Blogging Hiatus and Quarterly Goals

Hello Hello!

So, I have been on a bit of a blogging hiatus recently. I have been so busy, and was lacking motivation to post reviews. For a while I managed to keep up with my weekly memes, and then they just died out too. But I have an excuse, honest!

First excuse,  I was applying to Masters courses in Creative Writing, and then there were Interviews to attend, campuses to visit and decisions to be made. I am really excited to be able to say that I am starting an MA in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University in September!

After that I went to my best friends wedding in Dubai, which was the adventure of a lifetime. I got henna, visited a mosque and a hospital wearing an abaya and shayla, attended a proper Arabic wedding, learnt how to dance and rode a Nations Cup horse!! I honestly had the best time and my friends wedding was absolutely beautiful. I wish her and her husband all the happiness for the future and I can not wait for my next trip to Dubai to see them both!

Finally, I made the decision to move to Bath and get a job, so that by September I would have somewhere to live and wouldn’t have to compete with hundreds of other students for part time jobs.  I found a Flat and three jobs! One of them is in a traditional Sweet Shop, with jars all along the walls, and old fashioned sweets. I love it there, it is the first time I have ever worked in a “retail” job and I am enjoying every minute.

All of this upheaval has meant that my routine has been up in the air for a while, and I haven’t achieved some of the things I wanted to. So I have decided to take on the advice of Jenna Moreci, my favourite vlogger and all round awesome cyborg, and make a quarterly goal list, online, where I can be “held accountable for failing miserably when I do not achieve my goals”. So here we go:

My goals for the Next Quarter (July, August, September)

1. Make a blogging schedule and commit to it.

2. Read five books from my TBR pile. (Seriously, that pile of books has overtaken my bookshelves.)

3. Finish making my flatpack chest of drawers and post pictures. (accountability- yay!)

4. Finish my picture wall. (Right now it looks really sad because I stuck five pictures up before I ran out of Blu-Tack. I bought Blu-Tack, but didn’t finish the job.)

5. Revamp my Twitter Account, Google Plus page and my blog. I just don’t feel this theme is working for me at all, but I need a whole day where I can really work on it and make it awesome.

6.  Sort out my career development loan. (I have been putting this off because I hate dealing with banks, but I just realised that I am starting my degree in less than three months- oops!)

7. Sort out my ARCs and make sure I am reading them in order of release, not just because I am super excited about them…

8. Buy ring-binders and start off the course in an organised fashion.

9. Write five hundred words a day. (On anything. I just want to get into the habit of writing SOMETHING!)

10. Finally, set up a blog of my journey through my Creative Writing Masters. I know, you are probably thinking, WHAAAT? Is this girl crazy? She can barely keep up with one blog, no matter two! Don’t worry kind, concerned reader. The new blog will mainly be a place to talk about the course and a platform for me to showcase my own work. This blog will always be my main priority!

So, that’s it. I am going to create a page on this blog with all of my goals on it, so I can easily see what I have left to do!

Have any of you created any goals for the summer? Or done a Masters in Creative Writing? Leave me a comment, or tweet me @Eleanorjames

Much booky love,
Eleanor
xxx

Books for Break Ups

Break ups suck. They really do. Books are normally the thing I turn to when going through anything bad, challenging, different, crazy or good. Basically, the answer is always books. Books have a wealth of advice and knowledge hidden inside them that we can take whenever we want to. We can learn from the lifetime of mistakes of others and, sometimes, books hold the advice that can help us turn a corner. However, break ups come in many forms, so we need lots of different types of books to help us. That is why I have created this…

Complete Guide to Break Up Books. (or Relationship Trouble Reading)

Books for when you need a cry…

Sometimes, a break up comes so completely out of nowhere, and we need a little kick-start to come out of our shock and have a good cry. Tears are good! They don’t even have to be books about relationships, in fact, sometimes it is better if they are not.

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne

boy striped pj

This book is set in a Nazi Concentration camp, so you know it isn’t going to end well. You could also try The Book Thief, same time, same tears, but about a girl who loves books! Cry, now!

Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

second chance summer

Her Dad has cancer and she has one last summer with her family together, in a place where she made mistakes as a child and then ran from. Unfortunately for Taylor, this is one summer she can’t run from. Cue the wailing.

One Day by Davis Nicholls

one day

Two people meet. This book looks at the same day they met, for the next twenty years. David Nicholls is a master of tears. I wept.

Marley and Me by John Grogan

So if you don’t think you can handle human death and suffering, how about we chuck in an animal? Books with animals, fail safe for starting the waterworks. No matter how great this book is, the ending gets me, every darn time. Animal death= bawl your heart out.

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

bridge to terabithia

A trip down memory lane. this children’s book was probably the first book I ever read where one of the characters dies. And she was my age! And she was just so awesome! Even thinking about this is making me shed a tear! I so wanted to be Leslie! Poor Jesse!

Books with a love more doomed than yours ever was…

So you are done with crying? Now we can find some relationships that were even more doomed than yours.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Back to the classics. This is a love story that was so messed up, I truly hope you can’t compare!

The Fault in our Stars by John Green

The fault in star

Aah, I know, I said we were done with crying, but come on, this was the most doomed love story to grace our shelves in this century! And a little more crying won’t hurt…

The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman (His Dark Materials series)

A love story so tragic that people actually gather at a bench in Oxford every year to mark the literary tragedy of Will and Lyra, separated by, well, different worlds. All very tragic.

City of Ashes (The Mortal Instruments Book 2) by Cassandra Clare

city of ashes

No love more doomed than that between a boy and a girl who find out they are brother and sister…well, if you need hope when you finish, just keep reading the series. It gets better for Clary and Jace. Which brings us to…

Books to make you believe in Love again…

The Ghost Bird Series by C.L.Stone

These books are so cute, they make you remember the innocence of love, first kisses, sweet boys and a girl who needs the love of these boys to rebuild herself. Well worth a read, especially as the first one is free!

The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare

The prequel to the Mortal Instruments, this is a story that shows true love wins the day…in the end. If you wait a few hundred years or so.

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

Cinder

A futuristic retelling of our favourite childhood fairytales, who doesn’t love a happily ever after?

The Succubus Series by Richelle Mead (Or Georgina Kincaid series)

A series for a more mature audience, sassy, sexy and intelligent, georgina Kincaid literally goes to hell to argue a contract that will separate her from her love for all eternity. True love man. But, get this, she does all this, and doesn’t even know if her true love will take her back after she betrayed him over, and over, and over. She just wants him to be free. Even if she has to accept a relationship with her might never happen. Which leads to…

Books to read when you need some acceptance

Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson

since you've been gon

Read this, and then make yourself a list. Make a great big list of all the things you were too scared to do, or too relationship-ped to do, or just didn’t think were important enough. Seriously. Everything. Even if that is to run a race, or learn how to box, or even climb a mountain and blow bubbles off the top of it. Which, contrary to many of my friends opinions, is not that blimming weird. Now go, live your list and be free!

Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris

dead ever after

Okay, so the title doesn’t sound all that hopeful I agree, but Charlaine is really good at writing about the real stuff in life. She gets it. Not all relationships are destined to last forever, and… that’s okay, because, as the last paragraph of this books says, you will survive, in or out of a relationship.

“I thought Sam and I would be together, maybe by Christmas, maybe for always. I couldn’t imagine a future without him. But I also knew that if he turned away from me at this moment, somehow I would survive that, and I would find a way to flourish like the yard that still bloomed and grew around my family home.
I’m Sookie Stackhouse. I belong here.”

So find your inner strength, get out there and blossom. You didn’t need a relationship to live your amazing life anyway!

Much booky love,

E. St. C.

The Book Slump and Me

I wander around the darkened room, my eyes avoiding the overflowing bookshelf. Two shelves are taken up with brand new books, I have a TBR list that is a mile long and the pile on my bedside table hasn’t changed in a fortnight.

I tried really hard to read.

I managed to read most of one book, only to fall at the final hurdle, the climax of the book, the last big push.

I tried to read a classic, The Picture of Dorian Grey. I made it to 20%.

A new book arrived on my Kindle, one I had waited for anxiously, for weeks, months. Fake by C.L. Stone. I made it to 50% on this one.

I picked up The Help by Kathryn Stockett last night and made it to chapter six. Today it just looks too big, too thick.

Someone told me to try reading a book I already read. I ended up skipping to my favourite scenes, and when I finished the book in half an hour, I was ecstatic! Until I realised that I had actually only read a quarter of the book, having skipped over the whole middle section.

I am fighting a demon, an affliction that hits most readers at one point or another. The Book Slump. It is an overweight, hairy, and ugly monster, making you hate something you love. You end up wasting time by watching Call the Midwife on repeat, and then feeling horribly guilty. All these lovely new books, all the time and no will.

The garlic to this vampire? Time. The one thing that is always running out. On a day when you have six deadlines, five bills to pay, no food in the house, an important meeting at eight in the morning and no clean underwear, your love of reading will come back just in time for you to fall into a book world that you physically cannot pull yourself from for a week.

Happy Reading Friends!

Booky Love

E. St. C.

Why we should all pre-order a book: A reader’s point of view

Screen Shot 2015-01-29 at 12.06.09

I recently pre-ordered All Fall Down by Ally Carter, and as I clicked the little green button, I realised that I had probably pre-ordered a book less than five times in my life. As a girl who has read well over 1000 books, this thought shocked me.

First, I should point out that this post is predominantly about pre-ordering on amazon.co.uk as I have not ever pre-ordered on any other sites. However, after looking around, I noticed that most of the information in this post is true for the bigger bookshops as well as quite a few indie stores.

When you pre-order a book, you are not charged until the order is dispatched. Amazon also do this really cool thing called the pre-order price guarantee…

“For items with a future release date, the Amazon.co.uk price may change between the time of order and the date the item is dispatched. We don’t charge you until we dispatch an item; therefore, when you pre-order selected books, … you’ll be charged the lowest price offered by Amazon.co.uk between the time the order was placed and the item’s release date.

If the price is lowered on the release date and your order has already been dispatched, we’ll automatically refund the difference between the price you were charged and the release-date price.” (From Amazon)

(I must add, after doing a quick check, this is also true for Waterstones)

This all sounds pretty cool, not to mention the reasons why pre-ordering is great for our beloved authors.

1. Pre-ordering helps them get on the bestsellers lists. All pre-orders count towards the first week of sales, which is when an author is most likely to go on a bestsellers list. This may seem like a shallow thing to worry about, like a popularity contest, but it is really important for an author to get noticed, get their work read and be known. If they can prove they have a large reader base, this can help them get more marketing from their publisher and there is a greater chance of future books.  Good news for us! (Even well published authors get worried about their next book being accepted!)

2. Pre-ordering may result in a re-order. The book hasn’t been released and retailers have already run out, they ask for another batch of books from the publisher.  Again, this is brilliant for an author- retailers and publishers getting excited about a book which has sold out before being put on the shelves often leads to….

3. More space in the bookshops. If ten people have already pre-ordered a book in their local bookshop, the manager is much more likely to make space for that book on their shelves. It is selling well, and it hasn’t been displayed, why wouldn’t they? And books being displayed leads to a wider reader base, which leads to more sales and more book deals for our favourite author. Awesome!

All of these things mean that authors get more sales, and SALES ARE GOOD! For our author, and, in turn, for us, their devoted readers. If our favourite author gets lots of sales, their publishers will take note of this, which could be vital for not only for the continuation of a series, but as stated above, any other book they might write. If they have already proven they can sell big, they are likely to be published again. Which is excellent news for us.

So. Pre-ordering books is important. But I never did it. Why? Maybe due to a lack of money (“If I pre-order that book that doesn’t come out until the summer, will I still have that money in my account when it is released?”), maybe due to a need for instant gratification (I just never saw the point in committing to something I won’t get for six months). So, if you feel a bit like I used to, here are some reasons that are closer to home that might change your mind.

1. You get that book first! Well, apart from those lovely reviewers who posted all about their ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies). Reading a book on the first day it comes out is brilliant, as you won’t have to suffer from spoilers. And you can feel really smug when telling all your friends how brilliant it is, but you “can’t say anything, it might spoil it”, which, lets be honest, is a great feeling. Also, you don’t have to queue all night outside a bookstore just to arrive at the counter to be told they ran out. (Who would be crazy enough to do this? Well, er, um!)

2. Surprise! If it is a hard copy, you get that great feeling of opening a mystery package that just arrived (“Hmm, I haven’t ordered anything in forever, whatever could it be?”). If it is an e-book, it will just appear on your kindle or nook or other e-reader device (and you will feel like Father Christmas, the Easter Bunny and the tooth fairy all came at once). If you preorder a book six months in advance, there is a very real possibility you will forget that TODAY is the day. (Cue high-pitched fan-girl squealing.)

3. You might get exclusive deals from the author. Lots of authors now run contests and giveaways for their loyal fans who pre-order their books (“I most definitely would like a bag with a quote from your book on it, thank you!”).

4. You don’t have to rely on your bad memory. As I already mentioned, I read a LOT of books. Too many. My parents used to tell me off for the amount I read, which I do not think is normal parent-child behaviour. Although I might really love an author, I am usually waiting for about five books to come out at any one time, and my TBR pile is obnoxiously huge, so I might, might, just forget to actually buy that book I have been looking forward to for months.  But if I pre-ordered that book when I spotted it, I don’t have to worry about remembering, it arrives in a parcel of joy, and I am happy.

5. Be part of something amazing. If a book you pre-ordered hits a bestseller list, you can say, I helped to do that. And an author will be eternally grateful that there are readers out there that cared enough to pre-order their wonderful book.

So, if I haven’t convinced you by now, I probably never will. If I have, go and type in your favourite author’s name into Google, and see if they have any upcoming releases. Or go and look for some new authors and support their work. You might just pre-order the book of the next J.K. Rowling.

Lots of booky love
E. St. C
xxx