Monday, 8 August 2016

July Wrap-up

This month was a quiet month in comparison to June, but it was still pretty great. As you can see in this post - I've loved having time at home and working/chilling. I was able to read a fair amount as well but couldn't remember off the top of my head what specific books I read. I started The Boy Most Likely To by Huntley Fitzpatrick and gave up about a third of the way through - which rarely happens for me. I think the fact that I read it just after A Court of Mist and Fury didn't really help. 
As you are reading this I am currently either on the plane or in Bulgaria for my summer holiday! Keep an eye on my instagram for some snaps, and my snapchat (christinastorey) but apart from that I won't be posting on the blog as I'm only away for the week. 

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Mas - 4.5

This book. It was just amazing. I had heard so many people rave about who great it was, that I didn't think it would live up to its reputation - but it definitely did! 
Following straight on from A Court of Thorns and Roses, Feyre is returned to the Spring court but is held by Rhys's promise. Full of so many good twists and development of characters that I was hooked. The main thing in this book was the character development. Being able to see the development of Feyre and the honest side of both Tamlin and Rhys really was different to the first book but worked so well. I loved the Night Court - Sarah J Mas's description and imagery was beautiful, I really imagined in my head lying under the stars like Feyre does. 
As I said with ACOTAR, I don't read much Fantasy but I was really plesantly surprised and picked up Sarah's Throne of Glass series at YALC because I was so impressed with ACOMAF.

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks by E. Lockhart - 4.2 

One of my favourite things is when my friends text me about what books they're reading, or think I should read - and this is why I picked up this book. My friend Lucy recommended it saying E Lockhart wrote women really well and has a good message - so I was intrigued. And, I loved it. About an ordinary girl who goes to boarding school and how she works her way up the social ladder through her boyfriend and how she realises the exclusiveness of secret societies and unfairness in the world we live in. 
E Lockhart has such a different and interesting writing style that immediately tugs you in. She was great at building up the exclusive effect of the society and fraternity culture. Overall I just loved the positive equality message Lockhart presents, it got you thinking about life and the power you could have.

The Problem with Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout, 4

This YA contemporary novel was an interesting but fun read. About Mallory, a girl who suffered verbal abuse and used silence as a weapon throughout her childhood at a foster home, going to high school for the first time after years of treatment and love from her new foster parents. However she meets someone at high school she never thought she'd see again - Ryder, her only companion through the dark years.
I love when contemporary books handle hard subjects, as well as a lovely love story - the theme of abuse and post traumatic stress was present throughout this book and gave a lot of the characters depth. The difference between Mallory and Ryder was perfect and the emotional journey they go on throughout the book was necessary. I really enjoyed reading this book and is one of my favourite YA contemporary's that I've read in a long time. 

You Know Me Well by David Leviathan and Nina Lacour, 4

I read this book leading up to YALC, hoping to see the co-authors panel (which I did - and loved). I didn't really know what to expect, but I really enjoyed it. It takes place during San Diego pride week where Mark is in love with his best friend and Kate is about to meet the love of her life. Mark and Kate have sat next to each other in Maths throughout the year but one night they instantly becomes friends.
This was such a sweet book about friendship, growing up and coming out. It really made me want to go to a Pride parade and dance around like the world doesn't matter. Told from dual perspectives and two different authors it had such a good rhythm between the characters and hearing both David and Nina chatting about the book at YALC made it even more special.

Nothing Tastes as Good by Claire Hennessey, 3.6

This was an interesting read - I mostly read this because there was a chance I would be interviewing Claire Hennessey on the second day of YALC, although that didn't happen I'm still very glad I read this book. Spoken from the perspective of Annabel, who is dead - but has one more task before she dies fully - to try and fix Julia, a fat old classmate. 
Annabel didn't believe she was sick, and still doesn't - but she died from anorexia so it was a really interesting perspective to read the novel. We travelled through Julia's school year and followed her ups and downs as Annabel tried to help her, but failed in some aspects. 
This book had some interesting characters and a really sensitive message to get across, I didn't particularly love reading it, but I'm glad I did.

This month I read a lot of good books, and I'm so excited for the books I'll be reading at the beginning of August as I'm tackling most of the books I picked up at YALC - plus I'm on holiday - so I'll be reading at lightening speed! Although I know when I return I need to start on uni reading which will be interesting to return to, but I'm excited to start my new modules so it's all good!

Hope you have a good week, Christina x

(Once again, I know this photo hasn't got much to do with this post, but hey ho!)


Thursday, 4 August 2016

I'm (attempting) to write a novel: part two

I feel a bit like a fraud to be honest. For the last few weeks I've been meaning to write an update on my novel as, since before the weekend - it was going really well. I had hit some obstacles but had moved over them quickly and had written around 16,000 words. Which in terms of a whole novel, isn't that much, but it seemed like I was getting there. I was writing some really exciting scenes, getting into the characters more and just getting my feel of my book, it's world and it's characters.

Then Sunday came at YALC. I still haven't finished my YALC wrap-up video (another thing on the long list I have to do) and I did have an amazing weekend. I was surrounded by so many inspiring people all different ages. But half of me, especially on Sunday felt a bit, well, pathetic really. 

I went to the 'Publishing 101' talk on Sunday which was really interesting. It gave me an insight of how you get your novel published, and all the little steps you have to take - and it's a lot. That didn't really bother me, I knew I had a long way to go before my novel would be finished and it was just useful to get a vague idea of the process I would have to go through eventually. 

Then I planned to go to the 'Agent 1-2-1's were you got five minutes to sit down with a literary agent and ask whatever you want. I had always planned to go to this, but an hour or so before I realised I didn't really have any questions - I knew what the basis of my novel was but it is still so much in the early stages that I had nothing. My heart beat rose and I started to feel really quite anxious (not a feeling I really ever get.) So I texted my sister in a panic saying there was no point of me going etc etc and she just told me to stop being silly and just go and talk about my book.

So I did. That was the first time I ever spoke about each of the characters and the world out loud to another person. And it scared me, and almost put me off. Now the literary agent was absolutely lovely, don't get me wrong. She spoke probably about five sentences in between me rambling and those five sentences completely threw me. It got me questioning the whole world I've created. 

Fast forward to today, Thursday, after a few days of putting of writing and the glaring target of 25,000 words by Sunday I decided to sit down and write. With the aim to try and re-evaluate my world and to try and adapt something it. I opened up my document and only 10,000 words were there. I've looked everywhere but I've lost the last 6,000 words I've written and that has killed me. 
I didn't write the last 6,000 words chronologically. As I wrote snippets edited in between the words I've already written. 

I just feel like I should give up. 

And I know I shouldn't. I know this is supposed to be hard. I know it is not easy. 
But I just feel a bit lost in my story now. I have less faith in myself as a writer and world builder. And I just feel a bit of a fraud, when I mention to people 'Oh, I'm writing a novel' - but am I when I've only got 16,000  10,000 words? Not really.

I'm not fishing for compliments or motivational comments here at all. I want to showcase the ups and downs of this process. Last week I was very positive about it, this week - all I want to do is close the laptop.

Hopefully next time I'll see you with a more positive post, sorry about that! Christina x
(Also I'm aware this photo has nothing to do with this post but I just found it from two years ago and loved it.)

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

The Time is Now

Once again I disappeared off the face of the earth from this blog. But, I seriously do not know how?! I came to my computer today thinking 'Oh, I better get writing my July wrap-up' - HOW WAS MY JUNE WRAP-UP MY LAST POST?

Seriously. Yeah I was busy in July - I was working plus I wrote a fair amount for my novel (that's a whole other story) but I'm quite baffled if I'm honest with how my blogging game just flopped but I'm back (for the moment..)

So I have just come back from YALC this past weekend, and have started writing this blog post for a break in-between editing my YALC wrap-up video (on which I spoke solidly for 45 minutes, so it's a long task.) A part of me wants to chat about the weekend and all the in's and out's of my amazing weekend, but I am going to save that for a post with the video. Now I just want to chat about life, because I haven't done that in a while on this blog and I suddenly feel the need to.

I am nearly three quarters of the way through my summer holidays, I finished exams on the 16th May and go back to Uni around the 20th September, I came back home from London early June and to be honest, I didn't think I would feel as comfortable as I do now.

This summer has been a dream so far. I've been on holiday, I've worked and I've read. When I initially thought about coming home, I didn't really want to. I wanted to spend time with my family and I looked forward to seeing my home friends, but I didn't want to leave Uni. Uni feels like your own bubble, and I didn't want that to pop. 

Looking back I feel like the first few weeks at home before and after I went to Croatia all I was thinking about was September - my new modules, my new house and my new job. But since mid-July when I started working at a box office assistant for a festival I found myself getting back into a routine. I was starting to feel comfortable, I was spending a lot of time with my mum and seeing friends and it just felt, well, normal. 

In my head, I didn't know where my home was. I love my small little village but compared to the bright lights of London, it seemed sad to return to for three months. But a month in I realised that this will always be my home. And yes, of course I knew that before, but home sometimes isn't a place - it is a person. It is that person, or group of people that you feel comfortable and content with. Whether that be my family or my uni friends, I have somewhere to escape and I have somewhere to come home to.

I'm so excited to go back to university in September, but as my summer is over half way gone, I want it to slow down - I want to spend more time with my family, more time with my friends and want to make my way through a massive 'To Be Read' pile before I start my university reading!

I think it's a common thing to live for the future - always looking forward to Friday, to the next holiday or even next year. Sometimes you just need to have a reality check, and remember this is your life, and you should make the most of each day and live in the present. You can't change the past or the future, but you can live now - just live in the moment and maybe time will end up doing what you want it to do.

Hope your having a good week, keep an eye out for my July wrap-up and YALC talk! Christina x


Friday, 8 July 2016

June Wrap-Up

So June is over, and July has begun. I can't believe I'm already about two months into my summer holiday, in a way I keep on saying I don't know what I've done. But I relaunched my blog and was proud of all my posts throughout June and I've started my novel - as well as had a holiday, moved out of Uni, found a house for next year and have started catching up with friends back home. June was a good month and although I don't think July will be as exciting - I am working for most of it, I plan to really focus time on my novel and just enjoy another month of Summer. 

I read a fair amount in June,  although I hit a week's reading slump in the middle - I tried to start Jane Austen's Persuasion, but I'm still not in the mood to read classics, I'm now waiting for my uni reading lists before I start reading classics again. The last week was my best, being on a festival/ party holiday I hadn't planned to read as much as I did but as seven hour beach day on my last day served me well. So here are the books I read:

(I'm rating them out of 5, and giving the Goodreads rating out of 5.)

The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Hapgood - My rating, 3. Goodread, 3.6.

The Square Root of Summer follows Gottie the summer after her Grandfather has died and her dealings with time. She's marked by losing her Grandfather, her past love Jason and her best friend who moved away when they were twelve, Thomas. 
I loved the premise of this book - a big loss in the family, a past relationship and a promise for a new one however I struggled with the time travel and physics parts. Gottie has a summer project to see if she can figure out who to time travel, and her grandfather's old diaries help - it is about discovering moments of the past, looking to the future and living in the present. The setting of this book, in this cooky family with a hippie brother and a best friend who loves to cook was lovely, it has such lovely summery vibes, that I almost felt the time travel was not necessary and often confused me, therefore I rated it 3/5.

One by Sarah Crossan - My rating, 4. Goodreads, 4.16.

I loved this book, and read it in one day. 
It follows Grace and Tippi, who are conjoined twins, as they go to high school for the first time. Written in verse from Grace's point of view it is such a unique point of view and book. It had me laughing and it had me crying, I can't expand much more on it to be honest. In one way I wished it was written in prose so we could dive deeper into the characters but I understand how unique and how it worked so well to be written in free verse. An easy read but a heartwrencher at the same time, I would seriously recommend reading this book this summer. 

Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard - My rating, 5. Goodreads, 4.

"Anyone, anything, can betray anyone. Even your own heart."

This book. Wow. I loved it. So much. 
I connected with the world a lot in Red Queen (once I got into it - as written in my May wrap-up) and I was so eager to read the sequel after the ending of Red Queen. And it didn't disappoint. Now I'm not going to go into much detail about the world and plot of this book, as that means spoilers for the first book. But it started with a jam packed awesome action scene that started the book off as it meant to go on. The relationships throughout this book were really interesting as they took many twists and turns, the main character Mare slightly annoyed me with some of her decisions but that is her flaw, and flawed characters make books great. I cannot wait for the third book, Kings Cage, to be released in 2017.

When We Collided by Emery Lord - My rating, 4. Goodreads, 3.8.

When We Collided is one of those summery beach reads. It follows Jonah, a boy who's struggling to deal with the death of his father whilst trying to keep his family afloat whilst his mother deals with depression, then the wild Vivi who is enthusiastic and happy and lively but has bipolar disorder - and this book is a summer love story of when the two characters collided.
I laughed and I cried at this book (when I say cry, I mean sobbing in the middle of a very busy Croatian beach trying to hide my tears under my sunglasses...) I loved the character Jonah, he was so kind and thoughtful but also so innocent and vulnerable, his family was also crafted in a heartwarming way. However in a way I struggled with the character Vivi, I loved that Emery showcases bipolar in this book but in a way it felt like it didn't need to be a love story. I'm not too sure if I'm making any sense but Vivi was the light in the dark to Jonah and because of that, it was a really beautiful story. 

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Mas - My rating, 4, Goodreads 4.3.

I started this book after hearing so many rave reviews about the sequel, A Court of Mist and Fury, that I just felt the need to be a part of this series - and I'm so glad I did. A fantasy retelling of Beauty and the Beast follows Feyre, a human huntress who, in payment for her killing of a wolf, is dragged past the wall and into the world of faeries. But not 'happy-go-lucky' faeries, a dark world of faeries - her captor, Tamlin is one of the High Seven Lords, a lethal and immortal faerie whom their kind once ruled the world.
Sarah J Mas's writing and plotting is amazing, it has so many twists and turns and subtle changes of relationships that it gives you so many feels. I loved the change in the relationship between Tamlin and Feyre - and also Lucien, possibly my favourite characters. Although I did find it get a bit slow nearer the end, I really enjoyed this book and raced through it extremely quickly. 

The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Manson - My rating, 4.5, Goodreads, 4.1.

I read this book in a day - that is how good it is. I loved it. 
It follows Andie, a politicians daughter who has her summer all planned out - to go to a medical summer school in preparation for her senior year. However after her father becomes involved in a political scandal she is forced to re-think. It is the perfect summer book, it makes you want to go and hug all your friends and go on a massive scavenger hunt together. It makes you want to go and watch movies with dad. It makes you want to find a boyfriend who is a writer (well, I already wanted that before the book, this just exaggerated it...) It makes you want to expect the unexpected and take joy in it. Clark is possibly one of my favourite love interest's in a contemporary book ever, and is definitely my favourite guy out of all the books in June. If you want a fun-filled book packed with family, friends and romance this summer, pick up The Unexpected Everything and you won't regret it. 

My To Be Read list for July:

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Mas
The Boy Most Likely To by Huntley Fitzpatrick
The Problem with Forever by Jennifer L Armentrout

I haven't got that many other books planned but I'm sure I'll find something. I know I've recently started writing much longer blog posts in bit of a sporadic posting pattern but I'm just getting my head back into the blogging game properly - as well as working on my novel - and just finding my way again, and I seem to have a lot to say in each post! 
Hope you've had a good first week of July, Speak soon, Christina. x

(Also, Thanks to my brother Matthew for taking the photo's for this post!)


Saturday, 25 June 2016

I’m an English literature student, I read ‘Young Adult’ books, and I’m not ashamed.

I’m an English literature student, I read ‘Young Adult’ books, and I’m not ashamed.

Ever since University lectures finished way back in April I have been on a reading sprint. I found a different appreciation for literature. I love my degree and all forms of literature however, since I was about fourteen I have been encouraged by my school teachers and mum to widen my range of reading to literary classics. And I did, and I loved them. Studying Pride and Prejudice in year eleven introduced me to the exciting world of Jane Austen, whom I now love. Throughout this year my degree has enabled me to read a broad range of literary classics – Great Expectations, Frankenstein and Robinson Crusoe. My knowledge of literature was broadened to a huge span that makes me excited to study it for another two years and research even further.

However once my lectures finished I suddenly found myself at the liberty to read whatever I wanted, and that thrilled me, I was instantly drawn back to my old favourite category of Young Adult fiction. I found 'booktube' - people like Sasha and Emma who are obsessed with books and Young Adult fiction that I felt inspired and excited to dive into this world.

Young Adult fiction seems to have a stigma attached in the literary world, people assume that because it is centred around teenagers, they are easier to read and do not deal with deep and meaningful subjects, or do not challenge the reader, or do not make them think. People assume everything ends happily in a YA novel, which, if you’ve read Divergent (spoiler alert) it definitely doesn’t.

At the beginning of June I went to a book panel at Waterstones Piccadilly as part of the #ThisiswhoIam tour, and the author Leila Sales stated that to define a YA book it has to be three things:
1)   The protagonist is a teen
2)   The ending needs to have some kind of hope
3)   To be published by a YA imprint.

Many people think YA books are exactly like The Hunger Games, and are all dystopian novels. However YA just means the protagonist is a teenager! There are still all the sub-genre’s such as contemporary, dystopian, fantasy, historical fiction – and if they are from an immediate point of view of a teenager, they are YA!

Teenagers are honest narrators. They have a sense of the world like no other – like that they are the only people that matter, that the world is at their fingertips, like they could change the world. They don’t have taxes, or a family to support that turns their world into worry. They are finding out how they stand out. They are falling in love for the first time, an honest raw type of emotion. They are relatable, immediate and exciting.
However they are not afraid to talk openly about hard subjects. YA books increase peoples knowledge around certain subjects - they have definitely increased my knowledge about abuse, for example from Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard, anxiety and panic attacks from Girl Online by Zoe Sugg and suicide from The Programme by Suzanne Young.
My two favourite genre’s of YA are contemporary and dystopian. I was first introduced to Dystopian through The Hunger Games and the hype it got throughout all media. I then went on to read and love the Crossed series by Ally Condle, Divergent by Veronica Roth, The Selection by Kiera Cass and, more recently, the Red Queen series by Victoria Aveyard (my new obsession.) I also followed many teenagers into the pits of the Shadowhunter world (The Mortal Instruments, The Infernal Devices and The Last Artifices) by Cassandra Clare.
All these books are not happy-go-lucky. The authors have created in-depth different worlds with different problems. The worlds may be different to what the readers know, but the emotions and relationships are similar to what teenagers face. Like Alec’s battle with his sexuality in The Mortal Instruments series, like Mare’s difficulty with trust in Red Queen and America’s defiance against rules in The Selection series – the characters are relatable. These books take you to a different world. They let you escape from your worries and pain and open you to realisation that you are not alone.

Young Adult contemporary is possibly my favourite sub-genre (although that is a bold statement to make!) I started with Sarah Dessen in my early teens, I could not put these books down, the characters and the various settings of different small towns in America, and the sweet but challenging romances – they just have the perfect mix of everything. I then moved onto Stephanie Perkins books, which have such lovely characters and twists and turns in their romances. However in the last year or so I’ve broadened my horizons to books which tackle a range of difficult topics, (which I think reflects the publishing world being more open to diverse subjects) such as All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven and We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. Young Adult contemporaries teach you to see the positive side in everything, they whisk you away to a new town with exciting characters and more often than not, a great love story!

One of my favourite characters, the gorgeous Will Herondale from The Infernal Devices series says,  ‘It was books that made me feel that perhaps I was not completely alone.' 
Whether your a teenager or an adult, Young Adult Fiction is there for you. Even if you love Jane Austen as much as I do, go and try out a new book, I promise you - if it is one I've mentioned in this post, you will not be disappointed!

I'm off on holiday today so I'm away from the blog for a week, but go and follow me on instagram and follow me on snapchat (Christinastorey) for updates! Have a lovely week - and go read! Christina x


Thursday, 23 June 2016

Lost Boy

I'm still living in the past to be honest. Still dreaming of the last two weeks I had in London. Still dreaming of the laughs and giggles we had, the days we explored our city until our feet bled (okay, only my feet bled from these sandals - but they look cute, so they were worth the pain.) But I've already talked about how great this day was in a blog post (and video which you can check out here.)

So I wanted to come to you today with a good old outfit post. Throwing it back to my early days of blogging where all I did was outfit posts. I still love fashion, and still love creating outfits from various pieces. This off the shoulder black dress is a piece I got from Missguided last summer and I still love it. Its a very versatile piece, so here I wore it for a day trip but last summer I wore it over bikini's for trips to the beach and for chilling around the pool. The extra embrodied edges add a lovely boho type feel to it. It's a perfect dress to wear to a festival!  On Saturday I'm going to Hideout festival in Croatia, and I can't wait. Not only for the sun and the music, but to be able to dress all summer-y. I've done a lot of shopping in Primark who had a great selection of denim shorts, and had an Asos delivery of some tops today.

The past week has been really relatively quiet, as I'm back from Uni but none of my siblings are home, and my parents are at work. I've spent most days relaxing at home, working on my novel and going to the gym. Apart from the last day or so when I've fallen into the Gossip Girl hole again. I started season 6 yesterday and finished it today. It just reminded me how much I love it, and how much I love New York. A couple of my friends and some bloggers have all been snapchatting New York recently and I forgot how much I love it. I've just watched the first episode of Teen Wolf and can tell that I already will love it, Netflix is a slippery slope kids. 
Also, I'm going to be snapchatting my holiday in Croatia, so feel free to add me 'Christinastorey.' The title of this post is an ode to one of my favourite songs at the moment - Lost Boy by Ruth B. Hope you've had a good week, Christina x

Dress and Shoes: Misguided. Necklace - Pull and Bear. Glasses - H&M.

Thursday, 16 June 2016

I'm (attempting) to write a novel!

This is quite a daunting post to it publish, but here we go. About a month ago I woke up from a dream and couldn't shake off the feeling that the dream was real. I got thinking about it, and suddenly in my mind I'd come up with a dystopian world and a skeleton of a novel. And that's where my idea for my own novel came from. 
Now I'm no professional writer or anything but I have said for the past two years or so how I'd love to write a book, but now I've finally decided the time is now. I don't know if it's very good- it probably isn't - but this summer I'm focusing on building the world and the characters in depth, and plan to just write - not caring how bad or how good it is, but just get the words onto paper and see where it takes me. And I thought, why not keep my blog up to date on where my novel is going and how the process is for me? So here we go, here is my first instalment of 'Writing with Christina' - I'll probably update it once every two or three weeks this summer (kind of inspired by this series of videos by Christine Riccio.)
I'm going to be very vague about the actual characters/ plot of this book, so this series may not be interesting, but you never know!

World building and character profiles 

My inspiration for my book came from my dream. In my head I had the main two characters and where they were going, but I needed to create the world. This came fairly easy, I started taking messy scribbly notes about the plot, once I'd got the idea of having three main characters - two females and one male, I started figuring out the world. It is a type of dystopian book, which obviously means a complicated world accompanies it, this was so fun to create and imagine. I tried to put a little spin on it, and at the moment as a base to my novel, it works well (in my opinion.)

From here I started writing, I started with an epilogue which flew out of me so quickly and got me very excited to write. However then about 2,000 words in I hit a wall, I wasn't too sure of my characters and their personality. I realised I needed to differentiate between them and make each individual different. So I set out to make character profiles. I've found it hard, with two main female characters, to differ between the two. Now I've finished the narrator's character profile and can see a precise difference between the two. Whilst creating this world/characters I have started an inspiration board on Pinterest. Cassandra Clare (author of the Mortal Instruments and the Shadowhunter world) often does this for her books and I can really see how it helps. It helps vision characters and settings. Here's a link to my pinterest board - you can see the names and overall themes of the novel if you fancy.
I've got three main characters, and having been questioning whether to write the novel from three different point of view's which is something I'm going to decide next week, once I've got all three of their character profiles done.

This is quite scary to shout to the world that I'm writing a novel. There is a slim chance anyone will ever read it (apart from maybe my family) but I wanted, for my blog and for myself, to create a document of my journey, struggles and positives of this huge task! Hope you've had a good week, Christina x


Monday, 13 June 2016

Tower Bridge

You know those days you have where everything just seems perfect? This was one of them.
On Tuesday, as part of our mission to be tourists in our own city during our last week in London before the summer, Lucy, Lyndsey and I headed into central. We planned on going up Monument and Tower Bridge however Monument was closed for maintenance so after a quick stop off in Pret we headed towards Tower Bridge.
Tower Bridge has always been one of my favourite landmarks in London. It's just so traditionally London and so so beautiful - I even have a big poster of it in my bedroom. Walking up to it, the day already felt special. I still can't believe (and I don't think I ever will) that this is the city that I live in. Surrounded by school trips and foreigners and with my camera around my neck, we were tourists for the day. Going up Tower Bridge was amazing because although it is stunning to look at , it also has stunning views! 
When you in Tower Bridge you're able to walk along a corridor on both sides on the bridge, meaning you can see both East and West of London which is pretty cool. The newest feature to the attraction is the glass floor. Having this on both corridors was really exciting, you could look down and see the water and people below, which was strangely relaxing. Then above the glass floor was a massive mirror so you had the reflection of yourself on the glass floor which was slightly freaky but really cool. This was such an easy fun thing to do, and pretty cheap - we prebooked student tickets online for £5:65! A simple but way to see a good view of London.
We then wondered along the Thames and made our way to Maddison Rooftop Terrace. We wanted a great view of St Pauls Cathedral, as it is Lyndsey's favourite building and Lucy was christened there! However as soon as we got to the terrace everyone was leaving as the thunderstorm was just coming in. Us being the stubborn people we are decided it wasn't going to ruin our fun so sheltered under the railing and had one of our favourite moments of the year. We were alone, with St Pauls right in front of us, the London Eye in the distance and could not see another human in sight. We were at the top of London, and everything was quiet - apart from the loud thunder and the noise of the rain hitting the pavement. It was warm, it felt like we could have been in a different country, but with the view of St Pauls, we were definitely in London.
Hope everyone had a good weekend - I moved out of Uni halls and am back home for the summer now - Have a good week! Christina x


Monday, 6 June 2016

May Wrap-up

Now, I don't want to make this blog just about books but I want to introduce a new feature of a 'wrap-up' of books I've read this month, and a quick list of books I plan to read in the up-coming month. (Also sorry but I read most of these on my kindle, so they aren't in the picture.) I figure it's a quick easy way of giving my views on each book without doing a separate post for each! Now this month I read a lot, I'm in a very good reading mode at the moment, I'm feeling motivated to read and am really enjoying the range of different books! So let's jump right in...

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

This book follow two sister's in France during World War II. One is caught up in the French Resistance but the other is just trying to survive in her small village. It is a wonderful story, it really opened my eyes to that point in history, I loved how even though it was a wartime story, it showed the effect war has on civilians. It had high and lows but, that's what make it a fully rounded story. I really enjoyed this historical fiction novel!

The Crown by Kiera Cass

This was the last in The Selection series - one of my favourite series over the past few years. I read it in about two days so honestly, I can't really remember it! It follows Eadlyn in the last few stages of her selection process - Eadlyn, the future queen of Illea, had to pick a husband out of a pool of 35 suitors, having narrowed it down to six suitors in The Crown, we see Eadlyn's struggle with making the biggest decision of her life. As well as seeing her parents, the King and Queen, struggle with health issues whilst ruling the kingdom. I loved this book because we saw the characters we know from the original Selection books, as well as the progression of Illea. It wasn't my favourite Selection book, I didn't particularly warm to any of the suitors of Eadlyn herself, but it was a nice final conclusion of one of my favourite easy read series. 

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

This is a Young Adult Dystopian novel which takes place in a divided world. Where the 'silvers' have silver blood and have different powers to do with the earth, who are thought to be above everyone, they run the government and do the top positions like Lawyers etc. Then the 'Reds' who are normal people who have red blood, they are poor and struggle with money etc. The protagonist, Mare, a red who suddenly find out she has silver powers is thrown into the royal household, betrothed to one prince but has a connection with the other. She has to find her way round the palace, whilst also part of the resistance against the monarchy. This book is amazing, I was hesitant going into it, and it took me a while to get into it, but wow. It is so so good, the characters, world building and plot are incredible and unpredictable. It has elements of The Hunger Games and The Selection but is in no way a similar story. I loved it.

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

My Life Next Door is an easy summer read. It follows Samantha, a girl with a 'perfect' life who longs to know the manic family next door, the Garretts. Until one evening Jase Garrett climbs on her roof and begins to change her world. It is a very easy read has a lot of elements to do with family and questioning whether you love them just because their your family, even though they are in the wrong. This wasn't my favourite book ever but it was a fun easy read.

Beautiful Broken Things

I did a review of Beautiful Broke Things here, but it follows Caddy going into year 11 with her best friend Rosie by her side. I won't say much as you can read it here but I did really enjoy it!

I've read a lot of Young Adult books this May, which I have really enjoyed but I'm looking forward to reading some classics near the end of June. 
My To Be Read list for June:

The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Haploid
One by Sarah Crossan 
Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard
1984 by George Orwell
The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson / or Persuasion by Jane Austen (whichever one I feel like to be honest!)

I don't know if this type of post is interesting to anyone, but it's handy for me to keep this record, I hope I've potentially given some recommendations for books or something. I'm enjoying my last week in London before I have to move back home for the summer, hope you have a good week! Christina x


Saturday, 28 May 2016

Book Review: Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard

 I bought Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard on Wednesday afternoon, started it on Thursday morning and finished it at 2am on Friday morning. I had tears rolling down my cheeks and a strange lull in my heart. I’m not going to lie, I first picked this book up because of it’s stunning and beautiful cover as well as the vague and captivating tagline ‘I was brave, she was reckless, we were trouble.’ I didn’t expect it to touch me as much as it did.

I’ve found this review quite hard to write, it’s difficult to write it without spoilers as I wanted to discuss the plotlines etc. It’s more of a discussion rather than a review, but just to warn you there are probably hints of the plot/characters throughout so read at you own risk!

This is Sara Barnard’s debut novel about love, it’s about how deep teenage female friendships bonds can go and the loyalty that comes with them. The protagonist, Caddy goes into year 11 at an all girl’s school with three goals:
1)   To get a real boyfriend
2)   To lose her virginity
3)   To experience a ‘Significant Life Event’
And she expects to do this with her absolute best friend, the sarcastic, trustworthy Rosie. They had always been inseparable, even though they went to different schools. However a new girl at Rosie’s school, Suzanne, threatens to change everything about their lives. The story is about friendship - about how you can be blinded by love and not realise the destructive qualities. It’s manipulative, it’s heart-warming and its heart wrenching all whilst being incredibly realistic and raw.

Caddy is naïve. When I first started it took me a while to be get into. I liked the fact that the protagonist went to an all girls school – especially loved the description of it being an ‘oestrogen prison’ – and I liked the fact it was set in Brighton. It was believable, she was just a normal teenage girl. However she seemed too young at first, normally YA books I enjoy the protagonist is 17 or 18 and develops into a more mature character throughout the book. I felt that Caddy was very young and innocent and didn’t participate in that much character development throughout the book, shown in the last chapter. However I do also think this naivety was needed for the book. It portrays an honest portrayal of a teenager – so eager to be liked and so conscious of everyone around her. She is so eager to look on the positive side, she wants to look after her friend and fix everything. Her loyalty to stick by Suzanne’s side, and defend her (even when she shouldn’t have been defended) shows dedication and a sense of faith that is just so raw and deep when you’re a teenager.

Reading this book I was inside Caddy’s head, but could also have an outside perspective. Sara writes in such a simple way but nevertheless is incredibly clever. I could see the manipulative but loving character of Suzanne so clearly, I could see Caddy’s urge to help and look after her, but also Rosie’s view on this change in their friendship, as well as Caddy’s parents views on how one girl could change everything for their daughter. She wrote with such subtly that really captivated you, I could feel my heart twisting in my chest when I realised Suzanne was changing Caddy, I literally couldn’t put the book down – I mean I turned my light off at 12:30 expecting to go to sleep but fifteen minutes later I turned on my light and read until I finished the book at 2 in the morning. In that sleepy, emotional state I wrote down words I felt about this book – Manipulative, subtle, real, heart-breaking, raw, believable, predictable, honest.

The character of Suzanne is so complicated, untrustworthy but loveable. She had a vulnerability that came with her but also a dark side, Sara Barnard really captivated the way she changed Caddy – for the good and the better. She made her more reckless, more exciting but also put her in danger. There was a romantic beautiful side to the darkness that Suzanne upheld but this book was so real and raw that it scared me. Suzanne’s flippant changes of mood and her ability to put on a mask and hide parts of her life were astounding. Having the narrative from Caddy’s point of view was insightful here as you could see how believable perfect beautiful Suzanne looked.

In most books or films I read/watch there is a romantic love story – and that has always been my favourite part, I love romance and I’m not ashamed to admit it (even if my friends do laugh at me.) This story is a love story, just not the romantic kind but I loved it the exact same amount. It’s a love story between friends. The first line made me laugh – ‘I thought it was a start to a love story. Finally.’ – Just the sarcastic tone instantly drew me in, it almost mocks love story’s, but also shows the unrealistic views they portray. It’s an ironic first line and it really made me laugh.

I don’t know how I feel about the ending to be honest. In a way it was predictable, which should be a bad thing, but it wasn’t – it was needed. The novel needed to be wrapped up, but it wasn’t fully, and that’s what makes it realistic. The ending in a way feels slightly rushed, but that’s life. It was a realistic conclusion, it wasn’t a ‘happily ever after’ situation but a need conclusion of the past year of events. Sorry I know that is a very vague description of the ending, but I don’t want to ruin the book completely!

So that’s it, they are my opinions on The Beautiful Broken Things – an easy but captivating read that has complex characters that make the book. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone, it is a great YA contemporary novel. Speak soon, Christina x

Thanks to Lyndsey for shooting these photo's! 

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