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. 
Uncategorized

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? 



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? 
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 nanowrimo.org to sign up. 
    Are you taking part in NaNoWriMo this year? If so, share your tips below! 
    Romance

    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? 
    Uncategorized

    Barry M Gelly autumn in Chilli and Mustard | review

    October 21, 2014

    It’s been a fair few months since I bought nail polish and to be honest it’s not like I need any more but I love autumn colours. 

    I saw a swatch of all of Barry M’s autumn shades on Lucy’s Stash and loved the look of Chilli and Mustard. Not just because they’re autumnal but also, Gryffindor colours. 


    Chilli
    A traditionally autumnal / winter shade, that to me just screams Christmas. (Never a bad thing as far as I’m concerned.) It looks pretty glamorous on it’s own but you could jazz it up easily for a party with a glitter polish over the top. 

    Mustard
    As the name suggests and as you can see, this is a mustard yellow shade. I wasn’t too sure how this would look on since the last yellow nail polish I used looked vile but this looks really nice. 

    This is my first time using anything from Barry M’s gelly range and I’m impressed with it. The formula is thick and on some nails I could have gotten away with just one coat, which is a brucey bonus as far as I’m concerned because I am far too impatient to wait for two coats to dry. 

    The finish is also really nice and shiny. It really annoys me when your nail polish is dull and a bit lackluster. 

    I’ve seen some swatches of their newer shades for the autumn range, which are a plum colours and I’m going to have to ban myself from going to Boots or Superdrug because they’re so pretty! 

    What are your favourite shades of nail polish for autumn? 

    Price: £3.99 each from Superdrug. (Price correct on October 19th 2014)

    Is it cruelty free? Yes, all Barry M products are cruelty free. 

    Would I recommend it? Yes absolutely. 

    What shades do you like in the autumn?

    Book Hauls, Fairy Tales

    October book haul (#3) | video

    October 20, 2014

    I fell in a couple of bookshops in October so I thought I would do an October book haul video. 

    Books mentioned: 

    • Love, Rosie – Cecelia Ahern 
    • Shadow Kiss – Richelle Mead
    • Irish Fairy Tales – Joseph Jacobs 
    • If I Stay – Gayle Forman 
    • Will Grayson, Will Grayson – John Green and David Levithan 
    • Not That Kind of Girl – Lena Dunham 
    • Anna and the French Kiss – Stephanie Perkins 

    Have you read any of those books? What books have joined your shelves this month? 
    Dystopian

    Four: A Divergent Story Collection – Veronica Roth | Review

    October 16, 2014
    Four: a Divergent collection book cover - Veronica Roth


    Title: Four: A Divergent Story Collection

    Author: Veronica Roth 
    Categories: Young adult, dystopian, science fiction, novella
    Pages: 285
    Publisher: Harper Collins

    Description from GoodreadsTwo years before Beatrice Prior made her choice, the sixteen-year-old son of Abnegation’s faction leader did the same. Tobias’s transfer to Dauntless is a chance to begin again. Here, he will not be called the name his parents gave him. Here, he will not let fear turn him into a cowering child.


    Newly christened “Four,” he discovers during initiation that he will succeed in Dauntless. Initiation is only the beginning, though; Four must claim his place in the Dauntless hierarchy. His decisions will affect future initiates as well as uncover secrets that could threaten his own future—and the future of the entire faction system.

    Two years later, Four is poised to take action, but the course is still unclear. The first new initiate who jumps into the net might change all that. With her, the way to righting their world might become clear. With her, it might become possible to be Tobias once again.


    By now you probably know that I’m a big fan of the Divergent series so as soon as I heard Veronica Roth was releasing a book of novellas told by Four, I had to read it. 

    Four is a collection of four novellas; The Transfer, The Initiate, The Son and The Traitor, which are told from the perspective of Four. The first three look at his life before he met Tris and the final story, The Traitor, takes place after meeting Tris. 

    I found the first three the most interesting because we get to find out more about Four and his life before Divergent begins. There was a bit of overlap in The Traitor with Divergent, but it wasn’t focused on Tris and wasn’t a complete repeat of what we read in the book.  

    These four novellas, especially the first three, were easily the best novellas I’ve ever read. They didn’t add anything revolutionary to the series but there were some things Four does in those novellas that isn’t mentioned in the series so it was nice to read those parts. 

    At the end there are three very short pieces, only a few pages long, called; First Jumper – Tris!, Careful Tris and You Look Good Tris, which are scenes from Divergent told from the perspective of Four. 

    Four embellishes upon small things we knew about from Divergent and it helps us to understand his motives a little better. 

    As you might expect with the novella starting off when Four has to make his own choice and progressing to the point where he meets Tris, we see a lot of character development. This isn’t something I’ve seen in novellas before, so it gets a massive thumbs up from me for that.

    If you’ve read Divergent this collection will not spoil the rest of the series for you. 


    I read some comments on Goodreads where some people asked why did Roth write these? The series has finished, so why bother? Those are fair points, which Roth pretty much addresses at the beginning of the book. 

    At the beginning of this book she says that she originally tried to tell the story from the point of view of Four but it didn’t work, so I personally found it really interesting to read how the story may have turned out. 


    I’m glad that we read the series from the point of view of Tris because I think it works much better, but it was fun to read what could have been. 




    In short: A must-have collection of shorts told by Four for fans of the Divergent series. 

    Price: £5.00 hardcover on Amazon UK // £4.75 Kindle UK

    Would I recommend it: If you’re a big fan of the Divergent series, this collection of novellas will be right up your street. 

    Do you like the Divergent series?