The Ice Lolly Book Tag

Hi everybody!

Today I’m writing a book tag post, but you may not have heard of this tag yet, as CharlotteLouise and I decided to make one to celebrate summer (which was a very, very fun Twitter conversation!). The idea is comparing books to ice cream, and as I love both I can’t think of anything better.

Continue reading “The Ice Lolly Book Tag”

Guest Post: The Books Which Made Me a Reader

Hi everybody! Today, I’m super excited to welcome lovely Zoe from No Safer Place to the blog to talk about books which made her a reader. If you’d like to know mine, check back for my post on Saturday! 

Amy x

Now for Zoe’s brilliant post, which I thoroughly enjoyed reading!

BOOKS WHICH MADE ME A READER

I think there are moments in your life where you read a book and they remind you of why you became a reader in the first place. Over the years, I’ve had many moments like this but there are a special few that I will always carry with me. Many of these moments were books I read as a child, these were the ones that ignited my love for reading and would change my life forever.

Aged 6: Enid Blyton’s The Magic Faraway Tree

This was the first book I remember my mum reading to me as a child, I was extremely young and I remember telling myself that this book would be the first novel I would read independently. Even though I haven’t read this book for many years, me and my mum reread this story so many times, I could even recite it back to you now. I read many of Enid Blyton’s books after this and I realised how much books could make you feel, from a very young age.

Aged 8: Georgia Byng’s Molly Moon’s Incredible Book of Hypnotism

Oh my god. This series was probably my favourite series as a young girl. I remember taking them everywhere with me, to the shop, to school, on holiday. Aged 8 me wanted a black pug because of this book and that is something that has grown with me, all the way to 23. When I was young, I quite clearly adored fantasy and magic, which again, is something 23 year old me still loves.

Aged 10: Jacqueline Wilson’s Love Lessons

I was so in love with this book that aged 10 me went to meet Jacqueline Wilson and she signed my copy of this book. I treasured this book with all my heart and it most definitely prepared me for secondary school, when you hit puberty and “fall in love” with any boy that breathes…including teachers! I still have my battered, well read copy of Love Lessons displayed in my flat proudly, that book definitely changed my reading preferences.

Aged 13: J K Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Of course, my list wouldn’t be complete without including Harry Potter. Obviously, I read the previous books when I was younger but it was this book that changed things for me. JK Rowling’s writing style most definitely got more mature, as the books went on, so I found my reading style did too. It was after reading this, that I took the plunge and started reading adult novels (not that kind!) and my horizons broadened massively. Cue Dracula by Bram Stoker (my favourite book ever written!)

Aged 18: Samantha Shannon’s The Bone Season

The Bone Season isn’t strictly just a YA book but this book is what made me start reading YA books, alas allowing me to enter into the world of book blogging. I have expressed to Samantha Shannon on many occassions how much I adore this book and how it inspired me to write my first ever review. Yes, my first review was The Bone Season! (Although, never posted). It was only when the second book, The Mime Order was released that I posted my first ever review on nosaferplace. And yes, I am called nosaferplace because of this book. Go and read it if you want to find out why!

I must say every book I read changes or impacts me in some way, no matter how big or small but these books are definitely the ones that changed me most, as a person and a reader.

What books changed you and why? Let me know in the comments!

 

 

Helen Bailey: A Tragic Loss of Life

Hi everybody.

Today’s post is something a little bit different, and I’ve found it very emotional to write. I’d be really grateful if you could let me know your thoughts about it in the comments or on Twitter.

One year ago today, news broke that the body of Helen Bailey had been found, along with her dog Rufus in her septic tank. Both had been murdered by her partner.

I spent most of the following week in tears, even though I didn’t know her, and probably didn’t have a right to. I cried in the bath, in bed, everywhere.

I especially cried in a bookshop, when I came across her books, and simultaneously laughed rereading the first chapter of Life at the Shallow End.

I still cry now, some days, when it hits me now unfair what happened to her was. She was clever and funny and overcame so much tragedy, and she did not deserve to die. Especially not the way she did.

The Electra Brown series was one of my all time favourites when I was young, even though most of it sailed over my head. I’ve misplaced my copies now (and I think I’d cry rivers if I reread them), but I still remember almost every detail of every book. I can’t imagine forgetting them. I don’t ever want to forget them.

They shaped my reading tastes; I still love funny books which successfully deal with important topics.

They taught me a lot; not all of it was especially appropriate for 10 year old me, but Electra Brown was an education. One tip that will especially stick with me is to never get a spray tan if you have a posh dinner out booked the same day (which Electra does in one book, and just lives through the mortification to regret).

Perhaps more vitally, they taught me not to judge on appearances, to see past how a person looks or acts, as Electra learns throughout the series.

In short, for quite a long time, Helen’s books were pretty much my everything, and even now they’ve stayed with me. They always will. I’m still not over what happened to her, I probably never will be.

I’m glad she got some justice, but I wish it hadn’t happened in the first place. I wish Helen was still here ; writing funny, fabulous books that felt so real to me, especially now there’s the YA label, which to me fits her books in a way that teen fiction never did.

Rest in peace Helen and Rufus. Please know I think of you often.

Amy x

 

My Top Ten Disney Films

Hi everybody!

Today I thought it might be fun to talk about something else I love except for books; Disney films! Let’s get started 😊

In no particular order…

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Brother Bear- This isn’t one if I’ve ever seen on anyone else’s favourites lists, but I adore this film. The animation is stunning, the friendship between Koda and Kenai warms my heart (Koda is one of the sweetest characters ever) and it just has a lovely message.

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Zootropolis- This is one of Disney’s latest films, but it’s already on my favourites list. I’ve already seen it about 5 times. The characters are brilliant and their love/hate relationship is hilarious, not to mention the laugh-out-loud funny sloth scene and Mr Big. This will make you laugh, cry and laugh some more by the time you’re finished and the reveal of the villain was actually pretty surprising.

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The Aristocats- If for nothing else (and there are lots of things to love about this film, trust me) watch this for the fabulous ‘Everybody Wants to be a Cat’. I want to dance just thinking about that song!

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Bolt- Even though this is really hard to watch as I love animals and the sad parts make me sob, this is just a lovely film. Bolt is one of my favourite characters ever and I just love the story. Plus, the song that plays over the end credits is beautiful.

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Pocahontas- This film has utterly captivating animation, the soundtrack is hauntingly beautiful and the love story is epic. It also features one of my favourite Disney sidekicks, Meeko the raccoon.(And the little pug too!) 

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Finding Nemo- I didn’t love Nemo the 1st time I saw it, but I completely adored it when I  watched it last year before going to the cinema to see Funding Dory. Nemo is a lovely character, and this is just a super sweet film. Fun fact: CJ from the West Wing (Allison Janney), voices one of the fish Nemo meets in the fishtank.

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Lady and the Tramp- I think the picture above says it all. This film is just a delight from start to finish!

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Frozen- This is another fairly new Disney film, but it’s magical. I’ll admit my favourite part of this film is Olaf (he is probably my favourite ever sidekick, I just love him), but some of the soundtrack is phenomenal and I love that this is more about love between sisters than romantic love.

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Bonus pick- Bambi. This isn’t as zingy or in your face as modern Disney films, but I love how gentle it is. If you want a heartwarming, lovely film with animals that you can properly just relax with, watch Bambi. You won’t regret it!

Now for my joint favourite Disney films.

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Tangled- This marked a huge occasion for Disney, their 50th film, and I think this more than rises to the occasion. This has everything you could want from a Disney film; a great heroine, a love interest with an actual personality/plot of their own, a love story based on friendship, an evil villain, good songs (I especially love the Grace Potter song which plays on the end credits) and not one but TWO hilarious sidekicks in Maximus and Pascal.

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The Lion King- This is a masterpiece. I honestly think of words to describe how special this film is. Simba is a total sweetheart of a protagonist and I love his development throughout the film from a young cub to a brave lion. Scar is so menacing that I even get a bit quivery watching him (and ‘Be Prepared’ is the best villain song which exists.). Just writing this makes me want to rewatch, so I think I might go and do that actually ! 

So there you have it, my top ten Disney Films! This was unbelievably tough to pick, so I hope you’ve enjoyed reading it 😊. I’d love to know yours, so please do leave me a comment or let me known on my Twitter @GoldenBooksGirl.

See you soon with a new post!

Amy x

 

 

Review: The Soterion Mission Trilogy by Stewart Ross

Hi everybody!

Hope your week is off to a great start. Today, I’m reviewing The Soterion Mission Trilogy. I’d love to know what you think of these books in the comments or on Twitter if you’ve read them. 

Amy x

*I received copies of this trilogy in exchange for an honest review*

In this YA dystopian trilogy, Stewart Ross explores a world in which adults no longer exist and a mutation in DNA means no one lives past the age of 19.

I found the concept of this series really interesting, and I thought the worldbuilding was excellent. I found it fairly unique, and enjoyed seeing the story from the point of views of both the peaceful Constants and brutal Zeds.

Another part of the books I liked were that the characters, particularly Cyrus, were generally likeable and even though their lives are obviously very different from mine I felt able to empathise with them as they came across as well-rounded, complicated people.

Finally, I really appreciated the glossaries at the back of books 2 and 3, as it helped me make sense of more aspects of the world and the language the characters use.

However, I wasn’t always desperate to read on throughout the series as the chapters are fairly long, and I also thought the violence throughout was quite graphic in places for my tastes.

Overall, even though this is isn’t usually my sort of book, I still enjoyed The Soterion Mission Trilogy and it’s definitely one of the best dystopias I’ve read, so would recommend it to anyone who enjoys this genre as I personally enjoyed it more than the Hunger Games.

3.5 stars 🌟🌟🌟

LGBTQIA Read Wrap-Up

Hello everybody! Its the weekend, yay! Today I'm sharing my reviews for the books I read during the #LGBTQIARead, which was hosted from 24th June-1st July by Faye from A Daydreamer`s Thoughts and George Lester (who is one of my very favourite YouTubers). I read some fabulous books during this ( even though I didn’t read everything from my TBR, which you can read here)

Along with the books I`ll be reviewing below, I also reread Simon Vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli, which I loved even more this time round.

Let`s get onto the reviews!

Noah Can`t Even by Simon James Green
In his delightful debut novel, Simon James Green tells the story of Noah Grimes, a socially awkward teenage boy whose already crazy life gets even more pear shaped after his best friend Harry kisses him at a party. This book is the kind of funny that will make you snort with laughter multiple times as Noah gets into the most crazy situations imaginable, and I also really enjoyed Noah`s witty comments throughout the narrative. I also liked the fact that even though this was a contemporary comedy, Noah (a huge Agatha Christie fan) got to solve a few little mysteries such as who his mother`s mysterious new boyfriend was, and I thought that this book dealt really well with issues such as a family member`s dementia, family issues in general and sexuality. In short, this was a fantastic, fun read, and I would recommend it highly to fans of humour and hilarious hijinks in the books they read. 4.5/5
Every Day by David Levithan
This book tells the story of A, a person who wakes up in a different body every day, as they meet Rhiannon and decide that they don`t want to swap bodies constantly any more as they want to spend their life with Rhiannon. The format of this story, which is essentially slice-of-life chapters that let you explore the body A is in that day, was entirely unique, and the breadth of characters and issues that were explored was excellent. I liked A a lot, regardless of which body they were in, and I liked the message of the story that who you are and what you look like shouldn`t matter if you love someone`s personality. However, I did struggle to empathise with Rhiannon, the other main character, as I found her to be quite superficial, and I also found the ending an unsatisfying conclusion to A`s story. 3.5/5
When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
In what is probably the most hyped YA novel of the summer, we read about two Indian American teenagers (Dimple and Rishi) as they meet at a STEM focused summer programme, discover that they`ve been set up to meet as their parents have arranged their marriage (well, Dimple does. Rishi was in on the plan without knowing Dimple had no idea, which leads to a hilarious meet cute) and get past this to fall in love with each other. I loved the writing style of this book, which had a lot of figurative language that made me smile, and I thought the close 3rd person, dual narrative worked perfectly for this book. While I wasn’t really that interested in the secondary characters or their subplots, Dimple and Rishi were both super likeable in completely different ways, and I was rooting for their romance throughout, as well as willing them on to succeed in the creation of their app and the competition, which I thought was a fun plot in general. A final thing I loved about this book was the fact that I got to learn more about Indian culture as I knew very little before starting When Dimple Met Rishi, and I think this book is a perfect summer contemporary read. 4/5
Margot and Me by Juno Dawson
This book tells the story of Fliss as she is forced to move to the countryside with her mum, who is in remission from cancer, to live with her battle-axe grandmother Margot. While Fliss initially struggles with the move, everything changes when she discovers Margot`s wartime diary and begins to unravel her past. I loved both Fliss`s and Margot`s perspectives as they were instantly engaging and the way in which the timelines were continually swapping always left me desperate to find out what would happen in the next part of both. The characters in both periods were diverse and instantly loveable, and except for Fliss`s bully Megan (who was so awful I struggled to read scenes she was in) I genuinely cared about and sympathised with all of them. Another thing that I adored about Margot and Me was that it felt somehow cinematic, and it really reminded me of the feeling you get when you curl up with a classic movie on a rainy day as it was heart-breaking to the point where I shed more than a few tears at some parts of the novel, yet was still heart-warming. I can`t quite put my finger on why this book is so special, but it`s going to stay with me for a long time and I can`t recommend it highly enough. 5/5
Girlhood by Cat Clarke
Girlhood tells the story of Harper, a girl who chose to go to boarding school as she is wracked with guilt over her sister`s death, as the friendships she`s built turn toxic when a new girl starts at Duncraggan, a boarding school much darker than any of Enid Blyton`s. While I initially really struggled with Girlhood as it was very slow paced to begin with, as it went on I became utterly gripped and could barely flip the pages fast enough to find out what would happen, and I actually expected the ending to go in a very different direction. I thought Harper was a fabulous, flawed narrator, and the side characters also felt well-developed and layered, and it felt like I was reading about real people. The book explored friendship in a really interesting way as it looked at how powerful and positive female friendships can be when they`re good, but also dangerous they can be when they aren`t. Even though I didn’t love this quite as much as the Lost and the Found, it`s still an excellent read. 4.5/5

Thank you for reading everyone! Id love to know what you think of these if you`ve read them, or whether you might like to pick them up after reading these reviews!

 

 

 

Guest Post: Louise Cole’s Top Books She Wishes She’d Written

Hello everybody! 

Today I’m very excited to welcome Louise Cole (author of the Devil’s Poetry) to the blog to speak about the top ten books she wishes she’d written. I had a lot of fun organising this post, and I really hope I’ll be able to have more authors on the blog in the future. I’d love to know your thoughts on the post in the comments or on my Twitter @GoldenBooksGirl. Now over to Louise’s excellent post! Amy x

I was recently asked to write about my top ten literary influences so I’m going to try very hard not to duplicate my answers here. Shouldn’t be too hard, given how many breath-stealing books there are in the world.

Which books would you have loved to have written? Is a completely different question to which books have you loved. There are many books I’ve thoroughly enjoyed and many which have stolen my heart that I wouldn’t have wanted to write. Quite apart from needing the talent, the subject matter has to resonate deeply with something inside for it to be something you would want to write. After all you’d be committing a couple of years of your life perhaps to creating this book. So books grow from your greatest joys and greatest fears. They don’t spring from idle fancies or vague curiosities but burning obsession and fascination.
So which books strike that note of obsession within me?

1. The Subtle Knife by Phillip Pullman
I’d love to have written The Subtle Knife. It has all the magical world-building and drama of Northern Lights and an array of marvelous characters. Of the three His Dark Materials books, I felt it had the best chemistry, the best story arc, and the most exciting premise. A knife that cuts between worlds. What a chilling thought. No gentle exploration, but a violation, a savagery that means the worlds bleed their life stuff away. I think much of human progress is like that – exploratory, exciting but unthinkingly savage.

2. The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson. Oh the stories within stories… Anyone who has read The Devil’s Poetry will know that books themselves fascinate me, our need to tell stories and to hear stories. I’m also hooked on the concept of truth. I think the truth matters hugely and yet it’s like a fish in the shallows, slipping through your fingers. The Gargoyle is all about truth and lies, belief and disbelief, interpretation and story. A badly burned man and a mentally unstable sculptor start a wonderful, tender, painful friendship. She insists they have known one another for centuries and tells him tales of past lives and wonders. Is she telling the truth? As her stories reawaken his will to live, does it matter?

3. Affinity by Sarah Waters. Oh to be able to write a proper Victorian novel full of betrayal and confidence tricksters, a story that twists and turns like the alleys of London until you can’t tell which way is up or who is playing who. Margaret is a ‘nice’ girl who visits a prison where she meets a spiritualist. Is the girl genuine? Is she a sham? I love the atmosphere in Sarah Waters’ novels, so thick you could cut it with a knife and yet you are never aware of her creating it. It’s like that moment when you get off the plane near the Mediterranean and one breath tells you you’re in a world of herbs and salt water and a long way from home.

4. Jonathan Stroud’s Bartimaeus trilogy – yes, all three of them. I loved Nathaniel and Kitty, I loved the world and I particularly liked the arrogant, funny, contemptuous djinn Bartimaeus. Like another book on this list, Stroud is big on footnotes and I love taking little detours through side stories and back stories. If you haven’t met Bartimaeus, the wise cracking genii with a heart of gold, you have missed something wonderful.

5. Gillian Philip’s Bad Faith. The Church once again rules England and it’s all too easy to run afoul of the religious authorities. But life is good for Cassandra, until she finds a corpse on the riverbank. And not just any corpse but the bishop. Cass is about to realise just how many secrets layer her family – and that the stakes have never been higher.

6. City of Thieves by David Benioff. I’d love to be able to pull off a story which is, fundamentally, a tragedy and yet which fools the reader all the way along with its whimsical and tongue in cheek treatment of the siege of Leningrad. Two unlikely soldiers are sent on an impossible quest in the heart of a war – to find a dozen fresh eggs in the starving city. It is funny, sad, surreal, both adventure and political satire. I would love to be able to write something so enchanting and so accomplished.

7. Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke. Rule number one about JSMN. Do not drop it on your foot. I have no idea what the word length is on this novel but it’s a monster. It isn’t a single journey so much as a forest. You’ll wander into Clarke’s pages and be lost for days, if not weeks. This tale of two wizards, the scholar and the upstart, is a story of magic, and the magic of stories and you’ll end it feeling like you have been kidnapped by the fae and left part of yourself behind.

8. V by JJ Abrams. I take this book out sometimes just to look at it. This isn’t a novel so much as a concept. There is a novel, Ship of Theseus by VM Straka. But that isn’t the novel you read. Or at least it isn’t the only novel you read. The true story here takes place in the footnotes and margins of this novel, in the letters that two students leave for one another, the clues they uncover. In the folded napkin with the map drawn on it. In the newspaper cuttings, the list of murders, the postcards, as the two students realise the horror story may not be just a story at all. A wonderful theatrical metafiction and I am so, so jealous because this is a book I’ve dreamed of doing but would never find the backing for, and yet I am also so thrilled that someone managed to do it.

9. The Dagger and the Coin by Daniel Abraham. The first one is called The Dragon’s Path – and no, before you are as disappointed as some Goodreads reviewers, this particular book doesn’t have dragons in it. It does have wonderful characters, who aren’t easily defined as good and bad, including a narcissistic scholar and an alcoholic teenager banker, a group of actors led by a man who avoids the truth, lest he pervert it… Just dive in. Why would I like to have written this? For its breadth, it’s world building, its exploration of ideas. And for Clara because we simply don’t have enough middle aged heroines who get love stories and heroism and to save the day.

10. And, finally, Twilight. Not because it’s a wonderful novel, although it isn’t without merit, but because it made a truckload of money. I’m half-joking but there is a serious point in here. Stephenie Meyer’s post-Twilight novel The Host is wonderful but is far less well known. Had she never written Twilight she would probably never have made enough money to not have a second job. That is the stark truth for most writers, however good. Average incomes are very low and the books that make the best seller lists are not always the best books published or even the best books that writer has published. Talent, quality, reader reception and income all live in different neighbourhoods in the book world and it’s a happy day for all of us when they finally meet up.

Happy reading x

THE DEVILS POETRY RGBLouise Cole is the author of The Devil’s Poetry series.