Thursday, 20 July 2017

Six Summer Reads

 Looking for a few books to throw into your beach bag? Something to lose yourself in on the cruise ship? A novel to flick through on the plane? Look no further than this list. I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

A picture paints a thousand words, that's what they say. Well, imagine you could read those words. Imagine they were mixed in with the paint, curving along the lines, tattooed on the subject's skin. 

That's what reading I'll Give You the Sun is like.

Read my review here. The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

If you won't read this book for the flesh-eating water horses -

(Who wouldn't read a book with flesh-eating water horses?)

- Then read it for the smell of the sea and the way the sand flies up around them as the horses gallop up the beach.

Read my review here. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Long, more than a little cheesy, and great for long car journeys. Little Women follows the lives of the March sisters, Meg (the pretty one), Jo (the ambitious one), Beth (the sweet one), and Amy (the bratty one) whilst their father is away fighting in the civil war. Frozen Charlotte by Alex Bell

Looking for something a little darker? Why not head out to a remote Scottish island and hang out in a creepy mansion full of ghosts and dolls?

Read my review here. Paper Towns by John Green

Two words. Road. Trip.

(This is what road trip books are for, right?)

(Well I can't think of any other purpose for them.)

]6. Daylight Saving by Edward Hogan

You have to pick this up if you're holidaying at Butlins or some other holiday park. You just have to. It's short and thrilling, the perfect book to read as you're sitting by the pool.

Read my review here.


What makes a book a summer read?

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Creepy Crush (Ghostgirl by Tonya Hurley) 1/5

'"You can't ban me from the dance! I AM THE DANCE!" Petula screamed.' - Tonya Hurley, Ghostgirl

Usually, when I give a book a low rating, I say that it's not the book. It's me.

In this case though, I think it was the book.

We'll start with the main protagonist, Charlotte. She was so obsessed with Damon that it was actually creepy. Even creepier, her obsession with Damon pretty much defined her personality. She had no goals beyond dating him and becoming more popular. The fact that these remained her only two goals after death is mind-boggling to say the least. Did she have no goals for the future? No actual human connections to mourn the loss of? 

Damon himself was just a really nice, sporty guy. Hanging out with the popular (read: mean) kids, and dating Petula somehow did not stop him from being a really nice guy. I am still trying to work out how he ended up in his friendship group when he seemed to hate them so much. Also, he was essentially dating three girls at once (he thought he was dating two) and yet he was never called out for being unfaithful. None of the girls seemed to mind except for Petula, who we weren't supposed to like or agree with. 

Everyone else was defined by one or two singular characteristics and most of them were stereotypes. Scarlet was the gothic loner, Petula was the mean girl who inexplicably had the world revolving around her, Pam was the pushover of a best friend...and on and on and on. Usually, I don't mind the odd stereotype, especially when they've been given the odd twist. The problem here was that none of the characters ever developed beyond their assigned stereotype. The only character I liked was Scarlet, and that was only because she was sarcastic and called Charlotte out once or twice.

Plot-wise, I struggled. This is a book aimed at the teen audience. To outright say in a book aimed at teens that the reason that teens don't go straight to the afterlife is because they're selfish is awkward to say the least. Throughout the book, there was a constant emphasis on how teenagers didn't think of how their deaths would affect their families and friends, only of how it affected them. This was essentially the entire reason that there was a plot at all. Charlotte spent the entire novel pining after Damon and ignoring her new responsibilities.

And this is what saved the day in the end.

Yeah. On the one hand, teens are selfish people. On the other hand, being a selfish person will save the day. I was also really confused by Damon's reaction to finding out that Charlotte and Scarlet had both been flirting with him. It seemed a little...odd.

Overall, I didn't enjoy this one. I have learned my lesson about picking books up just because they look pretty.

Has cover love ever blinded you to common sense? 

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

What the Hell Does My Rating System Even Mean?

(You know what I've always wondered?)

How it feels to have a working sense of empathy?

(What fresh hell is your rating system? Do you even have a system?)

Of course I have a system.

(A system you can explain? One that will actually make sense to other people?)

...I said it was a system. I made no claim to logic, common sense, or it working in this specific dimension.

One Star

Every word was like rubbing salt into my eyes whilst walking over flaming coals and swallowing broken glass. Honestly, it was physical torture just forcing my eyes down the page. To put into perspective how often this is my reaction to a book, I've only given out five one star ratings since I joined Goodreads.

If I finished this book, chances are I had to read it for something.

Two Stars

This is where it gets tricky. You see, I'm not really sure what makes me think, "This is getting two stars." It can mean that I was disappointed, that something ruined the story for me (and, when I say 'something', I usually mean the romance), or even just that I was scared of what might happen if I gave this story one star. A lot of them were good books, they just didn't mesh with me.

For most of my two star ratings, I'd say I was disappointed. 

Three Stars

I didn't love it, or at least not all of it, but I didn't hate it either. A lot of my three star ratings are stories that I felt improved. Maybe I was bored, but then the climax hit and I couldn't tear my eyes away from the page. 

Three stars means it was enjoyable. It hasn't changed my life, and I might forget about it, but I'm glad I read it.

Four Stars

I liked it. I liked it a lot. Most of my ratings are four stars, and I'm not really sure what keeps them from being five. Maybe there were one or two elements that bugged me, or maybe I felt that it was missing something. Sometimes, it's because it dragged in one or two places, or because I felt like it was too long for what it was. Four star reads just...feel like four star reads to me. I'm sorry, I can't explain it.

Five Stars

This book is absolutely flawless. 

Okay, so it's almost definitely not, but I loved it. If I read a book in a day (and it wasn't a coursebook), chances are it's a five from me. Other times, it's the characters (it's always the characters), the voice, the writing, the plot... It doesn't have to be perfect. It just has to have made me happy. 

Can you explain your rating system? 

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Friday, 7 July 2017

Beautiful People - Writing Process

(It's been a while since we've linked up for this.)

I know, right? 

Beautiful People is hosted by Cait @ Paper Fury and Sky @ Further Up and Further In. This week, it's all about the writing process.

1. How do you decide which project to work on?

I pick whichever one appeals to me at the time. If it doesn't mesh with me, I'm not against switching to something else. That doesn't mean I'm done with the story though. The one I'm working on now is one I dropped before, but now that I've come back to it it's flowing beautifully.

2. How long does it usually take you to finish a project?

Are we talking first drafting here or finishing the entire thing? I'm going to go with the first one. It takes me about four months to write a first draft.

3. Do you have any routines to put you in a writing mood?

I open up the website I use to track how many words I write each day. I also open up the NaNo website if it's that time of year. Sometimes I put music on, sometimes I don't. I'm learning to play it by ear on that one. I like to be in a room by myself too, somewhere quiet where nobody's going to talk to me.

4. What time of day do you write?

Evenings usually, but if I can write in the morning (around 10am-12pm), it comes much easier.

5. Are there any authors you think you have a similar style too?

I've never really thought about it, to be honest.

6. Why did you start writing, and why do you keep writing?

I started because, not only did I enjoy it, but I was told that I was good at it. I keep writing for the same reason I keep reading, because I like to escape from the world and myself. Not to mention, playing with character dynamics is really fun.

7. What's the hardest thing you've written?

It's not exactly written. I keep starting it and then realising it's too big (worldbuilding-wise and in the sheer number of characters) for me to manage right now.

8. Is there a project you want to tackle someday, but don't feel ready yet?

See above.

9. What writing goals did you make for 2017 and how are they going?

I wanted a first draft by the end of the year. I'm moving steadily along towards that goal.

10. Describe your writing process in three words or a GIF.

Tell me about your writing process.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Themed Names - Elements

Elemental powers are the fictional equivalent of having brown eyes. The classical elements - water, fire, earth and air - seem to be in every other story, often with a fifth "element" thrown in for good measure. Even when they're not, elemental names work well for personality traits too. Have a fiery character? Why not give them a fire-based name. Is your character adaptable? Water names could work well.

Here are some elemental names for all your character naming needs.



Aithne - Irish name meaning "fire".

Ember - A piece of burning kindling in a dying fire.

Fiametta - Italian name meaning "little fiery one".

Hestia - Greek Goddess of the hearth and home.

Kenna - Female form of Kenneth. Scottish name meaning "born of fire".

Seraphina - Has its roots in 'Seraphim', a rank of angel. Means "fiery one".

Vesta - Roman name for Hestia, Goddess of the hearth and home. 


Aiden - Meaning "fire".

Blaze - A bright, burning fire.

Flint - Used to create a spark.

Fudo - Japanese name meaning "God of fire and wisdom".

Keegan - Meaning "fiery".

Kenneth - Scottish name meaning "born of fire". 

Phoenix - A bird that bursts into flames when it dies and is reborn from the ashes. 


Ash - What's leftover after a fire. Can be short for Ashley.



Brooke - Ever heard of a babbling brook? A body of water like a stream.

Isla - From 'Islay', a Scottish river. Always makes me think of islands, though that's probably down to the spelling.

Marissa - From the Latin 'Maris' meaning "of the sea". 

Marina - From 'Marinus', the Latin for "mariner".

Rain - Water that falls from the sky.

Ran - The name of the Norse Goddess of drowning. Also a Japanese name meaning "orchid".

Thalassa - Primeval sea Goddess. Her name means "of the sea".


Aberforth - In Gaelic, this name means "from the river".

Caspian - The Caspian Sea is actually a lake. 

Dylan - Welsh name meaning "son of the wave". Its less common female form is Dylana.

Kai - This name has so many meanings, among them "pier of a harbour" (Basque) and "sea" (Hawaiian). Can also mean "fire" (Scottish). 

Rio - Meaning "River".

Ford - A point at which you can walk across a river because the water is so shallow.

Triton - The messenger of the sea and a son of Poseidon. In astronomy, it is the name of Neptune's largest moon.


Ariel - Although it is a Hebrew name meaning "lion of God", it has watery connotations as the name of the Disney princess from The Little Mermaid

Mizuko - Japanese name meaning "water child".

Ren - Japanese name meaning "water lily".

River - As in the body of water. 



Ceres - Roman name for Demeter, the Goddess of agriculture.

Eden - As in the Garden of Eden from Genesis. 

Flora - Roman Goddess of flowers.

Idun - Norse Goddess who acts as the keeper of the golden apples of immortality.  

Medeina - Lithuanian Goddess of nature.

Persephone - Greek Goddess of spring and the Queen of the Underworld. Persephone leaving earth for the under world every year was believed to be what made spring and summer turn to autumn and winter.

Terra - Roman name for Gaia, the Goddess of the earth.


Adam - The first man made by God in Genesis. Adam means "of the red earth".

Dagan - Hebrew name meaning "earth". 

Dimitri - Meaning "of Demeter". Demeter was the Greek Goddess of agriculture.

Geb - Egyptian God of the earth. Earthquakes were believed to be caused by him laughing. The name has also been read as Seb or Keb in the past.

Heath - Synonym for 'moor'.

Sage - A plant used as a herb in cooking. Means "wise".

Tor - A rocky peak on a hill. Also means "God of Thunder". 

(For more earth names, see our list of Names from the Garden.)


Anemone - From classical mythology. Means "daughter of the wind".

Aria - Italian word for "air".

Aurai - Air spirits in Classical mythology. 

Iris - The Greek Goddess of the rainbow. Also the name of a flower.

Skye - After the Scottish Isle of Skye. 

Thora - Meaning "Goddess of thunder". Feminine variation of Thor.

Wendy - Invented by J.M. Barrie for the heroine of Peter Pan. Sounds like 'windy'.


Auster - Roman embodiment of the sirocco wind.

Corus - A minor Roman wind deity.

Gale - A strong wind.

Neil - Meaning "cloud".

Ray - Short for Raymond. Ray means "beam of light" in English, hence why people talk about the rays of the sun.

Yuki - Japanese name meaning "snow".

Zephyr - A westerly wind. Comes from Zephyrus, one of the Anemoi from Classical mythology.


Skylar - Has various meanings, one of which is "sky". A variation on the Dutch Schuyler, meaning "scholar".

Tempest - Meaning "stormy".

 Can you think of any other elemental names?