The Clasp by Sloane Crosley These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly Sofia Khan is Not Obliged by Ayisha Malik

Remember My Name

Thursday, March 27, 2014

So, I couldn't sleep last night and I got to thinking about names. It's not that weird, I promise. Before I went to bed I read that Tamara Ecclestone (like the Paris Hilton of the UK) welcomed a daughter and named her Sophia. I also read about Chris Hemsworth and Elsa Pataky's new twins, Tristan and Sasha - adorable choices. So, let's talk about names for a while.


How do you come up with your character names? My main culprits are featured above. I use Nameberry a lot. Usually I type in one name and then drop into a Nameberry hole. Sometimes I use Mumsnet too, especially if I want something current. The Baby Name Wizard is useful too, as people can add comments about people they know with that name - or if they have it themselves, can comment on living life as a Shakira or Padma. I also have a Word document that I update if I come across a name I like and I've had this since I was about...fifteen. So almost ten years! Actually, the same goes for my 'Potential Faces' document but that's a topic for another day. 

I'm not sure why but I find it fairly easy to come up with girls names but not so much for guys. I think there's a Connor or a Tom in at least three of my pieces. As for specific reasons and meanings, well, I don't generally look at the meanings in relation to my characters but sometimes there's a happy coincidence though. I tend to steer clear of using family names and close friends because everything can just get a bid too muddled but there are rare exceptions like Natalie. I have relatives and friends called Natalie but I just knew one of my characters had to be called Natalie. More often than not I'll stick to one name but there have been some problematic characters who just don't seem to want to work with the name I've given them. 

What are your naming habits?


When I was younger, I never really came across many girls my age called Sophia. A couple of Sophie's but not many Sophia's. Nowadays, I'll be walking in the shopping centre and hear someone screech 'SOPHIA', turn around and see a little toddler tottering away from her mother. Or there will be a tweenaged Sophia in front of me at Starbucks - cue awkward smiles when we collect our orders.  Sometimes it's mildly irritating when someone makes a comment about the current popularity of my name TO ME because it has nothing to do with me or my mum following trends. I can't find the top 10 list for the UK for 1989 but judging by my friends names and whatnot, Sophia was not popular. However, I love my name, so the more Sophia's there are the better. Besides, looking at the picture, I think we're in good company.

Do you have a popular name? What are your favourites? 

What's Up Wednesday

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jaime Morrow and Erin L. Funk providing an easy way for readers and writers to share what's been happening lately and keep in touch. Add your link and join in the fun!


The List by Siobhan Vivian, which I finally got hold of it whilst on holiday (hooray for Barnes and Noble, Union Square. The YA section was excellent at this Barnes and Noble - like nothing I've seen over here in London, except for maybe Foyles. Waterstones people get over there and take some notes). It's a bit different to what I expected actually but in a good way. I'll post a review - probably, maybe - at some point.


I can finally do What's Up Wednesday because I have something to contribute to this section! As I said on Friday, this year I will be attempting Camp NaNoWriMo. Even though I've been trying to write this for so long and had a fairly up to date plan, I've been re-writing and updating the outline just for something to do before it all begins. Oh and I also spent far too much time trying to make a cover. Today I'm going to have a mess around with Ellen's amazingly brilliant character worksheet from her post over at YA Buccaneers


I've been reading more and more about the diversity in YA problem - such as the Cake Literary tumblr and Tanya Byrne dropped a list in The Guardian last week. This has been eating away at me more and more every day. So much so it almost derailed my Camp NaNo project because I feel duty bound to at least attempt to contribute something that might help the problem but it would have to be GOOD and I'd need a lot of time to try and come up with something.


I'm one week, one quiz, and one exam away from finishing my first Coursera MOOC entitled Understanding Europe: Why It Matters and What It Can Offer You. It has been quite enlightening. Despite being, although not necessarily feeling like, a European, I didn't know about 80% of what was covered in this course. 

I still need to find a new TV series to binge watch. I tried Person of Interest but wasn't keen on the third episode so didn't go back. At the moment I've resorted to re-watching Gossip Girl (it really was quite good in the beginning). 

Job hunting. Lots of rejection and radio silence this last week or two, so I've just been trying to keep busy to take my mind off it. Oh and listening to Shakira's new album has helped! 

It Is Decided: Take Two

Friday, March 21, 2014

I never get to do What's Up Wednesday. This is mainly because I never have anything to contribute to the writing section but that might change soon - hurrah - so I might give it a go next week. Keep a look out. In the meantime, here's a roundup of everything that's been happening of late.


  • I'm currently reading You Should Have Known by Jean Hanff Korelitz. It's quite slow and it probably doesn't help that I've been reading it at night but I'm persevering because the story is quite interesting and I enjoyed Admission. 
  • I received my first ever Netgalley copies - yay - and reviewed them here - The Summer I Found You and Tease
  • I reviewed Winger, which I LOVED LOVED LOVED. 


I'm doing Camp NaNoWriMo in April. What I'm writing is in no way groundbreaking or even that interesting but it will be an exercise in endurance and commitment. I've been trying to write this particular one for years, so I just want to get a draft done for peace of mind.

Find me here if you're doing it too. I haven't requested specific cabin buddies or anything as I was actually considering going lone wolf but I think it would be nice to have some people to talk to about it. 


I've been cultivating a Camp NaNoWriMo playlist, which has been fun. I've also been listening to Vic Mensa and Chance the Rapper, Tame Impala, Little Dragon, and Childish Gambino. I've also rekindled my love with Metric. 

The Somerset House Summer Series tickets were released so my sis and I are going to Clean Bandit. I wanted to go to Little Dragon too but couldn't find a gig buddy. If you know anyone in London who loves music, send them my way - seriously. I'm fed up of missing out on gigs and festivals - I'm far too young to be losing my edge!

Everything Else

  • Karl Largefeld said some nice things about Queen Elizabeth (Celebitchy)
  • Divergent isn't out over here until next month, and I'm not Hunger Games style excited to watch it, but Shailene Woodley has been giving some funny, endearing interviews during the press tour (Lainey Gossip)
  • Sarah Harian perfectly described the way I feel about New Adult (YA Highway)
  • Did you enjoy the Veronica Mars movie? I was just glad it was available on iTunes so I could watch it from the comfort of my own home. They should do this for more films. Obviously not your Captain America or Divergent but the smaller films might benefit from this. The cinema just isn't the same anymore, so this option would be a bonus for film lovers like myself. I'd quite happily pay 13.99 to watch The Grand Budapest Hotel in my house. (TIME
  • IT'S FUG MADNESS TIME! (Go Fug Yourself)


Top Ten Tuesday - Top Ten Books On My Spring TBR List

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's theme is: Top Ten Books On My Spring TBR List

I wasn't sure whether to do books just from my YA list or to mix it up. However, once I got into contemporary fiction, non fiction etc it just got too much, so I'll stick to YA. Oh, and they're all new releases. If we started looking at my physical TBR pile, well, we'd be here all day...

1. The Geography of Me and You by Jennifer E.Smith - First of all, I love the cover. Secondly, I really like Jennifer E. Smith's books so she's on my "auto-approve" list (for want of a better expression).

2. Open Road Summer by Emery Lord - Road trips, best friends, country music. Sounds like a recipe for success. 

3. The Museum of Intangible Things by Wendy Wunder -  Another road trip and best friends story. Also, another lovely cover. I'll be itching for my own road trip by summer if I get through all of these.

4. We Were Liars by E. Lockart - Ok, if I had to put these books in some semblance of order, this would be top of the list. 

5. To All The Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han - Jenny Han has also made it onto my "will read anything by X" list so of course I'm going to get this one. 

6. What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick-  I liked My Life Next Door. It also sounds a bit like The Moon and More, which is only a good thing.

7. Exile by Kevin Emerson - I do love a good story featuring music. 

8. A Kiss In The Dark by Kat Clarke - Mostly because of the title/author rhyme. No, I'm joking. Kind of. 

9. Don't Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout - Memory loss, mean girls, second chances. Sounds intriguing. 

10. Breakfast Served Anytime by Sarah Combs - I really like the sound of this one - judging by the blurb, there's a lot packed in there. Plus the main character is called Gloria, which is a brilliant name. "Gloria, I think they got your number..."

BONUS: Listen to the Squawking Chicken by Elaine Lui - I'm a big LaineyGossip fan, so I'm looking forward to reading her book. 

Winger by Andrew Smith

Monday, March 17, 2014

Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Format: Hardback
Rating: 5/5

I won this book after taking part in the Class of 2013 YA Superlatives Blogfest, so thank you Katy, Tracey, Jessica and Alison!!!

Ryan Dean West is a junior at a boarding school for the offspring of the country's movers and shakers. Unfortunately, Ryan Dean (yes, Ryan Dean) has to start his penultimate year in high school in the naughty kids' dorm, aptly named Opportunity Hall. To top things off, his roommate is the biggest and baddest of them all, and he is falling increasingly in love with his bestie Annie. Oh, and Ryan Dean is only fourteen. Luckily, he is the star winger on the school rugby team and with the help of his team mates - his bro's for life (well, as long as school is in session) - Ryan Dean is able to navigate the ups and downs of his junior year, including an event he could never have imagined. 

Some books are so, so good and so full of life that no review will do it justice. Winger is definitely one of those books. I can't even begin to put into words how much I loved this book and I'm still thinking about it two weeks later. 

The story is hilarious pretty much all the way through - like, crying with laughter hilarious. After all, it is set at a boarding school and mainly focuses on rugby boys, so you can do the math. Ryan Dean West is a character I will not forget in a hurry - such a voice (such a name)! He came across as a real 'lad', as we'd say where I live. He was the right balance between confident and arrogant and it was easy to be charmed by him, just like everyone else in the book. I didn't know rugby was played in American schools but, if Winger is an accurate depiction, I'm glad to see the culture is the same! 

I don't really come across many books that deal with teenage boy friendships, so in that respect it was a breath of fresh air. There's quite a lot of blood and boisterousness (resulting in some extremely funny, Carry On style shenanigans involving nurses and whatnot) but also some extremely tender moments. I loved that Ryan Dean sounded like a fourteen year old. On the one hand, he was doing all these 'grown up' things and mouthing off but on the other hand, he got his knickers in a twist and suffered a Home Alone and the basement style fear of a teacher. 

I won't say much else because, blessedly, I went into this read fairly blind, which made it all the more special. A complex, layered, and extremely funny read that I'd put up there with Adrian Mole and Looking For Alaska. This book is unforgettable and will haunt you for days - nay, weeks! - afterwards. Good luck to the book you choose next! 

Tease by Amanda Maciel

Friday, March 14, 2014

Publisher: Hachette Children's Books
Source: Netgalley
Rating: 4/5

The summer before senior year, and senior year itself, is supposed to be the best of times. No such luck for Sara Wharton. When her classmate commits suicide, Sara and her friends find themselves facing criminal charges due to their documented, systematic bullying. Over the summer and as she starts school again, Sara works with her lawyer and therapist to contemplate what really happened and work out how big of a role she truly played in her classmate’s death. She must also deal with a fractured family, a non-existent friendship circle torn apart by the tragedy, and a town not willing to let her forget what happened, regardless of the final verdict.

Tease was most definitely a challenging read, especially once I found out it was based on real life events. Having read The Knife That Killed Me last week, it was quite interesting to read a story from the bully’s perspective. Like actors, I’m sure writers enjoy the challenge of writing ‘the villain’ but in life, there’s often no such thing as a clear cut ‘goodie’ or ‘baddie’. Amanda Maciel does a great job of showing the grey area that colours one of the most important topics concerning young people today. 

I found the character of Sara to be complicated. Whilst reading, I often felt like I was fighting with her. I constantly wanted to shake her and say ‘GROW UP!’ but then she would say, or do, something that would make me sympathise with her and remember her age. Despite doing lots of grown up things, Sara was still only on the cusp of adulthood. I liked that Emma, the victim, was not a saint either. Even though Sara is meant to be an unreliable narrator, it was evident that Emma had issues. Emma was similar to one of those reality show characters that hover around a group of friends who clearly – whether rightly or wrongly – want nothing to do with them. You always sit at home and think, why do you care about that group so much you’re willing to put up with their awful, degrading shenanigans? Add members of the opposite sex into the equation and you end up with World War Three. 

In terms of plot pace, it took a while to get into Tease and it didn’t end up where I thought it would but that’s not a bad thing at all. The flashbacks worked well for the most part but were occasionally confusing, especially when the end of a flashback contained the same characters as the beginning of the next present day section. I wasn’t 100% sure where the story was set – Nebraska? – but that was good because it added to the universality of the story. 

The use of social media as a bullying tool really helped to illuminate the themes of self-obsession, selfishness, and lack of respect. The whole thing started because Sara was only thinking about her world and feared Emma was disrespecting her by encroaching on her ‘turf’ a.k.a her boyfriend. Social media can make its user feel like a star – the star of their very own reality show. It often felt like Sara and Brielle were playing the part of ‘mean girl’ because that is what is expected these days. If someone starts ‘drama’, you flip a table and call them a nasty name in the most public way possible. 

Overall, Tease was a difficult pill to swallow, leaving a nasty taste behind. You won’t necessarily like any of the characters but that’s neither here nor there - the issue is far greater. This type of bullying isn’t going to go away anytime soon, so it’s great that this book hammers it home and hopefully it will add to our general awareness of the subject matter. 

Scores and Scores: Thomas Newman

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

I'd like to spend some time talking about the composers and soundtracks that made (and continue to make) me fall in love with film music. This is all personal opinion - I will not be doing a history of film music series or  anything, as I am nowhere near qualified to discuss it and the BBC aired a nice little series last year that would be helpful if that's what you're looking for. There's also no rhyme or reason for the order in which I discuss these composers and soundtracks. Anyway, on with the show...

I had to start with Thomas Newman because according to my Last.Fm page, he is second only to Muse in my most listened to artists of all time list. Just scrolling through IMDB, my first encounter with Thomas Newman's work was probably Little Women but the first time I actually became aware of his music was during the American Beauty hype. I was far too young at the time to see the film but the main title, Any Other Name, was everywhere, wasn't it? I just remember being completely taken in by the simplicity and sadness of it all contrasted with that infamous poster. Then of course it was turned into a dance track. Remember when those Chillout albums were all the rage?!

When I started secondary school, I had a brilliant RE teacher who loved film and television and always found a way to incorporate media into our lessons. We spent a loooong time on Pay It Forward and we were all really inspired, naturally. The music completely stood out for me. It was the jauntiness of the percussion, the almost Western (as in film genre) and/or comical sounds, and then that stark, mournful piano again. Also, these pieces were the ones that allowed me to recognise where Thomas Newman had been imitated in other films or television shows. For example, Sam's themes in Transformers is quite similar in style.

Next up, we have Finding Nemo. This film was groudbreaking and special on all kinds of levels, which was only enriched by a BEAUTIFUL score. The theme is used all over the shop these days, usually on the news or a documentary where the intention is to make your face start leaking. Thomas Newman's trademark recipe of world instruments + percussion + a leading piano melody echoed by strings really helped enhance that underwater, unknown world theme. Similar results occured with Wall-E. Define Dancing still brings a tear to my eye.

One of my most played Thomas Newman scores is Lemony Snicket's: A Series of Unfortunate Events. This is probably my favourite complete Thomas Newman score (and one of my favourite films). Again, the use of percussion helps us unlock our imaginations to the world - in this case, a world of inventions in strange settings with even stranger (and sinister) people, all seen from a child's perspective.

Finally, The Shawshank Redemption. One of the most loved films (which I only just got round to watching the other day, ahem) and one of the most loved film themes. How can a piece of music only 1.53 in length make you feel so much?! I listened to this for years without having any context and was still moved, so imagine how I felt when I finally watched the film the other day? As for Brooks Was Here...well, best not to even get started on that one.

Obviously, there's so much more we could talk about - just look at how many films Thomas Newman has scored all with his signature style. I didn't even get to the Six Feet Under theme. However, just the little we've covered is enough to demonstrate why, during this year's Hollywood Reporter Composers Roundtable, Hans Zimmer noted that Thomas Newman has "revolutionized harmoic language in films...forever".

Are you a Thomas Newman fan? If not, have a listen to this playlist. What's your favourite piece?

Waiting on Wednesday - Open Road Summer by Emery Lord

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine highlighting upcoming releases that we're excited about. 

Publisher: Walker 
Publication Date: 15 April 2014

After breaking up with her bad-news boyfriend, Reagan O’Neill is ready to leave her rebellious ways behind. . . and her best friend, country superstar Lilah Montgomery, is nursing a broken heart of her own. Fortunately, Lilah’s 24-city tour is about to kick off, offering a perfect opportunity for a girls-only summer of break-up ballads and healing hearts. But when Matt Finch joins the tour as its opening act, his boy-next-door charm proves difficult for Reagan to resist, despite her vow to live a drama-free existence. This summer, Reagan and Lilah will navigate the ups and downs of fame and friendship as they come to see that giving your heart to the right person is always a risk worth taking. A fresh new voice in contemporary romance, Emery Lord’s gorgeous writing hits all the right notes.               
{Synopsis from Goodreads}

You know that left out feeling you get after falling into a Bloglovin hole? That feeling that EVERYBODY seems to have read a certain book that isn't out yet a.k.a ARC envy? That's how I feel about Open Road Summer. The fact that it has country music, a road trip, and by the sounds of it, a real best friends story, only makes me want to read it more. After all, nothing beats a good duo!

 Luckily, April isn't too far away, eh?

The Summer I Found You by Jolene Perry

Monday, March 10, 2014

Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company
Source: Netgalley
Rating: 3/5

Kate is finding it more than a little difficult to adjust to living with type 1 diabetes. On top of that, her boyfriend dumps her seemingly out of the blue. Nineteen year old veteran Aidan is trying to come to terms with his recent disability along with everything that comes with adapting to civilian life. The two find each other to be a satisfying distraction from their immediate problems. However, soon enough they must face said problems head on - including their true feelings for each other.

The Summer I Found You is a nice story about friendship and how the best things in life are often unexpected surprises. I truly admire Jolene Perry for tackling TWO big issues in this book.

I liked Kate and Aidan well enough. Both had been dealt a rough card, compared to other characters in the contemporary romance YA universe. However, I really liked the supporting characters best of all. Jennifer was a great example of a true best friend - she was definitely someone you would want in your corner. I liked that there was no drama between the two besties, even when Kate was acting up now and then. The families were well imagined too. Jolene Perry managed to make all of the parents sound different and you could tell that despite different parenting styles, they all wanted the best for their children. I’ve read a few pieces here and there about the absent parent syndrome that seems to infect a lot of YA - which is an interesting argument because on the one hand, your parents aren’t at school with you, so why would they be in a YA novel set at school but on the other hand, they’re often there when you get home and so forth, so why aren’t they shown in the books? - nevertheless, it was nice to have concerned and supportive families represented in The Summer I Found You because lots of people do come from such families!

It was a quick read. For the most part, I ignored the layout issues and some odd turns of phrases or clunkiness because I’m sure these were sorted out before publication. Overall, it flowed fairly well. It definitely got more complex and deep towards the end, which was satisfying. Did Aidan and Kate fall for each other too quickly? Did they suffer from a case of the old insta-luv? Well, yeah, but when you’ve got a word limit and an end goal, what are you supposed to do? Besides, they’re young! 

The only thing that kept bothering me as I was reading was that it should’ve been one voice or the other. We should’ve had Kate’s story featuring Aidan or vice versa. This is because: a) we’d learn more about either Kate or Aidan’s day to day life - their coping mechanisms, more of the challenges they face and thus we’d learn more about their disease or disability; b) we would have seen more interaction with their family, friends and medical professionals. As I said, I really enjoyed these well drawn characters; and c)basically the issues were a little overwhelming to condense down like this. By having one POV over another, it would have given that character room to really breathe and expand, and so the final scenes wouldn’t seem so ‘happy ending with a bow on top - thank you and goodnight’. 

Another minor issue I had was with the title. It’s a very minor issue. However, the book was not set during the summer! An actual summer setting might have added to the frustrations Aidan and Kate were feeling. I understand ‘The Spring I Found You’ isn’t very catchy but something like ‘When  I Found You’ or ‘How I Found You’ or even ‘You Found Me’ (since YA novels seem to like using song titles a lot). However, that’s not to say this cannot be enjoyed in the summer months. I for one would’ve probably enjoyed it even more if I’d been on holiday or something (especially with that lovely summery cover).

Overall, I liked this book more and more as I read it and I tip my hat to Jolene Perry for writing about diabetes and our wounded veterans. If you enjoyed In Honor or Something Like Normal, definitely give this one a go!