[GUEST POST] How To Motivate Yourself To Write | Being A Young Writer #2

Hey guys, I’m Michelle and I blog at The Writing Hufflepuff Today I’m here to talk to you guys about motivation. Sometimes it’s hard to find motivation to write, even though we love to do it. So how do you find the motivation to finally start writing?

Just do it

Michelle

Of course that’s easier said than done, because often even though we open our notebook or Word document, we’ll still stare at the empty page or even at our already written words and just close it again because ‘nope, not feeling it today’. I’d still advise you to try. I’ve found that sometimes it does really help to just do it. I wake up, thinking that I’m not going to write anything that day because I’m tired and without any inspiration. Then I open my document and all of a sudden I’ve written 2000 words. But like I said, it’s easier said than done.

Continue reading “[GUEST POST] How To Motivate Yourself To Write | Being A Young Writer #2”

Review of ‘The Girl of Ink and Stars’ by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

girlofinkandstarsTitle: The Girl of Ink and Stars

Author: Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Publisher: Chicken House Ltd.

Publication Date: May 5, 2016

Pages: 228

Blurb via Amazon: Forbidden to leave her island, Isabella dreams of the faraway lands her cartographer father once mapped. When her friend disappears, she volunteers to guide the search. The world beyond the walls is a monster-filled wasteland – and beneath the dry rivers and smoking mountains, a fire demon is stirring from its sleep. Soon, following her map, her heart and an ancient myth, Isabella discovers the true end of her journey: to save the island itself.


‘The Girl of Ink and Stars’ is Kiran Millwood Hargrave’s debut novel and what a debut it is. Hargrave paints a beautiful picture of a made up land and as I always do in made up lands within books, I want to explore them. But like the main character, thirteen year old Isabella, I was forbidden to explore at the start of the book, so I genuinely empathised with her frustration and longing.

Continue reading “Review of ‘The Girl of Ink and Stars’ by Kiran Millwood Hargrave”

Review of ‘Lady Midnight’ by Cassandra Clare

Lady MidnightTitle: Lady Midnight

Author: Cassandra Clare

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children’s Books

Publication Date: March 8, 2016

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 720

Blurb via Amazon: The Shadowhunters of Los Angeles star in the first novel in Cassandra Clare’s newest series, The Dark Artifices, a sequel to the internationally bestselling Mortal Instruments series. Lady Midnight is a Shadowhunters novel.

It’s been five years since the events of City of Heavenly Fire that brought the Shadowhunters to the brink of oblivion. Emma Carstairs is no longer a child in mourning, but a young woman bent on discovering what killed her parents and avenging her losses.

Together with her parabatai Julian Blackthorn, Emma must learn to trust her head and her heart as she investigates a demonic plot that stretches across Los Angeles, from the Sunset Strip to the enchanted sea that pounds the beaches of Santa Monica. If only her heart didn’t lead her in treacherous directions…

Making things even more complicated, Julian’s brother Mark-who was captured by the faeries five years ago-has been returned as a bargaining chip. The faeries are desperate to find out who is murdering their kind-and they need the Shadowhunters’ help to do it. But time works differently in faerie, so Mark has barely aged and doesn’t recognize his family. Can he ever truly return to them? Will the faeries really allow it?
Glitz, glamours, and Shadowhunters abound in this heartrending opening to Cassandra Clare’s Dark Artifices series. Continue reading “Review of ‘Lady Midnight’ by Cassandra Clare”

Finding Your Writing Style | Being A Young Writer #1

Hi guys! I’ve wanted to do something like this for a while and with Camp NaNoWriMo coming around very soon, I thought this was especially relevant. This is going ti be a series, but I don’t know how long it will be and there may even be some guest posts featured as part of it!

I myself am a young writer and have been wanting to write a novel for a long time now. I wanted it to be a YA novel, but I had never really set myself a preference on what genre I wanted to right in. I’ve tried sci-fi, contemporary, paranormal (multiple times) and most recently I am working on a high fantasy project.

Genre is a massive part of finding your writing style, because authors who write contemporary novels have very different styles to authors who write in the fantasy genres. Contemporary tends to focus so much more on emotion and bringing mundane things to life in a beautiful way. However, there are certainly similarities in that both writing styles can be rather poetic in how they flow and are read. Continue reading “Finding Your Writing Style | Being A Young Writer #1”

The Birthstone Book Tag

I haven’t done a book tag in ages and ages, so while I trawl my way through the last half of ‘Lady Midnight’, I thought I would feel the void on my blog with a nice book tag. I saw this one and thought it was unusual, but sounded fun.


GARNET (January) – Wards off negative energies: The darkest/ most evil book character:

carryon

It would have been impossible for me to not mention this book during this book tag, or any book tag for that matter! ‘Carry On’ by Rainbow Rowell is one of my favourite books of all time. It is seriously that good and it contains the Insidious Humdrum, a character that is just made up of darkness and evil. It would have been awful for me to not put it on the list. Continue reading “The Birthstone Book Tag”

The Return

So, as some of you may have noticed, I haven’t posted anything in about two months. This isn’t because I’m lazy, even though that can be true some times, but it is instead because I have had to revise for my GCSEs.

For those of you who are not in the UK or just don’t know, the GCSEs are massive exams for secondary school students over here. They are a massive deal and basically determine what I’ll be able to do for a career in the future. I would say that GCSEs are the UK equivalent of SATs in the US (I think).

I just wanted to say sorry for not posting anything for so long, but I didn’t forget about this blog. In fact, I’ve been coming back every so often to see how things are going. And I have been pleasantly surprised. It makes me so happy to see that even when I’m not posting content, people are still visiting the blog. It makes me feel as if what I am doing here is actually worthwhile.

This is probably the worst reading slump I’ve ever had since I started reading when I was two years old. I am getting increasingly annoyed at myself, because I just can’t bring myself to pick up a book, especially now when my examinations are actually taking place. Also, ashamedly, I must admit that even though I pre-ordered ‘Lady Midnight’ by Cassandra Clare, I am only on page 90 of about 700 and have been for quite a while.

On a more positive and exciting note, I will be attending YALC 2016 on the Saturday 30th July. This is especially exciting considering that it was this event which inspired me to start this blog and it’s just a great event. I’m not sure if the schedule is up yet, but I’ll be sure to keep an eye out.

Lastly, I was thinking that I would start doing more posts about issues that aren’t necessarily bookish. Look at the tag ‘Real Talk’ to see what I mean What do you guys think? Comment below if that would interest you.

❤ DW

 

Author Interview: Lisa Drakeford, Author of ‘The Baby’

So I was supposed to put this up ages ago, but I just got completely swamped with other stuff and I tried to do it, but my computer refused to work on WordPress. Anyway, here it is!


 

Daniel: To those who haven’t yet read ‘The Baby’, can you sum the book up in six words?

Lisa: Surprise. Babies. Have. Massive. Effects!

Daniel: What other YA books would you recommend to fans of ‘The Baby’ and why?

Lisa: Seed by Lisa Heathfield because it’s damn good YA fiction. Trouble by Non Pratt because she gets teenage girls. We Were Liars by E Lockhart because that island evokes a rawness which makes you ache. One by Sarah Crossan because….oh,it’s beautiful. Stolen by Lucy Christopher because she makes you feel things that you shouldn’t. Anything by Melvin Burgess because he’s the king of YA and anything by Kevin Brooks because he gets teenage boys.

Daniel: How happy were you with the ending of ‘The Baby’, without giving anything away?

Lisa: I was extremely happy with the ending. I was determined to make The Baby as real as possible. It’s set in five months with a month for each character. It would be totally unrealistic if, after every month each story was complete. That’s not real life. The Baby is a snapshot of the five character’s lives. Their lives will go on. (Indeed they have done, in the sequel which is sitting in my computer which nobody has seen.)

Daniel: Why did you want to deal with the issues of teenage pregnancy and domestic abuse in the book?

Lisa: I don’t really deal with teenage pregnancy – it’s more about teenage parenthood. Nicola’s baby is a ready-made pregnancy. She’s one of a handful of people who don’t know they’re pregnant until the latter stages of childbirth. That said, the UK has the highest teen pregnancy rate in Western Europe, so it doesn’t feel too unreal to include it. The grounds for Nicola’s pregnancy are fairly typical and have to be acknowledged.

Domestic abuse? I know it goes on and I’d like to think that someone might be able to relate to a destructive, twisted relationship which became difficult to deal with. Both Jonty and Olivia knew things were wrong but didn’t have the maturity to solve the problem. I’d like to think that by the end of the story the reader has a better understanding of how these things can happen. It was important that Jonty realised the consequences of his actions. I like to think that he did.

Daniel: What was the hardest part about writing about teenage pregnancy and/or domestic abuse?

Lisa: The domestic abuse was very difficult to write about. I didn’t want people to automatically hate Jonty. I wanted them to see why he did what he did and I didn’t want Olivia to be a tragic victim. They are both normal teenagers who let a difficult situation get out of hand. I hope I explained the behaviour rather than excused it. This was always my concern. It was forever at the back of my mind when I wrote it.

The pregnancy was less difficult to write about. I’ve had two kids of my own (albeit not when I was a teenager) so I know what kind of effect a baby can have on your life. And I’ve taught teen mums so I understand how isolated, lonely and scary that kind of life can be.

Daniel: Which character was the most interesting to write and why?

Lisa: It’s a toss-up between Jonty and Alice. I’ve taught so many Alices in my time. They’re adorable and fascinating and I loved the freedom she gave me to go into too much detail which even my editor couldn’t argue with. I enjoyed writing Jonty’s chapter because I think his character develops the most. He grows up over the five months and it was lovely to be able to write about this.

Daniel: Are you an avid reader and what kind of books do you like to read?

Lisa: I am – although incredibly slow. I’m currently reading The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters. I started reading it at Christmas and it’s now the middle of February. That’s almost a criminal act. I couldn’t be a reviewer like you, that’s for sure. People might die of boredom waiting for my response. But I read anything (slowly) which I can believe in. This ranges from all the above mentioned YA authors, and when I allow myself an adult read, then I’ll always veer towards my tried and trusted favourites which include Tim Winton, Patrick Gale, Christos Tsiolkas, Julie Myerson and Jeffrey Eugenides. Most of these authors have written books for young adults as well, so my advice would be to seek them out. They’re fantastic.

Daniel: Which character in ‘The Baby’ would you say you were most like in terms of personality?

Lisa: Hahahaha – can I say Ben, he’s lovely? No, I’m not as nice as him but he has my music tastes. Olivia, I suppose. She’s a pretty standard teenager and I reckon I was just that.

Daniel: What would your advice to anyone writing a YA novel, especially one in the contemporary genre?

Lisa: I’d say do it. Do it NOW. I wanted to write a novel at 17 years old and I’m so cross with myself that I let 30 years lapse before I actually did. I let student life, a career, a marriage, a family and all the debris which they entail get in the way. That’s another virtual crime. Ooh yes, and talk to other writers, get inspired by them. And of course READ. Read, read and read.

Daniel: Finally, have you got any upcoming projects in the world of YA coming up in 2016?

Lisa: I have! Book 2 has just been signed by Chicken House and I’m so delighted by this. It took eighteen months from signing to launching The Baby so I’m really hoping this book comes out a bit quicker. I’ve already got my editing head on, so please, watch this space!


Thank you to Lisa for doing the interview and thank you to you for reading this.

 

❤ DW

Author Interview: Julie Mayhew

Hi guys! This is my second author interview on this blog and it is with Julie Mayhew, author of ‘The Big Lie’, of which I did a review last week. ‘The Big Lie’ has recently been nominated for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2016, so I am honoured to have Julie here on the blog. So, without further ado, here is the interview:



juliemayhew
Julie Mayhew, author of ‘The Big Lie’ and ‘Red Ink’.
Daniel: Hi Julie, thank you very much for doing this interview for How To Read Books.
Julie: Thank you for your brilliant The Big Lie review. You’re the first blogger to call Jessika’s dad a “douche”. Good work.
D: To those who haven’t yet read ‘The Big Lie’, can you sum the book up in six words?
J: Revolutionary Nazi alt-history with girls centre-stage (hope I wasn’t cheating using hyphenated words)
D: The idea of family and loyalty is a huge thing in ‘The Big Lie’. How much would you say you valued these things in your life?
J: Hugely valued. I’m a mother and I’m also, of course, a daughter so I’m infinitely interested in how your opinion of parenting and family changes and is challenged when you become a parent yourself. I think this comes across in my books and plays.
D: How happy were you with the ending of ‘The Big Lie’, without giving anything away?
J: It was absolutely what I wanted – something honest and not ‘Hollywood’. The most powerful revolution that can happen is in the mind of the individual, that’s what I wanted to say and I really feel the ending reflects that. I know it might not be what most readers are expecting…
D: Why did you want to deal with the issues of oppression and sexuality?
J: I didn’t set out to write a book about sexuality – but it became clear very early on in the writing process that Jessika’s desires were going to be the catalyst for her seeing the world differently. What I did know from the outset was that I wanted to use the history of Nazi oppression to make us better understand our own present-day failings.
D: Did you have to do a lot of research for ‘The Big Lie’ and what made you write a book about Nazism and oppression?
J: Yes, lots of research, which fuelled the writing process. I would take a real thing from the past and shape it to fit my imagined Nazi Britain. I spent a great deal of time in the Wiener Library in London which has a vast collection of Nazi school texts, song sheets, year books, etc. From those I learnt how children were made to believe in Nazi ideals, subtly and not-so subtly, from a young age.
D: Which character was the most interesting to write and why?
J: I enjoyed writing Clementine, observing her from afar, making her a mysterious figure  but also a powerful one. But Jessika was the most interesting – finding her voice, getting inside of someone who believes different things to you and seeing her shift and change.
D: Are you an avid reader and what kind of books do you like to read?
J: I think it’s essential to be big reader to be a good writer. I recently read Lucia Berlin’s short story collection A Manual For Cleaning Women – it’s astoundingly brilliant. It makes me want to up my game.
D: Which character in ‘The Big Lie’ would you say you were most like in terms of personality?
J: I’d like to think I am a rebellious Clementine figure, but I so often want to be seen as good and please people, which is more of a Jessika personality. My aim in life is to be more Clementine.
D: What would your advice to anyone writing a YA novel, especially one linked with history?
J: Do your research, but then let it go. You need to write a story that means something with characters you are curious to unpack, not just show off all the facts you’ve found out.
D: Finally, have you got any upcoming projects in the world of YA coming up in 2016?
J: I have. I’m writing a book set in Russia which explores our ideas of what home means. My main character missed out on her childhood and is searching for a way to get it back.
D: Thank you for doing this interview and congratulations on ‘The Big Lie’ being nominated for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2016.
J: Thank you! I’m thrilled with the book’s support – particularly the readers that have contacted me to say it’s made them engage with the politics that affect them. The revolution starts here…


Thanks for reading this interview guys, I hope you enjoyed it. The next author interview will be with Lisa Drakeford, author of ‘The Baby’, later this week or early next week. A huge thanks to Julie for agreeing to do this interview. If you have not read ‘The Big Lie’ or ‘Red Ink’ yet, I suggest you do so. As always, please leave comments below and like this post if you like it.

❤ DW
P.S. Sorry for the spacing. WordPress is not a happy bunny today.

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Books That I Did Not Finish

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s Top Ten Tuesday was music themed, but I was really struggling to come up with anything, so I hope you all don’t mind that I’m just doing this random one on books I DNF’d. These are in no particular order.

  1. ‘Daughter of Smoke and Bone’ by Laini Taylor
  2. ‘Once Upon a Zombie’ by Billy Phillips
  3. ‘The Winner’s Curse’ by Marie Rutkoski
  4. ‘The Search For WondLa’ by Tony DiTerlizzi
  5. ‘Clockwork Prince’ by Cassandra Clare
  6. ‘Queste’ by Angie Sage
  7. ‘The Mark of Athena’ by Rick Riordan
  8. ‘Mockingjay’ by Suzanne Collins
  9. ‘Uglies’ by Scott Westerfeld
  10. ‘The Rise of Nine’ by Pittacus Lore

❤ DW