Monthly Archives

October 2014

NaNoWriMo, Writing

8 helpful resources and guides for NaNoWriMo!

October 31, 2014
NaNoWriMo 2014 participant banner

NaNoWriMo is go tomorrow so I’ve put together a list of resources, guides and blog posts that I’ve found really useful in the past and this year.

It’s not too late to start planning and you can plan as you go along. November is for writing your rough draft, not creating something perfect. Grab a cup of coffee / tea / hot chocolate and sit down and go through this list. 

  • Character development templates – that forum has a link to some great worksheets that will help you create believable characters. 
  • Plot generator – if you’re stuck, this can be really fun and can spark your creativity. 
  • Place name generator – particularly good if you’re writing a fantasy novel
  • NaNoWriMo forums – this is perhaps the best resource here. There are forums for spurring you on, writing tips, plot tips, character tips and my favourite forum is the Reference Desk.
  • NaNoWriMo Home Region – find people in your area taking part and attend group write-ins and other fun events 
  • How to write 10,000 words in one day on Notebook Sisters 
  • Plotting sheet – I found this through the NaNoWriMo forums and it looks like a good way to create a detailed plan of your novel. 
  • Shameless plug time! Last week I posted a video on 10 things you need for a successful NaNoWriMo! I’ll just leave it here for you. 

Make sure you read the emails you get from NaNoWriMo, especially the pep talks from authors because they’re a fun way to keep your inspiration up. 

If you have any tips to add, share away in the comments. 

LUSH Butterbear bath bomb | review

October 30, 2014
LUSH Butter Bear

When I was in Dublin I picked up two LUSH bath products to try, the first was The Melting Snowman and the second was their Butterbear bomb.

It smelled like marshmallows and dissolved in the water fairly without much drama or fizz.

I’m not a big fan of baths at all, I much prefer a shower, but I must admit that having a bath that smelled of vanilla and marshmallows was quite relaxing.  

Butterbear made my skin feel soft and it was a nice, relaxing treat. I was a little sad to actually use it because it looked so pretty but melted LUSH Butterbear smells good. 

I think this is a really nice treat and would make a nice stocking filler for someone. 

In short: A delicious smelling bath bomb that leaves your skin feeling soft. 

Is it cruelty free? Yes all LUSH products are cruelty free. 

Price: £1.95 each (I can’t remember what I paid in €) 

Would I recommend it? Yes, everyone deserves a treat now and then! 

Have you tried any LUSH bath products? 

Life, Organisation

I like the idea of being organised

October 29, 2014

I like the idea of being organised but actually being organised is another thing entirely. 

I love stationery but as I’ve discovered many times during my life, having pretty stationery doesn’t automatically mean you’re organised. It turns out you have to actually make an effort to use it. 

At school I was never one of those kids who was organised. I was a bit all over the place and my pencil case was a mess after three weeks because somehow, there was pencil lead all over everything. 

My best friend was one of those super organised kids and I used to look at her pencil case in envy. Envy I tell you. 

I’ve recently enrolled on an NCTJ sports diploma course but before I start that I’m finishing off a lower-level sports journalism course. It’s going to take an awful lot of organisation and self-discipline to do the NCTJ part time so I’ve made a vow to be more organised. 

I’m testing a timetable out on the course I’m doing now to figure out if it works without too many things getting in the way. 

When I do NaNoWriMo I reward myself with shiny dinosaur stickers and that works and keeps me on track so I think I might have to apply that to coursework too. 

The strange this is I’m organised at work but applying it to my personal life is hard. Perhaps it’s because I don’t have so many distractions or temptations at work. 

Please share your tips for being organised and sticking to goals in the comments. 
Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins | review

October 28, 2014
Anna and the French Kiss Kindle cover

Spoiler free. 

Title: Anna and the French Kiss
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Genre: Young adult, romance, contemporary
Pages: 372 pages
Publisher: Speak

Description from Goodreads: Can Anna find love in the City of Light?
Anna is happy in Atlanta. She has a loyal best friend and a crush on her coworker at the movie theater, who is just starting to return her affection. So she’s less than thrilled when her father decides to send her to a boarding school in Paris for her senior year. But despite not speaking a word of French, Anna meets some cool new people, including the handsome Étienne St. Clair, who quickly becomes her best friend. Unfortunately, he’s taken —and Anna might be, too. Will a year of romantic near misses end with the French kiss she’s waiting for?

I know my blog was quite book heavy last week but I just cannot hold off on this review any longer. It was so good! 

That’s right, I have finally read Anna and the French Kiss! You can thank all the bloggers raving about Isla and the Happily Ever After, they got me all excited and I finally picked this up. 

Heading into this I was worried that I’d hyped it up too much and that it wouldn’t live up to my lofty expectations. To my surprise though, it surpassed them. 

We meet Anna just as she is being dropped off in her dormitory at a school for Americans in Paris by her parents. Understandably she isn’t thrilled about moving away from her friends to Paris and we follow her throughout the year as she makes friends, gets a crush, falls in love and has arguments. 

The main characters are undoubtably Anna and Etienne St.Clair, both of which are well-built with an interesting backstory that comes into play rather than it just being about their relationship. 

Minor characters such as Mer, Josh and Rashmi are just as interesting and well-developed as our main characters, which isn’t something you see often. 

The key thing these characters all have in common is that they are real and you can relate to them and the things that happen in the book. A few things made me relive parts of my life and I’m sure I’m not the only one judging from the glowing reviews of this book. 

In terms of the plot, it’s predictable in as much as it’s a romance. When you pick up a romance novel you know that it’s likely the main character will get what they want. The story isn’t about the end goal, it’s about how they get there. 

There were a few twists and turns that caught me off guard but there was one thing that I predicted but it didn’t ruin the book for me.

Anna and the French Kiss reminds you what it’s like to have a crush and fall in love and wonder if the other person feels the same. It reminds you of what it’s like when you and your friend have a crush on the same person and the awkwardness around that. I think there are very few authors who can do that. 

But Perkins goes further than that, she does something incredible. Many authors can make you feel a characters pain, happiness or longing but very few authors can pluck you from yourself and plant you firmly in the head of that character. I was consumed by this book. I was Anna. 

I breezed through this book in a few hours on the same day, I just couldn’t put it down. When I had to put the book down, the task at hand was an annoyance. I think I even groaned like a stroppy teenager at the prospect of washing up instead of racing upstairs to finish off this book. 

You know that you have finished a new favourite when you reach the last page and you wish there was more. You wish you could continue reading about these two characters for days and days. You wish there were endless sequels. You want to re-read it right away. It also takes you a little while to reintegrate with the rest of the world again. 

This is all going very fangirl here. Sorry, not sorry. I’m not the kind of person who fangirls easily so for Perkins to turn me into a blubbering fangirl is a sure sign that she’s onto something here. 

This book made me laugh-snort, feel frustrated, smile and gush. It is everything I could want in a contemporary. The only bad thing I can say about this book is that it ended. I WANT MORE!

I’m looking forward to the next book in the series, Lola and the Boy Next Door, I just hope I haven’t set my expectations too high.

Anna and the French Kiss book rating

In short: A beautifully written, realistic, book that will leave you aching for more.
Price: £5.24 paperback Amazon UK // £1.54 Kindle UK
Would I recommend it? Yes, yes, a million times yes! 

Have you read Anna and the French Kiss? 
Humour, Lifestyle

Miranda Hart Live

October 27, 2014

I realise that my blog was very book-heavy last week (I read a lot, I’m sorry!) so I’m going to start this week with something different. 

On the 17th October my Mum, Tom and I took my Nan to see Miranda Hart for her birthday. If you don’t know who Miranda is, she’s a comedienne who talks about awkward things she does and it’s a bit middle class Britain.

My Nan loves her and we tried to get tickets to Miranda’s tour earlier this year but the only seats were right at the back. When this tour was announced with a date two days after my Nan’s birthday, I was on it and those tickets were book two minutes after release. 

I’m not going to lie, it was hard to keep quiet about this for six month. There were so many times when I accidentally ruined the surprise. 

Finally it was time to see her and she did not disappoint. It was the first comedy show all of us had been to and it was so much better than I imagined it would be. It was as Miranda’s TV show Mum would say “such fun!”

Miranda did audience participation where we had to pretend we were at a posh party, she got people saying lines, hooked two people up on a date and threw bags of crisps about. 

We all had a great evening, my Nan especially who thought it was a brilliant birthday present. The only problem is, we now have to try and top that for next year.

To my dismay, I saw on Miranda’s Twitter page that she thought this would be the last stand up tour should would do. If that’s true it will be a real shame because she was fantastic but if so I’m glad that I’ve had chance to see her live. 

I’m now on the hunt for more comedians to see. I’m a little disappointed to discover I’ve just missed out on John Richardson’s tour. 

Have you ever been to a comedy show?
Dystopian, Thriller

Endgame: The Calling – James Frey & Nils Johnson-Shelton* | book review

October 24, 2014
Endgame: The Calling - James Frey and Nils Johnson-Shelton cover
Title: Endgame: The Calling
Author: James Frey
Genre: Dystopian, young adult, science fiction, fantasy, thriller
Pages: 477 pages
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release date: October 7th 2014

Description from Goodreads: Twelve thousand years ago, they came. They descended from the sky amid smoke and fire, and created humanity and gave us rules to live by. They needed gold and they built our earliest civilizations to mine it for them. When they had what they needed, they left. But before they left, they told us someday they would come back, and when they did, a game would be played. A game that would determine our future.

This is Endgame. 

The description is quite long so I cut it short, you can read the rest on Goodreads though. 

I picked this up because the blurb made it sound a lot like The Hunger Games and a lot of reviewers on Goodreads said it was a rip-off, so I was curious to see how it compared.

Endgame: The Calling is the first in a trilogy which sees 12 people from the original lines of the human race compete against each other to find three keys to fight for the survival of humanity. 

Once you get past the few first pages and understand more about Endgame it becomes very clear that it was not a rip-off of The Hunger Games. The only similarities are that contestants kill each other, the rest of it is not the same. 

I was hooked from the first few pages and I really like the concept behind it. It’s complex enough to keep it very interesting and leave an air of mystery without confusing you. 

It’s pretty action packed from the get-go right through until the end and the pacing was good. I didn’t find it was too fast and there wasn’t a lull in the action. 

Getting introduced to multiple characters at once was confusing, especially since sometimes characters are referred to by their name and other times by their ancient race name and it took me a long while to remember who belonged to which race. 

Though we do spend more time with some characters than others, all of the characters are well-developed with interesting back stories. My personal favourites were Sarah and Jago, Sarah especially as she was one of the more relatable characters. 

There are a wide range of personalities in this book. There are people who are relatively normal and who aren’t thrilled about being involved in Endgame but there are also absolutely down-right vicious murderers and I found it fascinating to read from so many points of view. 

Due to the amount of characters and the confusion I had remembering who was who, it took me a while to connect with the characters. Once I did though I was hooked and concerned about what would happen to them. 

The book is written in third-person which made things a little confusing when we were following three or four characters and I’d find myself thinking ‘which ‘he’ is the author talking about?’ I’d have to re-read the last few sentences and that interrupted the flow a little. 

The Calling is the first part of the trilogy and follows the characters as they look for the first key. I haven’t got a problem with that as such but it doesn’t stand up on its own. I like books in a series to stand up on their own and this doesn’t, which was a bit disappointing.

While I didn’t think this book was perfect, the plot more than made up for the little issues I had and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I’d like to repeat that it’s not a rip off of The Hunger Games and I will definitely pick up the second book. 

There’s a real-life competition running throughout the book where the winner will get $500,000 of gold coins. Personally I didn’t understand the competition but I didn’t look too hard because I was so engrossed in the story. 

Endgame: The Calling rating

In Short: A thrilling action-packed story that sees 12 people from the original lines of humanity fight for the survival of Earth. 

Price: £7.00 hardcover Amazon UK // £5.49 Kindle UK (Prices correct on 23/10/2014)

Would I recommend it? If you like action-packed dystopian / science-fictions I think you will enjoy this. 

* – I received an ARC in exchanged for an honest review. Thanks again to HarperTeen.

NaNoWriMo, Writing

10 things you need for a successful NaNoWriMo

October 23, 2014
10 things for a successful NaNoWriMo

November is almost here and in a few days time the clocks will strike midnight and the challenge will be on to write 50,000 words before November 30th. 

In case you didn’t know, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. 
Throughout the month of November people the world over begin a novel and sweat caffeine at their keyboards to try and write 50,000 words in 30 days.

I took part last year and completed it. I still haven’t finished that story but that isn’t going to stop me taking part this year. 

Here’s what you need for a successful NaNoWriMo:
  • A laptop / computer 
  • Coffee or a caffeinated beverage of your choosing
  • Music you can write to. My go-to choice is always LIGHTS.
  • A notepad and pen / phone – in case an idea strikes you when you’re out 
  • About an hour – two hours a day, depending on how fast you can type
  • Creativity 
  • Shiny stickers to reward yourself with – yes stickers still work after you’ve left school. Last year I went for glittery dinosaur stickers, they worked perfectly. 
  • A rough plan – check out the NaNoWriMo Prep forum for some great advice 
  • Determination
  • More coffee
Of course, there’s more detail in the video but the list above is fairly self-explanatory. In the video I also talk about a couple things that I found really useful but I don’t think are vital for succeeding at NaNoWriMo. 

If this is your first year, make sure you visit to sign up. 
    Are you taking part in NaNoWriMo this year? If so, share your tips below! 

    Love, Rosie – Cecelia Ahern | book review

    October 22, 2014
    Love, Rosie - Cecelia Ahern book cover

    Title: Love, Rosie (Previously published as Where Rainbows End)
    Author: Cecilia Ahern
    Genre: Romance

    Description on GoodreadsRosie and Alex are destined for one another, and everyone seems to know it but them. Best friends since childhood, their relationship gets closer by the day, until Alex gets the news that his family is leaving Dublin and moving to Boston. At 17, Rosie and Alex have just started to see each other in a more romantic light. Devastated, the two make plans for Rosie to apply to colleges in the U.S. 

    She gets into Boston University, Alex gets into Harvard, and everything is falling into place, when on the eve of her departure, Rosie gets news that will change their lives forever: She’s pregnant by a boy she’d gone out with while on the rebound from Alex. 

    Her dreams for college, Alex, and a glamorous career dashed, Rosie stays in Dublin to become a single mother, while Alex pursues a medical career and a new love in Boston. But destiny is a funny thing, and in this novel, structured as a series of clever e-mails, letters, notes, and a trail of missed opportunities, Alex and Rosie find out that fate isn’t done with them yet.

    Love, Rosie comes out in UK cinemas today so it seems like the perfect time to tell you about the book it’s based on. 

    I picked this up after seeing the film posters everywhere in Dublin. When I discovered that the book is set in Dublin and that the writer was Irish, I knew it was meant to be. 

    Love, Rosie is told purely through notes, letters, emails, chats and texts exchanged by the characters. I’d never read a book written like that before but I was hooked from the first page and it worked so well. I don’t think the story would have had such a big impact if it had been told any other way. 

    There were a couple of occasions where there was a long letter or email which started with ‘Dear Mum’ and it wasn’t immediately obvious whether it was from Rosie or Katie. After two or three paragraphs though you could figure out who it was by what they were talking about.

    When you pick up a romance novel you know that in the end, the main character will probably get what they want, you’re just following them on that journey. This journey was fantastic and full of so many unexpected surprises. Just when you thought one thing was going to happen, something else would. 

    The pages are full of humour, truth, sadness and love as we follow the lives of our two main characters; Rosie and Alex. Oh how your heart will ache at times as you wonder why fate is working against them and you’ll feel their frustration and longing. 

    This book is highly relatable. I’m not saying you’re going to be able to relate to the entire thing but this book is so real that I’m sure everyone can relate to parts of it. I know I can. 

    Rosie grows up a huge amount throughout the book and in a completely realistic way. Her life is not perfect, far from it, and things keep knocking her back but she just keeps getting up and getting stronger. 

    I don’t really know what else I can say to convey that this is a brilliant book other than; read it!

    It was one of those all-consuming reads where you forget about everything else around you. The kind where you put down the book and seem a little surprised that there’s a life outside of that book. 

    I’m interested to see how the film adaptation works because I believe they kept most of it the same but they shortened the time span. I need to find someone to go and watch it with me now. 

    Also, I really think that Damn You Seventeen off Lady Antebellum’s new album is the perfect song for this book / film. Every time I hear it, I think of this book. 

    Love, Rosie book rating

    In short: A beautifully written and highly relatable romance. 

    Price: £3.85 paperback // 0.79p on Kindle (Prices correct on 22/10/2014)

    Would I recommend it? Absolutely, you don’t need to be a lover of romance novels to enjoy this. 

    Have you read Love, Rosie?