Top Ten Tuesday: Books I’ve Picked Up Because of Blogger Recommendations

Hello everybody!

Today, I’m taking part in Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, and today’s prompt was to pick a past topic. I’ve decided to go for books I’ve picked up because other bloggers have recommended to me; some of which I’ve read and others that are still on my TBR (and I haven’t got a full ten, which I just want to point out in case anyone thought I couldn’t count 😜). Onto the post!


Continue reading “Top Ten Tuesday: Books I’ve Picked Up Because of Blogger Recommendations”

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My One Year Blogging Anniversary: A Thank You

Hello everybody!

Yesterday, as you might know if you follow me on Twitter, was my one year anniversary as a blogger. I couldn’t decide how to mark this occasion for ages, so I decided to keep it simple. Today, I want to thank all of the people who’ve made this year so special, and it’ll probably be pretty gushy. Onto the post!

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To the fellow bloggers I now consider friends: thank you for chatting with me, being there for both blogging and personal crises, and having the best book recommendations. I only hope I’m half as good a friend to all of you as you are to me. If you’re one of these people, you’ll know who you are, and I like all of your boots a hell of a lot (so much I’ll still be your friend even if you don’t know that reference).

To the blogging community: I may not be as close to some of you as those I refer to above, but I still love talking to everyone, taking part in chats both organised and random, and I’m so glad I’m able to consider myself a member of this community. Thank you for letting me be part of it, and making me feel so welcome when I first started.

To the authors who let me flail and fangirl: it will never fail to astound me that I actually know and talk to people whose books are just incredible. It will NEVER stop being surreal that some of my favourite authors on the planet follow me on Twitter, and I’ve even been lucky enough to host some of you for interviews and guest posts, which was an honour. Thank you for all of the above, and also not blocking me for telling you 20 times a day how excited I am for your next book. I know it’s probably really annoying, and I’m so grateful you let me fly my fangirl flag.

To the publishers, who make almost all of this possible: even though I write posts about other subjects, this is a book blog first and foremost, and I want to thank you for publishing the amazing books I get to buy or borrow, and read. And if you send me book post, thank you even more. It’s the coolest thing ever that you send me books and let me share my opinions on them. I’m so grateful to you all.

And, finally, to you: whether you’ve never read this blog before in your life or you’ve been there since the beginning, thanks for reading. It means the world, and I hope you enjoyed whatever you’ve read.

Amy xxx

Author Interview: Lari Don

Hello everybody! 

Today, I’m really excited to have an author interview with Lari Don, whose books I absolutely loved when I read them last year. Onto the interview!

Hi Lari! Thank you so much for being here!

1. Can you please describe your writing in 5 words?

Magic, monsters, adventure, ambushes, danger…

2. What is your writing routine like? Do you have any unusual writing habits?

I wish I had a regular writing routine, involving nice quiet days typing in my study and going for long walks to think through plot problems. In fact, I do most of my writing on trains and in a shed. I spend a lot of time talking to young readers and writers in schools and libraries, so if I want to keep on top of my deadlines, I have to write while travelling. Then when I am at home, my family are usually there too, being noisy and distracting, so I have to escape to the garden shed to get peace to think and imagine. And the shed isn’t a fancy shed, it’s an old leaky tool shed, with a desk, a box of blankets, and lots of spiders. Therefore, my unusual writing habit is getting someone brave to check the shed for spiders lurking in the corners or above my head before I start to write. 

3. All of your middle grades are mainly fantasies. Was there any reason you chose to write in that genre? Do you have any favourite fantasy books?

Of my 9 novels so far, 8 are fantasy adventures! I write about magic and quests and monsters because that’s what I’ve always loved reading. Also, most of my inspiration comes from reading, researching and telling old myths, legends and folklore. So I write fantasy because I love fantasy, and because most of my ‘what if’ ideas lead to me that way. My favourite fantasy books are the ones I read when I was young, by Diana Wynne Jones (the Chrestomanci books, Howl’s Moving Castle, The Power of Three) but I’ve read some brilliant ones recently too, including the Five Kingdoms series by Vivian French and the Bartimaeus books by Jonathan Stroud.

4. Your books are all set in Scotland, which I loved (It was so nice to understand all the school references for a change!). Did you always plan for that, or did it just seem natural to set the books there when you started? Is there any part of Scotland that you’d like to set a book in that you haven’t yet?

I don’t really plan anything! I just write the stories that won’t leave me alone! My stories generally find themselves happening in Scotland because I know Scotland better than anywhere else in the world, and because the Scottish landscape is fantastic for quests and adventures. Also, location research is easier if it’s a coastline or mountain or castle that I already know or that I can visit in a weekend. However, not all my characters are Scottish (Theo in Spellchasers is from Egypt, for example) and the monsters and magic are inspired by myths and legend from all over the world. Also, I have written a novel (Mind Blind) set mostly in London, so I hope my imagination doesn’t stop at the border! Spellchasers is set in Speyside, where I was brought up, and the Fabled Beasts quested in parts of Scotland that I visit for holidays or to see family: the Borders, the West Highlands, Orkney, Skye, Sutherland… If I want to write about a ‘new’ bit of Scotland, I could consider Dumfries and Galloway, Fife, Glasgow, and various other islands. But I’ll have to see what the next story wants and needs. (I think it might need a port, so perhaps I’ll set it in Leith?) Also, I’m delighted that you enjoy reading books set in Scotland and recognising the references.  When I was young, I only read one (ONE!) adventure novel for kids set in Scotland.  Everything else was English or American. Nowadays, there’s so much more choice for young readers, so much more opportunity to read about their own landscape and culture and history. I know that’s the case in Scotland, I hope it’s the case everywhere else as well! 

5. One of the main elements of Spellchasers is shapeshifting, as that is the thing the main character Molly has been cursed with. What 3 animals would you most like to shapeshift into, and why?

A hare – because I spent so much time researching hares, that I’d love to know whether what I imagined and described every time Molly ran as a hare is really how it feels. Also, I’d love to run that fast!

A hawk  – because who doesn’t want to fly? And I’d love to hover above the landscape, watching all the stories happening below me.

 A cat – after all that sprinting and running, I’d probably want to turn into a pet cat, so I could curl up beside a fire and have a snooze!  

(Then, of course, I’d want to become human again, because I don’t fancy eating grass or rodents for my tea!) 

6. I`m going to be a bit mean now. Who is your favourite Spellchaser, and Fabled Beast? Mine are Beth/Atacama and Sapphire, if you’re interested.

I should struggle to answer this, because I should love all my characters equally, but if I’m honest I already know my favourites. Yann the centaur in Fabled Beasts and Innes the kelpie in Spellchasers.  (And my favourite baddies are the Faery Queen in Wolf Notes and Nan in The Shapeshifter’s Guide to Running Away.  There are probably common themes in both of those pairs of favourites, which possibly reveal far too much about me…)   

7. This one should be a bit easier! What’s your favourite thing about being an author?

That’s not easier, because I love so many things about being an author! I love the moment an idea arrives, the ‘what if’ and ‘I wonder’, and especially when several smaller ideas crash together and sparks fly and I can feel I have a new novel coming to life.  But I also love the process of discovering the story, the long journey to find the answers to the initial questions. And I am excited any time a character does something unexpected, especially those wonderful and rare moments when a character takes control of the story and runs off with it (that happened in Rocking Horse War, my only standalone fantasy, and it seriously improved the plot!) And I love editing (yes, really. I know that’s unusual, but I love seeing the story get stronger as I slice away the extra words that I needed to find the story but that the readers don’t need to enjoy it.) And I love the moment a new book arrives, all shiny and real. AND I love talking to young readers and inspiring them to come up with stories of their own. Despite the late nights and long train journeys and spider-filled sheds, I love everything about being a writer! 

8. Finally, before the quickfire questions, can you let us in on any secrets about what you`ll be releasing next? *crosses fingers for more fabulous MG*

I hope there will be more ‘fabulous MG’ (thank you!) sometime soon, but the next book is actually a picture book. It’s called The Treasure of the Loch Ness Monster, and it’s quite dark and dangerous, but also magical and mysterious, with amazing illustrations by Nataša Ilinčić. And after that – who knows? I needed a creative break after writing the Spellchasers trilogy (a trilogy takes a long time and a lot of complicated story-weaving) so I am having fun with several possible novel ideas right now. But all the ideas I am playing with involve magic, betrayals and danger, so I hope you’ll enjoy the next novel, whatever it is! 

QUICKFIRE

Hogwarts house? – Ravenclaw 

Favourite sweet treat? – Orange or mint chocolate, in the middle of the night, to keep me awake when I’m editing

Favourite season? -winter

Your 3 favourite reads of 2017? – The Empty Grave (Lockwood and Co) by Jonathan Stroud 

Within the Sanctuary of Wings (the Memoirs of Lady Trent) by Marie Brennan

Lost Words by Robert MacFarlane and Jackie Morris 

(and I got a pile of intriguing books for Christmas which I’m really looking forward to working my way through) 

3 random facts about you- 

• I’m terrified of spiders, but don’t have any problems with wasps, bees, moths, birds, snakes or dragons; 

• I am learning British Sign Language; 

• My current favourite vegetable is cauliflower. 

Thanks for asking such wonderful questions! 

Thank you for answering so wonderfully!

I hope you enjoyed Lari’s answers as much as I did. Do you love Lari’s books? Are they on your TBR? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @GoldenBooksGirl!

Amy xxx

Top Ten Tuesday- My 5 Bookish Resolutions for 2018

Hello everybody! Today I’m taking part in Top Ten Tuesday, which is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Given the title, this may be slightly confusing, but for today’s list I’ve decided I only wanted to have 5 I actually intend to attempt rather than 10 I’m writing just for the sake of it . Onto my resolutions!


1) Read 100 books
– I know I’ve said I’m not making myself a goal for how many books I want to read, but I’ve decided to have this very loose and unofficial one. I think I’m just going to write down the name of a book each time I finish it, and then count them all at the end of the year


2) Reread more
– I’ve always been a big rereader, but I did it very little after my blog began. At the end of 2017, I did a few rereads and it was such a joy. Three I’m especially determined to achieve (as they’re lengthier) are the My Sister the Vampire series, the Adventure Island series and the Pony Club Secrets books.


3) Feel even less guilt over DNFing
– I’m admittedly pretty good at this one already, so next year I’d like to just wipe the guilt altogether. I hate the feeling of not enjoying something lots of people did, and feel so guilty about not finishing them/what people will think of that decision, but next year I’m going to attempt to stop worrying about it quite so much.


4) Read some Shakespeare
– since we started doing exams, I no longer get the chance to read Shakespeare at school. Before, we read two (A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the Merchant of Venice, the latter of which I fell in love with) and I thought they were fab. I want to read at least 2 or 3  this year, if I can hunt down good editions.


5) KEEP BLOGGING
– is this bookish? My blog has the word books in the title, so I’m counting it, and I have lots of bookish content evem though I’ve branched out to a few other things too (and intend to do so even more in 2018). No matter what happens over the next year, I’d like to remain as a blogger. I honestly love doing it and I’ve met so many amazing people through it too.


Thank you so much for reading! Do you have any resolutions for 2018? I’d love to hear about them in the comments or on Twitter @GoldenBooksGirl!


Amy xxx

Why I Loved Doing Blogmas

Hello everybody!


Today, I’m doing a little bit of reflection on why I enjoyed doing blogmas so much during December. After all the stress was out of the way, I thought it was an incredible experience, and one I personally loved (though I totally respect anyone who doesn’t enjoy it; every blogger is amazing regardless 💜). Unless anything drastically changes over the next year (which is entirely possible), I’m very much hoping to take part again in 2018. Onto the reasons why I decided this!

 Increased Engagement– I’d be a liar if I didn’t own up to liking a boost in my stats, but I mean other things by this too. I thoroughly enjoyed reading other bloggers’ posts and trying to comment on and engage with them.


Creativity
– I got to come up with ideas, both for myself and working with guests to decide on their posts. It was brilliant fun, and I love how differently they’ve all turned out, even when working from similar titles. It was a big challenge, especially considering that I usually post 13 times a month on average, but I’m genuinely thrilled with every idea that made the cut (and some which didn’t, that I’ve added to thoughts for 2018 blogmas)


Getting to Organise Something-
I’m nowhere near near as organised as some people seem to think I am, but I do really quite enjoy it. Blogmas unleashed my inner organiser (blogging does in general, if I’m honest). Spider diagrams of brainstorming sessions and schedules have been in my notebook since July. This was admittedly extreme, but I’m so proud I pulled it off. In the interest of full disclosure, I already have a loose schedule in mind for blogmas 2018, should I take part…


Doing Something a Bit Different
– When my blog first began, I posted exclusively about books. Then I introduced the odd Disney post, and then a lifestyle tag and then films. I really enjoy writing them for a change of pace, and I loved doing festive versions during Blogmas! In the New Year I’m hoping to start talking a little bit about music too, which I’m super excited about. I hope you like these different posts too!


Guest Posts-
As well as hosting some amazing guest posts here, I also contributed posts to several blogs I love. It was so much fun, and I really couldn’t pick a favourite of the ones I got to write!


Thank you so much for reading! Why did you love doing blogmas, if you did it?


Amy xxx