Tag Archive | YA

Really Good Books

I was thinking earlier it would be really good to do a blog today. Then I started wondering what I could write – it’s not like I’m actually writing is it. So that would leave… reading. I’m really enjoying the book I’m reading now Jeff Abbott’s A Kiss Gone Bad, and the thought of that led me to… I’m reading a lot of really good books at the moment.

In 2009 I only read 17 or something books, and only a handful of them really stood out. I think I tried to do a top ten books I read that year, but didn’t have a top ten. There just weren’t enough good ones there.

Last year was the opposite. I read 45 books, and enjoyed a huge number of them. So, what better way to spend a blog, than with my top books of last year. I was thinking top ten, but going through my list, I’ve actually made a top twenty. Hope it’s not too boring:

YA:

  • Twilight by Stephanie Meyer (I only read this to prove to people I wouldn’t like it. I loved it. I think it’s my favourite book of the year)
  • Avalon High by Meg Cabot (When I was researching YA novels before writing mine, I knew I had to read one of Ms Cabot’s books – the queen of teen and all that)
  • Summer Dreams Winter Love by Mary Francis Shura (this was my favourite book growing up, and I wanted to read it again. It still had that magic)
  • Della Says… OMG by Keris Stainton (I loved the sound of this when I started following Keris’ blog, and was lucky enough to get invited to her launch party where she signed the book. After all that I was so glad I loved it)

Chick Lit:

  • Love Lies by Adele Parks (I got given a small booklet on the street. It was the first two chapters. I couldn’t read just that, I had to get the whole book and read it.  But then I love Adele Parks so would have had to get it at some point anyway)
  • Foursome by Jane Fallon (This is the best book I read in this category. I loved everything about it, and will definitely be on the lookout for more books by her)
  • Husbands by Adele Parks (what can I say? I love the lady, I had to read more than one)
  • The Happy Home for Broken Hearts by Rowan Coleman (I got a copy of this from the publisher to review. I was pretty scared I wouldn’t like it then there would be loads of pressure on me to say something nice about it. Luckily it was great – it was Rowan Coleman, of course it was great)
  • The Baby Group by Rowan Coleman (ditto the great comment above)
  • What My Best Friend Did by Lucy Dawson (another that is in my top three of the year I imagine. Great. Not sure if it’s really chick lit, but I think it belongs here)
  • Ralph’s Party by Lisa Jewell (I read this when it came out ten years ago,  but after winning a ticket to an evening with Lisa, I thought I should re-read it before I went. So glad I did, I’d forgotten how good it was. And Lisa Jewell – she’s awesome and funny, and has a great story of how she got published. I like the idea that mine could go the same way…)

Thrillers:

  • Until It’s Over by Nicci French (my step mum gave me this, saying she loved it. Well, so did her step daughter)
  • The Memory Collector by Meg Gardiner (Although this is only the second book of hers I’ve read, I am a huge Meg Gardiner fan, and this is my favourite book. Can’t wait to start on her other series of books)
  • Too Close to Home by Linwood Barclay (Again second book of his I’ve read. Again this is my favourite)
  • Random by Craig Robertson (I got this free from the publisher because of doing the Thriller & Suspense Reading Challenge. It’s his debut book, and it’s brilliant)
  • The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo & The Girl Who Played with Fire both by Stieg Larsson (I only picked the first up because of the Thriller & Suspense Reading Challenge. I was so glad I did. I watched the movie too – it sucked)

 Sci-Fi:

  • The Caves of Steel by Asimov (I read this on recommendation from the other half. He thought I should read something DIFFERENT, so I did. I didn’t want to enjoy it, but I did. I want to read the rest in the Robot series)
  • 1984 by George Orwell (It’s a classic – I had to read it at some time. This was the year. It totally deserves the hype it gets)

I really hope 2011 is as good for books as last year was. I’m on book three, and so far it’s certainly shaping up that way!

What were your favourite books from last year?

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NaNoWriMo Starts Here!

I know it’s a few days early, but in a roundabout way, NaNo is just about to start for me: I’m off to my first ever NaNo event. Yippee!

Last year (my first  NaNo – which I ‘won’ I might add) I planned to go to the Kick off party, but I was working during one, and had won tickets to a comedy evening during the other. I then planned to go to some write ins, but I ended up being more ill than I thought I would be after my operation. There were after parties I could have gone to, but that kind of felt wrong after my non attendance to everything else.

But this year… this year I’m doing it properly! Tonight’s the first Kick off party and I’ll be there with my party hat on (metaphorically anyway). I’ve even cancelled some other plans to go – that’s dedication for you! I haven’t decided which write ins I’ll go to, but I’m going to go to some. This year I’ve got an awesomely light laptop that I can pretty much take anywhere (I don’t think it would be to happy if I took it swimming or surfing to be honest!) so will be easy to drop into any event. Plus this year I finish work at 17.30 instead of 18.30, so the after work write ins are possible for me. All and all it’s looking pretty good.

The other night I made a more detailed plan of what I think the novel’s going to be about. I’ve got the main idea, although I’m still not 100% sure it’s going to work, but it should do. I hope. I need to work on character names (as always), the setting, need some research on school subjects/programs and more. But, I’m feeling really positive about it.

I think I’ve come up with the title too. I was thinking of a little alliteration – Dating Day or Date Day, or something like that, but it wasn’t really working for me. Then I did a little brain storming and came up with The Dating Project. I kind of like it, but I’m not 100% sure. It works for the plot, but I think it maybe sounds like a TV show or something. I’ll decide fully in the next couple of days. What do YOU think of it?

My plan for this year is to try to rack up a high word count at the beginning of the month – it’s my boyfriend’s birthday the last weekend of the month, so I’m likely to be out partying then and I don’t want to fail at the last hurdle! I’ve booked one day holiday next week for another reason, but I’m hoping I can get a high word count in there. Plus boyfriend is away for the beginning of next week, so I should be able to get a lot done then.

I’m also going to be doing some at lunch times – I’ll probably bring my lunch in so I can just sit at my desk and write. Some days anyway.

Roll on 1st November!

Changes in Me and A Bit of Reading and Writing

Isn’t it funny what a difference a few months makes. When I first started this writing thing I was terrified of telling anyone I wanted to write, or that I was doing a writing course. Now, I’ll tell whoever will listen. I even tell people I’ve written a novel – although maybe I should stop doing that as I then have to hang my head in shame and admit that I’ve only edited the first chapter of it.

It’s great being able to tell people one of my stories has been accepted on a website. So many people want to read it, how cool is that. Well it will be when I hear back from the website again. I presume it’s normal for them to take ages to contact you about editing and then publishing it? I had an email from them at the end of Sep saying they’re going to post my story and that the editor will be in touch sometime soon. I’m guessing a month later isn’t that much to have not heard anything? Is it?

I’ve just got my notebook and writing course work out because I’m about to start on my plan for the novel I’m going to write for NaNo; the one I’m doubling up as the next assignment for my writing course (the assignment is to plot a novel – convenient). The problem I’m having is I’ve got my main idea, but I can’t decide on a little bit of detail for it. When I say a little bit, I mean the whole setting – maybe not such a little bit. I’ve got one idea that I think would be awesome, but I’d have to do a lot of research. OR I’ve got this other idea that’s good, but the other things that can happen because of that setting I think would be wicked. And I wouldn’t need to do as much research. I think I’m going to go for the second, maybe use the first as a setting to another novel in the future – obvioulsy depending on how well I get on with this whole YA genre.

Speaking of YA genres – I’m reading my next YA novel. Not the one I was planning on reading but something much, much more exciting. I don’t think I should say what, or who by, but basically I was on Twitter yesterday and an author I kind of know (I met through her blog and Twitter and went to her 1st book launch party) offered me her new book to read. It doesn’t come out until next year sometime, HOW EXCITING. She says there’s a lot to change about it, but she wants to know what I think of it. Let me repeat that. SHE wants to know what I think of it. OH MY GOD. How cool is that.

I’m on about chapter six or something (sat on the tube home this evening I was HAPPY for the train to be seriously delayed so I could read more!) and so far LOVING it. (sorry, I’m going a little over the top with the capitals today aren’t I?!) I think I’m loving it more than her first book. It’s actually given me goosebumps a couple of times, and almost made me cry! Always a good sign for a book.

Ok, I think that’s all I have to say for now. I’m going to try to be a better blogger this week than I have been for the last few weeks. I’m also going to try to visit the Fiction Friday stories I’ve missed over the last two weeks, I miss reading those stories. I just wish there was an extra hour or two in the day!

This Week’s Round Up

I thought I hadn’t blogged much this week, but I’ve just checked and I actually did three plus Fiction Friday. Strange, it feels like I didn’t do much. I guess that’s because I’ve been doing them late at night, not during the work day like I’m used to doing.

So this week has been my first real week at work. And I failed miserably to do anything productive writing wise at work. I lie actually, I wrote my words for NovelPI on Thursday at the end of my lunch break – but only because I knew I was going out that night so wouldn’t be able to do any later. I guess the reason doesn’t matter, the fact is, if I’ve done it once, I can do it again!

The good news for my writing (but bad news for me) is the girl I’ve been having lunch etc with this week is leaving on Friday. That means I’m more likely to sit at my desk during my break and write or blog from the week after onwards – brilliant as NaNo starts that Monday.

Yesterday is another example of if I put my mind to it, I can do anything. I got up, went to work, came home, got changed and went out. I literally had no time to write. I was going to call in another reprieve for NovelPI (you get one for every 5 days continuous writing you do, and I’m pretty sure I’ve done more than 5), but thought there was another way. So on the tube into town for my night out, I did some writing. 270 words at that. Woop! I just need to see if I can read them now – the Victoria Line is pretty bumpy.

Last Thursday, I finished the scene I’ve been working on for Holiday for the last week. I’m really happy with that as when I started it I didn’t really know what was going to happen in it, considering that, I’m pretty happy with it. I say that, I’ve not read it back, but from what I think happened, I think I’m happy with it.

I finished Avalon High by Meg Cabot this morning. It was so good. And so different to those two YA novels I read before (or started to read before). The only difference I noticed reading it to an adult novel, is the fact the MC was 15/16 not grown up, there was less sex and less swearing. Although there are a lot of adult books without sex and swearing too!

I’ve decided that I now HAVE to reread Della Says:OMG by Keris Stainton. Totally brilliant excuse too. The YA novels I’ve read recently have been American. I’m English. Keris is English… see where I’m going with this one? I feel like I need to have read more English YA novels before I start working on mine.

And I’ll be starting on it next Monday. Yes, NaNo starts a week tomorrow. Eek! I’ve not done the plan and sent it to my tutor for my next assignment yet. Damn. I wanted to get that in and returned before I started writing the novel. She usually ‘marks’ them at weekends, so if I can get it in early this week – I’m thinking tomorrow or Tuesday, then I’ll hopefully still get her comments back in time. Maybe. I’m going to try for it anyway.

ErgoFiction are now on story 8 of 10 in their Search Term Challenge. One of the 10 stories is mine, it may be one of the eight, it may be the one posted tomorrow or the last da. I can’t tell you. The point of the challenge is to make a story using at least three of the eight search term phrases. It’s really great because it’s amazing how varied the stories are when they all come from the same words. Some of the stories are really really good. Go have a look, then after the last one is posted, go vote for your favorite one!

Trying to Get Better

I love it when I check out my stats and stuff for the day and I see that people found my blog by searching for ‘Newtowritinggirl’. He he. Someone’s searched for ME. I don’t think it’s ever happened three times in one day before today. Awesome.

Whenever I go home (as in home to the parents), I always moan at my Mum for not going to bed early enough to get the sleep she needs. I realised today that I’m guilty of the same. I planned to go to the gym after work today, but once I’d been to the library to take a book back (at the other end of London) I couldn’t be bothered cause I was so tired. Of course it’s probably also adjusting from ‘working’ on reception to actually working. I’m not complaining – it’s nice.

Since I decided to do a YA novel for NaNo (12 days and counting), I’ve been reading YA books. I totally loved Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver, but since then I’ve read one and a half that I didn’t love so much. The difference is amazing, when you consider the MC in all three are 16/17. BIF is what I’d consider an adult book, but with younger MCs – the writing was grown up etc. The other two, I presume are for younger teens – the writing is more basic, and ‘cooler’ (with loads of slang etc). I actually can’t stand the book I’m reading now – I think I’m going to give up with it (something I very rarely do). It’s quite hard to read cause every second word is some ‘cool’ word that teens would use (it’s not the pic on my ‘currently reading’ image, that particular one was pretty ok).

I’ve got a couple of cousins who are 17 and 19 and have been thinking of asking them what they and/or their friends are reading/have read recently. I don’t think the library helped me with it, cause there was just a ‘teenage’ section, it didn’t split young teens from older teens. I guess from the covers of the books I should have worked it out. I know they say don’t judge a book by its cover, but I always do. Most of the time I’m right to pick up the books I like, but then I guess I don’t know if the ones I haven’t read cause I didn’t like the cover were any good or not.

I don’t want to be too negative, but I really don’t think I’m going to get the plan of my NaNo novel ready to send off as my next writing course assignment in the next couple of days. They say all assignments will be returned within 10 days, so I know I’ve got to send it tomorrow or Thursday to guarantee it back by 31st. Maybe I’ll do that instead of writing for NovelPI for the next few days. Would that count I wonder? Maybe I’ll sit at my desk for lunch the next couple of days instead of going out! That would work pretty well! If I can force myself to do that.

I’ve just had a little search for Lauren Oliver. I thought I’d see if she’s got any other books out (she doesn’t – but has a new one out next year, that’s so going on my I WANT IT NOW list). I actually don’t have a I WANT IT NOW LIST (I think it deserves capitals), but I think I’m going to start one. Item 1: Lauren Oliver – Delirium. Funny, from just one book, I’m desperate to read her next one. I love it when I find an author like that.

Anyway, I’m digressing. I also found Lauren Oliver’s blog. I’ve really not got too much time to look at it too much, but from what I’ve read I think it’s going to be a very useful resource for me as a writer. Go have a look!  

Ok, now I’m really off to write. After I clean the bathroom. NO, write. But it needs cleaning. Agh! This is why I never get anything done – I spend too much time debating what I should be doing (or stress I’m not doing something else!).

Catch Up from the Weekend

I’m being a pretty rubbish blogger at the moment aren’t I? And it doesn’t look to get any better this week – eek! I’ve got good excuses though!

On Saturday I had no plans. None, nothing, nada. I decided I’d stay in bed in the morning reading, then go shopping (clothes shopping, my favourite!) in the afternoon. I’d started Lauren Oliver’s Before I Fall on Friday (I think, maybe Thursday) and was really enjoying it so it sounded like  a great plan.

So I started reading when I woke up, I got so into the book I forgot about breakfast. About 1pm I decided I really should get up and go shopping. I forced myself to put the book down (FORCED – I was loving it) and had a shower. When I got back, I picked up the book, and said I’d read one chapter before getting ready and going. Uh, yeah. That didn’t happen. About 5/6pm I finished the book. I literally spent the whole day reading. Loved it though. I don’t know if I loved the fact I could cause I didn’t have anything else on, or the book more. Either way, I totally recommend Before I Fall, I’d been wanting to read it for ages, and it totally didn’t disappoint me. Was great to be reading a YA novel when I think I’m going to do one for NaNo.

Sunday was race day. I did the Run 10k race down in Crystal Palace. I’d never done anything like that before, but came in at 63 minutes. I could not be happier about that. Sunday I had to take a reprieve day for NovelPI. Luckily every 5 days solid writing you do, you get a reprieve day (I think you start with one too). I literally had no time to write, I got up, went for the run and then… um… went to the pub. For the rest of the day. Hey, I deserved it!

Monday was rubbish. I had the day off, and did nothing. Literally nothing (the hangover wouldn’t allow anything). UNTIL about 10.30pm when I decided I wasn’t going to let a measly hangover (it wasn’t measly in any shape or form) get in the way of my writing, so although I had another reprieve day I could’ve used for NovelPI, I forced myself to write. And I got about 270 words. Which isn’t too bad.

Which then leads to today. Today I started my new job (YAY). New job that I’m actually going to have to work at, so probably not have time for blogging during the day. BOOOO! Or writing DOUBLE BOO! I think when I get into a routine, I should be able to fit in some time at least at lunch, but at the mo I can’t – there’s too much going out for lunch with new colleagues/old colleagues etc. I’ve now got lunch and after work plans for the rest of the week. Normally I wouldn’t complain about having such a hectic social life, but seriously, when am I going to write? OR blog?

I went to the library to get some books today (funny, I’m sure that’s what people do at libraries!). I NEED some more YA books to read before I start mine in November. So, I got: Love Letters: Message in a Bottle by Jahnna N. Malcolme, Are Those My Basoomas I See Before Me? by Louise Rennison and Avalon High by Meg Cabot. The library is great and all, but it doesn’t have many NEW books. These three were the newist I could find that seemed romancey for the age group I’m aiming for. I’m planning on finishing all three before the end of the month. Hopefully that’s an achievable goal!

I think that’s all I have to say for myself right now. Hope you guys are having a good week. Just think a lunch time tomorrow, we’re halfway to the weekend – woop!!!

Without FB & Twitter… What Am I doing?

It’s 4.30 PM. Now I don’t have Twitter or Facebook at work, you’d think I might have done some writing today wouldn’t you. Uh… No! I have no idea in fact what I have been doing. How does that happen?

For the last 20 minutes I’ve been doing something pretty productive. I’m kind of plotting one of the ideas I’ve got for NaNo. I’ve got a couple of ideas for the title, so until I decide on one, I’m going to call it DD. This is the young adult one. At the moment I’m loving the idea. I think it could really work.

I think it’s going to be 1st person again and the MC is 16, maybe 17. I’m getting her worked out in my head. And her best friend. The other girl that’s going to hold a pivotal role in the novel, I’m not so sure about. One of my problems with her is that she’s American. Language and slang are going to be a problem. I wonder if watching hours of American TV could be classed as research…? Friends/How I Met Your Mother here I come. Ooh, I could probably watch the Gilmour Girls too, that’s got a teenager in. Oh! And Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Or maybe I should find something more modern, with teenagers, so the language is up to date. Or, maybe I shouldn’t use TV at all?!?

I’ve not started on the plan for the other novel, maybe I’ll get as excited about that as this one, but at the moment I doubt it. I’m pretty sure I’ll be doing this one in November. I think I decided that at the weekend, but I’m not sure. Not 100% anyway. Not yet.

This does mean that I need to read some YA novels before November. I don’t have any at home to be read… so I think I need to visit the library. Woo hoo. Uhm, I mean, oh no!

Well, that and… buy a new book! I just snuck off to buy a book (hooray for Amazon). It’s Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver. There was a lot of hype about this when it came out, and I really wanted to read it, but never got round to buying it (or wouldn’t let myself with such a huge TBR pile of books at home). Now I have an excuse. Excellent.

On Amazon I also stumbled upon a book called Before I Die (by Jenny Downham). I nearly bought it, but then told myself buying two books that revolve around death probably isn’t the greatest move. Maybe I’ll get it next month or something.

I’m really enjoying Summer Dreams, Winter Love. I thought that it might not be as great as an adult as it was at 13, but I think it is. It’s really good to be reading just before I write a YA novel anyway. It’s shown me that there’s not that much difference between YA and adult romance (except some of the things the characters do!). It’s all about emotion and falling for someone. That’s almost the same however old you are. You still get the rush when you see them/kiss them etc. It’s just how you handle it is different.

It’s now 17.30, and I’ve still not done any writing today. I should be shot, seriously! I’m going to do some now, then when I get home later too. Or maybe I’ll do some plotting (for Holiday) instead. I think it would be easier to start writing if I knew what I was about to write! Who would have thought I’d be a plotter not a panster when it comes to writing??