A Boxing Day treat! My final interview with a book blogger…

Happy Christmas all! Are you having a relaxing Boxing Day or are you hitting the shops?

Whatever you are doing this afternoon, I hope you enjoy the final interview in my series with independent book bloggers. Today I’m talking to a lovely blogger from Northern Ireland… Do you know who she might be?

1) Hi Bronagh! Welcome:)  Please tell me more about yourself. What are your three favourite things?

Hello, my name is Bronagh, I live in Northern Ireland and I enjoy books, tea and new adventures.

2) Where can we find your blog and how long have you been reviewing? 

My book news, interviews and reviews site Handwritten Girl started during the hot summer of 2011 and has been growing ever since. Not only does the website include book reviews, it also features author interviews providing tips and advice for aspiring writers, which I hope readers of the website find useful and encouraging.

3) Nice one! Why did you start blogging?

I started reviewing for a number of reasons. As a reader I was constantly telling people about a great new book that I read or people were asking me for a recommendations so the website became a shortcut for this and appealed to a wider community.

4) What’s the best and worst thing about being a book reviewer?

The best thing is of course getting to read so many wonderful books and the worst is not always having the time to read them!

5) What’s your favourite book of all time and why?

I have never really had a favourite character of all time, but having just finished and loved Mhairi McFarlane’s new book ‘Here’s Looking At You’ I must admit I did love the female lead in the story. Her name was Anna and had quite a dark and witty sense of humour and a kind aura about her, she was the type of girl that you would like to have as a friend.

6) How do you feel about books being made into films. Do you think this is a good thing?

I used to be quite cynical about books being adapted for film as it’s hard to compress a whole book into a two hours or less. But, I’ve now come to the conclusion that for people who aren’t readers, if they see the film and enjoy it, then maybe they will seek out the book and experience the story in its original form. After all every film starts with a script, which isn’t to far removed from the format of the typical book.

7) How do you handle it when you have read a book you don’t like? Will you still review it? 

If I read a book and I don’t enjoy it and just like books I that I do enjoy, I still review it. As a writer myself, I appreciate the time and effort that an author has gone to write a book— just because the book isn’t for me, doesn’t mean that others won’t enjoy it, so it is worth pointing out the elements which do work, as well as do not, in those stories.

8) Do you read books quickly, or slowly?

The speed which I read is based purely on how much I like the story. If I think the story is brilliant and I can’t wait to see how it will end, I could easily devour it in a day. Well, as long as I don’t have any other distractions. Usually I read a book in two days.

9) Do you prefer a genre? If so, why?

I enjoy comedy, romance and you cant beat thrillers. Give me anything with a good narrative, regardless of the genre though, I will give it a go!

Thanks Bronagh!

You can connect with Bronagh on Twitter – @handwritten

 

Celebrating book bloggers part four… Leah and Rea!

It’s been so busy in the lead up to Christmas I’ve been running a little behind on posting interviews. So today I’ve got not one, but TWO fabulous book bloggers in the spotlight…

I am talking to Leah (left) who writes for Chick Lit Reviews and News, and Rea (right) who blogs at Rea Book Review.

They have both been so supportive of me from the start of my writing career.

Between them they have reviewed around ONE THOUSAND books, so they really know their stuff!

You can find out more about them below…

Leah

1) Hi Leah! Thanks for taking part. Please tell me more about yourself. What are your three favourite things?

Hello! My name is Leah, I am 23, I live in sunny Tenerife. I work at Iceland, the supermarket. My three favourite things are dogs, books, and American TV shows.

2) Where can we find your blog and how long have you been reviewing? 

I blog at http://chicklitreviewsandnews.com and I’ve been blogging since 2009 – I’ll be celebrating five years blogging in March 2014 and I cannot believe I’ve been blogging in that time! Also during 2014, I will go past the 1,000 books read mark and I’ve reviewed more than 500 novels. Stats like that scare me, mind. I’ve only been reading since 2007/2008.

3) Wow! Why did you start blogging?

I started blogging because at the time there weren’t any chick lit blogs around, except for Chick Lit Club and Trashionista. I loved chick lit and wanted to get the word out. Now, there are chick lit bloggers everywhere you look and more are appearing on a daily basis.

4) What’s the best and worst thing about being a book reviewer?

The best thing about book reviewing is probably knowing that publishers trust in you, and send you their precious proof copies to review, that’s an amazing thing to know. The worst is probably the fact that there are now so many chick lit book bloggers that we all end up posting the same stuff at the same time. There’s no originality any more. Also, when you come up with an idea that’s unique to you, to your site… and someone takes it, and tries to pass it off as their own, because they cannot be bothered to come up with something of their own.

5) What’s your favourite book of all time and why?

Ooh, this is a tough question. I’ve read so many books, and love so many authors, but there’s always one book I say whenever asked this question and it is Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin. It was her debut novel, and no novel she’s written since then has compared. I adore it. I’ve read it so many times, and it’s a book I think every chick lit fan should read.

6) What is it about books that you love so much?

I love that books let you get lost in a fictional world. I have the most boring real life ever, spent either at work or at home reading books, and I love that authors can take me to far-flung destinations, or just make me yearn for England, and home. You never know what’s going to happen in a book, the only thing you know for sure (and that is REALLY what I love about books) is that there will be a happy ever after. That’s what I adore. Happy ever afters in real life are rare, and there’s just something so happy about the certainty that a happy ever after in a book is a real, proper, these-people-won’t-divorce happy ever after.

7) Who is your favourite fictional character of all time, and why?

My favourite fictional character of all time has got to be Becky Bloomwood. I love her dearly. Everyone who meets Becky falls in love with her, because Sophie Kinsella has just made her so relatable and so easy to love. I always get super excited when there’s an announcement of a new Shopaholic book, because being with Becky never gets old.

8) How do you feel about books being made into films. Do you think this is a good thing?

It honestly doesn’t bother me. I think some books translate better than others, but for the most part I’ve had a happy experience with books being made into films. The only one that’s disappointed me is Confessions of a Shopaholic. But, there are others that do work. Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Something Borrowed, all awesome. The Hunger Games movies are EXACTLY as I imagined they would look, and that is just the most bizarrely weird feeling because I walked out of the first movie and I said to my cousin ‘That is exactly how I saw it’, it was like the movie makers had gone into my head and took all my ideas and just made it PERFECT. If I was an author and someone wanted to make my book into a movie, I’d be chuffed. That’s the dream, isn’t it?!

9) Do you prefer print books or ebooks and why?

I like both. I will always be loyal to the paperback, because I love the feel, the smell, the fact I can put them on my shelves with their pretty covers, but ebooks are the future. My Kindle allows me to read at night without a light because my Kindle is backlit. It means I don’t have to carry a massive 600 page novel in my bag, I just need my Kindle. Ditto if I go on holiday. I love my Kindle, and wouldn’t be without it, but I will always prefer paperbacks. Many times after loving an ebook I will buy the paperback for my to-keep bookshelves.

10) Do you read books quickly, or slowly, and why?

I’m a super quick reader. I worry a lot that most of the books I read go in one ear and out the other, I read that quick, but I have to use my days off wisely. I get three days off a week and I’m disappointed in myself if I don’t finish at least three physical books and one ebook. I just have to read, read, read, read, read, because I have to try and keep on top of my TBR shelves. (Not that I am on top, I’ve still got over 300 to read and I still buy more…)

That’s a lot of books to get through… Good luck Leah!

You can connect with Leah on Twitter – @ChickLitReviews

Rea

1) Hi Rea. Welcome to my blog! Can you tell me more about yourself? What are your three favourite things?

I’m Rea Sinfield. I’m 28 years young! I live in Orpington in Kent and my three favourite things are books, chocolate and handbags.

2) Where can we find your blog and how long have you been reviewing? 

I started my book blog in May 2011 in that time I have reviewed 403 books.

3) Amazing! Why did you start blogging? 

I started blogging because I went shopping for books one day and came back with six  nice new books! The problem was because I had been ill and read a hell of a lot of books I lost track of what I had read and when I began reading these books I thought I was very clever because I knew what was going to happen next ! It turns out I wasn’t very clever at all I had already read four out of the six books! So I decided to start a blog to keep track of what I had read and also to keep track of particular authors I liked. I never dreamed that my little blog would end up being of interest to other people!

4) What’s your favourite book of all time and why?

This has got to be JoJo Moyes’ Me Before You, I very rarely re-read a book as my attitude is too many books too little time but I have read Me Before You three times now. It has everything that you could hope for in a book, it’s unpredictable, fun, romantic, and emotional and it is one of the few books that has made me cry real tears not just brought a lump to my throat.

5) What is it about books that you love so much?

It is the one and only thing that makes me switch off from day-to-day life and actually relax. To be able to stick my nose in a book and stop stressing and worrying about normal life and get lost is someone else’s world is just heaven!

6) Do you prefer print books or ebooks and why?

100% paperbacks. I do own a kindle and I read books on them, but it is that age old thing that there is nothing like the feel and the smell of a paperback and also I love to share books I love.

7) If you don’t like a book, do you have to finish it? If so, why?

No, there are so many books out there waiting to be enjoyed so if I get to around 50 -100 pages and I really am not enjoying it I stop.

8) Do you read books quickly, or slowly, and why?

I read books really quickly so I am told, I think this is because I get so engrossed in the story line I seem to fly through the pages eager to find out what happens next.

9) Do you prefer a genre? If so, why?

Chick lit. I love this genre because it is easy, feel good reading that is pure escapism.

Thank you so much Rea!

You can connect with Rea on Twitter – @bookreviewbyrea

Celebrating book bloggers part three: Kevin Loh

1) Hi Kevin! Welcome to my blog. Can you tell me more about yourself? What are your three favourite things?

Salutations! I am Kevin, 19, from Malaysia! A country where I am at a crossroads. I can freely choose between UK and US editions of books. Hurrah! My top three favourite things? Gosh, this is hard. I’ll go with chocolate, books and hoodies!

2) Nice! Where can we find your blog and how long have you been reviewing? 

I started I Heart.. Chick Lit in May 2012. So I guess I’ve been blogging for a year and a half? As of October 2013, I’ve reached my 100,000th pageview (not to gloat, but I am immensely proud and absolutely chuffed!).

3) So you should be, well done! Why did you start blogging?

Hmm. Blogging. I started blogging because I read, quite a lot. OK, I read a lot. I love reading. I figured if I could pen down my thoughts on a blog, I’d share book recommendations with the ‘blogosphere’. And blogging has been an amazing experience. I get to befriend authors, publishers, fellow bloggers and readers who are just like me! All in all, I wish I could read and review books for the rest of my life. Guess I should start investing in gold?

4) What’s the best and worst thing about being a book reviewer?

Well, the best thing about being a reviewer? *looks up at ceiling and thinks* I guess it’s the camaraderie you built with “bookish nerds” – that’s a good thing! And of course, the perks of the job: being sent books for review. It’s such a privilege to be sent books for review because the publishers trust you with honest reviews. I think I love what I do because I am able to be the bridge between authors and readers. I feel that by reviewing books, I can let people know about books that are worth reading.

Everything has a dark side, yes I know. The worst thing about blogging is.. reviewing a book you didn’t really enjoy. Hand on heart, I hate being rude to an author, but I find it the hardest to write a review on books I didn’t particularly enjoy. Other than that, I really encourage readers to give blogging a go. You might love it!

5) What’s your favourite book of all time and why?

Oh my, this is harder than deciding whether I want M&M’s or Snickers for a snack. If I have to pick ONE (I have more than 20!), then it would be The Secret Dreamworld of A Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella, my first chick lit book which sparked my passionate love affair with chick lit. I loved the book – I even bought two copies, both UK and US editions. I adored the plot and Sophie Kinsella’s writing style is as comforting and addictive as hot chocolate on a cold night (bad analogy, sorry..).

6) What do your family and friends think about your passion for books? Are they supportive?

Well, when I started blogging, none of my family and friends knew about it. Then when I started getting more and more books in the post they were amazed, and very supportive. I guess my parents are secretly pleased that I am not wandering around at 1AM with my friends in town, instead I’ll be reading in bed. Meep.

7) What is it about books that you love so much?

Books will always have a special place in my heart. Nothing gives me more satisfaction than reading. Oh, and lusting over gorgeous covers. When I read, I’m transported to a different places. A place where all my worries are forgotten and I am free to live vicariously through the characters. Books grant me the ability to dream and aspire and even inspire.

8) How do you feel about books being made into films. Do you think this is a good thing?

I don’t have any strong feelings against books made into films. I wouldn’t mind watching the film adaptation of books I’ve enjoyed. If you hate the film adaptation, stick to the book.

9) Do you prefer to read print books or ebooks and why?

Hands down, print books. I believe you can never get the same experience from reading an actual book when you read from an e-reader. I’m sorry to e-reader owners, but I’m sticking to print books. Here’s the reason why: you can NEVER take a delicious whiff of the book in between chapters. I do that ALL the time and I don’t plan to stop. And, it’s bad for your eyes to face the screen for too long, right? Print books, healthy and more real. Keep it real, lovelies!

10) Do you prefer a particular genre? If so, why?

Definitely chick lit. Hands down. The BEST genre there is. Chick lit is such a wide, versatile genre and the themes are often varied. You have the funny girl-about-town books, the weepy romantic comedies, and the darker side of chick lit, which is often more emotional. Let’s face it, there isn’t one genre which is as diverse as chick lit.

Celebrating book bloggers part two: Emma Louise

Emma Louise

1) Hi Emma Louise! Welcome to my blog. Can you tell me more about yourself? What are your three favourite things?

I’m Emma Louise, I’m currently 22 years old and I live in the north west of the UK. My three favourite things are Harry Potter, owls and tea.

2) Good choices! Where can we find your blog and how long have you been reviewing? 

I’ve just launched my own author website – www.emmalouauthor.wordpress.com – but I did have my own blog which sadly had to close down. I’ve been a book blogger since April 2013 and I aim to carry on.

3) Why did you start blogging?

I started blogging because it seemed like a fun thing to do whilst University was coming to an end. I soon realised that it is a lot of hard work.

4) What’s the best and worst thing about being a book reviewer?

The best thing is having a relationship with the author. The worst thing is that there are bullies who lurk around and they target individual book bloggers which is not nice at all.

5) What’s your favourite book of all time and why?

Harry Potter is my all time favourite book. Not just one of them, all seven.

6) What’s the biggest challenge as a book reviewer?

It’s hard to write a positive review when the book lacked a hook, I hate it when that happens because you’ve either been sent a copy directly from the publisher or the author has sent you a signed copy.

7) What is it about books that you love so much?

The fact that you can disappear for a couple of hours.

8) Who is your favourite fictional character of all time, and why?

Easy peasy, it’s Harry Potter. I sound like a broken record, don’t I? He’s the perfect book boyfriend, apart from the fact that he snogged Cho Chang and Ginny Weasley…

9) How do you feel about books being made into films. Do you think this is a good thing?

I LOVE text-to-screen adaptations. I did a module on this in my film degree and absolutely loved it.

10) How do you think the book industry has changed recently and where do you see it going in five years time?

Kindles are taking over and it’s easier for people to read on a screen (apparently). But I personally prefer paperbacks. Who knows? Books could be wiped out by King Kong. I honestly have no idea

11) Do you read books quickly, or slowly?

I’m a quick reader because I allow myself to get lost in the words of the author. My surroundings completely disappear. I’ve missed my train stop several times because of it…

12) Do you prefer a genre? If so, why?

Contemporary romance or chick-lit. I prefer it because I’m a romantic at heart and it’s also the genre I write in.

Thanks Emma Louise!

You can connect with Emma Louise on Twitter – @EmmaLouAuthor

Celebrating book bloggers part one: Natalie

1) Hi Natalie! Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Can you tell me more about yourself, and what are your three favourite things?

My name is Natalie, I’ve reached the big three-oh and I live in Manchester, England.

My three favourite things are chocolate, Christmas and my cats (don’t tell the boyfriend he didn’t make the list!)

2) Where can we find your blog and how long have you been reviewing? 

I have been blogging for two years and in that time I’ve read 124 books – not much compared to some but I’ve impressed myself with that!

3) Why did you start blogging?

I used to read all the time, mostly whilst enduring the long bus journey to and from work, but then a few years ago I started working somewhere just around the corner from my house, and when the bus journeys stopped so did the reading. I just didn’t find time to fit it in and then after a while I realised I didn’t know which books to choose anymore. After putting up with my moaning that I missed reading, at the end of 2011 my boyfriend suggested I set myself a challenge for 2012 to read 50 books. Going from nothing to 50 seemed like a ridiculous jump, but we’d just watched Julie & Julia so I thought it could work! I wasn’t sure about the idea of blogging, surely no one wanted to read my ramblings, but then I realised it would be a brilliant way to keep track of what I’d read so I gave it go.  And here I am two years later, still reading and reviewing, now the proud owner of to-be-read pile that I will never get to the end of!

4) What’s the best and worst thing about being a book reviewer?

The best thing has to be getting sent free books… I know that might sound shallow but when you’re in love with books and then an advance copy written by an author you love pops through the door you can’t help but get excited!

The worst thing for me is having to read to a timetable. I love finishing a book and then having the freedom to choose anything I want from my bookshelf to read next.  Sometimes knowing that I have to read something by a certain date takes the magic out of it a little bit.

5) What’s your favourite book of all time and why?

This is such a hard question…

I have a big soft spot for Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert as it’s one of the first books I read after my break from reading and it really inspired me to start picking up books again.  I love the spiritual side of the story and found it really inspiring.

Christmas would not be Christmas anymore without reading With Love At Christmas by Carole Matthews. It is everything I could ever have wished for from a Christmas book.

Chick-lit is a really hard to choose from because there are so many I like but I really did love Three Little Words – think you know wrote that one – because the story was so unexpected.  I picked it up expecting a cute fluffy read and instead got a fascinating page turner.  It made such a refreshing change.

For spine tingling stories it has to be Before I Go To Sleep by S. J. Watson… I literally could not put it down, my heart was thumping and I was desperate to know what happened in the end.

Ooooh and then there’s series, in which case it has to be the ‘I Heart’ series by Lindsey Kelk. I am totally in love with Angela Clarke. In fact, I think I want to be her.

So there’s my top 5 – it’s just impossible to narrow it down to one – sorry!

6) How do you feel about books being made into films. Do you think this is a good thing?

I think this is a really good thing.  I love seeing books I have read being made into films, especially if I’ve forgotten some of the details and get to experience the story a second time by watching the film.  I love seeing the characters from the page of a book come to life on screen, even if they are not always how I would have imagined they could be.

And if watching a film can inspire someone to pick up a book they normally wouldn’t have read then that’s a great thing.

7) Do you prefer print books or ebooks and why?

It has to be print books.  Ebooks are great and I love my Kindle but it’s just not the same as breaking the spine of a new book (yes, I’m a spine breaker I admit it), watching my bookmark wander through a book and being able to pass a book I have loved on to friends.

8) If you don’t like a book, do you have to finish it? If so, why?

I have to finish a book.  I don’t even really know why, I’m just compelled to get to the end. Many a time I’ve sat there wondering why I’m still reading, just trying to plod through to the end but I just can’t give up on them once I’ve started.

9) How do you handle it when you have read a book you don’t like? Will you still review it? 

I review every book I’ve read whether I like it or not.  I think it’s important to tell the truth.  I review as if I’m telling a friend about a book; if it was brilliant then I’ll gush about it and tell them they have to read it. If I didn’t enjoy it then I tell them so, but I would never tell someone not to read a book.  Everyone likes different things so just because I didn’t like it doesn’t mean someone else won’t, my review will just be much less enthusiastic. I like to be fair to the author so even if I don’t like it personally I will still write a review saying what the book is about and why people might like it.

Plus, if I only ever wrote reviews that said every book is amazing I’m sure it would get a bit boring to read.

Thanks Natalie!

You can connect with Natalie on Twitter – @Flutterbybat

Celebrating book bloggers…

Google definitionOver the next couple of weeks I’m putting the spotlight on independent book bloggers.

I’m planning to publish some interviews with reviewers here. This time it will be me asking all the questions!

Have you ever wondered how many books reviewers read in a week?

What do they do when they don’t like a book very much?

Or perhaps you’d like to know which book they rate as their all-time favourite when they have so many to choose from?

With the internet being a huge part of our lives, and new social media outlets popping up everywhere, we can be whoever we want to be. Twitter and Facebook have turned us into poets, stylists, photographers and comedians… We can have what we want in seconds, and everything’s so fast and instantly gratifying. But there’s something really quite special about people who are keeping books in focus while technology flourishes around us and everything picks up speed. Book bloggers are taking the traditional medium of books into the future.

Book bloggers know how technology and books can complement each other – novels, reading and how we consume fiction has to move with the times, but we must also treasure the heart of it all, and where it came from. Simply being lost between the pages of a good book when there is so much to tempt our concentration elsewhere.

A lot of the book reviewers I speak to are so passionate about what they do it’s inspiring.

Most of them have a lot happening outside reviewing, and it can be tough going when they’ve set themselves a schedule of books to read around the twists and turns of their own lives. But most of them just do it for the sheer love of reading.

I would have loved to have asked all the reviewers I’ve got to know to over the last few years, but I could only pick a small selection of people to speak to.

Ultimately I want to say a big thank you to all of them.

Without independent book reviewers and bloggers I don’t think we’d have such a fantastic the sense of community that we have in the book world. That’s a difficult thing to achieve. I’m grateful to them for encouraging reading in the general chaos of our lives, where our attention spans are under more demand than they ever have been before. I’m also grateful to them for all the support they give to writers, and for opening up debate and conversation about books between people all over the globe who may never meet face-to-face.

The first interview will be published on my blog at midday on Monday December 9.

But who will it be?

Exciting!

What’s with all the squirrels?

*SPOILER ALERT. Avoid this post if you haven’t read This is a Love Story*

When Sienna meets Nick it's not the way it happens in love stories. It's because of a squirrel on water skis...

When Sienna meets Nick it’s not the way it happens in love stories. It’s because of a squirrel on water skis…

I had a lovely conversation with a reader this week about the hidden surprises in my first book This is a Love Story.

If you’ve read This is a Love Story you may or may not have noticed them… There seems to be a 50/50 split between readers who pick up on it and those who don’t.

For those who are curious, *whispers* here comes the ‘spoiler’…. there are quite a lot of SQUIRRELS in the story…

They appear randomly throughout the book, never really playing much of a key role, but just running on the top of fences, looking cute with their fluffy tails and generally being awesome.

There have been several different reactions to these little surprises, ranging from mild irritation to sheer delight. But this week was really nice because a reader not only asked me directly what the squirrels meant, but also came up with her own pretty detailed (and very clever) theory.

I responded by saying that the squirrels mean whatever they mean to each individual reader. Now I know we are just talking about fictional squirrels here (let’s not take this too seriously!) and I know this is a little cheesy, but this got me thinking about reading and its wider context. It reminded me of something I have taken for granted for a while…

It struck me once more, that one of the most beautiful things about books, art and anything you really absorb in a similar way, is that it means something very special to you and that is often quite unique.

My own view is that people naturally react differently to fiction depending on their own personalities and life experiences, so ultimately the valid truth behind symbolism in a book is entirely subjective and belongs solely to the reader…

A writer could put one book out into the world and get a thousand different reactions to it. How do we ever know that a book we read makes someone else feel exactly how we did, even though as humans we share so many feelings in common? How do we know that the imagery the words conjure would be the same as it would for a person sitting next to us on the bus, reading the same chapter through different eyes?

Readers bring words to life in their own special way and as a writer it’s lovely to think about this, about all the different experiences and feelings your work might conjure in people, from passivity to joy, or even real sadness. You do some of the work, but readers take it somewhere else and I’m so grateful to the people who get in touch to tell me what their experience was like, and those who write reviews.

I want to thank the reader who took the time to share with me her own theory. I also spoke to someone who told me that he saw the squirrels as a symbol of experience. He highlighted (in a tongue-in-cheek way, of course) that in life you collect experiences – these are the ‘nuts’ – and then like a squirrel, you stash them away until some time in the future, when you might want to go back to those experiences again, and do something better (or differently).

I thought that was lovely too.

In truth, the squirrels in This is a Love Story came about accidentally.

My editor mentioned to me that a few were popping up and I didn’t even realise I was doing it… It was totally subconscious. We decided to keep them in because we liked them, and I’m really glad I did because today they reminded me of something wonderful about literature. Something that had, shamefully, passed me by recently.

If you want to go on a This is a Love Story squirrel hunt, or you know someone who likes squirrels too… the Kindle ebook is available through Amazon at the moment for just 99p.

This offer ends early next week.

Three Little Words is published in Germany…

coverI’m so excited to tell you that my second novel Three Little Words was published in Germany yesterday.

I was delighted when I saw the cover… I think the sketch-style pictures are gorgeous, there are some London landmarks on there too…

I’m really grateful to Bastei Lübbe, my publisher in Germany for giving it such a fab jacket.

The novel is called Ein Tag Im März, which translates to ‘One Day in March’.

Three Little Words was released in paperback in the UK in August this year. You can find out more about it here.

x

P.S If you are looking for a book bargain, my debut book This is a Love Story is still just 99p via Amazon Kindle until December 3…

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The best sites for procrastinating

Sometimes, when I’m nervous about an impending task (e.g. cleaning the flat/final book edits/difficult university essay) I become worryingly proficient in the art of procrastinating.

I can’t be the only one who has this problem, what with the invention of special software to block sites that draw people away from their focus. There seems to already be a fair demand for this anti-faffing ‘rehab’, so I’m glad I’m not alone.

In addition to this, Facebook seems to have swung from the usual attention-seeking statuses such as “well at least I know who my real friends are now” to timelines plastered with links of cats posing like male models and pigs in teacups. I don’t know whether this is a good thing or not…

Even the wonderful Zadie Smith has been talking about this, and she’s basically a genius. See point 7 in this article.

I know I shouldn’t encourage anyone… but here are some of my favourite sites for moments of procrastination…

1) The Procatinator

A friend introduced me to this site. Please be warned that he also now has to use software that keeps him focused and not looking at cats DJing. I sincerely hope he ‘recovers’ soon.

Do you like cats? (Probably.) Do you like eighties music? (I hope so.)

Well there you have it. Tons of GIFs showing cats doing all sorts of things from giving their humans a high five to cuddling up to a dog – all set to music.

Very odd. I don’t really understand it and probably never truly will. But you have to see it. (Requires flash.)

2) Hyperbole and a half.

I’ve written about this site before in more detail. In a nutshell, Allie Brosh creates cartoon-style stories on her blog that are seriously funny. 

She has one particular post about depression that I found moving as well. I think anything that enables society to talk about mental health with empathy and positivity is always going to be a good thing. That particular post is one of the best things I’ve seen on the subject recently.

It’s a real skill to mix humour and sadness in the way Allie does so successfully.

3) Cake Wrecks

Cooking/baking is sadly not my forte.

Those who follow me on Twitter will have recently seen a picture I posted of a chicken and leek pie I tried to make recently. It exploded in the oven. The result was bad enough that one of my friends felt moved to post the lyrics to the Ghostbusters theme tune below the picture on Facebook. Enough said.

So, it brings me great pleasure to see that I’m not the only one who is useless at this stuff, and also there is the added pleasure of spotting spelling mistakes immortalised in brightly coloured icing. Doh!

4) Anything to do with space on Youtube.

I’m a little bit obsessed with space. I’m not going to lie.

I spend way too much time watching videos about the International Space Station and have seen in-depth pieces on how astronauts wash their hair to how a great burrito is crafted in zero gravity… I’ve probably acquired a large amount of useless information through this given that I’ll never go to space EVER, but it’s so much fun…

5) Rathergood.com

This one’s been around for ages.

In fact I think I first discovered this site when I was in sixth form. I remember crying with laughter while playing ‘We Like The Moon’ over and over again with a group of equally hysterical friends (simple things).

That particular video doesn’t have quite the same effect on me now, but I still love it. I’ve not watched many of the videos on this site, so can’t speak for all of them, but some of them are hilarious if you’re in the right mood. (Avoid watching when you are grumpy/cold/hungry/generally angry with the world).

Looking for my Leopard is also very cute. There’s singing chinchillas on pogo sticks… What more could you ask for?

So there we have it. Some of my favourite websites for doing nothing when I should be doing something. What are yours?

Right then… I better get back to work… *ahem*

Could these be my favourite books of 2013?

2013 has been a good book year.

I’ve read several memorable titles, and as the end of the year approaches I’m starting to think about which have been the best. It’ll be a tough choice!

There are two novels I’ve read recently that have been more than just great stories – they have inspired me. I’m in that limbo phase where I’m finishing up editing book three and just about to start planning the next, so it was great to read two novels in close succession that made me desperate to start writing book four…

I think either of these could be my favourite book this year!

The Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence

The Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence

1) The Universe Versus Alex Woods – Gavin Extence.

I know I’m a little bit late to the party (it was released in May), but I loved it.

If you haven’t read this yet please, please grab a copy now and clear some time in your diary to get lost in this beautiful book for a few hours.

I was attracted to it partly because the cover is awesome and also because the blurb was so inviting… “Alex Woods knows that he hasn’t had the most conventional start in life. He knows that growing up with a clairvoyant single mother won’t endear him to the local bullies. He also knows that even the most improbable events can happen – he’s got the scars to prove it.” 

That’s a damn good blurb.

What I discovered upon reading was a moving, complex plot that tackles a sensitive and controversial issue, and yet somehow Extence writes this in a blissfully clear and easy-to-read voice. I was hooked, completely. I read it late into the night, and woke up early in the morning to continue reading because I was desperate to know what would happen to Alex.

I won’t give too much away, but eccentric protagonist Alex has gone through something remarkable that has led to a strange kind of fame that follows him wherever he goes. This, naturally, makes life difficult because as Alex highlights – “In secondary school, being different is the worst crime you can commit.” He then sparks up an unlikely friendship that leads him to his greatest adventure yet.

Things I loved about this book… (Where to start) It made me think so much that I got a book hangover, Alex is a likeable outcast (I love characters like him), the mystery throughout is gripping, and it is a book about bravery and fighting for what you know is right – against all odds.

Alex Woods’ character is written by Extence so skilfully that he is the perfect narrative voice – I couldn’t imagine it any other way. The author manages to capture the naivety of youth with the bravery and boldness it possesses that often melts away in adulthood. The descriptions of bullying are so spot on you start to feel upset on his behalf (it took me back to some of my own tough times when I was a kid), and his dilemma is sensitively explained and played out in a plot that keeps you guessing.

Absolutely. Loved. It.

Thank you Gavin Extence for writing this book!

2) The Husband’s Secret – Liane Moriarty.

The Husband's Secret - Liane Mortiarty

The Husband’s Secret – Liane Mortiarty

The Husband’s Secret was published in August this year and has been everywhere. I knew that when I had a spare moment I just had to read it too.

Mother of three Cecilia Fitzpatrick discovers an old envelope in the attic. Her husband’s writing on the outside of the letter says – “to be opened only in the event of my death.” Curious, she opens it – and time stops. John-Paul’s letter confesses to a terrible mistake which, if revealed, would wreck their family as well as the lives of others.

It took me a little while to get into this book because there are a few plot lines running side-by-side at first and it requires some concentration, but as the stories start to melt together the real tension begins. From then on, it’s almost impossible to put down.

I genuinely didn’t expect the twists and turns in this plot (and there are a few). It’s so cleverly written and Moriarty’s style is quite unique. Some of her descriptions are really unusual and I loved that.

I liked how the different plots became intertwined and you started to see how different decisions would affect people, and the shockwaves that would result. Cecilia’s dilemma is the stuff of nightmares, but how will she handle it? What would have happened if she’d never discovered the letter? How much are you prepared to stick by someone you love?

The Husband’s Secret reminded me a little of Gone Girl. This book was a fast moving page turner that I would highly recommend to anyone who loves a bit of suspense…