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

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