very hard-hitting read, but I know it’ll also give me much more insight into an important movement.


 

So, those are the books I’m planning on reading in Autumn! Have you read any? What’s on your own reading list? Leave a comment 🙂

Discussion

Confession: I Have Too Many Books (My Book Culling Tips)

Over the years I’ve bragged quite a bit about my fancy colour coded bookshelves. I often buy books because they look pretty. And I’m a sucker for a special edition. 

It’s very clear that I’m, uh, enthusiastic about holding onto books. When I counted how many I owned last year, it totalled around a thousand. Crazy, I know. I’m being constantly warned that if another book crosses the threshold of my room, the ceiling below will literally collapse. 

(don’t worry, this gif is looping, there is an end to my book collection!)

For the past sixteen years of my life, when anyone has questioned my book buying habits (very often), I’ve been quick to jump to my own defence. THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS TOO MANY BOOKS! I’ll yell, lovingly guarding the bookshelves (which seriously need dusting) that occupy half of my room. 

Last year, in a completely spontaneous decision, I managed to sort a box of books that I could part with. It was a painful process. I discarded books then frantically grabbed them back, unwilling to let go. It’s safe to say I’m obsessive about my books, even if I know I’ll never get around to reading them. It’s like a comfort; my room is surrounded by reading material I could never run out of. I’m reluctant to depart from books I’ve read too, even though it’s unlikely I’ll never read them again. They’re like snapshots lining my walls, from different points of my life, a huge collection of memories.

I decided a few weeks ago that I needed to try again, because the situation in my room was quite frankly ridiculous. In addition to the shelves lining one wall (and the two in the hallway…) I had stacks of books strewn across the floor, and proof copies piled beneath my bed so much so that they were practically holding it up. It had to change! I give in – sometimes, there *is* such a thing as having too many books. I needed some space. 

I didn’t even let myself think about what I was doing. My “to-read pile” is actually three “to-read-bookshelves” and although I would love to get around to reading everything, it’s unlikely I ever will. Studying is intense, my interests are changing, and I just don’t have the time. Some of these books were simply collecting dust, unloved, and I realised someone else could be enjoying them. 

Over the course of two hours, I had seven bags of books to shift. What?! Here’s where they’ve gone off to, and why I decided to take them there:

  • WeBuyBooks: there are lots of companies that will buy books from you, such as Ziffit, but I found this app to be the most accessible. Simply download it to your phone and use the camera to scan barcodes; it’ll tell you if they’ll accept it, and if so how much for. Prices can range from about 20p to £3.00, so if you’re looking for some extra money, it’s a great option, especially when you’re culling a lot of books. I totalled just £10 on here, which isn’t a massive amount, but I mean, it’s pretty good for half an hour of zapping books!
  • The train station: stations around me often have shelves inside, where second hand books are left for other commuters. I really like how these circulate. Books can end up anywhere! Someone might pick one up just to flick through on a commute and leave it somewhere else, or another person might discover it and fall in love. So if you’re near a station, why not drop some off?

(also: book culling was a great way to get some use out of my many bookish tote bags)

  • My school library: libraries across the country are lacking in funding, and school ones hardly get any budget. Yet they’re thriving places that would greatly value new books to inspire teenagers’ reading. Five of my seven bags are headed for my school’s library, and I’ve made sure those bags include the newest titles I’ve decided to part with. I hope children in the years below me enjoy them; maybe they’ll find their new favourite book. It’s especially a good idea to donate to school libraries in areas where not a lot of children read. From my time at school, I know that the majority of the year groups don’t read for fun. It’s important to inspire that. 
  • Charity shops: none of my books this time around went here, but it’s worth a mention for all the other times I’ve chosen these places. Living near a high street with a countless number of them, charity shops are easy to donate to and often willing to take new books. And of course, you’re helping another good cause! Good on you. 

Thinking of getting rid of some books? Here’s some other ideas:

  • leave them on trains, buses and benches with notes
  • Donate to community centres and local schools, especially for fundraisers
  • Recommend some to friends or family members who might be interested
  • Sell them online, through eBay or sites like Ziffit
  • Give them away, through your blog, Twitter or Instagram

And if you’re wondering? I got rid of about 200 books, yet my shelves are still full. I DON’T KNOW HOW EITHER. I better do another book cull soon.

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2016 Favourites | What I’ve been loving this year

Hello again, for the last post of the year 🙂

Last year, I did a post called “15 in 15” because considering it was 2015, the number worked. I thought I’d do a follow up “16 in 16” but… I think I’ll be sticking to fifteen because if I keep that up every year, these lists are going to keep getting longer!

Read on to see what were my favourite books of the year, as well as my top picks of music, film and TV. The majority of titles in all three categories were released in 2016, but some are slightly older things that I’ve discovered.

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Last year I read something like 190 books, and this year, I’ve only read just over 50! I wouldn’t say this has been my best year for reading, but I have discovered some fantastic books. Unboxed by Non Pratt was unexpectedly poignant and Everything Leads to You has become one of my favourite books of all time.

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After my GCSEs ended, I spent a month in bed, on our newly-purchased Netflix, binge watching a gazillion tv shows. I adored How to Get Away With Murder and The Get Down, two shows that weren’t even on my radar at the beginning of the year, but I’m now a massive fan of. Movie wise, the Ghostbusters reboot has to be one of the best things to have happened this year. Bless Kate Mckinnon. Rogue One was pretty fantastic too.

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2016 may have been rubbish, but the music that came out this year most certainly wasn’t. Honestly, I could write pages about every album above. I adore them! While I’ve been veering more into indie sounds, I was also introduced to Sleater-Kinney, one of the most iconic riot grrl bands, and so many songs of theirs have become hugely important to me. Tegan and Sara’s Love You To Death is literally the best thing to have ever happened, and will forever be a favourite and special album. I’ve gotten into quite a few new artists, like Shura and Lauren Aquilina, but my favourite new discovery is probably Christine and the Queens, who’s the musician everyone needs in their life.


So, there we go! That’s another whole year of stuff. 2016 was a bit rubbish in general, but at least there’s been some great media to distract us from it, eh?

And before I go… A huge THANK YOU to everybody who has been reading my blog this year. I am hugely grateful for every view, like and comment on my posts, and seeing that people enjoy my ramblings is what makes me keep blogging!

See you in 2017. ❤

Book Review

Book Review: Lost Stars by Lisa Selin Davis

Related posts: Blog Tour: Lisa Selin Davis on the novels that inspired her

Published 16th October 2016 by Hot Key Books.

31328363Goodreads Synopsis: In the aftermath of her older sister’s death, sixteen-year-old Carrie is taken under the wings of her sister’s friends, and finds herself forsaking the science nerds of her former life and slipping into a daze of cheap beer and recreational drugs. Carrie – a talented guitar player and obsessive tracker of the coming Vira comet – is partying hard and fooling around with boys she doesn’t even like, even though she’s desperate for a boyfriend.
Her mother, enveloped by grief at the loss of her eldest child, has retreated to a monastery in the Catskills that requires a vow of silence. With her family splintered apart, Carrie is overcome at times by uncontrollable rages and her father decides to send her to a boot camp for wayward teens. Compounding the shame, and to her horror, she is forced to wear work boots and a hard hat – boy poison.
Then she meets Dean, a fellow musician and refugee from his own dark past. Throughout the summer Carrie learns more about Dean, about her sister’s death, about her own family’s past, and about herself…as well as about the Bee Gees, disco and the difference between wood and sheet-rock screws. Through love, music and her precious comet – and no small help from Lou Reed – Carrie fumbles her way through the complex web of tragedies and misunderstandings, to the heart of who she is and who she wants to be.

My Review: First things first – I read this book at the wrong time. It was a really great story, and I did enjoy it very much, but I stupidly started reading it as my mock exams started. It took me nearly a month to find the time to finish it! So, maybe, I would have loved it even more if I had read the book in one go: it’s definitely a book you can get completely immersed in.

What I loved the most about Lost Stars was the characters. They were so wonderful and real-feeling. They’re still in my head, long after I put the book down. I quite liked Carrie and how complex her character was – the story is centred around her anger issues, and how her mother’s absence has played into it. I did tear up a little at the resolution.

The gang of teenagers Carrie hangs out with were my favourite. I loved how Selin Davis takes the time to explore Soo, who I could’ve read a whole book about! The love story… I didn’t enjoy so much. I don’t know why. Maybe I’m just really cynical.

Another aspect of the book I adored was the setting. Selin Davis’ debut is such a fantastic trip back to a few decades. I love books set in the 70s-90s – the atmosphere is just so great and nostalgic even if I’m a millennial. I loved all of the pop culture references, and the frequent mentions of iconic songs. It just made the book.

I do think I would’ve been able to enjoy Lost Stars even more if I’d read it at a better time, but I also think it has quite a few similarities to books that were already favourites of mine. It seemed very much in the same vein as Perks of Being a Wallflower and Love Letters to the Dead, in terms of the atmosphere and the similar topics of grief. It reminded me of those books a lot in places, but that’s not to say it’s not really original and compelling itself. I’m sure fans of those two books would adore Lost Stars.

Overall, this was a really enjoyable book and quite a fantastic debut novel. Lisa Selin Davis is definitely an author to look out for – I would love to read more from her in the future. Lost Stars intertwines grief, hope and love into a really thought-provoking and poignant story. I’d definitely recommend it to contemporary fans!

My Rating:

three and a half

I received a copy of Lost Stars from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

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The Bibliomaniac: A Bookshelf Tour

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Every blogger and vlogger does one of these at some point, and yet in my five years of blogging, I don’t think I’ve ever talked about my shelves here! Admittedly I have on Twitter, a lot… but I figured a blog post would be nice. Especially as I just tidied / did a massive book cull so my shelves aren’t as cluttered so here goes!:)

MY MAIN BOOKSHELVES:

 

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These shelves are home to about half of the books that I have read and own. I’m usually incredibly obsessive and organised (as in, alphabetising everything I own, from DVDs to school books) but these shelves are in absolutely no logical order. They’re a massive rainbow, which I love sososo much even if it does show that I have way too much time on my hands. (Even the items on the shelves correspond to the colours… yep).

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These are part of the ‘main,’ bookshelf, but I count them at their own little sections, as they’re not YAwhich is what the shelves above mostly consist of. Two shelves are home to all of my classic books – from Enid Blyton, to Road Dahl, to George Orwell and my favourite thing I own – a 116 year old copy of Grimm’s Fairy Tales. A larger space is reserved for all of my graphic novels and collected comic editions! I’m definitely going to need more space on this one soon, as I’m looking to expand my series reading. Current favourites are The Runaways and The Wicked and the Divine.

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This bit is the untidiest bit D:

This is where most of the books on my to-read (or in some cases, to re-read) list live! I should really order them into some kind of logical sense, but somehow I actually remember where all of these books are placed, so, I guess it’s all good.

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Most of the rest of my TBR books are on the my windowsill (top of this left photo) and sitting on my library steps, by my desk! So many books, so little time.

I do keep many of the proofs copies I’m sent – visible at the bottom of the left photo, under my windowsill. Hot Key Books all look so lovely together. A couple of more recently sent ARCs live under my bed, as I’ve run out of room (despite culling 100 books the other day!)

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And, finally – signed books! I haven’t been to any bookstore events in a long time (GCSEs, general exhaustion, etc) but I used to go up to Waterstones Piccadilly practically every week or so, attending talks and signings. My signed books don’t live in my room – they’re on shelves at the end of the hallway. But I do like that little area at the end of the house! More rainbow-ordered books!

So, that concludes the bookshelf tour! What do you think of my chaotic order of things? How do you organise your books?

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Tales and Teapots: Fundraising for the National Literacy Trust!

I’m super excited to be sharing some information today about the National Literacy Trust’s latest fundraising campaign! The Tales and Teapots initiative is a fantastic way to promote reading and simultaneously raise some money for a really awesome cause. It’s also a good excuse to eat cake. So for all of those reasons, I very highly recommend you look into it. 😛

Share tales over tea to raise money for literacy

The National Literacy Trust and Boots Opticians are calling on book lovers and baking enthusiasts to help give disadvantaged children the literacy skills they need to succeed by holding a Tales and Teapots party.

The new fundraising initiative, developed by Boots Opticians colleagues, encourages friends, family and colleagues to come together and share books they’ve enjoyed over tea and cake, while raising money to support the National Literacy Trust’s work in the UK.

Sara Hook, Corporate Partnerships Manager at the National Literacy Trust says: “For many of us sitting down to enjoy a good book with a cup of tea is one of life’s simple pleasures, but for one child in seven in the UK there are no books of their own to read at home.

A Tales and Teapots party is the perfect chance to catch up with friends and share your favourite books, while helping the National Literacy Trust to spread a love of reading among children across the UK and give them a brighter future. We’re delighted to be working with our partner Boots Opticians on this exciting new initiative.”

The money raised at Tales and Teapots parties across the country will give children and young people books to keep and empower them with the literacy skills they need to improve their employability and reach their full potential.

Interested in hosting a party to help raise money? Click here to register for a FREE party pack – containing posters, invitations, balloons and decorations, plus find lots more to download from the website to help you with your fundraising! If you decide to do so (why wouldn’t you?) then do tweet me photos! 😀

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Favourite Quotes: You Know Me Well by David Levithan and Nina LaCour

YOU KNOW ME WELL

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I’ve been excited about this book for months, as I’m a huge fan of David Levithan, and recently read Nina LaCour’s Everything Leads to You, which has fast become one of my favourite books. I was delighted to find a copy in Waterstones a few days ago, not realising it was already out! I read it in one go, eager to see how two favourite writers of mine had collaborated.

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I adored the story. It’s centered around Mark and Kate, who fast become friends after a crazy coincidental encounter at a Pride party, and become involved in each other’s romantic situations. Both of the authors are ridiculously talented at crafting memorable and lovable characters.

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The story has its fair share of heartbreak and sad parts, but it’s balanced out with some really heart-warming and lovely moments and scenes. The ending was beautiful! Also – another plus was that there were multiple Tegan and Sara references by Kate. That pleased my fangirl brain.

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I picked up on a lot of really beautiful sentences in this story (as I have done in both writer’s works) and I wanted to compile a list of my favourite quotes, as little graphics. I hope you enjoyed them!

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Have you read You Know Me Well? What did you love about it? 🙂