Music I Love

So  I thought I’d do a slightly different post for today and veer away from books and writing and talk about some music and artists I love. I have certain musicians that I always come back to time and again and I thought I’d give them a little bit of love on here.

Walk Off the Earth 

This is one of my absolute favourite groups to exist, honestly. They’re unique and their songs are just incredible. Many of them tackle deeper issues with their catchy, upbeat tunes (though their latest – ‘Taekwondo’ – is just a love song (thought I’d put money that it’s them partially making a joke about conventional romantic songs)). I have followed this band since their ‘5 peeps 1 guitar‘ video went viral a good few years ago and I can’t recommend them enough. If I manage to have half as much fun as it looks like they have in my future, I will be living a good life. I am impatiently awaiting UK tour dates…

Lucy Spraggan

I saw her live back in February and she was phenomenal. She was on the X Factor a good few years ago and since then she has released three albums, the latest on her own label. If I’m honest, I’m glad she left the x factor (due to illness I should add) because she is not the generic pop artist that succeed on that show (nothing wrong with them but Lucy has the most incredible talent) as she writes her own songs and they tell magnificent stories. ‘Tea and Toast’ was sung on the show, but ‘Dear You‘ was one of her most powerful (listening to her sing it live choked me up).

Oh Wonder

These guys are the ones I quite often go to when I write, as their music is calming but wonderful. I’m seeing them at uni in November and I can’t wait, although I’ve yet to listen to their newest album for some reason. If you want something raw and unique, these guys are the ones to listen to.

Amy Macdonald 

I have distinct memories of listening to her original album on the way to Scotland for a family holiday years and years ago. To this day, I still love that album. She’s got four out now, and her voice is so unique and distinctive, I just love it. I also remember all of the words to ‘Mr Rock and Roll‘ without shame. She’s another brilliant songwriter and just worth a listen.

The Piano Guys

These. I get goosebumps when I listen to their phenomenal arrangements of both pop and classical songs. I have seen them live twice, the second time in the Royal Albert Hall, which was amazing. Quite a few people have pulled a face when I’ve mentioned the word classical, but then have gone on to say that they enjoy what these guys do with music. I discovered these the same day I discovered WOTE (a good day for music for me!) and haven’t looked back. They came up in the recommendations on youtube as they do 5 people one piano, playing ‘What Makes you Beautiful‘ (even if you hate One Direction please, this is incredible!).

Collabro

If you enjoy musical theatre, you must try listening to Collabro. Their covers of musical theatre songs made the hairs stand up on my arms, even more so when I heard them live. Here’s the link to ‘Memory‘ from Cats, one of my all time favourite songs from one of my favourite musicals. The first time I heard them sing on Britain’s Got Talent, they sung Stars from Les Mis, which I swear is one of the reasons I love their music so much as that is probably my favourite musical theatre song full stop.

Frank Turner

You can blame Hannah completely for my love for Frank Turner. I went to a gig of his at uni with her and he was just absolutely fantastic and from then on I’ve been listening to his music. He’s another super talented musician and is brutally honest in his songs (which I love). I’m so so glad that I’ve been introduced to his music as it’s exactly the kind of sound I enjoy and I will continue to listen to him for a long time.

As you can tell, I tend to listen to a variety and there aren’t really any ‘mainstream’ artists in this list. I prefer musicians who write their own songs mainly, but also something that is unique. I had the music TV channel on a while ago and all of the chart toppers sounded identical to me, and not the kind of music I particularly like. If you love chart music then great! Which are your favourite songs?

A New Writing Project and What I’m Doing Differently

So I’ve tried writing a number of things before but I always end up reverting back to poetry. Poetry is what I’ve always written (though not necessarily well), and it’s definitely my comfort zone. However, I have made several attempts at novels, which usually just fizzle out before I even manage halfway.

So I’ve had one novel on the go for nearly two years now; I started it during NaNoWriMo of 2015. I’m at 43,000 words, which is the most I’ve ever got with a novel, and I also love the idea. The problem? I just don’t know where to go with it at this point in the plot. Something needs to happen, but I just can’t think of anything that is worthwhile. The writing itself is poor as well; it’s slow, choppy, and I change my mind mid sentence so often that it would be impossible for anyone other than myself to read it. This will all be sorted out in editing though, so I told myself it doesn’t matter at this point. Realistically, it doesn’t but it’s another thing to think about when I’m writing.

Instead then, of putting it off repeatedly and in fact getting nothing written whatsoever, I have made the conscious decision to put it on the back burner for a while. Whilst some people I imagine would struggle with this idea, it’s definitely the right one for me if I want to actually get writing again – which I desperately do. I had some characters and thoughts in my head for another project, this one a YA contemporary instead of adult dystopian, so I decided to build on them, and build on them I have.

I spent a lot of time developing the characters and their families, adding diversity to the cast and uniqueness to individual characters. I feel as though the uniqueness can be worked on, but I’ve not quite finished planning and I do feel as though smaller details will be added when I’m writing it properly as they always do. However, I’ve made sure to plan development and changes as those often go forgotten as I write.

Planning is the big change I’ve made with this project and the one I’ve put aside. This time I’ve made sure to plan each chapter in detail, and instead of writing ‘talk about x’, I’ve actually made a note of what to say. There are a couple of details that I haven’t quite worked out yet, but I’ll either go back to them before or as I write (when I say minor details they are things like the colour of something etc). With my other project, I’d plan a few chapters ahead and very vaguely, so I had an idea of what was coming but after that I had to go back to planning. I thought this worked for me – and to an extent it did – as there were things I just hadn’t thought of that I thought of later which really added to the plot and took the narrative in a new direction. But it obviously doesn’t truly work because I just stopped. I couldn’t think of anything and I stopped. Lesson learned there, and when I decide eventually where to take it, I will plan the rest a lot more thoroughly.

I’m hoping that because my plan is so detailed, once I finish it, I will be able to get the first draft finished fairly quickly. I’m not necessarily a fast writer and can’t write 10,000 words in a day, but it shouldn’t take me nearly two years. I’ve spent a while on this plan, and I’m not quite finished with it (I’ve got about four chapters left), and I had originally planned to keep it around 40,000 words and a novella. I made the mistake of adding a major plot point in what should have been the penultimate chapter though, so it’s become a novel! It does make the story a lot better though so I’m not complaining. I’m aiming for around 2,500 words per chapter, for reference, though some of the plans make me think that this may be exceeded!

Are there any tips that you have when it comes to planning? I seem to have gone from one extreme (barely planning) to another (massively detailed planning), but I’m hoping it works.

Also, have a cute picture of my dogs swimming when we were on holiday because I didn’t know what picture to take for this post!

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Review: The Ethan I Was Before – Ali Standish

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Genre: Middle grade, contemporary

Publication Date: June 29th 2017 by Orchard Books, Hachette Children’s Group

Format: ebook sent to me for review from Hachette Children’s Group via Netgalley

Ethan had been many things. He was always ready for adventure and always willing to accept a dare, especially from his best friend, Kacey. But that was before. Before the accident that took Kacey from him. Before his family moved from the city he loves to a tiny town in the middle of nowhere. 

Ethan’s new home feels like the place for second chances. It’s also home to Coralee, a girl with a big personality and even bigger stories. Coralee may be just the friend Ethan needs, except Ethan isn’t the only one with secrets. Coralee’s are catching up with her, and what she’s hiding might be putting both their lives at risk. 

The Ethan I Was Before is a story of love and loss, wonder and adventure, and ultimately of hope. 

(from goodreads.com)


When the write-up on Netgalley described this as ‘Wonder meets Goodnight Mr. Tom’, I had to request it. I loved both of those books and Goodnight Mr. Tom especially is an all-time favourite. The Ethan I Was Before was so so wonderful. It was heartbreaking but also uplifting, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

There was an element of mystery surrounding the character of Kacey and the events that caused Ethan to move from Boston, and it kept me intrigued throughout the novel. Once I found out what they were, it broke my heart, especially as they were told through Ethan’s perspective. I don’t want to say too much, because it would be a massive spoiler as the whole book is about Ethan dealing with events that are left unexplained to the reader until the end very end, but his point of view just made the story even sadder.

I loved the massive focus on both friendship and family. The family is central in the narrative, with the beginning being their moving in with Ethan’s grandfather. There is wonderful development in the relationships within the family unit too, and it was fantastic to see that a constant (which many see the family as, and it is the same for Ethan) can still change and evolve through time.

I also loved the character of Coralee and the story that she has, which I won’t go into because again, spoilers. She’s an adorable character and despite her age, she is sassy and stands up for what she believes in and I think that is an incredible message for kids to read. Her friendship with Ethan is fabulous and the pair of them just made me happy to read about.

The plot of this novel was quite complex, but very easy to follow nonetheless. I honestly loved it, and there is quite a lot that is hinted at but largely left unsaid until the very end, which picked up the pace and kept me intrigued and hooked until the reveal.

This was a wonderful book, and I would highly recommend it. The story was unique, fun, and interesting, and I think it’s fair to see that it’s a book that you can’t help enjoying for one reason of another. The characters are great with their antics, mishaps and friendships, and I’d say anyone could pick this up and fall in love with them, no matter what their age.

Rating: 5 / 5 Stars.

Review: Wing Jones – Katherine Webber

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Genre: Contemporary, YA,

Publication Date: January 5th 2017 by Walker Books

Format: Purchased paperback, (from Waterstones – I remember buying it on a whim, what a good decision that was!)

With a grandmother from China and another from Ghana, fifteen-year-old Wing Jones is often caught between worlds. But when tragedy strikes, Wing discovers a talent for running she never knew she had. Wing’s speed could bring her family everything it needs. It could also stop Wing getting the one thing she wants.

(from goodreads.com)


This book is hands down one of my favourites of this year. I devoured it. It was refreshing, unique, well-written and just downright wonderful. Heartbreaking too, but brilliant.

Wing Jones is just a fabulous character. She isn’t perfect but then nobody is; she wasn’t your generic, blonde, slim, rich girl with flawless skin and features. (Nothing wrong with that but please we need variety and representation of other cultures / races). She’s not happy with her looks but she’s happy in other aspects of her life, and honestly it was brilliant to see, because she seemed like a normal person.

I also loved the contrast between her grandmothers and the aspects of their different cultures that continually shone throughout the novel. It was so interesting having two completely different cultures come together and so unique – I’ve noticed that mixed race characters in YA often tend to have a white parent, so it was refreshing to see a character that didn’t.

The plot was heartbreaking but equally uplifting, and there is a super strong focus on family. Thankfully a lot of YA now has veered towards a positive focus on families of all kinds, but I think this one takes the crown as in a way, it is entirely about family. Of course there are friendships and a bit of romance etc in here, but family is number one and I absolutely loved it.

It is also a book about running, and not only that, but a female running. I don’t think I’ve read a book where the female does sport and is also super good at it. I love running (nowhere near as much as Wing though), so personally I felt I could relate a little bit to her, or simply just understand why she enjoys it. It made me want to tie on my own trainers and go out for a run; it made me feel as though I could.

I’m struggling to find anymore to say about this book without overusing the same adjectives so I’ll leave it here: this book is amazing and you should definitely read it soon.

Also Katherine Webber is the sweetest person and I was so pumped to be her first YALC signing and I still haven’t got over my excitement. Her trainers on day 3 of YALC were also amazing. Just saying. (They match the cover).

Rating: 5 / 5 Stars.

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Review: Moonrise – Sarah Crossan

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Genre: YA, contemporary, poetry

Publication Date: September 7th 2017 by Bloomsbury Childrens

Format: eARC from Bloomsbury Publishing Plc via Netgalley

‘They think I hurt someone. 

But I didn’t. You hear?

Coz people are gonna be telling you

all kinds of lies.

I need you to know the truth.’

Joe hasn’t seen his brother for ten years, and it’s for the most brutal of reasons. Ed is on death row.

But now Ed’s execution date has been set, and Joe is determined to spend those last weeks with him, no matter what other people think …

(from goodreads.com)


I can honestly say that I have fallen head over heels for Sarah’s writing. I read One last year, and this year I was thrilled to receive an early copy of Moonrise and it didn’t disappoint. I rarely cry at books (yep I’m heartless which is hilarious because in ‘real life’ I cry at everything but hey), but this brought tears to my eyes (as did One).

I don’t think I’ve read a book that focuses on death row; I know they exist but not really in the YA genre (or none that I’ve found anyway) and it was so fresh and unique. I loved that she chose to narrate it from the perspective of the brother, as it gave a different view of the impact death row can have on someone. So often the media singly focuses on the prisoner and their crimes, but the family goes forgotten or they are simply guilty by association. Here, this idea is explored, and it delves into the effect that family and childhood can have, but also how the family deal with having a member on death row, as the siblings are completely innocent and are just trying to make their way in the world.

There was so much variety in the characters and their situations which was amazing. To see them come together around the central focus of the prison and death row in spite of their differing positions and stories was fascinating, and I really, really loved it. My heart repeatedly broke for Joe and the struggles he went through, and honestly he was just a wonderful, but tragic, character.

As I’ve said, I love Sarah’s writing style so, so much. The poetry isn’t technical, but this story would not be half of what it is with ‘technical’ poetry. It’s simple, but it’s cutting and beautiful and everything it needs to be and more. It perfectly captures moments and feelings without dragging them out or going into too much detail. This is one of those stories that is all about moments and feelings, and this style tells it perfectly.

The pacing is fairly slow, but as I’ve said, this books is about capturing snippets of time and emotion. So, as a result, it doesn’t feel slow at all. I felt completely caught up in everything that was going on; in the stories of all of the characters, in the hope and heartbreak and everything else in between.

I loved this book, and I think that’s clear in this review. Sarah Crossan has become an auto-buy author without a doubt (I bought the rest of hers at YALC last weekend!), simply because of her uniqueness, wonderful storytelling, and ability to make me feel every emotion under the sun and bring tears to my eyes.

Rating: 5 / 5 stars.

Review: The Sound of the World by Heart – Giacomo Bevilacqua

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Genre: Graphic novel

Publication Date: 11th April 2017 by Magnetic Press

Format: ebook sent to me for review by Magnetic Press via Netgalley

An experiment in social isolation turns into a journey of self-discovery as a photojournalist commits to spending sixty days in New York city without talking to a single person. More than just an exercise in observation and self-control, he’s hoping to forget a troubled past and mend a broken heart. But the city has a sneaky way of throwing the best laid plans and noble efforts to waste, revealing secrets that lie right in front of him. All he has to do is open his eyes…

A touching, vividly illustrated journey through contemporary modern New York, exploring what it takes to find yourself — and maybe your soul mate — in the middle of a crowded, bustling modern world.

(from goodreads.com)


This graphic novel completely took me by surprise. I didn’t really know what to expect as I went into it but I ended up really enjoying it.

The cover gives very little away in terms of the art style, I’d say, however the pages inside are so gorgeous and to be fair I was far more interested in the images than the actual plot. The colours were so soft and lovely and it was one of the most pleasing graphic novels I have read. The art was unique and so immersive, I was drawn into it without even realising.

The plot I found to be a little confusing at times, though thankfully everything was cleared up at the end and I loved the way that it ended. The writing itself was beautiful, there are a few pages with longer passages on and they are like poetry. The story itself was wonderful (confusion aside), especially the ending, though I genuinely loved the concept and I felt that an aspect of the character (that I’m not saying because: spoilers) was actually portrayed really well throughout the graphic novel, without it being specifically mentioned, only to be cleared up at the end. Thinking back on this, it made the whole reading experience a little surreal and like being in a bubble, which is exactly the feeling I imagined the character to have.

This was such a wonderful, short tale of finding yourself and others around you, and I truly loved it. It read almost like a modern day fairytale, as it had a ethereal feeling at times, be it because of the isolation in the plot or because of the poetic writing style that features throughout. If you’re looking for a new graphic novel to read that isn’t all action and drama and space etc (which make up the majority of comics / graphic novels – not that it’s a bad thing, it’s just nice to have a change), this is definitely one to pick up.

Rating: 4 / 5 stars.

Top 3 July Reads 2017

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I finished twelve books in July, which is the most I’ve ever read in a month, so I’m very happy. There were no graphic novels or poetry collections, which makes it even more of an achievement for me! I loved pretty much every book I read, which makes this a difficult post to write, but nevertheless I have picked three.

BronzeThe Girls – Emma Cline

I was after this book last summer, but only the hardback was available (and I have to be picky when I purchase hardbacks because I have no space left for books!). A year of waiting meant that as soon as I got my hands on the paperback I devoured it. Honestly I loved this so, so much, and I think it’ll be one that stays with me and I will reread many times (I guess it helps that I find cults fascinating to read about, if a tad creepy / scary!)

SilverWing Jones – Katherine Webber

This book was just SO good. I absolutely loved this and cannot really put my love of it into words. I met Katherine Webber at YALC over the weekend and she truly was such a lovely, genuine person, which made my love for this book even stronger.

GoldLoved – P.C. and Kristin Cast

It’s a House of Night book, it was never not going to be first on this list, regardless of any other amazing books I’ve read.