Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Editing Emma Blog Tour

Hello everyone and welcome to my stop on the Editing Emma blog tour! Today I have a brilliant guest post from Chloe Seager on growing up online and I'm giving 3 of my lucky readers the chance to win a copy of the book over on Twitter.


Online Pressures For This Generation by Chloe Seager

When I was a teenager, I don’t think I realised just how new or strange a thing social media really was. I was part of the first generation who grew up with it, and everything in my life being public seemed pretty normal to me. I remember my Mum being totally scandalised by pictures of me and my friends in bikinis ‘on the internet?!’ and shaking her head at our constant selfie-sharing. But looking back, I think I’ve gained some perspective on what a strange thing it actually can be, and what kind of additional pressures social media put on my teenage years. 

Genuinely, I went through a phase where I almost felt like things weren’t real unless they were put online. Like, if we didn’t get a photo of our evening out…did it even happen? I also went through a phase where if I had a terrible time, I would think to myself, ‘it’s ok, at least I got some pictures that look like I’m having a good time.’ Looking back, these aren’t particularly healthy thoughts for a young person to be having. What kind of value system is that? One where I comfort my lonely, sad self with the image of myself seeming happy and fulfilled? In many ways, I think I could even look at pictures of times that were truly awful and convince myself I was having fun…which is even more bizarre than convincing other people.

Thinking about it, though, it’s not all that surprising. When you’re fourteen years old and everything in your life starts getting uploaded, to start defining yourself by that content almost seems inevitable… or at least, for the lines to blur. Even if I knew logically that other people weren’t always as they appeared in their content - I got told it time and time again, and I knew that I myself wasn’t always completely truthful - all these smiling, shining pictures of other people did (and still do) make it hard sometimes. And probably for some people more than me, who was lucky enough to have a decent group of pals. A friend I met in adult life said before social media came along, she might have been at home alone on a Friday night…but no one would know about it. She knew on a vague level that other people were probably out having fun, but didn’t have to get smacked in the face with it. But once Facebook happened, not only did she know for sure that she was never invited to parties, but it was also suddenly like everyone else could see her own lack of social life. ‘Why are there never any pictures of you?’ they would ask. It highlighted how left out she was at school in a very public domain, to the point where she considered taking dressed-up selfies that made her look like she was going out. (She didn’t do this in the end, and deleted her social media instead).

I think it must be even worse for teenagers now than it was for my generation. I did definitely think about how I was coming off - what with reams of embarrassing photos being uploaded against my will, and thinking ‘I look so ugly there’ and ‘how dare they upload this,’ and obviously using it to look a certain way (a la Emma) e.g. wanting to look like I was having tons of fun even if I wasn’t, or wanting to seem like I was SUPER HAPPY AND FINE to spite an ex boyfriend or a mate I was fighting with. But I do think it’s even more extreme now. Probably the most creative choice I’d ever made on social media was what song to choose for my MySpace profile, and now each and every photo that gets uploaded has a zillion filter choices. It’s a whole different world than it was ten years ago and in general I think the emphasis is now on quality over quantity, which in many ways puts way more focus onto one’s image.

There are benefits to this, though. I asked my boyfriend recently, who never got a FB account as a teenager, but did get Insta later on. He said he didn't like the way Facebook made his whole life public in a way he couldn’t fully control, whereas with Instagram he mainly chooses what to share. In a way I totally understand that… It also gives room for you to be creative and explore your own identity, which is such a huge part of being a teenager. But imagining my teenage self with Instagram, I can see just how incredibly neurotic I would have become. It’s not just ‘here’s me on a night out,’ any more, it’s like… ‘here’s my bedroom,’ ‘here’s my plate of food,’ ‘here’s my everything’ etc etc. I think though the amount of content might have decreased, people expect to share even more aspects of their lives now than ten years ago, and naturally, the need to present oneself a certain way will become more extreme along with it.

I think social media can be wonderful but as with anything, it has its pros and cons. It’s great way for teenagers to connect, but it can also compound loneliness, and exacerbate what can already be an isolating period. It’s a great way to express yourself and be creative, and I think it allows teenagers to be more switched on and worldly than people without it would have been. But then again, figuring out who you’re supposed to be over those years is difficult enough, without doing it in public. It seems like it applies pressure for the decision to be right now, and to be fully formed. Whilst it can give you a boost, it can also make you feel low and leads people into pretending or putting up a front. In the end, I eventually figured out how to use it in a way I was happy with; everyone probably has a different relationship with it and needs to find their own balance. But I don’t envy teenagers (like Emma!) having to go through that. In hindsight, it was such a big part of my own teenage life that I knew I wanted to write about it in Editing Emma.

For your chance to win a copy of Editing Emma head over to Twitter 



Don't miss the rest of the blog tour!

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Review for Freshers by Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison

Freshers by Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison 
Publisher: Chicken House
Release: 3rd August 2017
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Source: Copy received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review



Synopsis:
"Uni beckons. Phoebe can't wait to be a fresher - especially since her crush from school will be there too. She'll be totally different at Uni: cooler, prettier, smarter ... the perfect potential girlfriend. She'll reinvent herself completely. But Luke's oblivious, still reeling from the fallout of the break-up with his ex. Thrown head first into a world of new friends, parties and social media disasters - can Phoebe and Luke survive the year, let alone find each other?"

Review 
I’m a massive fan of Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison’s debut novel Lobsters and am happy to confirm that with Freshers they’ve delivered another hilariously honest story on what it’s like to be a young adult.

The book is told in a dual narrative between Phoebe and Luke who went to school together and are starting their first year at the same university. Phoebe’s had a massive crush on Luke forever and she hopes that at university she’ll get the chance to come out of her shell and be the person she’s always wanted to be. Luke on the other hand had the dream high school experience as a popular jock with a beautiful long-term girlfriend. Now that he’s at uni he’s a fish out of water struggling to keep his long-distance relationship going and make new friends. As the two characters bond during freshers week we follow their relationship and the highs and lows of their lives as students.

Freshers delivered everything I was expecting from a book by Tom and Lucy. It’s funny, relatable and honestly feels like taking a peek at the lives of real teens. This book delivers all of the craziness that you’d expect from a book set during Freshers offering both painfully awkward and laugh out loud scenes. Some of my favourite moments included sexual mishaps, Phoebe and her friends standing up for the sisterhood, and Quidditch matches to name just a few.

I’d highly recommend this book about growing up, moving on and finding your place in the world. It’s an absolute must read for anyone heading off to university this year.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

July Favourites: Books, Benedict and Dragons

Hello everybody! I hope you're all doing well? Did any of you go to YALC? I was so sad to miss it this year due to anxiety but there was still plenty of things that made July a great month for me that I want to share with you all today so, *puts on best Daenerys Targaryen voice* shall we begin?

Favourite Books

   

I had a really great reading month in July and read a total of nine books but my two absolute favourites happen to both be thrillers. The first is Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell, if you follow me on Instagram this will come as no surprise to you as I was raving about this book on my story. It was a solid five star read for me. If you're looking for a book that grips you from the first page and refuses to let you go then you'll devour this book just like I did. My review for Then She was Gone is already up so if you'd like to find out more you can check it out here. The second thriller I loved was The Secrets She Keeps by Michael Robotham this is such a heartbreaking thriller following the relationship between two very complex women as they bond over being pregnant in the months leading up to their babies births. The writing style was utterly gripping and like watching a car crash, I couldn't look away as I watched these two women's lives crash and collide with devastating consequences. This was my first book by Michael Robotham and I'll definitely be looking out for more of his work.

Favourite to Watch


Game of Thrones is back and so really there is only one contender for what's been my favourite thing to watch this month! We're only three episodes in but it already feels like so much has happened! I don't want to talk about plot for anyone who hasn't watched it yet and wants to so all I'll say is I am enjoying this season a LOT and can't wait to see what else unfolds now that we're closing in on the end.

Favourite Online 

So much has been going on in the bookish community this past month from Benedict Cumberbatch witnessing Non Pratt's charity head shave at YALC (I was literally howling at the tweets, pictures and videos!) to all of the readathon's that have been taking place in July. But for my favourite online I wanted to throw some love in the direction of a new book blogger who has been making the community such a sunny place with her passion for books. This person is the lovely Amy at Golden Books Girl! I've been really enjoying her blog and chatting to her on Twitter about books so if you don't follow her yet you definitely should check her out she's such a ray of sunshine and her enthusiasm for books and the book community is so lovely to see!

Favourite Thing

Picture taken from my Instagram JessHeartsBooks

This month I finally caved and bought a few of the Beauty and the Beast Funko Pops that have been on my wishlist for ages and I'm absolutely in love with them. Beauty and the Beast is my favourite Disney movie and I love being able to include these Funko's in my Bookstagram pictures. I'm planning on reorganizing my bookcases soon and I can't wait for them to be on display with my beautiful books!

Favourite Memory 

This month my favourite memory involves my nine-year-old cousin. We went for a family meal out last weekend to celebrate two birthdays. I sat next to her and we spent so much time talking about books from what we were reading to what we wanted to read next. She's always been a huge bookworm like me and it's something I've always nurtured in her by buying her books for Christmases and birthdays. This time our usual book talk was a little different though, as she was the one giving me recommendations on books to read! It's so nice that she's now old enough that we can mutually share what books we've been enjoying lately. I persuaded my Aunt to buy her the Murder Most Unladylike series and I've added Dragon's Green by Scarlett Thomas a book she's currently reading to my own wishlist. I think that now she's getting older a lot of book swapping will be going on as she raids my shelves for her next read!

What were some of your favourite things in July?

Sunday, 30 July 2017

The Marriage Pact Blog Tour

Hello everyone and welcome to my stop on The Marriage Pact blog tour! Today I am giving 5 of my lucky readers the chance to win a copy of the book. In case this gripping thriller isn't on your radar yet here is a little bit about it...


"It's the perfect wedding gift. Newlyweds Jake and Alice are offered membership of a club which promises members will never divorce. Signing The Pact seems the ideal start to their marriage. Until one of them breaks the rules. Because The Pact is for life. And its members will go to any lengths to ensure nobody leaves..." 

 I'm so excited to read this book that has been praised by authors such as JP Delaney, Lisa Gardner and Gin Phillips.


 For your chance to win a copy of The Marriage Pact head over to Twitter 

 Don't miss the rest of the blog tour!

Monday, 24 July 2017

Feminist Fiction On My TBR

With the success of The Handmaid's Tale and in the YA community books such as Only Ever Yours by Louise O'Neill and Holly Bourne's Spinster Club series I've noticed more feminist fiction being published this year which makes me incredibly excited! I've read a lot of non-fiction on feminism but fiction is my preference and I love that there are more and more stories being published with the subject of feminism at its forefront.

Today I wanted to share with you some of the feminist fiction I have on my TBR pile that I want to get to over the next few months. I hope that it gives you some ideas for feminist books to add to your own reading piles!


The Power by Naomi Alderman 

Like most people, I first heard about The Power when it was nominated for The Bailey's Women's Prize for Fiction this year. That and the quote from Margaret Atwood had me sold and I ordered a copy straight away. I find the premise of this one absolutely fascinating - what if the power to hurt was in women's hands? In The Power teenage girls wake up one day to find that they can inflict pain with a flick of their fingers. I've heard nothing but brilliant things about this book and since it went on to win the Bailey's Prize I know I need to get to it soon.


The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood 

This book has been sitting on my shelf for years unread but I started watching the TV series and absolutely adore it so it's going on pause for a while as incentive for me to finally pick up this book because I prefer to read a book before watching the adaptation. The Handmaid's Tale is a modern classic for a reason and I'm excited to finally read it soon and then get back into the show!


Gather the Daughters by Jennie Melamed 

This book is being pitched as being perfect for fans of The Girls by Emma Cline which was one of my favourite books of last year. It tells the story of a cult founded by ten men years ago when they colonised an island. Girls are wives in training, massively controlled and must reproduce at the first sign of puberty. I think that like The Girls this is going to be a dark and disturbing read. I currently have a giveaway for Gather the Daughters running on my Instagram so if you'd like to be in with a chance of winning go enter here.


Who Runs the World? by Virginia Bergin 

Moving on to some YA! I loved Virginia Bergin's The Rain series and have high hopes for this dystopian read about a world where a virus has wiped out the male population and women are in charge. The idea behind this book sounds so interesting to me and I'm excited to see what Virginia Bergin does with it.


Things a Bright Girl Can Do by Sally Nicholls 

I think that this is one of the books I am the most excited to get to on this pile! Things a Bright Girl Can Do releases in September and follows three courageous teenage girls as they fight for equality and join the Suffragettes. I don't think I've ever read any YA historical feminist fiction and what better place to start than to read about the Suffragettes? This book also has LGBT rep and from the looks of it is going to be absolutely fantastic!


Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu 

Thanks to Zoella picking it for her 2017 book club, everybody is reading Moxie right now! This sounds like an American version of What's a Girl Gotta Do? and follows Viv who begins a girl revolution at her school. I have a feeling that I'm going to love this book as it ticks a lot of boxes for me. It's one that is at the very top of my reading pile!

Which book do you think I should start with? 
And what books are on your feminist fiction TBR pile?

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Ask No Questions Blog Tour

Hello everyone and welcome to my stop on the Ask No Questions blog tour! Today I have a brilliant guest post from Lisa Hartley sharing her top writing tips for all of you budding authors out there.


Lisa Hartley's Top 5 Writing Tips 

1) Sit down and write.
Sounds obvious, but for a long time, I dreamed about being about being a writer without actually doing much writing. This turned out to be not the best way to achieve that dream. You might have the perfect plot, the most amazing characters, but if they’re in your head and not on the page, you’ve no way of sharing them. Sit down and write regularly, whether you manage five minutes or 50,000 words. I’m currently working on the second book in my new series. For me, this means writing at least 600 words a day. It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s achievable even on the days I have other commitments. I usually manage a lot more, but even if I don’t, I’m always making progress towards a completed first draft.

2) Read. 
Other people’s words are inspiring. Read in the genre you’re planning to write in, but also more widely. Never plagiarise, but allow the ideas and themes you read about to encourage your own ideas.

3) Ask a trusted friend or a professional to give their honest opinion of your work.
I had always enjoyed writing, but realised that didn’t mean I had any talent for it. Once I’d (eventually!) finished my first full length novel, On Laughton Moor, I had no idea if it was any good. I couldn’t ask my partner or my mum for their honest opinion, because they would feel pressured to be polite and encouraging, as would friends and other relatives. What I needed was the opinion of someone who knew the publishing industry, a person who really knew what they were talking about. If I was ever going to make writing my career, I would have to get used to receiving feedback on what worked and what I needed to change. It’s a daunting thought, terrifying even. The project you’ve spent so long working on, your “baby”, being read by someone who will pull no punches when giving their opinion. But you need to learn to accept constructive criticism if you’re ever going to improve. This might mean approaching an agent or publishers, or there are also companies which offer critiques of manuscripts and other services. If you choose that route, research them as much as you can, ask around, and choose wisely.

4) Accept that not everyone will like your work. 
This perhaps follows on from the above, but the fact is some people will not enjoy your novel. This doesn’t make it a bad book, and it doesn’t mean you’re a failure as a writer who should sell their computer and go and find something more worthwhile to do.

It just means this particular person didn’t like your book.

For me, this was a huge thing to accept. A negative review can feel like personal attack. The trick is to read, shrug, and get on with your life. If someone offers advice you feel you can use, then brilliant, do so. As I said above, constructive criticism is vital, but someone just saying your book is “rubbish” (or whatever) isn’t going to help you improve. This person didn’t like your book, and that’s fine. Time to move on.

I’m the worst person in the world at doing this, though. When I received my first negative review, it upset me for ages. Eventually I learnt to accept it and move on. Easier said than done, I know, but necessary to save yourself some heartache.

5) Make your own way. 
Read reviews, blogs, and interviews with writers you admire. Go to book festivals, chat on Twitter with writers and readers. In the end though, keep writing whatever it is you want to write. Listen to advice, maybe follow the “rules” of your genre to the point where you realise you’re going to have to break some to tell your story. And keep reading.

Don't miss the rest of the blog tour!

Friday, 14 July 2017

Review for Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell

Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell
Publisher: Century
Release: 27th July 2017
Genre: Thriller, Crime Fiction
Source: Copy received from Amazon Vine in exchange for an honest review



Synopsis:
"THEN
She was fifteen, her mother's golden girl. She had her whole life ahead of her. And then, in the blink of an eye, Ellie was gone.

NOW
It’s been ten years since Ellie disappeared, but Laurel has never given up hope of finding her daughter. And then one day a charming and charismatic stranger called Floyd walks into a café and sweeps Laurel off her feet. Before too long she’s staying the night at this house and being introduced to his nine year old daughter. Poppy is precocious and pretty - and meeting her completely takes Laurel's breath away.

Because Poppy is the spitting image of Ellie when she was that age. And now all those unanswered questions that have haunted Laurel come flooding back.

What happened to Ellie? Where did she go? Who still has secrets to hide?"

Review 
Then She Was Gone follows the disappearance of Ellie Mack, a fifteen-year-old girl who disappeared on her way to the library one day never to be seen or heard from again. Ten years later and her mum Laurel receives news of an update in the case when her daughter’s remains are found.

As Laurel tries to move forward, she meets a charming man called Floyd who finally brings some happiness back into her world, but when she’s introduced to his nine-year-old daughter Poppy alarm bells start ringing. Because Poppy looks just like Ellie and even has the same mannerisms and interests.

Just as Laurel thought the past had been put to rest, the truth about what really happened that day comes rushing to the present. Could Floyd have something to do with Ellie’s disappearance? And what exactly happened to her daughter all those years ago?

There are so many thrillers out there at the moment that after a while they can all start to feel very similar with the same tropes covered over and over again but Then She was Gone is a heart-breaking and harrowing story about a shocking situation that I haven’t read about before. Although you know roughly from the synopsis where this book is heading, it still managed to surprise me with the twists it took.

The story is broken up into different parts that jump between back when Ellie disappeared and the present day ten years later. I really enjoyed how in each section you get to hear from all the key players so that by the end of the book you have a complete picture of what happened with no bias toward one character and the way they see things.

Lisa Jewell is an author who evokes so much emotion in her writing. I could really feel for each character as I read from their perspective and the book constantly had me questioning what I would do if I found myself in their situation.

Then She Was Gone is a book that I gobbled up greedily at any spare moment I had, it’s certainly not a book you want to start if you have a lot going on! Although I’ve read and enjoyed a few of Lisa’s more recent books Then She Was Gone has to be my favourite yet. This is one of the best psychological thrillers I’ve read this year and I’d highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys the genre.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Books I Want to Read Before the End of the Year

Last Wednesday, I did a post about my favourite books of 2017 so far and it got me thinking about all of the books I was so excited to be released at the start of the year that I still haven't gotten around to. So today I wanted to share the books that I really want to have read before the end of the year and I'm hoping that by putting them down in a list it'll drive me to finally pick them up!


Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor 

"But, Jess! Wasn't Strange the Dreamer one of your most anticipated releases of 2017?" I hear you cry. Well yes friends, yes it was. A reoccurring theme with this list seems to be that they're all books that I really want to read. I think my problem is that I wait to read them under perfect circumstances, like when I'm in a good reading mood, when I have lots of time to read, when I don't really have any plans so I can dedicate a good chunk of time to the book etc but of course this perfect opportunity then never presents itself. Laini Taylor is one of my favourite authors and I'm determined to read this book before the end of the year - perfect reading moment or not!


This Love by Dani Atkins 

Our Song by Dani Atkins was one of my favourite books of last year so I'm really excited to read this latest book from her. I love the sound of it and my most trusted blogger friends have all really enjoyed this one. If it's anything like Our Song it'll have me crying buckets so I'm going to be picking this one up next time I'm in the mood for a good weepy.


A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab 

This is the final book in the Shades of Magic series, I think what's put me off so far is its size at over 600 pages and also the fact that it's the last book in a beloved trilogy. Another reoccurring theme of mine seems to be reading and loving a series but never getting around to the final book. I think in my head if I don't read it then it's not over and I don't have to say goodbye to these characters I love so much. Does anybody else do the same!?


Forever Geek by Holly Smale 

Oh, look! Another final book in a series I love that I haven't gotten around to! I just really don't want to say goodbye to Harriet and the gang okay? Especially Toby whom I love oh so very much. This series is pure feel good comfort reading for me and I have no idea what series I'm going to turn to for that once this one has finished. If you have any recommendations for what to read after Geek Girl let me know!


The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas 

THUG is a book that I'm a little scared to read because of all the hype surrounding it. I also felt this way about When Dimple Met Rishi, which as we know has turned out to be one of my favourite books of the year so far. Everyone has fallen in love with THUG this year and I really need to read it soon!


Frostblood by Elly Blake 

When I read Caraval and sent out a tweet looking for other fantasy books like it, a lot of people came back to me recommending Frostblood with some saying that they enjoyed this book even more than Caraval! The sequel, Fireblood is out in September so I really want to read this soon ready for book two.


 Those are the books that I want to read in the second half of this year. 
Are there any books on your TBR that you want to make a priority in 2017?

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

My Favourite Books of 2017 So Far

Can you believe that we're halfway through 2017 already!? I know I can't, but in that time I've discovered some new favourite books so today I wanted to share with you the best books that I've read in 2017 so far. I'm so curious to revisit this post at the end of the year and see how/if this list has changed as I discover more wonderful books!


Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman 

Hands down my favourite book of 2017 so far has to be Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. Eleanor is very different to the kind of heroine you usually read about in women's fiction and felt entirely real to me with her odd quirks and on point observations on life. This book looks at loneliness, abuse, trauma, mental illness and the feeling of being the odd one out. I loved Eleanor so much and wanted to give her a massive hug. If you're looking for a book that's different and special because of it, then look no further. I need more books and more heroines like Eleanor Oliphant.


When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon 

When Dimple Met Rishi is the kind of book that gives me the warm fuzzies every time I think about it. This story is told in alternate chapters between Dimple and Rishi whose parents have set them up in an arranged marriage. Dimple is smart, fiery and ambitious with plans to take over the tech world by storm and not settle for the life her parents want for her. Rishi on the other hand is loyal, sweet-natured and willing to put his dreams of being an artist aside to follow through with his parents wishes. The two couldn't be more different but they balance each other out so well. Sandhya Menon's writing reminded me a lot of Rainbow Rowell's and this is the cutest nerdy romance I've read since Fangirl.


They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera 

This book isn't out until September but I was lucky enough to read a proof and oh my gosh guys this book is going to be big! They Both Die at the End is about two boys who learn how to live on the day they are going to die. It's a book that looks at so many of life's big questions when it comes to death, dying, fate, the afterlife and the one we've all asked, if today was your last day how would you live it? It's heartbreaking, life affirming and makes you want to live a richer, fuller life whilst you still can. It's perfect for fans of books like The Fault in Our Stars and If I Stay and I predict it will do just as well.


Wing Jones by Katherine Webber 

I read Wing Jones way back in January but it still stands at the forefront of my mind as one of my favourite books of this year. The story follows Wing Jones, a biracial teenage girl with a huge heart and a loveable family who takes up running after her brother is in an accident that leaves him in a coma. Wing started running to escape her problems but as word of her talent gets out she’s suddenly thrust under the spotlight. When a life changing opportunity presents itself Wing has to decide: does she continue to run away? Or find the courage to run towards her dreams? I loved Wing and her family so much and felt so inspired by this story about losing your way, finding your feet, and chasing your dreams.


Caraval by Stephanie Garber 

I haven't been reading many fantasy books this year but I couldn't resist picking up Caraval after all of the hype and I'm so glad that I did because it's one of the most magical and enchanting books I've read for some time. Once I started reading this book I couldn't put it down because I became so entranced by the world of Caraval with all of its strange and beautiful wonders. This book took so many turns that I wasn't expecting and I loved that like Scarlett, I could never tell what was real and what wasn't. Caraval made me feel like a little girl again reading a fairytale and I loved the magic and whimsy of it all.


Margot and Me by Juno Dawson 

I've been a fan of Juno Dawson since the start of her career and have enjoyed so many of her books but I think Margot and Me has to be my favourite so far. The book follows Fliss as she goes to stay with her grandmother Margot in the countryside whilst her mum is recuperating from chemotherapy. Margot and Fliss do not see eye to eye but then Fliss discovers Margot's diary from back when she was a teenager in the 1940s set in World War II. As she begins to read her grandmother's diary she gets to see a different side to Margot that is brave, strong and heroic that helps Fliss to find her own courage when she needs it the most. Margot and Me is a heartbreakingly beautiful book about family, loss, secrets, history and finding inner strength.

 Those are my very favourite books of 2017 so far and if you have them on your TBR I'd definitely urge you to pick them up! 

I'd love know, what's the best book that you've read this year?

Friday, 30 June 2017

The Fourth Monkey Blog Tour: Guest Post and Giveaway!

Hello everyone and welcome to my stop on The Fourth Monkey blog tour! Today I have a brilliant guest post from J.D. Barker on how to write a chilling serial killer and I'm giving three of my readers the chance to win a copy of the book over on Twitter!


How JD Barker goes about creating a chilling serial killer 
and what he thinks makes a great villain

Easy peasy –

I’ve known I wanted to write a serial killer thriller for a long time but the story had to be just so. The formula has been done to death and I needed something fresh. Years ago, I decided if I wrote this book, the killer should die at the beginning of the story. That created a few complex problems, the least of which was where to go from there. The story sat patiently waiting in my subconscious until a day back in 2014 when I was in line at the grocery store. There was a rather rotund woman in line ahead of me in one of those electric carts and a boy of about eight years old standing behind me with his father. The boy said something about the woman, I didn’t hear what exactly, then his father leaned down and said, “Speak no evil, son.” As soon as I heard that, a number of thoughts flooded my head – Who says that? What exactly is happening back at their house? By that night, I had the basis for my killer’s childhood and the story found its way to paper quickly.

I’ve always been fascinated with serial killers and the overall psychology behind them. What causes a person to kill? Is that urge hardwired from the moment they’re born or is it somehow a learned behaviour fueled by environment and upbringing? A combination of both? The more I studied, the more I realized that even the experts don’t really know. They love to pretend they do, psychologists love their labels and find peace in the various boxes they feel they can drop people into but that appearance of knowledge is nothing but a mask. I’ve known good people who grew up in bad places and bad people who grew up under the best circumstances. There are a lot of sociopaths out in the world and only a small fraction of them kill, not all killers are sociopaths. The world isn’t black and white but filled with gray and it’s within that gray 4MK was born. My goal was to write a book that not only entertained but blurred the line between innocent and guilty – I hoped people would not only empathize with the victims but also the killer.

What makes a great villain? Showing the good in them. Nobody is purely good or evil, we all just lean one way or the other. A good character should be no different.

 For your chance to win a copy of The Fourth Monkey head over to Twitter 


 Don't miss the rest of the blog tour!

Sunday, 25 June 2017

My Favourite LGBT+ Books

Today is the start of the fab LGBTQIA Readathon hosted by my lovely friend Faye and the brilliant George Lester, this paired with the fact that Pride has officially begun here in the UK means that I wanted to share with you some of my favourite LGBT+ books for anyone looking for some recommendations on what to read.


You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour and David Levithan 

This is the perfect book to read during Pride given the fact that it takes place in San Francisco over Pride weekend following two LGBT main characters. Nina LaCour and David Levithan are two of my favourite writers and them writing together works incredibly well. This book had its sunshine and its showers which by the end created a rainbow of a finale. You Know Me Well features the largest LGBT+ cast that I've ever read about and coming in at 247 pages makes it the perfect little read that packs a powerful punch for this readathon.


Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli 

What I loved about Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is that despite being a LGBT book it doesn't feel like a LGBT book and what I mean by that is that this is simply a love story that just happens to be between two guys. There are so many fantastic books out there about coming out and what it's like to be a gay teenager that are so profound and moving and important but with this book the focus was on the romance and I loved the normality of it. This book felt like a turning point in LGBT fiction for me and I adored everything about it.

A Kiss in the Dark by Cat Clarke 

I read A Kiss in the Dark way back in 2014 and it's still one of my absolute favourite LGBT books. The book follows the love story of Alex and Kate but underneath their perfect relationship lies a secret so explosive that if discovered it will tear their relationship apart. This book explores themes such as identity and love being gender free. A Kiss in the Dark is so utterly consuming that once you start it you won't be able to put it down!


Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan 

As I mentioned before, David Levithan is one of my favourite authors especially when it comes to LGBT fiction and Two Boys Kissing is one of my favourite books by him. The book is based on a true story and follows ex's Craig and Harry as they attempt to break the world record for the longest kiss. What I loved about this book was its look at history and how far we've come in terms of LGBT rights and how much further we still have to go. It's a short, important, beautifully written book that is essential reading for everyone.


The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson 

My last recommendation is for the brilliant The Art of Being Normal this book follows David who has always identified as being a transgender girl whose life changes forever when he makes friends with Leo Denton the new boy at school. I loved David so much, Lisa Williamson is an incredible writer and I felt all of David's feelings and experiences as if they were my own. This was the first book I ever read from the perspective of a trans character and it really opened my eyes. The Art of Being Normal is a beautiful book about living your life unapologetically and being true to who you are.

 I'm so looking forward to getting stuck into some brilliant LGBTQIA books over the readathon and I hope these recommendations encourage you to pick up some of these wonderful books!

Thursday, 1 June 2017

May Favourites: Feminism, Bookstagram and Conspiracy Theories

Hello everyone! It's been ages since I did a monthly favourites post mainly because I keep coming down with various illnesses since catching flu at the start of the year (it's true what they say, it really does throw your immune system out of wack) so a favourites post would mainly consist of cough sweets, sleeping and other boring sick person things that nobody wants to read about. But now summer is almost here and there has been lots of things I have been enjoying in May so let's take a look at what I've been loving this past month.

Favourite Books

   

In May I fell head over heels for two very different books. First up was Flame in the Mist by Renée Ahdieh a YA Fantasy Mulan retelling. I loved the sound of this one but was a bit hesitant to pick it up because I wasn't the biggest fan of this authors previous book The Wrath and the Dawn but I'm so glad I decided to give this book a go because I absolutely loved it! I posted a review for this one so if you'd like to find out more do check that out here.

Half way through the month I found myself in a bit of a reading slump and fancied reading something light and enjoyable. I'd been hearing good things about Paige Toon's latest The Last Piece of My Heart so when I spotted a copy going for cheap in Tesco I decided to pick it up and read it right there and then. This book completely swept me away, I was so invested in the main character Bridget and her journey. I absolutely loved the romance and even had a little cry over the ending. Like Renée Ahdieh, Paige Toon's books can be a bit hit or miss for me but this turned out to be my favourite Paige Toon novel to date! This months reading has definitely shown me that sometimes giving an author a second chance can really pay off.

Favourite to Listen to

 

Recently I've been really loving the new single from Hailee Steinfeld Most Girls. Hailee's music is so fresh carrying a really strong feminist message and Most Girls is no different. It's a song that confronts the backhanded "you're not like most girls" compliment and celebrates different kinds of girls and how they choose to express themselves. The music video for this is fab and I'd definitely recommend giving it a watch if you haven't seen it!

Favourite to Watch


As I type this only the pilot episode has aired so far in the UK but it was so good that it had to make my favourites post. So, can we just talk about The Handmaid's Tale for a second!? I have yet to read the book (more on that in a future blog post) but I'd heard enough about it to know that it's a dark, harrowing look at a near-future where women lose their rights and become walking wombs for rich and powerful men, yet nothing could prepare me for how relevant this show is to things that have and are currently happening in the world at the moment. Sitting here writing this, the scene where one of the handmaids has been raped immediately comes to mind. She's sat in the middle of the room, closed in a circle by her fellow handmaids, who are pointing at her and chanting "her fault" that scene gives me goosebumps to think about and brings to mind what goes on in our own courthouses today. I have a feeling that The Handmaid's Tale will be one of the most important, most talked about shows of the year and I already can't wait for the next episode.

Favourite Online

   

Don't you just love when you find a new favourite YouTuber and you spend a whole weekend getting caught up on their entire backlog of videos? So that's basically what I did one weekend with YouTuber Kendall Rae when I fell down a conspiracy theory rabbit hole on Youtube. Kendall produces some of the most interesting, well researched content that I have ever watched on YouTube and covers everything from conspiracy theories, to murder mysteries, to body confidence videos, to astrology. Since watching her channel I now believe in so many things that I didn't this time last month so if like me, you are fascinated by the unexplainable I would definitely recommend checking out her content - just be warned that once you start you won't be able to stop! I've shared one of my favourite videos from her to get you started. You're welcome.

 Favourite Thing

From my Instagram JessHeartsBooks

My favourite thing in May has to be Bookstagram! At the moment I love nothing more than creating pictures of the beautiful books I get in whether that's by creating a set or playing around with filters and editing. Sometimes if my mental health is bad I can find social media pretty stressful but Bookstagram is my happy place where I can step away from online conversations and get lost in a world of pretty books. I think that Bookstagram is such a fun and creative way to share what you are reading and I love scrolling through the hashtag on Instagram to become inspired and look for new ways to improve my own content. I'm getting close to 1,000 followers so I'd really appreciate if you could give me a follow over there at JessHeartsBooks if you'd like to see more bookish posts from me!

Favourite Memory

Photo credit to RayReadsaLot

Early last month Ray, Chelle, Faye and I had a Girlhood reading party where we sat around with snacks, Chinese takeaway and the new Cat Clarke book for an entire Saturday reading out loud to each other and chatting. Our reading parties are always one of my favourite things that we do together as a group and this one was particularly fun because we were all reading the same book. Girlhood is a book that heavily focuses on female friendships so it was a really great choice for a group of friends to read together. We're talking about hosting another reading party in June and I already can't wait!

What were some of your favourite things in May?

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

The Summer House by the Sea Blog Tour

Hello everyone and welcome to my stop on The Summer House by the Sea blog tour! Today I have author Jenny Oliver on the blog sharing a guest post on her top holiday reads.


My Top 5 Holiday Reads by Jenny Oliver

1.) My favourite pool-side read has to be Polo by Jilly Cooper. I remember when I was younger I’d take stacks of Sweet Valley High on holiday, then my mum told me there were these books called Mills & Boon which I then took stacks of away with me, then I saw my sister reading this giant book called Polo and, daunted by the size, I turned my nose up, only to discover it much later on and absolutely LOVED it! I am a huge Jilly Cooper fan – it’s the ultimate escapism.

2.) Last summer I read Nina is Not OK by Shappi Khorsandi and, while the story was completely different to what I was expecting, I couldn’t put it down. Hilarious, poignant, painful and brilliant.

3.) The People at Number Nine by Felicity Everett is the book I keep recommending at the moment. It shines a light on parenting, envy and middle-class snobbery in such a sharp, clever, insidious manner. I thought about it for ages afterwards. I think it would have me sizing up all the other people lounging by the pool.

4.) My favourite crime recently has been Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner. Intelligent and gripping with a great female detective.

5.) I’ve never met anyone disappointed with Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor and Park – funny, touching and completely absorbing.

And of course, all the Jenny Oliver books you can cram into your suitcase! ;-)

 Don't miss the rest of the blog tour!

Monday, 22 May 2017

Summer at Conwenna Cove Blog Tour

Hello everyone and welcome to my stop on the Summer at Conwenna Cove blog tour! Today I have a brilliant guest post from author Darcie Boleyn on why she writes romance.


Why I Write Romance by Darcie Boleyn 

Life can be pretty full on at times, and reading is one of my favourite ways to relax. I enjoy all genres but when I want something to make me smile, something that I can rely on to lift my mood and to transport me away to another time and place, I turn to romance novels.

A romance novel takes readers on a familiar journey. That’s why I always smile when a novel is described as being ‘predictable’, because yes, romance readers do want a happy ever after. Or at least, a happy for now. And as much as I enjoy reading romance novels, I enjoy writing them. I love creating the complex main characters with their baggage, their lost hopes and dreams, and bringing them together. They might not always like the other character at first, but by the end of the story, they will do. However, the journey they go on mustn't be easy; there must be plenty of conflict, both internal and external, and there will always be a black moment, when the conflict is at its highest and it seems as though there couldn’t possibly be a happy ending.

I love the dance that the two characters perform… the will-they, won’t-they build up as their relationship develops. I love to build the physical and emotional tension between them, to convey how the other character makes them feel just by being close. I love describing how they feel when it dawns on them that they are in love, even if at that point it still seems like they can’t possibly be together. Because when they eventually do admit their feelings, it will be all the sweeter.

Most films and TV series feature at least one love story. Take Ross and Rachel, Monica and Chandler, Jim and Pam, Glen and Maggie, Carrie and Big, Harry and Sally, the list goes on. Many of us enjoy watching characters we like and care about getting together and reading romances is no different. We become invested in the stories and in the characters’ lives and want them to be happy.

The point of a romance isn’t just that everyone has someone, but that everyone is fulfilled, and when I write romances, I want the characters to evolve to a state where they don’t need someone else but are finally ready to be with someone. They have to be strong enough and confident enough and developed enough to be in a fulfilling relationship.

I want the reader to feel satisfied when they finish reading one of my novels, to believe that the two main characters have overcome the obstacles I put in their way and that they deserve to be together. I want the reader to feel happy and hopeful, because life is tough enough, and a happy ending in a romance novel can be something for them to hold close when real life is not quite so perfect.

Don't miss the rest of the blog tour!

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