Beautiful People: July Edition

Hi all!

It’s been far too long since I’ve done a Beautiful People post! Hosted by Cait @ Paper Fury and Sky @ Further Up and Further In, this is a monthly writer’s meme – and for July the questions are all about the author process.

For more information on how my current work in progress is going check out the Writing section of my blog 🙂

How do you decide which project to work on?

Usually I only have one main idea at a time, but that project will just take over my thoughts until I write it! I will have one or two ideas that have been properly outlined, and they’re the ones that I work on.
How long does it usually take you to finish a project?

Hahahahaha what is finishing? But seriously, I always struggle to finish projects. I often lose motivation about three quarters of the way through writing the first draft, either because I think of another idea which I need to pursue ABSOLUTELY IMMEDIATELY, or because the story has become so convoluted I don’t know how to end it!

However, I have finished a few stories in my time; the most recent took about a year to write the first draft (which I blame on college), and now I’m starting to rewrite it before moving onto the sequel.
Do you have any routines to put you in the writing mood?

I hand-write my stories before typing them up to edit them, so I pick out my favourite notebook or the one that just feels right, find a good pen and sit down to write! I also listen to music sometimes, and if I’m writing a certain scene I’ll listen to the same song over and over again. (Is There Somewhere by Halsey was my go-to song for romantic scenes in my current WIP).

What time of day do you write best?

I really like writing in the early evening. Whether that’s my best writing or not is a different matter. I also sometimes feel inspired quite late at night, which can be annoying when I want to go to sleep!

Are there any authors you think you have a similar style to?

I’m always worried about being too similar to any author – I blame it on all the coursework I’ve had to do recently – so I’m not too sure! I’d hope that it has elements of stories that I love – characters as original as those in The Mortal Instruments for example – but I don’t think I could say who my style most resembles.

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

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This is such a good question! I think I started writing because I loved being imaginative, and I was making up stories all the time when I was younger; I used to make all these paper dolls and come up with elaborate backstories for them! As for why I keep writing, I think that writing nowadays is an escape and a way to relax, and I guess I still have stories that I want to tell. I’ve been writing for so long now that it feels like a part of me one I would hate to lose – I always panic when my inspiration runs out!

What’s the hardest thing you’ve written?

Well aside from all of the essays I wrote for my exams this year (hahaha I’m not panicking you are), I think my hardest piece of fiction I’ve written is my current project! It turned out to be a lot more serious than I had anticipated, and this is the first WIP where I’ve properly gone back and worked on it. I have to admit, I’m not thrilled about rewriting it, but I know that there are more stories to be told in this world and the characters’ journeys have only just begun, so I guess it’s got to be done!

Is there a project you want to tackle someday but you don’t feel ready yet?

This is another great question! I think there are a few ideas germinating in the back of my head that I need to write in the future, and my current WIP is stretching me a little so I might start another one and leave it for now.

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

I didn’t actually make any writing goals for 2017, but I did want to finish typing up my current project and start editing it, which I have done! I’m about seven chapters in, so there’s a while to go, but it’s great being back with all of my characters.

Describe your writing process in 3 words or a gif!

This is me all day!

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That’s it for this post! Tell me, why do you write? And how is your current work in progress going? Do you have a favourite genre to write in?

Thanks for reading 🙂

 

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Bone Gap Review – Magic, Mystery, and Morals

Hi all!

Today I’m reviewing Bone Gap by Laura Ruby. I’ve been seeing lots of praise for this book, and for the most part I think it lived up to the hype. Ruby created an atmosphere as vivid and mystical as the cover – which honestly is so beautiful, this was a bit of a cover buy! – in the small town of Bone Gap, and some of the messages she conveyed were very powerful.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Everyone knows Bone Gap is full of gaps—gaps to trip you up, gaps to slide through so you can disappear forever. So when young, beautiful Roza went missing, the people of Bone Gap weren’t surprised. After all, it wasn’t the first time that someone had slipped away and left Finn and Sean O’Sullivan on their own. Just a few years before, their mother had high-tailed it to Oregon for a brand new guy, a brand new life. That’s just how things go, the people said. Who are you going to blame?

Finn knows that’s not what happened with Roza. He knows she was kidnapped, ripped from the cornfields by a dangerous man whose face he cannot remember. But the searches turned up nothing, and no one believes him anymore. Not even Sean, who has more reason to find Roza than anyone, and every reason to blame Finn for letting her go.

As we follow the stories of Finn, Roza, and the people of Bone Gap—their melancholy pasts, their terrifying presents, their uncertain futures—acclaimed author Laura Ruby weaves a heartbreaking tale of love and loss, magic and mystery, regret and forgiveness—a story about how the face the world sees is never the sum of who we are.

My rating: 4 stars.

The Characters:

The characters are often what makes or breaks a novel for me, but I absolutely adored the main protagonist, Finn! He was kind, tried his best (even if it didn’t always work), and he STOPPED TRAFFIC FOR DUCKLINGS. Is that not the cutest thing you’ve ever heard? The only problem was, I didn’t warm to Sean much at all. I know we’re meant to feel sorry for him, and I did, but he was a little unlikable. 

Roza, on the other hand, was fantastic. There were so many important messages in each of her chapters which just made my heart sing. ‘ “She’s her own girl.” ‘ It was also really interesting to learn about her family and life in Poland (and all the food, which sounded delicious!), and I just loved her strength. It took me a while to warm to Petey, and I did think without the chapters from her perspective I wouldn’t have liked her. However, over time I did see how her character was important, and that appearances and reputations are never the same as reality.

The Plot:

The plot of Bone Gap  was really engaging! Throughout the novel there is the mystery of where and why Roza disappeared, but as the story progresses there’s also a romance developing (which was so cute!!), a family rift, the puzzling Charlie Valentine…Ruby manages to tie everything together wonderfully, and I was satisfied with the ending. My only problem is that it felt like there were a few things that could have been explained or wrapped up more solidly; however I think this was just because of the genre, as magical realism is more open-ended than a contemporary.

The Setting:

This was something that Ruby excelled at. Coming from a small town myself (seriously, I could walk the length of it in five minutes!), I loved the gossip of the people of Bone Gap, and it was a refreshing change for a Young Adult novel to be set in the countryside! Also I don’t know if this is a setting or character point, but there are loads of animals in this novel and I loved it so much, can someone please get me a Calamity Jane? (I mean, I technically can’t have a pet at university but I’ll work around it).

Final Thoughts:

If you’re looking for a town that teeters on the edge of the magic and normality in the world, strong women that don’t let other people bring them down, and a darling of a protagonist, then Bone Gap is for you! There were some downsides and I didn’t adore it as much as I thought I would, but this was still an enjoyable book unlike anything I’ve read before.

Have you read Bone Gap? What did you think of it? Do you have any other magical realism books I should read? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks for reading 🙂

#AmCurrently – Welcome Back to Me!

Once upon a time there was a little blog called Bowlerhatgirl Books. Unfortunately, the owner of said blog got caught up in life and exams.

And the little blog disappeared. For four months.

So it is definitely been a long time since I’ve updated this blog – or any of my bookish social media to be honest. In the UK May and June are the big exam months of the year, so instead of reading, writing, and blogging, I had to revise, cry about revision, and revise which was infinitely less fun.

But now I’m back! And I figured an #AmCurrently tag would tell you guys what I’ve been up to these past few months, which I’m sure you’re all dying to know! (Or, you know, mildly interested).

#AmCurrently – Reading:

I just finished The Gentleman’s Processed with VSCO with f2 presetGuide to Vice and Virtue and it was THE BEST THING. I could babble about it all day (and I soon will, as a book review is coming your way!) but basically everyone should read it right now. I’m considering rereading it when it comes out in hardcover next month!

Aside from that, I’m a quarter of the way through rereading The Diviners by Libba Bray – if you’d like to know why this is my one of my favourite series ever you can check out my post here (also the third book is coming out in October!!!! I’m not excited you are). I’ve also started The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons, and although it’s very light and innocent now, I know that it’s going to be devastatingly emotional once I properly get into it.

#AmCurrently – Listening to:

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My playlist for June has been amazing because two of my favourite artists released new music! I’ve been alternating between From the Outside by Hey Violet (Current favourites are Where Have You Been (All My Night) and Like Lovers Do) and hopeless fountain kingdom by Halsey (Alone and Walls Could Talk are so good!). It’s such a relief now that I can listen to these songs and actually enjoy them, whereas before I was listening to them whilst trying to absorb 3 textbooks, 5 novels and another language (A Levels are the actual best, guys. The. Best.) I’ve also been loving Papercut by Zedd and Troye Sivan, it’s long but gold.

#AmCurrently – Watching:

In between making my way through all of RuPaul’s Drag Race, I finally finished watching Girlboss! I actually loved it, there was something almost empowering to see Sophia being unapologetically aggressive and confident.

As well as that, I’ve just finished watching the third season of Skam and am img_0335procrastinating the fourth because I CANNOT ACCEPT IT IS OVER. NOPE NOPE NOPE. I’ve even started learning Norwegian on Duolingo because I’m desperate to visit Scandinavia after watching the show, that’s how much I love it!

Anyway, I hope that filled you guys in on what I’ve been up to in these past few months. I’m sorry for being gone for so long, but I have a lot more blog ideas now.

What have you been reading recently? Are there any books or albums I’ve missed in my hiatus? What’s your favourite song at the moment?

Thanks for reading 🙂

Writing Update! Finishing the First Draft

Hi everyone!dsc03339

So, as you can tell from the title – I HAVE FINISHED THE FIRST DRAFT OF MY NOVEL.

😀 😀

That was my face when I wrote the last few words. I was ecstatic! I had actually finished
writing this story that had been in my head for months, which is something that rarely happens to me. The characters had grown and suffered and laughed, my world was all set up; this idea had turned into something tangible and real. I was thrilled, and I still am! I think as writers it’s hard to be pleased with what you’ve created because you always think that there’s a book that will be better than yours, but we should give ourselves more credit – we create worlds and people and plots just from our heads! (And the savior that is Pinterest. God bless.)

I gave it a bit more time and stepped away from my draft for a few days, and I started to think: What comes next? (And then I started singing Hamilton because I am obsessed).
But seriously, what happens after first drafts? What did I do now? No new scenes to write, no more cute character moments to think of? I had spent so much of my time in this draft, there had been so many moments when I would be having a crappy day and looking forward to writing more of my story would cheer me up, and now it’s over? After all these questions, my face turned into something like this:

D:

What happens next is editing, which is even scarier than a massive story-sized chasm in my life! This story is going to – hopefully – be the first in a five(ish) book series, so as dsc03343much as I want to dive right in and plot the second book, I need to edit this first draft before I even think about the second one. Funny thing about editing my first novel is that: a) I have never edited anything but coursework before because I am not dedicated at all, and b) I hand-wrote my first draft. It came to one and a half notebooks’ worth. Which means that I need to type up one and a half notebooks’ worth of novel before I can edit it. *cries*

Anyway, I’m about eight chapters in and there’s so much that needs rewriting, so many plot point that no longer make sense. Also literally every character sighs?? Like all the time?? Why do I do this?! But I’m enjoying it all the same; there are loads of scenes that I had completely forgotten about, so it’s nice rediscovering them!

So that’s where I am with writing at the moment! How is your work in progress doing? Do you have any editing tips? Or do you have any weird things that you wrote that doesn’t make sense (Like my perpetually sighing characters) ? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks for reading 🙂

 

2016 Favourites & The Dashing and Smashing Character Awards!

Hi all!

It’s that time of year again when we look back and decide what the best books of 2016 are. This year hasn’t been the best in terms of reading for me because other commitments have meant that I couldn’t read as much as I wanted to.

However, I may not have read much, but what I did read was super! According to my Goodreads, my average rating was 4.2 stars out of 5, so choosing a single favourite book is basically impossible (also I’m just very indecisive, but shh we’ll blame it on Goodreads!).

These won’t be in any order, but enjoy my favourites of 2016!dsc03290

  • Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare – This is the first book in The Dark Artifices series,
    and Cassie didn’t disappoint with another Shadowhunters novel! I love this world so much, and the development of the characters and the world was so strong that I couldn’t help but adore this book. I’m so excited to read Lord of Shadows.dsc03295
  • Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo – THESE BOOKS. I’m sure you’ve seen t
    hem all over bookstagram and booktube, but the praise is well-deserved. Having met Leigh Bardugo I love these books even more because the author is so sweet and funny.

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  • Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray – I know I said I wasn’t going to have a definite favourite, but if I did, it would be this one. I have SO MUCH LOVE fo
    r The Diviners, the first book in this series, and the sequel was even better! Libba Bray creates the most wonderful world of 1920s New York, and I can gush about this series so much that I wrote a blog post on it, which you can find here.
  • Cdsc03293arry On by Rainbow Rowell – I am so glad that I went to the Worlds Collide tour (my recap of the event is here if you’re interested) because it motivated me to read Rainbow Rowell’s books, and they definitely lived up to the hype! I love Fangirl, but I decided that Carry On was my favourite because I loved the setting of Watford and Simon and Baz.
  • Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra & Dhonielle Clayton – I pdsc03292icked this book up in the middle of a reading slump, wanting something quick and easy to read. Instead I got evil ballerinas and a competitive dance academy, and it was brilliant. The atmosphere at the school is so tense, and you can feel the stress and the mistrust between all the dancers as you read the book. As soon as I had finished it I wanted the sequel, and I’m still thinking about it a week later.

As well as my favourite books of 2016, I thought I would do a few questions from the Dashing and Smashing Character Awards! This fun tag was created by the lovely Cait @ Paper Fury, and I thought it would be a great way to wrap up my 2016 reading experience.

  1. Fiercest fighter – I think this has to go to Manon from the Throne of Glass series (I refuse to put Aelin because I’m realising that I don’t like her very much!). Manon is fierce and ruthless in battle, but she’s also fiercely loyal and caring and I like that about her.
  2. Best sidekick – Iko from The Lunar Chronicles gets an honourable mention in this category, but I think I’ll have to say George from Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy, who helped Simon settle in and lightened the mood of the short stories.
  3. One You’re Surprised You Loved – I picked up Radio Girls by Sarah-Jane Stratford on a whim at the airport, but I am glad I did! It was just the right mix of historical fact and fiction, revealing the busy world of the BBC in the 1920s that I didn’t know existed, and I warmed to the main character, Maisie, especially as we saw her journey from a shy woman to one in control of her life.
  4. The best ship of all – This is so hard to decide! Emma and Julian? Simon and Baz? Helen and Lord Carlston? I think they’re close seconds, but I have to give this title to BLUE AND GANSEY from The Raven Boys series. They are just…perfect. And I would really like someone to give me a Gansey please.

That wraps up my 2016 reading year! How was your year? What was your favourite book you read? Let me know in the comments!

I hope you have a wonderful 2017!

Thanks for reading (:

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Illumicrate November Unboxing!

Hi all!

I received my November Illumicrate box a few weeks ago and I finally have time to do a review of it. Overall I was quite pleased with everything inside, but I wish there was a feature that reminded you if you wanted to carry on subscribing or just have a one-time box, because I didn’t remember to cancel my subscription in time! However, all of the items inside the box were lovely and I think I would have loved them even more if I had actively subscribed to it.

 The Bookish Goodies:

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  •  An AIDEN Candle from Meraki Candles – This is my joint favourite item in the box! The candle is not only based on a book I love (Illuminae), but it smells really good too. I won’t be burning it anytime soon but I really like it.
  • An ‘Evil Plans’ notebook – This is so cute! I love notebooks, and this one seems to be of good quality and it’s perfect for my evil plans for all my characters!
  • A pair of stripy socks from Happy Socks – These will have to be another of my favourite items. They’re so comfy and I’ve never seen a subscription box that includes socks before, so it was a nice surprise.
  • A coffee warmer from Sparrow and Wolf – While this item is cute and well-made, I unfortunately don’t drink coffee! Or tea for that matter, so I don’t think I’ll be using this a lot. However, I know that a lot of bookworms love coffee so this will be perfect for them!
  • Various posters from books I haven’t read (yet), including a gorgeous print from Replica by Lauren Oliver.
  • A sampler of The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr – I had never heard of this book before I got this box, so now I’m going to keep a look out for it and see if it seems like something I’d like.

The Book:dsc03251

This month the book in the box was The Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid! I’ve seen this all around bookstagram and Youtube, but I have to admit that I wasn’t that keen on picking it up. For that reason it’s not going to be at the top of my TBR list for 2017, but hopefully it’ll be one of those books that impresses me.

Did anyone else receive this Illumicrate? If so, what did you think of it? And has anyone read The Diabolic and think I need to read it right now?? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks for reading (:

Worlds Collide Tour!

Hi all!

On Friday I attended the Worlds Collide tour, which was the UK tour for Leigh Bardugo and Rainbow Rowell. It was so much fun, so I thought I would recap it in this probably overexcited post. The event was held at Manchester Central Library, which is beautiful.wp_20161028_20_32_06_pro

I arrived at the event half an hour early, but there was already a huge queue outside the library!  Luckily it wasn’t raining and the queue soon went down as more people were let into the building. Once I was inside, I went to collect the books I had bought and chose my exclusive poster (there was a choice between the poster and a T-shirt, but when I saw the poster I knew which one I wanted!). The artwork is gorgeous and it’s made of strong paper as well which I didn’t want to roll up, which made getting it home a challenge!dsc03212

There was loads more people than I had expected, but there were plenty of seats and even though I was sat near the back I had a great view. There was a small delay, which I think had more to do with the fact that there was so many people to get into the building rather than the authors, and then Leigh and Rainbow arrived!

They were so much fun, and you could tell that they were genuinely friends. They were open and honest about how they met and told us different stories about events they had been to, and then they re-enacted some scenes from Carry On and Crooked Kingdom which was hilarious. Leigh was brilliant as Baz!

Afterwards there was a Q&A session, where they offered some writing advice and talked about publishing as well as their books. One thing I really appreciated was the fact that they kept the talk spoiler-free, which was useful for me as I hadn’t read Fangirl yet! (I got my reading schedule mixed up; I finished Carry On on the train there!).

As there had been a fifteen-minuDSC03204.JPGte delay, I was really scared that I wouldn’t have the chance to get anything signed as I had a train to catch which was one of the last ones home, but luckily my row was one of the first to get signed! I first met Rainbow Rowell, who was really sweet and said she liked my shirt. I told her how much I enjoyed Carry On and how much I was looking forward to Fangirl, and she dedicated both of my copies of the books.

Then I met Leigh Bardugo, who was just as lovely! I said how thDSC03210.JPGe Six of Crows duology was one of my favourites and how I was very happy when a certain character emerged in Crooked Kingdom (those of you who have read it will know who I mean!), and she personalised both of my books for me. I picked up one of the Six of Crows cards and got Jesper, who looks as confident and teasing as he is in the books!

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The cute little badge I got with my books!

The event was so much fun and definitely worth the large amount of travelling it took me to get there! Thank you to Leigh Bardugo, Rainbow Rowell, and the people in Waterstones and the Manchester Central Library for putting on a great night!

 

Have you read any of these authors’ books? What did you think? And what was your favourite book signing that you’ve been to?

Thanks for reading (: