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

Oh Mandy

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Last year I talked about how everybody loves Jennifer Lawrence and all the other Jens in Hollywood but didn't seem to be too keen on the Jessicas. I wondered if there were any other celebrities sharing the same first name and public perception, so I wanted to revisit the topic. If I were a pupil of Lainey's Faculty of Celebrity Studies, this would be my dissertation topic. 

Let's start with the Amandas. The Amandas of Hollywood seem to be quirky, kooky kinds of gals just walking to the beat of their own drum. Amanda Seyfried is known for giving some interesting interviews where she's not afraid to talk about her neuroses and issues; Amanda Peet is known for her unique sense of style; Mandy Moore has survived the music industry and Hollywood without seeming to succumb to scandal all whilst maintaining her integrity; and Amanda Bynes stood out from her other teen actor peers by taking on some truly hilarious roles and showing great range and promise. Hopefully she'll be back soon. 

Moving onto the Ems. Witty and sharp, effortlessly cool yet highly relatable, the Ems rival the Jennifers for the 'imaginary best friend' title. Emma Watson played our favourite heroine Hermione and like her character, Emma seems to go from strength to strength speaking out on important issues and impressing us with her sartorial skills also; however Emma Stone is the queen of twenty-something fashionistas with her enviable street style and easy humour - she always seems game when it comes to promoting her work yet knows how to kindly but firmly put journalists and the like in their place; Emily Blunt's dry British wit and charm help her stand out against the sunny Jen's, surely and heir to the crown held by the one and only Emma Thompson. Oh and we mustn't forget our Khaleesi - Emilia Clarke!

However, The Ashleys (no not those Ashleys) don't fare as well. Not overtly unlikeable but rather seen as interchangeable former teen actresses that like the Jessicas still seem to make it onto the Daily Mail at a rather alarming regularity. I can't tell you the last time I saw Ashley Greene, Ashley Tisdale, or Ashley Benson in anything (we don't get PLL over here) other than gym outfits. 

Similarly, the Nics get our backs up for one reason or the other. Prickly and aloof. Except maybe Nicole Kidman although she can be quite unreadable sometimes. Nicole Richie is a fashion queen but her acerbic wit doesn't always fly with everyone. Nicki Minaj is another whose words and actions divide and conquer. Nicole Scherzinger was all over the place during her tenure on the UK X Factor. Whilst she seems like a nice person, she often comes across as trying quite hard. Meanwhile Nikki Reed has always seemed more mature than her fellow former teen starlets but doesn't seem to generate the love.  

Finally, we have our Rachels. The girls next door, the sweethearts who for some reason just can't seem to crack the barrier like the Jen's and Em's. Our TV stars to their movie stars. Rachel Bilson has been a familiar face in our homes since the first time we first heard that opening piano riff and even though they threaten to cancel Hart of Dixie all the time, it is a testament to her likeability that her loyal fandom keep it going. Rachel McAdams is the modern rom-com princess. Had she come along in the nineties, I think we'd be saying 'Julia who?' Rachel Weisz is our classy friend from across the pond who can flip from rom-com to Oscar bait drama in the blink of an eyelid. 

Next time we'll look at our male actors who share names and perception along with those who are the one and only's - a law onto themselves. In the meantime, can you think of any ladies I've left off the list? I'll let Bazza play us out.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Publisher: Penguin
Format: Kindle e-book
Rating: 5/5

Synopsis from Goodreads:

At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking, reading to partying; who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; who favor working on their own over brainstorming in teams. Although they are often labeled "quiet," it is to introverts that we owe many of the great contributions to society--from van Gogh’s sunflowers to the invention of the personal computer. Passionately argued, impressively researched, and filled with indelible stories of real people, Quiet shows how dramatically we undervalue introverts, and how much we lose in doing so. Taking the reader on a journey from Dale Carnegie’s birthplace to Harvard Business School, from a Tony Robbins seminar to an evangelical megachurch, Susan Cain charts the rise of the Extrovert Ideal in the twentieth century and explores its far-reaching effects. She talks to Asian-American students who feel alienated from the brash, backslapping atmosphere of American schools. She questions the dominant values of American business culture, where forced collaboration can stand in the way of innovation, and where the leadership potential of introverts is often overlooked. And she draws on cutting-edge research in psychology and neuroscience to reveal the surprising differences between extroverts and introverts. Perhaps most inspiring, she introduces us to successful introverts--from a witty, high-octane public speaker who recharges in solitude after his talks, to a record-breaking salesman who quietly taps into the power of questions. Finally, she offers invaluable advice on everything from how to better negotiate differences in introvert-extrovert relationships to how to empower an introverted child to when it makes sense to be a "pretend extrovert." This extraordinary book has the power to permanently change how we see introverts and, equally important, how introverts see themselves.
I’ve wanted to read Quiet since its release, as I am an introvert. It was a truly enlightening read and I’ll take on board and remember parts for the rest of my life. I highlighted and made so many notes whilst reading, so I’ll have to just do my best at picking out the most important parts for me.

Flat-Out Celeste by Jessica Park

Monday, October 27, 2014

Publisher: Createspace
Format: Kindle e-book
Rating: 5/5

Synopsis from Goodreads:

For high-school senior Celeste Watkins, every day is a brutal test of bravery. And Celeste is scared. Alienated because she’s too smart, her speech too affected, her social skills too far outside the norm, she seems to have no choice but to retreat into isolation. But college could set her free, right? If she can make it through this grueling senior year, then maybe. If she can just find that one person to throw her a lifeline, then maybe, just maybe. Justin Milano, a college sophomore with his own set of quirks, could be that person to pull her from a world of solitude. To rescue her—that is, if she’ll let him. Together, they may work. Together, they may save each other. And together they may also save another couple—two people Celeste knows are absolutely, positively flat-out in love. Whether you were charmed by Celeste in Flat-Out Love or are meeting her for the first time, this book is a joyous celebration of differences, about battling private wars that rage in our heads and in our hearts, and—very much so— this is a story about first love.
Flat-Out Love was such a pleasant surprise and Flat-Out Matt was so full of heart that I wished it had been a full length companion novel, so I had high expectations for Flat-Out Celeste. Celeste was a stand-out character in the other two books, in fact she was the hinge, so I was excited to read her story.  

NaNoWriMo2014: It Is Decided

Monday, October 20, 2014

Ladies and gentlemen, fellow NaNoers, good writerly folk, those who just stumbled across this by accident...I hereby announce my candidacy for Cook County State's Attorney. Sorry, I've been watching too much The Good Wife. Ahem, I hereby announce my intention to participate in National Novel Writing Month 2014. 

Last year I threw in the towel at the last minute. This year, I had a trial run with Camp NaNo and was pleased with the results but please, don't call it a comeback. Like David Rudisha, I will be slowly returning to form and I don't expect to win. However, I plan to give it my best shot and at the end of the day, what more can you ask for?

So, things will probably be even lighter than usual (meaning probably non-existent) but I'll try and update. I've never been good at discussing my work and I've never had a writing buddy but I did enjoy the cabin situation of Camp NaNo, so do feel free to just say hello either here on on Twitter (@SophSophiaaaa). 

Good luck to everyone taking part! 

Oh-Na-Nawrimo - What's Your Name?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

I want to talk about names again and I want to help YOU. National Novel Writing Month is racing toward us at a rather frightening pace and I'm sure many of you are deep in the throes of planning your great work. Sometimes our characters seemingly name themselves and it all works out marvellously but other times a name just won't stick. So, if you're in possession of a troublesome, nameless character, drop me a line. In the meantime, let's take inspiration from our most beautiful people: the modern supermodels.

Our current crop of supers have some highly usable names. See, if you're writing a contemporary novel, you have to think about how old your character is and what kinds of names were fairly common during their formative years. For example, if you're writing an NA novel set today, chances are your main female character isn't going to be a North or a Wyatt. Obviously, it's entirely up to you and many parents are ahead of the curve (Sophia wasn't that popular when I was born) and original in their naming but I think authenticity is important. 

Now, for our female top models, we have:

Joan - Classic and timeless. Can apply to the more studious type or your wild child. 
Cara - A sophisticated but not inaccessible name. Not for your cutesty, bubbly character. 
Karlie - This one is for your bubbly, girl-next-door character. 
Miranda - Not just for older ladies or nightmare bosses. Miranda means 'marvellous' and again is quite sophisticated. Struggling for nicknames? Not a fan of Mimi? Mil or Millie is often used over here. 
Rosie - Rosie is really popular but don't be put off. Often used for go-getters with hearts of gold.
Jac - Want some edge? Not keen on Jackie? How about just Jac. For your outlier or Queen Bee. 
Malaika - Perhaps you're writing a diverse novel and you quite fancy an 'ethnic sounding' name that isn't Maya (I love the name but it seems to crop up everywhere). Try Malaika (pronounced Ma-lie-ka). 
Candice - Another strong name but I'd avoid the nickname Candi...
Jourdan - There are a couple of Jordan's floating around out there in the world of fiction but how about a fresh spin? 
Suvi + Suki - For your cosmopolitan character. 

And now, let's hear it for the boys:

Arthur - To be paired with your Joan. Classic, strong, and witty. 
Noah - This name has been popular for a long time. No, I have not seen The Notebook but I know the guy is called Noah. So, why not use it for your love interest too? I don't see this name on the antagonist but it's entirely up to you.
Tyson - This one on the other hand can work for the love interest or the villain. Soften it down to Ty or keep full on Tyson for your cocky know-it-all. 
Cory/Corey - The best friend. 
Tobias - Yes, we all know Four's real name is Tobias but it's still an underused name. Give it a whirl, see what you think.
Felix - Not just for your housecat. Felix has a European edge to it. 
Jourdan - Not just for the girls. There's a male Jourdan too! 
Tarun - For those of you who fancy giving Raj a break. 
Sean - A name that will fit all age groups. 
Harvey - I think Suits has helped up the cool factor a lot. 

So, there's a few to help you out but if you're still having problems, let me know - I do like a challenge...! Surnames can be a pest too, so throw those in whilst your at it.

What's Occurring?

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Pages

  • I'm kind of in a reading slump to be honest. However, I recently read Flat-Out Celeste by Jessica Park and that was AMAZINGLY BRILLIANT! I will write a proper review at some point but in the meantime, I'll just say Celeste is awesome and I think this might even top Flat-Out Love.
  • I'm currently reading: Quiet by Susan Cain, which is quite enlightening. For the commute last week, I started reading The Silent Wife by A.S.A Harrison but it was sooooo slow and I had to put it to one side. I tried to go back to Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins but couldn't get into that either so ended up buying Love, Rosie by Cecilia Ahern, which I'm enjoying so far. Phew. 

Top Ten Tuesday: Character Driven Novels

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's theme is: Top Ten Books For People Who Like Character Driven Novels. 

To be honest, I think I only really read character driven novels. I rarely read action/adventure/sci-fi/plot heavy stories. So, to narrow this down, I think I'll stick to YA for today. As this is my preferred type of book, I'm looking forward to reading everyone's list!

A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Publisher: Swoon Reads
Format: E-book
Source: Netgalley
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis from Goodreads:

The creative writing teacher, the delivery guy, the local Starbucks baristas, his best friend, her roommate, and the squirrel in the park all have one thing in common—they believe that Gabe and Lea should get together. Lea and Gabe are in the same creative writing class. They get the same pop culture references, order the same Chinese food, and hang out in the same places. Unfortunately, Lea is reserved, Gabe has issues, and despite their initial mutual crush, it looks like they are never going to work things out. But somehow even when nothing is going on, something is happening between them, and everyone can see it. Their creative writing teacher pushes them together. The baristas at Starbucks watch their relationship like a TV show. Their bus driver tells his wife about them. The waitress at the diner automatically seats them together. Even the squirrel who lives on the college green believes in their relationship. Surely Gabe and Lea will figure out that they are meant to be together....