Tuesday, 29 December 2015

2015 End of Year Survey!


2015-end-of-year-book-survey-1024x984
Created by Jamie @ The Perpetual Page-Turner

I love these posts! They're so much fun to write and reflect back on what I've read this year. Also, can I just say, I can't believe 2015 is over. It literally feels like it was the 1st of January yesterday and now it's nearly another 1st of January. How? Just, how. Anyway, I'll leave the existential crisis for another time and without further adieu, let's examine the books I read this year!

Number Of Books You Read: 65 (my lowest number the past three years but my goal was 50, SO YAY!)

Number of Re-Reads: 4

Genre You Read The Most From: YA contemporary with a total of 23 books!


1. Best Book You Read In 2015?

(If you have to cheat — you can break it down by genre if you want or 2013 release vs. backlist)
I shall break it down because this question is impossible to answer. One favorite book?! SACRILEGE.

YA Contemporary: I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson, one of the best books ever. If you'd like to read the book review I wrote on why I loved it SO MUCH, here is the link: http://blogofabookaholic.blogspot.co.uk/2015/09/i-would-give-you-sun-for-ill-give-you.html

YA Mystery/Thriller: These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly. I loved everything about this book. You can read my review here: http://blogofabookaholic.blogspot.co.uk/2015/10/i-wondered-outside-my-comfort-zone-by.html

Middle-Grade Contemporary: Would the Real Stanley Carrot Please Stand Up? by Rob Stevens. SUCH A WONDERFUL BOOK.

Middle-Grade Adventure: Every single Alex Rider book because I am literally in love with that series.

YA Fantasy: Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy!!! Specifically book 7, The Kingdom of the Wicked, probably my favorite one out of the series. If I had to choose because they're all wonderful filled with snark and adventure and dead but not quite dead skeletons. Seriously, read it.

YA Paranormal: Demon Road by Derek Landy. I love him. 

Classics: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, this book broke my heart but I loved every second of it. 

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella. I love it when I come across a book that deals with an anxiety disorder, as I can relate, but I just wasn't happy about how the recovery process was executed at all.

 3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?  Dare You To by Katie McGarry! I had originally read Pushing the Limits back when I was 13 and I didn't love it, so I went into the second installment with trepidation but I LOVED IT. I felt everything the character was feeling, I laughed, I cried...I loved it so much. So that was definitely a good surprise!


 4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?

Hmm...either the entire Skulduggery Pleasant series (I'm worryingly mildly obsessed with it), These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly, Underwater by Marisa Reichardt (which only comes out next year, but at least people will know what to buy when 2016 rolls around, right?!) and I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson!

 5. Best series you started in 2015? Best Sequel of 2015? Best Series Ender of 2015?

Best Series I Started: The Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz. There were many tears when it ended. Many.

Best Sequel: This book wasn't published this year as I'm awful at catching up with series, but I did read it this year and that would be Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. SO MANY FREAKING EMOTIONS THOUGH GOSH.

Best Series Ender: Again, I haven't read a series ender published in 2015 (or perhaps I'm misinterpreting the question) but the best one I read this year would have to be The Dying of the Light, which is the 9th Skulduggery Pleasant book. It was amazing. And heartbreaking. And perfect basically.

 6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2015?

Jennifer Donnelly! Like I said, I'm literally in love with These Shallow Graves. AND Sarah J. Maas, I read A Court of Thorns and Roses and LOVED it!

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

I'm really proud of myself for this! I read a few mystery/thrillers which I don't normally read because I get scared very easily but I read a couple this year and it would have to be These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly, I LOVED IT (but it's not like you knew that, right?)

 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

Pretty much the whole Alex Rider series, These Shallow Graves, Black Ice by Becca Fitzpatrick (this book seriously freaked me out. People are so cruel.), Skulduggery Pleasant and Demon Road! Quite a few, actually!

 9. Book You Read In 2015 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

I don't generally reread but one I might consider is I'll Give You the Sun or To Kill a Mockingbird.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2015?

A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #1)Just look at it. SERIOUSLY. JUST LOOK AT IT.









11. Most memorable character of 2015?

AH SO MANY AMAZING CHARACTERS. Um, um, ummmm *flails 5ever*. If I had to choose only one, it would probably be Noah from I'll Give You the Sun. He is just the most amazing person!

 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2015?

I'll Give You the Sun. I wear Jandy Nelson is like a writing angel or something.

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2015?

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. It really made me realise how awfully people were treated just because of their skin colour and it taught me how to be kind and open-minded and just a better person. I loved it. Another one is A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, which taught me that we are more than our thoughts. It was a beautiful novel.

 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2015 to finally read? 

To Kill a Mockingbird. I have this thing that classics and I don't generally get along, so I was kind of weary of reading it but AH I LOVED IT.

 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2015?

*Rolls out kilometer long list* Oh, sorry, only one you say? I can't do that, but I'll try to shorten my answer just slightly. ;)
“I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” - I'll Give You the Sun
“We wish with our hands, that’s what we do as artists.” - I'll Give You the Sun
“I gave up practically the whole world for you,” I tell him, walking through the front door of my own love story. “The sun, stars, ocean, trees, everything, I gave it all up for you.”  - I'll Give You the Sun 
“Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.” - To Kill a Mockingbird
“Atticus, he was real nice.""Most people are, Scout, when you finally see them.” - To Kill a Mockingbird
16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2015?
Shortest: The Dagger in the Desk by Jonathan Stroud (Novella) - 44 Pages
Longest: Harry Potter and the Order of a Phoenix by J.K. Rowling - 766 Pages

 17. Book That Shocked You The Most

(Because of a plot twist, character death, left you hanging with your mouth wide open, etc.)
Every Skulduggery book. Every book in that series has a plot twist that leaves me looking something like this:

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)
(OTP = one true pairing if you aren’t familiar)
WITHOUT A DOUBT JO AND EDDIE FROM THESE SHALLOW GRAVES. They made my heart so happy with their adorable-ness. OOH but also Tamlin and Feyre from A Court of Thorns and Roses.

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

Skulduggery Pleasant and Valkyrie Cain have the best friendship. They fire sarcasm at each other and tease each other consistently but also save each other and are always there when the other needs them. I just...I just heart them so much.

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2015 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

Every Skulduggery Pleasant book I read this year. I JUST LOVE THEM SO MUCH.

21. Best Book You Read In 2015 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes! My best friend recommended me this and I would never have picked it up previously as murder mysteries aren't my forte but OHMYGOSH I LOVED IT.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2015?

Two words: Eddie Gallagher. (These Shallow Graves). I'M FREAKING IN LOVE WITH HIM.
OOH, I also love love love Tamlin from A Court of Thorns and Roses. OOH and Oscar from I'll Give You the Sun. Those three just make my heart a flutter.

23. Best 2015 debut you read?

I...I didn't read a 2015 debut. I did read a 2016 one though, but...I suppose that doesn't count. I NEED TO READ MORE DEBUTS. 

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. The world-building is amazing!

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

Ida B by Katherine Hannigan! Such an enchanting book. BUT I'd also say, despite not handling anxiety appropriately, Finding Audrey made me laugh extremely hard! AND the first two Adrian Mole books - I LAUGHED SO HARD. And there were people around. They didn't stay around very long after that.

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2015?

I am a total book-crier. I JUST HAVE A LOT OF FEELINGS OKAY. The books that made me cry was the 8th and 9th Skulduggery Pleasant books, To Kill a Mockingbird, I'll Give You the Sun, A Monster Calls, Dare You To, Alex Rider: Scorpia Rising, Underwater, Days of Blood and Starlight, Hope in a Ballet Shoe, Geek Girl: Picture Perfect, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince! So...quite a few.

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

Demon Road! I don't feel like Derek Landy's books get enough attention. Everyone read his books. Now.

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

WHAT KIND OF QUESTION IS THIS?? The answer is all of them. But the books that really come to mind are Harry Potter 5 and 6, Underwater, To Kill a Mockingbird, Skulduggery Pleasant 8 and 9. Alex Rider: Scorpia Rising and Hope in a Ballet Shoe.

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2015?

A Monster Calls! Really loved the whole fantasy realism and the topics explored and the ways Patrick Ness wrote it. Another book that I thought was quite unique was The Originals by Cat Patrick, it was totally original (pahaha that pun was awful, I apologise) and I really enjoyed reading a book about clones as it's not something that's ever really written about.

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

Black Ice by Becca Fitzpatrick, THE CHARACTERS ARE LITERALLY SO STUPID I couldn't even with them.


1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2015?

Since I've been blogging for nearly 4 years (WHAT HOW) I've known most book blogs for awhile, but the favorites that I think I discovered this are The Quiet People, The Araylia Book Shelf, It Starts at Midnight and The Social Potato.

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2015?

My review for I'll Give You the Sun and To Kill a Mockingbird! You can read my reviews here and here.

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?

The post I did on the process of reading the last book in your favourite series! 

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?

I MET DEREK LANDY AND IT WAS FREAKING AMAZING. I FANGIRLED TOO HARD AND I DON'T THINK HE UNDERSTOOD ME DUE TO THAT BUT AHHH IT WAS AMAZING.

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2015?

WHEN DEREK LANDY AND JANDY NELSON FAVORITED/RETWEETED MY TWEETS. GUYS. THEY KNOW I EXIST.  ALSO when Usborne contacted me to review for them - I felt so chuffed!

6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?

I've had a lot of stress with school this year so it's been quite difficult to blog/read consistently!

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

My review for Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella which got 617 views, which isn't a lot, but I'm quite surprised that this was my most viewed review!

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

My post where I listed the 5 things someone shouldn't say to a book lover! ALSO, I uninstalled Disqus because it stopped working and then I reinstalled it and it made my comments go awry so it looks like I commented all my comments but I didn't, I promise. 

9. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

UM UMMM UMMMMM, I CAN'T THINK OF ANYTHING.

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

YES, I DID. I set my Goodreads goal for 50 and I'm at 65 books so far!
For the Netgalley and Edelweiss reading challenge I read 11 books towards my goal of 10!
For the 2015 TBR Pile reading challenge I read 33 books towards my goal of 11-20 books YASSS!

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2015 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2016?

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo and The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black! I have it out from the library and it's definitely going to be one of the first books I read in January!

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2016 (non-debut)?

LADY MIDNIGHT BY CASSANDRA CLARE. GUYS. I CAN'T WAIT.

3. 2016 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?


 4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2016?

OOH A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas. I CAN'T WAIT.

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2016?

Read more and be more consistent and organized in my blogging!

6. A 2016 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone:

Underwater by Marisa Reichardt! IT'S FREAKING BRILLIANT. It's a raw, honest portrayal of anxiety and it also explores the grief and confusion and the whole myriad of emotions that accompanies those who have been involved in a school shooting - a must read.
Read More »

Monday, 28 December 2015

Hope in a Ballet Shoe by Michaela & Elaine DePrince was inspiring and uplifting and made me cry on numerous occasions

Hope in a Ballet Shoe: Orphaned by war, saved by ballet: an extraordinary true storyTitle: Hope in a Ballet Shoe
Series: N/A
Author: Michaela and Elaine DePrince
Genre: Non-Fiction, Autobiography
Publication: December 30th 2014, Faber & Faber
Pages: 272 Pages, Paperback
Source: My Library. Thanks, Library. I heart you. 
Rating: 5/5 CUPCAKES!
Orphaned by war, saved by ballet.
Growing up in war-torn Sierra Leone, Michaela DePrince witnesses atrocities that no child ever should. Her father is killed by rebels and her mother dies of famine. Sent to an orphanage, Michaela is mistreated and she sees the brutal murder of her favourite teacher.
But there is hope: the Harmattan wind blows a magazine through the orphanage gates. Michaela picks it up and sees a beautiful image of a young woman dancing. One day, she thinks, I want to be this happy.
And then Michaela and her best friend are adopted by an American couple and Michaela can take the dance lessons she's dreamed of since finding her picture.
Life in the States isn't without difficulties. Unfortunately, tragedy can find its way to Michaela in America, too, and her past can feel like it's haunting her. The world of ballet is a racist one, and Michaela has to fight for a place amongst the ballet elite, hearing the words "America's not ready for a black girl ballerina".
And yet...
Today, Michaela is an international ballet star, dancing for The Dutch National Ballet at the age of 19.
A heart-breaking, inspiring autobiography by a teenager who shows us that, beyond everything, there is always hope for a better future. 

Well, that was beautiful and completely tore to my heart to shreds. I cried around six times. I counted.

I've been wanting to read this book for quite awhile now, especially since starting ballet a couple of weeks ago, so when I saw it at the library I may have quite possibly let out a series of demented shrieks and frightened the librarian away but I WAS JUST SO EXCITED. I promptly started reading it...and I was already crying by page 13. Is that a record for earliest tears shed in a book? I THINK YES. This book was so inspiring but so utterly heart-wrenching too. The cruel, inhumane things that Michaela had to see and experience from such a young age absolutely demolished me and I'm so thankful she allowed herself to share the demons of her past with us, because her story just proves with the right determination and the picture of a better future, the physical form of hope in the shape of a ballerina that you can do whatever you put your mind to It just shows how if you hold onto hope, you can accomplish anything from your wildest dreams.

Hope in a Ballet Shoe is a true story about Michaela DePrince, a little girl who lost her parents before the age of five, a little girl who saw her favorite teacher brutally, sickeningly murdered by a group of war rebels, a girl who was abused at an orphanage, who was starved and plagued with a myriad of diseases. A little girl who is now an international ballet sensation. One day when Michaela DePrince - then Mabinty Barunga - was outside and was caught in a severe wind storm, a page from a magazine blew into a her face. A magazine that held the picture of a ballerina. When Michaela looked at the picture she told herself that she would one day be that happy, she would be like that girl. Her chance then eventually came when an American family decided to adopt her and her best friend from the orphanage. Her adoptive mother, Elaine DePrince, asked Michaela what she wanted. Unable to reply due to not being able to speak much English, Michaela went on her tippy-toes and twirled around the room, then showing her mother the picture of the ballerina. She was enrolled in ballet lessons a little while later. The book shows the extraordinary journey she took from an orphan who appeared to have no future, to one of the most wonderful ballerinas now, the sacrifices she made, the prejudice and racism she endured, the hours of dancing she partook in. Michaela is truly amazing.

I absolutely loved this book. From the minute I started reading I couldn't put it down. This book gave me chills because of the simplistic, but breath-taking and honest way in which it's written. I felt every single emotion that Michaela felt when I was reading this book. I felt the terror, the disgust, the debilitating sadness and the seemingly hopeless situation that threatened to consume her, when she was adopted I felt a surge of joy, when she began dance lessons I started crying because she was finally being allowed the opportunity to do something that had sustained her dwindling hope and do something that made her so completely happy.

I really admired Michaela's determination. It honestly sickened me at the racial prejudice and bigotry that Michaela and her family were faced with and I so immensely admire Michaela's constant courage and perseverance, her love for ballet and her wish to allow black ballerinas to be a social norm instead of a rare occurrence in the ballet world. Michaela's story has really inspired me: to always have hope, always keep trying and never give up, despite the circumstances that taunt you and tempt you into believing that you can't accomplish that dream that you so badly desire.

I highly, highly recommend Hope in a Ballet Shoe. There are moments that will completely break your heart, a knife impaled in your chest as you have to acknowledge the trauma and the nightmarish events that people have had to experienced through their life. There are moments that will cause your heart to contract with anxiety as you rush through the book with baited breath, needing to know how things turn out for this wonderful, inspirational dancer, moments where your heart explodes into a frenzy of joy and moments where you feel yourself being uplifted, feeling as if you can accomplish anything, feeling as if - now that you've read Michaela's story - anything is possible, anything at all. I can't remember the last time a book made me feel so many varying amounts of emotions that came in such strong surges. This is a book that everybody should have the pleasure of reading. This is a book that makes you feel like you can conquer anything.

I give it: 5/5 CUPCAKES!

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Sunday, 27 December 2015

2016 Goals, Resolutions and Reading Challenges


I say this every single year and I probably will continue saying this for every New Years post I write, but HOW IS IT THE NEW YEAR (almost) ALREADY?!  It literally feels like the start of 2015 was just yesterday. But nopenopenopeitynope, it was nearly a year ago. Good heavens.

This year has been good despite a few stressful moments and mainly filled with joy, laughter, and quite a few changes and I'm excited to see what the new year brings. This year I've moved countries (!!!). I've met my favorite author, I've taken exams (I got an A in physics, something I honestly thought I was going to fail), I got to see my brother after not seeing him for 3 years, saw friends I haven't seen in 5 years, started ballet and many other wonderful things!

I absolutely love the start of a new year, it's so refreshing and motivating and I love making lists of goals I want to accomplish. I feel like I haven't been accomplishing as much as I would've liked the past couple of years, mainly due to my anxiety, but this year, I really want to try to accomplish the goals I set for myself! So without further adieu,

MY 2016 GOALS AND RESOLUTIONS: 

Personal Goals:
1. BE MORE POSITIVE. I am quite a negative person and I often tend to get stuck in a worry cycle and view things in a negative light, which I don't want to do anymore. I really want to try to view things in a more positive light.

2. ENJOY THE "NOW". I often tend to focus on the past or the future and I SERIOUSLY NEED TO STOP WITH THAT GOSH.

3. EXERCISE/STRETCH MORE. I've actually been doing the Blogilates beginner calendar/monthly calendar on and off but I would like to try to workout 6/7 days a week.

4. TRY TO BE A BETTER CHRISTIAN. We've been attending church again lately and it just reminded me how much closer I want to be to God.

5. GET As IN MY EXAMS. I did quite well in my last exams and I'm determined to get As in my following exams too! It's just awful how little reading I can get in with all the studying. *cries 5ever*

6. START ANOTHER DANCE CLASS. I'm currently doing contemporary ballet but I'd love to start classical ballet and contemporary. THIS SHALL HAPPEN.
.
7. BLOG AND READ MORE. YASSS.

8. DO A PIROUETTE. I WILL ACCOMPLISH THIS...EVENTUALLY. I tried doing several of these in my room and I fell several times and my mom thought the ceiling was going to fall through but nope, just me pretending I'm a ballerina.

Bookish Goals:
1. READ MORE. And preferably faster. SO MANY BOOKS SO LITTLE TIME.

2. BLOGGING SCHEDULE. My blogging has been quite sporadic of late and I'd like to become more organised with that!

3. COMPLETE AND UPDATE CHALLENGE LISTS. I am awful at this.I always get really ambitious and sign up to all the challenges and then like, half-way into the year I forget that I signed up for challenges and I'm like WAIT WHAT IS HAPPENING and then I'm like a floundering penguin, so this year I will only sign up to one or two and stick to them. 

4. WRITE MORE ORIGINAL POSTS. Lately I've been doing a lot of memes and I really want to change that as I want my blog to have original posts. I SHALL WORK ON THIS.

These are quite ambitious, but I really want to achieve them! What are your 2016 resolutions?
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Thursday, 24 December 2015

Merry Christmas!


MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYBODY! (Also, do you like the little drawing up above that I did for Christmas? I'm quite proud of it!)

Even though it's Christmas Eve, I'll wish you all now as I won't be on my laptop much tomorrow.

I hope you all have an absolutely BEAUTIFUL day filled with family, friends, happiness and lots of wonderful food! 

This is going to be a different Christmas as I'm not spending it in South Africa, but I'm sure it will be wonderful nonetheless. We're going to a a midnight church service tonight (Coffee. I need coffee.)  which I'm excited about, but hope I won't fall asleep! And then tomorrow I'm spending the day with my parents, but will probably see family friends over the weekend which is exciting. 

Wishing you all the best, have an extraordinary Christmas! <3
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Saturday, 19 December 2015

Stacking the Shelves #84 - I raided the library and it was awesome.


HELLO EVERYBODY!

I hope you all are well! I feel like I haven't posted in a million years but I'm definitely going to be posting more! 

I have a fantastic haul because my library is on pointe (a ballet pun for you which I will explain in a minute) and my local charity stores are the best, so YAY! 

ALSO (because I haven't posted in like, 2 weeks) I'll just give you brief recap! 

My mom attended a course for her M.E./CFS which consists of retraining your brain through various exercises to help strengthen the positive neural pathways. Because although our illnesses can be physical, we often get so consumed by the negative sensations we are feeling that if we do something where we have felt that sensation in the past, the brain automatically convinces yourself that you're feeling that way again, even if you might not necessarily be experiencing that right now. So she's been doing her exercises and she's been getting better. She was able to walk 1km, drive a little bit and clean the house whereas before she sometimes couldn't even walk from the bedroom to the bathroom! It's absolutely amazing seeing this change in her and although she still does get days where she doesn't feel so good, she's working on it and this makes me so happy! YAY!

Another exciting thing (two, actually, YASSS) I went to Wales and IT WAS SO COOL! I absolutely loved seeing the sea again as I lived right by the beach in South Africa, so it made me feel a little bit closer to home when I could see the waves and smell the salty tang of the ocean. 

The third thing (hence the ballet pun), I've begun contemporary ballet and I love it so much! I've always wanted to do ballet (I did it when I was 3-5 but then stopped because I'm clearly terrible at life decisions) and I'm so happy to have started it finally! I want to start proper classical ballet lessons eventually but right now I'll stick with this! I LOVE IT SO MUCH.

NOW TO THE BOOKS. I got The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan for £1.75, in brand new condition and it's a hardcover. I was actually really wanting to buy it from WHSmith but it was £15 which is quite expensive, so then I decided to browse a few charity stores in the area and THERE IT WAS. I had actually searched the shelves several times and I was turning away and then I SAW IT RIGHT THERE. It was pretty much meant to be.

I also got a few review books a couple of weeks ago, which I' super excited for as well!

Bought Books:

Library Books:

I went slightly wild at the library. Oops? ALSO, do you like my cool Nutcracker Christmas tree decoration?!

Review Books (Thank you Usborne Books!)
The Earth is SingingAm I Normal Yet? (The Normal Series, #1)The Last Summer of UsBad MagicThe Boy Who Sailed the Ocean in an Armchair

I would include a picture but I forgot to take one *facepalm* - LOOK AT THOSE PRETTY COVERS THOUGH. (Picture takes you to Goodreads page!)

All Together!:

LOOK AT THE PRETTIES! Have you read any of these, would you like to read any of these? Have you ever taken dance classes and would you ever like to? Let me know!Displaying IMG-20151219-WA0004.jpg
Displaying IMG-20151219-WA0004.jpg
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Wednesday, 2 December 2015

In which I try to review coherently (and fail) & flood the world with my tears because of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (SPOILERS AHEAD)


Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Harry Potter, #6)Title: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Series: Harry Potter #6
Author: J.K. Rowling
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publication: July 16th 2005, Bloomsbury Publishing
Pages: 607 Pages, Hardback
Source: Thank you to Jonathan Ball Publishers for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review!
Rating: 5/5 Cupcakes. But I'd give it an infinity amount if I could.
As the Dark Lord’s sinister forces amass, a spirit of gloom and fear is sweeping the land. Harry Potter waits nervously in his bedroom at the Dursleys' for Professor Dumbledore to arrive. One of the last times he saw the Headmaster was in a fierce duel with Voldemort at the Ministry of Magic. Why is the Professor coming to visit him now? What is it that cannot wait until Harry returns to Hogwarts? In his sixth year, Harry will discover the secret behind the Half-Blood Prince, as Professor Dumbledore prepares him to face his destiny … 

*There will be spoilers for this book and for the predecessors* 

I AM LITERALLY A GOOEY MESS OF EMOTIONS RIGHT NOW AND I'M FLOATING ON A SEA CONSTRUCTED SOLELY OF MY TEARS. This book, this freaking book absolutely demolished me. I mean I knew what was going to happen because spoilers, spoilers everywhere but you know when you don't actually believe something is going to happen and you're just like pfft, no, they're just trying to trick me but then NO IT ACTUALLY HAPPENS AND YOU'RE LIKE WAIT NO WHAT. It still doesn't feel like Dumbledore is gone, I mean how can he be?! Throughout the whole series, I, when something went awry, alongside pretty much every other character in the book, would think "It's okay. Dumbledore will know what to do."And now I just can't imagine a world without Dumbledore. I genuinely feel terrified for the characters and I genuinely feel their confusion and their grief and their utter terror because nobody was as wise as Dumbledore, nor as fearless when it comes to Voldemort (except for Harry but he needs guidance and Dumbledore was always there and now he isn't and JUST EXCUSE MY WHILE I DIVULGE INTO A PUDDLE OF TEARS.) And also, I feel so sorry for Harry, he loses his parents, and then Sirius (another death I probably won't ever be able to recover from) and now Dumbledore. Dumbledore really made Harry sure of himself, it made him feel invincible, Dumbledore understood Harry and was always there for him and there relationship was just so utterly beautiful it breaks my heart that Harry doesn't have him in his life anymore. Harry and Dumbledore were so brave, and so brilliant, and so caring and smart and it was absolutely wonderful to see them building each other up and now that Dumbledore is gone it pains me to think of how lost and alone Harry will feel.
“It's going to be all right, sir," Harry said over and over again, more worried by Dumbledore's silence than he had been by his weakened voice. "We're nearly there ... I can Apparate us both back ... don't worry ...""I am not worried, Harry," said Dumbledore, his voice a little stronger despite the freezing water. "I am with you.” 
“He accused me of being Dumbledore's man through and through.""How very rude of him.""I told him I was."Dumbledore opened his mouth to speak and then closed it again. Fawkes the phoenix let out a low, soft, musical cry. To Harry's intense embarrassment, he suddenly realized that Dumbledore's bright blue eyes looked rather watery, and stared hastily at his own knee. When Dumbledore spoke, however, his voice was quite steady. "I am very touched, Harry.”  

ARE YOU CRYING? I'M CRYING.


I just can't get over how much has changed. I've always viewed Hogwarts as a place of sanctuary, it feels like a second home to me and it just utterly breaks my heart to think of it closing and to think of it no longer having Dumbledore. I just can't comprehend how the school and the people and everything has been altered and I physically feel the change as if I was a student at Hogwarts, or if I was Harry myself and that's truly magical, isn't it? Magical but heartbreaking GOSH.

I also - I know I shouldn't say this because it's not nice - but I hate Snape SO MUCH. I don't exactly know the reason for why his actions are excused just yet (it's the one thing that I haven't been spoiled on, so please don't spoil me THANK YOU!). It just kills me to think that a man that Dumbledore trusted so much turned on him. It just breaks my heart. Every. Single. Time. AND UGH I JUST CAN'T WITH SNAPE RIGHT NOW, I literally feel anger burning through me every single time I think of him. The fact that he didn't help Dumbledore just...




Words literally cannot express how very strongly I hate Snape at this point. But the above gifs are an accurate representation of my anger. 

Although my hate for Snape intensified, despite not liking Draco throughout the whole series, I kind of possible warmed up to him in this book. The fact that he couldn't kill Dumbledore and the fact that he was only trying to protect himself and his parents kind of made me like him slightly more. Kind of.

Moving onto the positives (THE LITTLE THAT I COULD FIND *cries*) I loved the romance that started developing in this book. I've literally been waiting for this since the first book and I finally got it! The first time I read the first four Harry Potter books I totally shipped Harry and Hermione but now I definitely ship Ron and Hermione. The whole time I was just like WOULD YOU GUYS JUST KISS ALREADY SERIOUSLY. The end part of at Dumbledore's funeral (crying, yet again) when Ron held Hermione while she cried made my heart explode into smithereens. I love them so much. It's been so wonderful watching their friendship grow and blossom into something else and I'm excited to read the seventh book to see how things pan out for them. 

I never shipped Harry or Ginny as well but over the course of the last two books I've definitely been wanting them to get together and I'm glad that I can finally see that they are perfect for each other. They're both so brave and determined and I can just see now that they were made for each other. I can't imagine Harry and Hermione together anymore to be honest, and I'm so happy with the direction in which the romances are going. SO YAY. One thing I do have to say though, is that I never really saw Harry's affection towards Ginny previously and it felt quite sudden that it occurred in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and in this book. But EH, they're adorable and they make me happy. I was also really impressed with the way Ginny handled Harry's breaking up with her in order to protect her, she didn't fall apart and try getting herself in dangerous situations so Harry could save her like some people I can think of *cough*BellaSwan*cough*.Ginny has really warmed up to me and I absolutely adore her and Harry together and I love Ron and Hermione too. THEY JUST ALL MAKE ME SO HAPPY.

Another thing I love love love about the Harry Potter series is the friendship between Harry, Ron and Hermione. I can just imagine if I had friends like that how unstoppable you would feel and how secure you would feel knowing that you have them there by your side. I just love how they're always there to support each other and they will literally die for each other, even if a situation seems so impossible and so heart-stoppingly dangerous, they know that they will have strength because they are by each others' side. Their friendship is something that I hope everybody will be gifted with in their life. 
'“We'll be there, Harry," said Ron"What?""At your Aunt and Uncle's house," said Ron, "And then we'll go with you wherever you're going.""No-" said Harry quickly; he hadn't counted on this, he had meant them to understand that he was undertaking the most dangerous journey alone. "You said it once before," said Hermione quickly, "that there was time to turn back if we wanted to. We've had time, haven't we? We're with you whatever happens.”' 


I also just love the characters themselves so much! With each book my love for them grows more and more and more. In this book we can really see the anger and sadness that Harry holds within him and by the end of the Half-Blood Prince we can tell that he has a burning desire for revenge. I also love how in this book Harry really takes nonsense from no one and he's just so sassy. So many times I was like HAHAHA you genius because the snark is real. 
“An Unbreakable Vow?" said Ron, looking stunned. "Nah, he can’t have.... Are you sure?"
"Yes I’m sure," said Harry. "Why, what does it mean?"

"Well, you can’t break an Unbreakable Vow..."

"I’d worked that much out for myself, funnily enough.” 
“Do you remember me telling you we are practicing non-verbal spells, Potter?"
"Yes," said Harry stiffly.

"Yes, sir."

"There's no need to call me "sir" Professor." 
I love him.

Then there's Ron and Hermione who are just wonderful. I wish they would admit their feelings to each other instead of making it so blatantly obvious that they're in love but they refuse to do anything about it. I was so happy at the end when they finally made some progress towards notifying the other of their affection. I love how funny Ron is and I love how real he is. I love how J.K. Rowling wrote that he came from a poor background and how he has insecurities because it's a thing many people experience and I love relatable he can be for so many people. And Hermione! GAH I JUST LOVE HERMIONE SO MUCH. She's such a hard worker, such a good friend, so kind and just as brave as Harry and Ron. Whenever I feel demotivated with school work, I just have to read some of Harry Potter and I'm like TIME TO CHANNEL MY INNER HERMIONE YAS. 

I also must talk about Luna! I absolutely adore her! She's got such an enchanting quality about her and I really admire the fact that despite the teasing and the jibes, she remains true to herself. I absolutely love that because I think now, especially with social media, we all feel so pressurised to be a certain way and it's characters like Luna that can help remind people that you don't have to do what everyone else is doing. If you love reading, then show it. If you're a maths "nerd", then show that too. If you want to wear a roaring lion hat on your head to Quidditch games, then do that too. I just absolutely love Luna.
“I enjoyed the meetings, too. It was like having friends.” 
NAWW LUNA.

OOH, I also loved the Dumbledore Army's scenes. You could really feel the connection and the friendship everyone who was in the group began to feel and it just made me go asjsdlgd, basically. 

Also, I'm really scared for the final book. I know lots of people die and I can imagine all sorts of horrible things are going to occur and I'm JUST NOT READY...but because I'm too curious fearless I shall be reading a copy as soon as I get my hands on it! I really admire the way J.K. Rowling can instill such a fear in us for a fictional villain and make us grieve and feel utterly terrified for fictional characters...fictional characters and fictional worlds that feel like anything but fiction. These characters feel so incredibly real and so does Hogwarts as well as the whole story that she's so intricately crafted, which makes it even more painful for the readers when things go wrong. 

Once again, Rowling has created a masterpiece filled with magic, bravery, friendship, love and the courage needed to overcome our inner demons as well as the monsters that we face, toe to toe. These books inspire me to work harder, be a wonderful friend, be a good person and find the magic that does exist even in the seemingly mundane, such as love, for instance. These books mean so much to me and I'm so incredibly sad that these sensational adventures I've experienced are coming to an end. These books are just so marvelously magical and the 6th installation in the series that has captured the hearts of millions, was no different. Harry Potter is simply incredible and completely timeless.

I give it: 5/5 Cupcakes!



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Thursday, 12 November 2015

NaNoWriMo Update: Week 1! + Snippets!


Guys, I'm writing a book! I'm also pretty sure this is the furthest I've ever gotten in any WIP ever. I generally write the first few pages and then...nothing. Because I never used to plan, I just sat down and I thought I'd be able to write a book but this time, I planned quite a bit of my novel beforehand. I knew what my characters' goals were, I knew how their story was going to start and I knew how their story was going to end. So I began writing! 

At first it was easy, I always find a novel easy to start and then it gets more difficult and I start questioning my sanity for trying to write a novel. However, this time I am determined to stick with it.

The first week of NaNoWriMo went very well, I managed to rake up 18,138 words which I'm quite proud of! And I found the novel to be going smoothly. However, it's week 2 and I'll admit it: I'm slightly stuck. My story is halfway through but I'm not happy with how the friendship/romance thing is going nor the recovery process for both characters (each recovering from the loss of a loved one) and UGH IT'S JUST SO COMPLICATED. I'm hoping that everything will start working out shortly and I'm looking at extending the word count. I think I'll aim for around 60 000 - 70 000 because I don't think 50 000 words will be enough for all the words I have to say.

Here are some snippets from my book, if you want to read them!

Caleb is the love interest and Haylie is my protagonist! 



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How is your NaNoWriMo going? Are you happy with how your novel is going? Do you think you'll have it finished by the time you've reached 50K? LET ME KNOW! 
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Saturday, 7 November 2015

Stacking the Shelves #83 - I WENT TO THE LIBRARY AGAIN BECAUSE THE LIBRARY IS A BEAUTIFUL THING.


HELLLOOOOO!

I hope you guys are all well!

I have had a horrible week and I'm quite looking forward to it being over. Monday night my dad collapsed and went to the hospital but the doctor hasn't phoned us and his vitals/heart tests were all good, so I'm hoping that means all is fine. We all think its been an accumulation of stress though, for various reasons. My mom is also ill with M.E. (myalgic encephalomyelitis/CFS) which she has had for 10 years and due to this she can't drive or use up too much energy or else she will be bed-ridden for a couple of days, weeks or months depending on the severity. SO YEP, this week has not been my week, but hopefully next week will be better!

I did manage to go to the library though because as you know, books make everything better and I got some really good books out! I've also been participating in NaNoWriMo and I'm 15K in and I'm quite happy with how the story is going. I shared snippets here, if you'd like to see them! 

I also got contacted by Usborne Children's Books to review some books for them and I received my FIRST OFFICIAL PAPERBACK ARC which I may have squealed about for days.

Library Books:

I've read The Weight of Water so far and I loved it! It's about a girl who has immigrated from Poland to the UK so I could relate with the whole moving thing and it was nice to read about a character that had experience a similar thing to me so YAY FOR RELATABLE READS.

Review Books:

So. Excited.

All Together Now!:

How has your week been? Are you participating in NaNo, if so, how is it going? Have you read any of these? Which one should I read first?
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Thursday, 5 November 2015

Snazzy Snippets - NaNo Edition! MY FIRST TIME PARTICIPATING AND I'M EXCITED

snazzy snippets graphic

HI EVERYONE! I'm so sorry that I haven't been blogging, but my life has been busy with NaNo, schoolwork, books, moving and a family health scare but things have mainly calmed down SO HERE I AM. *throws confetti*

I'm always hesitant to share my writing because there's a chance that I could completely suck at writing and people would laugh and throw tomatoes (not really, you guys are too nice for that. I hope. ;)) but I'd like to get some feedback on my passages so far and see what you guys think. Just in case I ever do become a famous author *cough* I think it's about time I learn to let other people read my writing and not be so utterly terrified. So, without further adieu, let's get started!

Oh! And in case you aren't aware of what Snazzy Snippets is, I'll quote Emily from Loony Literate who is one of the bloggers who hosts it: "It’s an opportunity for writers! Every two months, we post a prompt or question for you to share a snippet of less than 500 words. It’s designed to let you have fun, analyse your work on a smaller level, or just write something to join in. If you’re not a writer, or aren’t working on anything, don’t go back up the rabbit hole just yet. Read everyone’s wonderful snippets on the linky!"

SQUEE! I'M EXCITED! LET THE SNIPPETS COMMENCE!

1. A Snippet Without Dialogue

Just so you know what's happened, Haylie (our protagonist) has spiraled into grief after her boyfriend who was also her best friend was killed in a hit and run. Mrs Adams is the therapist that she's meeting for the first time. Meagan is her twelve year old sister. :)

The first thing I see when I walk in is my camera lying forlornly on its side, untouched since the night of the accident and then when I look up I see my life in pictures. I see Connor. I see happiness. I see smiles that are genuine and love that was true, I see the girl who I once was and the girl who I swore I was meant to be. Unmarked by the tragedies and terrors that I had allowed myself to be consumed with by now. A wave of fresh pain knocks me off my feet and I stumble into the chair, emotion racking my body. I pull off a photo of Connor I took two days before he died. He's reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix to his dog named Harry who had a Gryffindor collar encircling his neck. I'm in love with this picture. I'm in love with him. The way the sunlight runs in rivulets through his glinting golden hair and his green eyes are trapping the light of the blades of grass and his smile, that beautiful smile and that rips at my heart and drives me in a frenzy and frustration due to my inability to reach into that photograph and have him here. Due to my inability to ever have him lie next to me again. I let out a sob and peg the picture back up and move onto the next one I took on the day he died, the 1st of October. I run my finger over his hair and the dimple in his cheek, resisting the anger that wells up in me that the universe has so cruelly placed a second dimensional version of Connor into my possession when I had the third dimension in my arms. I'm greedy and selfish to wish him for myself, but how can you blame me, when his soul emanated the colours of the northern lights – magical, ethereal, burning bright.

I place the pictures back where they belong and turn away from my room filled with memories, but the sadness and nostalgia of a love I can never have lingers within my core. I grab my camera dejectedly from the table and stumble up the stairs, lying on my bed. Sadness personified. I stare at it. I flick a few settings. I bring it to my eye to adjust the brightness. I don't have the energy. I fall promptly asleep. Because that's what any strong, determined, fully functioning and completely normal adult who is ready to take on the world does, don't you know?

2. A Snippet Featuring a Friend/Family Member of your Protagonist:
Half an hour later, I'm standing in front of the mirror and Meagan is tugging at my hair with a brush, hairspray and a look of terrifying determination on her face.
When last did you brush your hair?”
I-”
No offence, but it looks like the dead raccoon I passed on my way to school yesterday.”
Offence taken.”
Sorry.”
You should work on your sincerity, just needs a slight tweaking.”
HOLD STILL.”

Two hours later, we're standing in front of my extensive closet and Meagan is rifling through my clothes, flinging dresses and shoes “THOSE ARE SHARP, MEAGAN. GOSH.” and other unidentifiable objects in my general direction.
How about this?” she asks, her face is red and her breathing heavy.
I look at the black mini dress and the sky high shoes that a now distant friend gifted me for my seventeenth birthday.
Slightly too promiscuous for me. Just a bit.” I say bringing my forefinger and thumb closer together.
You're impossible!”
Thank you.”
She rolls her eyes and turns back to my closet.
After twenty more minutes of being flung clothes at, I venture in to the closet myself.
Meagan, hurry up.
I FOUND IT.”
Found what?”
The perfect outfit!” Meagan squeals.
I'm ecstatic, but just a reminder, you're cleaning up this mess later.”
Meagan surveys the damage, “Ah, anyway, focusing on the positive, LOOK HOW PRETTY IT IS!” she holds up a golden dress with a sweetheart neck line and one that actually will protect my modesty.
I like it, yes that will do.”
Now time to fix your face because...hmm.” She pushes me towards the bathroom and I prepare for the torture that awaits.

Three hours later (admittedly my hair did look like a dead raccoon and my face did resemble hmm) and I look presentable. The dress fits perfectly, my hair falls in spirals down my back and Meagan has done my make-up flawlessly.
Wow! Thank you! How did you learn to do this?” I gesture at my face.
Zoella.”
Ah, I tried but I just ended up looking like I'd been punched in the face.”
It takes certain skill.”
It does.”
Which you don't have.”
I'm aware.”
Good, you wouldn't want to embarrass yourself. Anyway, follow me!”
She takes my hand and leads me down the stairs and all I think is this better be some pretty spectacular not-actually-cake.

3. A Snippet that Took Forever to Write
 "I spent every moment with him. There never seemed to be a me without him, or a him without me. We were broken halves when we met, outcasts shunned by society and we found each other and melded perfectly together. Broken cracks of pottery, insignificant and discarded when apart, but once brought together, we were something of beauty. Something of importance. Like sipping on sunlight and bathing in the stars, is how I felt, when I was next to him and he was next to me. Exactly where each of us were supposed to be.” I pause, wondering if I can go on. I have a conversation with myself and decide that I can. Taking a deep breath, I plunge further into remembering. Further into feeling. Further into hurting.
I've known him since I was seven and we were best friends until we were thirteen and then...we became something more.” Mrs Adams nods at me to go on, but I find my throat constricting and I close my eyes but the memories claw at them, assimilating me with raw pain that feels like an open wound being filled with grit and salt and the tears painting a path down my cheeks. “I'm not sure I can go on.” I force the words out. Mrs Adams takes me hand and places a biscuit in it. Even her biscuits are pink.
Thanks,” I say and I place the biscuit in my mouth but I feel as if my face is slipping off my body and smashing onto the floor, broken pieces of china littering the ground. And all I see is my face, floating on a sea of hopelessness and I want to cry, I want to cry for what I've lost and what I've become but I continue to chew on my biscuit, sickeningly sweet, and feel the sides of my mouth seep deeper into the floor. We sit in silence while I finish my biscuit and she places another one in front of me and I take it, despite not wanting to feel more sweetened. But needing something to do with my hands, with my mouth, with myself, anything to prevent myself from talking about Connor and rehashing the pain,
the pain,
the pain,
the fear,
the pain,
of what might have been and what once was,
of what I lost and what I haven't,
of who I was and who I'm not.
I place the half-eaten biscuit on the desk, the metallic tang of nausea from the emotions compressing my stomach swelling up inside my throat.
Mrs Adams watches but she doesn't say anything. She doesn't take notes. She just reaches forward and holds my hand and that's all I need in that heart-wrenching moment of remembering and wishing on empty hearts and dying dreams. 

Those are my three snippets! I'm currently just over 10K and I'm really happy with how the story is going so far. Obviously, I'd love your feedback. So tell me! Did you enjoy reading this? How did you make it feel? And how could I improve?
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