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 🙂

Book Review

Book Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

I’m very late to the party with this one: Cinder is big, has its own fandom, and has been out for a while. But it’s never too late to fall in love with an awesome book, right?

Published 2012 by Puffin Books.

11235712Goodreads Synopsis: A forbidden romance. A deadly plague. Earth’s fate hinges on one girl . . .
CINDER, a gifted mechanic in New Beijing, is also a cyborg. She’s reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s sudden illness. But when her life becomes entwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she finds herself at the centre of a violent struggle between the desires of an evil queen – and a dangerous temptation.
Cinder is caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal. Now she must uncover secrets about her mysterious past in order to protect Earth’s future.
This is not the fairytale you remember. But it’s one you won’t forget.

My Review: Normally, I give it a couple of days between finishing a book and writing a review, but it’s been mere few hours and I JUST WANT TO TALK ABOUT THIS BOOK. I’ve owned a copy of Cinder for so long that I can’t remember where I got it from – it’s certainly been on my TBR pile for too long. I wish I’d read it sooner!

After being in a reading slump for, well, months really, I decided I needed something a bit different to read. This totally cured said reading slump – I read the whole thing in a day. I was completely hooked on the story. Meyer is a fantastic writer, and this concept is really incredible.

If Cinder isn’t on your radar, here’s the basics: it’s a re-imagining of Cinderella, where Cinder is a cyborg mechanic in New Beijing, a city hundreds of years in the future. A plague is sweeping this future Earth, and Cinder discovers she has an important part to play in scientific research, but this sudden shift in Cinder’s life is a huge risk.

I was worried that the concept would be a bit cheesy and disjointed – how do you work the classic elements of the Cinderella tale into a story about a future with cyborgs? But, wow, it really worked. I was totally absorbed in the story, perhaps more so than any other book I’ve read this year. It’s richly imaginative and I’m envious of Meyer’s storytelling capabilities. The imagery was so vivid to me; every scene played out like an epic film in my head.

Cinder was a really interesting character. Her back story was woven into the story really well, and I felt for her throughout the book. She was so three-dimensional to me. The re-imagining of the classic Cinderella character is so clever, yet Meyer doesn’t rely on the fairy tale. Instead, her protagonist is full of individuality. The only thing that did irk me was her often overly sarcastic dialogue. I couldn’t work out her intentions in some chapters! But I really enjoyed reading about her all the same.

Overall, Cinder was fantastic. It’s definitely one of the best fantasies I’ve read in a long time. If you haven’t read this, I definitely recommend you do! Cinder is richly imaginative and gripping and hard to put down. I wanted to read the next instalment immediately after I turned the last page (luckily, my copy has just arrived… brb while I go binge-read this).

My Rating:

four and a half

I purchased a copy of Cinder.

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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! 😀

Discussion

Reading and Revising: How I’m Balancing Both in Year 11

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Most people probably know, because I moan about it enough on this blog and social media – I’m in year eleven. And exam season is approaching. And that’s pretty scary.

Whilst I’m so eager to revise lots and get my grades, because they mean a lot – I’m also eager to read lots and get blog posts up, because to me, that’s an equally big part of my life (and the more fun part). Last year, I took a couple of GCSEs early, and found it incredibly hard to just put those books down and revise, dammit. I spent the entirety of April/May of 2015 either revising and being annoyed that I wasn’t reading, or reading and being annoyed that I wasn’t revising. A vicious cycle, you’ll agree, but an unavoidable struggle for any bookworm.

As the majority of my GCSEs (and the most important ones, to me) are happening this year, I’ve decided that I need to approach exam season with a healthy, balanced way of doing both what I love, and what I need to do. Many people are great at making schedules and timetables, but I find it hard to stick to allocated times, and would panic if I didn’t commit to a set order.

I realised (after tumblring about my revision methods and a lot of people saying it was useful) that it may be worth sharing my goals, tips and ideas on how to balance reading and revising. Hopefully, this might come in handy to you, if you’re taking exams!

Set a realistic reading goal:

If I neglect reading for ages, I only get into a reading slump, which saddens me more than anything else. Over the past few years, I’ve read 2/3 books a week on average. This exam season, I’m restricting myself to one book/graphic novel/etc a week. A manageable number for me, and it’ll keep me kinda sane whilst studying and sitting exams.

Use reading as a reward:

 I read this thing online where you can treat yourself with something small like a jelly baby or a piece of chocolate for every page of a textbook you revise from. I try to eat on revision breaks instead (otherwise I just stare blankly at a page while stuffing my face with chocolate) so I’m replacing the edible reward with a chapter of a book. I’m a person who has to write out stuff in order to revise – so for example with my science revision, I’ll let myself read a chapter once I’ve written out the key info, or answered example questions, for one topic.

Use online time wisely:

I have online science, maths and languages work on apps such as Duolingo, and blogging is always the much more fun alternative, so I’ll procrastinate online work by doing that (cough, definitely not what I’m doing by writing this post – oh the irony, cough). I’ve set myself a goal for each online revision app I have, and for my blog. At the time of writing this, my current goal is to write a blog post a week, and visit each revision app once a day. It’s working so far!

Novellas!

Over the past few months, I’ve been hoarding saving some short reads for the next couple of months. If I start a really long book just before an exam, I know I’ll just binge-read it instead of getting some crucial revision in. With novellas, I find that I usually read them quite quickly, and I know that I can put them down and just finish them in a second or third sitting. This also applies to graphic novels and comics – I’m hoping to buy a lot of series I’ve been behind on (Ms Marvel!!) so I can read issues between studying.

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If you’re also currently studying – how are you balancing it with your hobbies? What methods do you use to make sure you’re studying enough, but also enjoying your hobbies?

Discussion

15 in 15: What I’ve been Loving this Year

I hope you had an awesome Christmas and/or holiday!

In 2014, I made a huge infographic of my favourite reads of the year. It took ages, and I read a ridiculous amount last year, so that list was pretty big. I like summary posts, and I thought – why not write about just my top fifteen books of 2015? And, while I’m at it, why not throw in some other things too… So here’s a post of my top fifteen books, albums and movies/tv series of the year! Most of the things mentioned in this post are relatively new (out this year) but some are recent discoveries I’ve made.

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(shhh the Blue Neighbourhood music video trilogy totally counts)

Have you enjoyed any of the things I’ve mentioned above? What’s been your favourite discovery of this year?

Have a great 2016!

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Page to Screen: YA Books That Would Make Great Movies

A lot of people seemed to love Paragraphs to Pictures, a blog post I published a few weeks ago on the YA books I’d love to see adapted as graphic novels. So, here’s a follow up post – this time, I’m looking at some books I would love to see on the big screen!PicMonkey CollageI’m normally team The Book Was Better when it comes to adaptations of books I love – take City of Bones, Stormbreaker or Harry Potter for instance – some of the increasing number of YA novels that have been brought to the screen. As brilliant as the films are, there’s always something more magical about reading the printed word and imagining the scenarios in your head.

I went to see Paper Towns a few weeks ago. I loved the book and it may be my favourite John Green novel – but the movie was unexpectedly maybe even better than the book. I thought the cinematography was perfect – scenes such as Q and Margo driving around the town at night captured beautifully. I think the story was translated fantastically.

It got me thinking about other YA books  that I love and treasure. What if these works were brought to big screens? Who would I pick to play characters, or direct the film? Here’s a list of some titles I think would be brilliant on screens.

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ALL OF THE ABOVE (James Dawson, Hot Key Books)

As soon as I put down All of the Above, I wanted to pick it up again. It’s a beautifully messy book, capturing the life of a teenager flawlessly. There’s lots of scenes I imagined so realistically in my head – I’ve never really envisioned a book’s setting so in-depth as I did with All of the Above! There’s potential for lots of beautifully shot scenes in the crazy golf course at night, where Toria and the crowd she falls in with hang out. Polly would totally be played by Cara Delevingne, as Cara has that crazy-awesome personality.

THE NEXT TOGETHER (Lauren James, Walker Books)

I am obsessed with a TV show called Orphan Black at the moment, which is about a woman called Sarah Manning, who finds herself falling into a dangerous spiral of events when she discovers she is a clone. The actress, Tatiana Maslany, portrays lots of different clones and it’s amazing. I was watching Orphan Black around the time I read The Next Together, and my thoughts while reading were often about how riveting a film of this book would be. Not only because the plot is constructed so well, and the different eras would be so cool to stitch together in a movie, but like Orphan Black, the same two actors would be portraying many different versions of themselves. It would be awesome.

ARISTOTLE AND DANTE DISCOVER THE SECRETS OF THE UNIVERSE (Benjamin Alire Saenz, Simon & Schuster)

Aristotle and Dante is a beautifully written novel. Everything about it is beautifully crafted. Old me would say making this book into a film would be a terrible idea because you’d lose the magic of the writing. But I think seeing it in a different medium could bring a whole new level of magic to it. Also, of course – both of the main characters are LGBT* and Mexican. Name one movie out there with two PoC & LGBT* leading characters… *radio silence*

AN EMBER IN THE ASHES (Sabaa Tahir, HarperVoyager)

This book was one of the most epic fantasties I’ve read in a long time. It was fast-paced, gripping, and didn’t want to be put down for a second. I adored the characters and the writing evoked so much imagery for me. I couldn’t stop imagining the Empire in my head, how it would look and feel. I have a feeling Peter Jackson would be a pretty good choice as director / producer, as he’s fantastic at creating beautifully detailed alternate worlds – he did a stunning job with the world of The Lord of the Rings.

ALL THESE THINGS I’VE DONE (Gabrielle Zevin, Pan Macmillan)

All These Things I’ve Done is a dystopian novel where chocolate is illegal and the main character is part of a famed family that sells it. It’s so hard to describe (I recommend it to people all the time, but there’s no way to put its brilliance into words!) but it’s gritty, emotional and captivating. Anya Balanchine is one of my all-time favourite protagonists and she would be so cool on a big screen. The setting would be quite interesting to depict in a different medium, too, as it’s 2083 New York with a mafia undertones.

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So, there’s my choices! What would yours be?