My 2014 in Review…

I suppose that this year will always be the year I thought I had a brain tumour.

And no, I’m not a hyperchondriac… for most of this year it seemed quite likely that I had either Cushings Disease or some other form of benign tumour on my pituitary gland. I saw lots of doctors about it (who all had different opinions on the matter), had lots of tests and a brain scan. The good news: no brain tumour!

The bad news: I probably have a neurological condition called dysautonomia. It would explain why my blood pressure and heart rate are all over the place (when I say ‘all over the place’ what I really mean is HIGH), and perhaps why I sleep so much. I have to see more doctors in the new year… so maybe what I’m hoping for in 2015 are some answers, or some form of treatment. My hypersomnia and chronic fatigue have been getting steadily worse, not helped by the fact that I don’t have a ‘normal’ job or work ‘normal’ hours right now, and I just hope that somebody has a flash of inspiration and can solve what’s wrong with me. It would be nice, and it would make life a lot easier.

2014 will also be memorable as it has been the year that I gestated my first novel. Starting the year off in a total panic after a disastrous redraft, and finishing it seeing the reviews from peers come in, has been quite a journey. To everyone who has been a part of that journey: THANK YOU. And for everyone who will be reading Othergirl in 2015, I hope that it doesn’t disappoint! The new year will hopefully see me bring a sequel to fruition, and then the hard task of working out what to write next begins. I have a few ideas up my sleeve…

Finally, some resolutions for the new year:

  • To read more. I was really disappointed by the fact that I didn’t hit 70 novels this year. My aim is to be at 100 by this point next year! Although saying that, I’m not going to do the Goodreads challenge because honestly, seeing how far behind I am on that really stresses me out.
  • To finish two first drafts of new novels! The first draft of the Othergirl sequel should be done by Febuary, then I’ll be in stressed-out-rewrite mode, and then I want to have written one more new book by the end of the year.
  • To travel more! Long holidays are difficult for me, as I need to save at least two days a week for sleep, but I want to try and have more long weekends away. Or spend as much time away as I can manage whilst suffering with chronic fatigue.

I hope your 2014 has been full of adventures and happy memories, and here’s wishing you all a fabulous 2015.

Happy New Year!!!

My Top Reads of 2014

Fangirl

Fangirl

I read this book within 24 hours, on the same day that I saw Frozen for the first time. So basically, this day was a GOOD DAY.

The Girl with all the Gifts

Girl with all the Gifts

I normally stay away from zombies, because I HATE ZOMBIES. But unfortunately I didn’t realise that this was a zombie book until it was too late, and then I had to see the book through to the end because OTHERWISE THE ZOMBIES WOULD GET OUT OF THE BOOK AND EAT ME. It’s only now, months after the trauma and nightmares have passed, that I can really appreciate how good this book was. It was wonderful, and is one of my most recommended books of the year.

Trouble

Trouble

I think the UK YA market has been yearning for a book like this for a long, long time. Contemporary, urban, cool, and refreshingly frank about sex, it reminded me of reading Judy Blume for the first time when I was a young teenager. I can’t wait to read what Non does next!

Sex Criminals vol.1

Sex Criminals

This book contains possibly the best dialogue referring to adult sex that I have read in forever. It’s honest, sincere and funny as hell, and I wish that more people outside the readership of graphic novels would find it. Yes, the premise is bizarre, but please go with it: you won’t find better realistic writing about love and sex anywhere else.

First Fifteen Lives of Harry August

First Fifteen Lives of Harry August

I’ll admit that I found the first third of this novel a struggle, mostly because there’s a lot of exposition and explaining to get through before the plot really gets going. But once it does, OH MAN!!! So wonderfully clever – I spent most of my time with this novel marvelling at its craftsmanship. Gorgeous, magical science fiction that’ll have you looking at the world in a whole new way.

We Were Liars

We Were Liars

Brilliantly, meticulously written, this book is pretty much the closest you’ll get to literary in YA, and it looks like its already become a modern classic. I challenge any YA naysayer to read this and not find it beautiful, engrossing and intelligent. In fact, if you’re only going to read one YA this year, it should be this one.

Grasshopper Jungle

Grasshopper Jungle

Another book where you have to get past a bizarre premise (and a front cover that’s really not to my taste) to hit the good stuff. Yes, it’s about evil, rampaging and sex addicted bugs that take over a small town, but this book is also so much more than that. It’s clever, it’s hilarious, and it takes you on a thoughtful, frank journey of teenage sexuality.

Only Ever Yours

Only Ever Yours

Another book that I initially approached with caution because I’m generally quite wary of anything dystopian these days, but let me tell you something: this is not your average teenage dystopia. This is actually a clever horror story masquerading as dystopia. And when I say horror, I mean truly gut-wrenching, tear-jerking horror. Be warned.

The Wicked + The Divine vol.1

The Wicked and the Divine

This book was written for me. Pop culture meets ancient mythology as the gods of old come to earth to have some fun for a couple of years before they die and the cycle can start again. But what really makes this book work is the clarity of the art. The characters are mesmerising, and I’d go with them anywhere! I can’t wait to see how this story develops.

Dreams of Gods and Monsters

Dreams of Gods and Monsters

This book marks the end of what has possibly been my favourite trilogy over the past few years. I’m still recommending the first book, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, to everyone who I think would appreciate it, and I really can’t believe that Karou’s story has now ended. It breaks my heart! Taylor is a modern master of world-building and heart-stopping romance, and I will happily stalk her writing wherever it goes next!

Aside

My Reading in 2014 – ANALYSED

A couple of weeks ago I went to an event at Waterstones Piccadilly, to hear E Lockhart answer questions about her books (I’m a huge fan of We Were Liars), interviewed by Anna James from The Bookseller. One of the questions asked was regarding how many girls vs boys read male or female authors, which got me wondering, what percentage of male and female authors do I read? At the time I struggled to think of many male authors I had read in 2014, whilst loads of female ones jumped out at me. So, inspired by this thought process, I’ve decided to analyse my reading from 2014!

First off, I’m not going to list the books I’ve read. You can go to my Goodreads account and have a look at everything there (I’m pretty open about what I read). What I want to present to you here are the stats:

Number of books read in 2014: 63

Average length of time taken to read a book: 7 days

Whilst I’d say that I can read quickly, some books took longer to read if I was busy writing my own book, plus the average number was brought up significantly by the short story collections and non-fiction that I purposely read slowly. However, I do want to improve on this number in 2015!

  • 52% Female
  • 48% Male

This has been a massive surprise – I thought I had read far more women than men in 2014! However, the vast majority of graphic novels I read were created by men, so I think this is what forced the percentage up. 

  • Non-Fiction: 17%
  • Adult Fiction: 25%
  • YA: 30%
  • Graphic Novels: 27%

I quite like these stats. A quarter of my reading in 2014 was adult fiction, a third YA, and another quarter graphic novels. I thought I had read more non-fic, but a lot of my non-fic reading hasn’t been recorded (I read Vanity Fair regularly and a lot of long-form journalism online). 

New Books read: 76%

Just over three quarters of the books I read in 2014 were new books (meaning published within the past year). This I mostly put down to Netgalley.

  • E-reader: 56%
  • Book: 44%

Over half the books I read in 2014 were on my kindle device. It doesn’t feel like that to me… maybe because I read the majority of the kindle books in the first half of the year. I read far more ‘physical books’ in the second half. Also note, that I have the Marvel Unlimited app on my iPad, which meant that a large quantity of my graphic novel reading was done on my e-reading device.

Aims for 2015

  1. To read more books! I read nearly 100 books in 2013, and am a little disappointed that my reading rate has fallen so drastically. I put this down to working from home and no longer having a commute, plus being a little too absorbed in my own writing to be able to read as much.
  2. I need to read more quickly! I feel rather ashamed at my 7 days figure. I know that I can read quicker than this, but this year there were a number of books I really struggled with.
  3. I’m pretty pleased with the percentages of books I’m reading, but I’d like to find more graphic novels by female creators, and maybe up my non-fiction reading slightly.
  4. Although I am proud that I read so many new books, I’d like to read some that are over a year old (and older!). The number of classics (modern or otherwise) I’ve read is shameful, and can be worked on.
  5. I’d love to be more thorough about the genres I’m reading and break-down my YA and my adult groups to see how much romance, sci-fi or fantasy I’ve been reading, but I don’t think there’s enough data to really look at this properly. Also, I haven’t quite worked out how to use Apple Numbers to my advantage. Hopefully next year I’ll have a better handle on pie charts etc to be able to look into this further!

If You’re Loving Girl Online, Try These!

It’s amazing to see so many young people excited by Girl Online. I’ve not read it yet, but I think its pretty cool that Zoella, who has found such profound fame online, has chosen to branch out into books. Books! This means books are cool! Books are officially the coolest!!! *backs away from the blog post* *turns the dorkiness down a touch*

So, I figure that there are some people out there who might be new to the fabulous world of YA, and are unaware that there are other, equally cool books out there just waiting to find readers. This is my somewhat longwinded way of saying: If you like Girl Online, you might like these books too!

Adorkable by Sarra Manning

Adorkable

I loved this book, which is about a young girl with a hefty online following and internet ‘brand’ finding her place in the world and falling in love. In many ways, I actually think Sarra has foreseen the current wave of online celebrity to a rather creepy extent!

Lia’s Guide to Winning the Lottery

Lia's Guide

Turns out that winning the lottery does not necessarily equal winning at life… A sweet comic book from Keren David, who is better known for punching a hole in your heart with her gritty, urban YA.

Anna and the French Kiss

Anna and the French Kiss

A little bit off the fame and fortune theme, but if what you’re loving about Girl Online is the romance, then Stephanie Perkins is your new queen! Perfectly pitched, intelligent and so swoony you might just die.

Fangirl

Fangirl

Wait, you haven’t heard about Rainbow Rowell? WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU??? A gorgeous story about a girl who finds it a lot easier to live in the world of online fan fiction than the real one.

This is what Happy Looks Like

What Happy Looks Like

You can trust Jennifer E Smith to deliver a heart-warming romance with a real kick. And this one involves an errant email, an online mystery crush, and a hot Hollywood star who turns up practically on your doorstep! Great fun.

Della says OMG

Della Says OMG

And finally, the wonderful Keris Stainton! A book about crushes, first love, diaries, and what happens when all your deepest darkest secrets start to appear online…