Thursday, 27 March 2014

Warning

Just a little warning that there won't be much content from me in the next few weeks. I have three massive university assignments due in at different times in the next two weeks, so it's all a bit stressful right now.
Mostly because one of my assignments, a business report into the marketing of Hotel Chocolat, has been over complicated with no help from my lecturer. So while I'm trying to work my head around that, there's not much time for anything else currently.

I am close to the end of E. Lockhart's We Were Liars which is AMAZING and I can totally understand the hype about it at the moment. I'm planning on going old school and reading War of the Worlds next. I'm off in two weeks for Easter holidays with NO work (thank god) so hopefully lots and lots of reading and blogging will happen then!

That's all, I'll be around on Twitter and Instagram (@rebeccabooks) if you want a chat. I will be complaining a lot though.

Also, if you know anything about marketing or business reports, I will love you forever to let me know!

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Why I Left Waterstones

That's right. I admit with a lot of sadness that I am no longer a bookseller at Waterstones. Some may know this, others may not. However, I feel that I should explain my decision in some way and also to let the emotions and decisions behind this move out in a way I have always used to do so.

I loved my time at Waterstones, I really do and I do miss spending my weekends surrounded by books and people that share my love with those books. I didn't particularly want to leave but I think, for myself, for the shop I worked within and for the customers I shared my experiences and passion for books with, it was the right thing to do.
I also love university, and that's the thing. University got in the way of my bookselling and bookselling got in the way of my time at university. There are a number of other reasons but essentially that is the main reason. With all the deadlines that have been piling up ever since, I'm glad I decided to leave otherwise I would have had to let down my colleagues.

I miss my job a lot, I miss having that to look forward every week and having something purposeful to do on a Saturday instead of lazying around all day. I miss feeling so independent while working and having some 'me-time'. I miss my colleagues and the easy way I had with them. I miss talking about books all day and sharing my favourite books with those around me. I miss saying I'm a bookseller.

However, I am still in touch with my old manager from home so hopefully I can get a job in the summer or Christmas or something. It's weird walking past my old store when I go home, looking in and seeing my old colleagues particularly the ones I got on the best with and knowing the ins and outs of that shop. It's so weird, saddening and annoying in some aspects but I believe it was the right decision and I don't regret it mostly.

Sorry this was a bit of a soppy post, but I think I needed to let it out a little bit to move on. Have a good week guys!


Sunday, 16 March 2014

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist - David Levithan and Rachel Cohn

Source: Own
Pages: 183
Publisher: Knopf

Synopsis: The night begins when Nick asks Norah to be his five minute girlfriend to avoid his ex, who has just walked in to see his band play with her new guy. After one kiss, Nick and Norah are off on an adventure across New York City with the confusion, excitement and anticipation of a first date.

Review: I'm not sure where to start this review for this book. I guess I have too many emotions and thoughts in my head for this book that I can't quite gather them together and put into a logical review process.

Initially, I thought I wasn't going to make it through. The first few chapters aren't the best part of this book but they are truly needed. I found Cohn's writing style quite hard to read, the same thoughts as when I read Levithan and Cohn's Dash and Lily's Book of Dares.
However, I did get into it eventually and loved it. This is a book that brings the beauty of being young, of being in a city and puts that all together into a story and puts in the shadow of most teenager's love for music. The experiences and thoughts of the two leads are very accurate to someone who is 17 now, these are characters that I believed and made me reminisce slightly of when I was 16/17 (although that was only a couple of years ago but still).

Nick and Norah are great characters, with a host of other brilliant characters in the background. I liked Norah's powerful lead as well as laughing at her sarcasm and humour that is incredibly similar to my own. She's had some bad experiences with boys in the past and through this, she become cynical and afraid almost I guess. I also loved Nick, he is a genuine, honest character and I liked to see his reactions of the events they go through.

I get why some people don't like this book. But the reason for that is all down to this book's originality. The voices of Nick and Norah are very individual and at times I got annoyed at Norah's parts as she has an interesting, cynical, sarcastic voice that can be quite hard to read at some points. This book is very different to what I was expecting. I was expecting a love story, sure, but I was expecting it over a long period, not just a night. But I liked that, it made it immediate and quick and although perhaps in some ways unrealistic, I couldn't care less.

This book is modern, current and a true voice for teenagers. It's not a serious book by far, but I loved that. It's quirky, original and something I will remember for a long time afterwards. NICK AND NORAH'S INFINITE PLAYLIST is a book that is about young people and for young people and has some of the most individual characters I have read about in a while. This isn't the best book I've ever read but I still really enjoyed it and hopefully watch the movie (on Netflix) very, very soon.

I give it a 4 out of 5


Related Reviews:
Dash and Lily's Book of Dares - David Levithan and Rachel Cohn
The Lover's Dictionary - David Levithan
Love Is The Higher Law - David Levithan


Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Bookshelf at University

One of the big changes at university was the size of my bedroom and the amount of space available to cram all my possessions within it. At home, I have a reasonably size room, including three bookcases dotted around my room. However, with the limited space at university, I knew I wouldn't (although wanted to) be able to take all my books with me.
My halls are one of the smaller ones in Bournemouth but the rooms are still quite big and I've kind of learnt that in any room, if you're clever with the space you have, you can fit quite a lot in (thank god for space under the bed).

My room
My decisions in the books I have at university started by choosing my favourite books. I thought this would be a good way to perhaps start a conversation with one of my flatmates when I first moved in six months ago. I literally had these illusions of strategically placing books around my room and the flat to try and strike a conversation with my flatmates about books. Thankfully and probably for the best, I didn't need to do this - all my flatmates read outside of university work and as one of them said the other day, they ask me for reading recommendations (I've already got one of them into the Divergent series).
I, then, included some of the books I really wanted to read. Now, however, I still have those book I love although my room has kind of become infested with books I really want to read/look pretty/classics I love.

I have two shelves which hold my DVD's and documents on one and then LOTS of books on the other.


This shelf consists of mostly books that are in series and need to be read and the classics I have with me at university as well as my photo album. My ornaments all mean something to me (I really like cats, okay...) so it's nice to have them on the lower shelf where I can see them from my bed. 

The overflow from this shelf have fled to the shelf above my bed which normally holds chocolate, biscuits and my mugs. 


Apart from David Levithan's books at the end, The Fault in Our Stars and Rebecca, these are all to-read's. Yes...I have a lot of books to read currently. You can see a business card for The Crooked Book, which is an independent second-hand bookshop/vintage shop/coffee shop about half an hour from me in Boscombe. IT IS AMAZING. I've only been there once when some friends from home visited, but it's definitely worth a visit if you're in the Bournemouth area and want to do something different from wandering in the shops or by the beach. 

I would love to have massive bookcases in my room but alas, there is little room for those. Although next year, I'm hoping to bring one of my bookcases down to the house we're moving into so more books!

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Blog Tour: Author Interview with Joanna Nadin

Today I have something a little different and incredibly exciting happening on Rebecca-Books as I am hosting Joanna Nadin as part of her blog tour for her new (and last in the series) book in the Rachel Riley series! I remember reading some of her books a couple of years ago and they were brilliant, she completely understands young people and I loved that. This book follows Rachel as she prepares to go to university, I'm so looking forward to reading this as I only went to university six months ago. 
Anyway, I'll stop rambling and hand you over to Joanna Nadin herself to answer some of my questions about her book and an end of an era...
 
Release Day: 6th March 
Publisher: Oxford University Press


1. Hi Joanna! Welcome to Rebecca-Books, it's brilliant to have you here to answer some questions. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your new novel? 
Well, I write books, mostly. And speeches, sometimes. I used to work for the Prime Minister, which, like, I KNOW. I so did NOT fit in on the corridors of power. In fact I once danced down the corridors of power (to Bat Out of Hell, it's a long story) and got caught by a Cabinet Minister. Not my proudest moment. Which is exactly the kind of thing Rachel Riley does. Though not in this novel as she's only seventeen and also she's currently banned from the Houses of Parliament over an incident on a school trip involving her best friend Scarlet and an illegal camera. Plus Scarlet's the one who wants to go into politics. Rachel is going to be an actress and live in a squat in Camden with a tormented poet or musician. If she gets into uni to do drama. And passes her A Levels. And does NOT get distracted by new boy Wilde and his giant sunglasses and leopard-print everything. 

2. This is the last book in The Rachel Riley Diaries series. How did you come up with the idea for the series originally? 
I started off trying to write something more serious i.e. an "issues" book, about broken homes or abuse or general tragedy. Only the thing is I didn't grow up in a broken home and abuse generally consisted of being forced to eat brown bread instead of white and tragedy was not being allowed to watch Coronation Street because it was both Northern and "common"; a double whammy of crimes in my mother's eyes. Which is when I realised maybe there was some comedy to had in the kind of wishing for a tragic life that I indulged in. So Rachel is, in fact, me. Her friends are my old friends. Her family is startlingly similar to mine (I never even got round to changing my brother James's name). Her appalling luck with boys is fairly similar to mine. Though at least she didn't snog anyone who kept pigs. Though she does, at one point, snog someone who has a habit of getting his thing out in class because she thinks he might be a genius underneath the idiocy. He isn't. 

3. What are the best and worst parts of writing for you personally? 
There really aren't that many bad bits. I mean, I get to spend the day footling around inside the head of a teenager, thinking about what I'm going to name my fictitious band, and wondering if Jack will actually snog me down the Duke on Saturday night. Working on your own can get slightly cabin feverish. But that's what Facebook is for. That's like hanging out in the school common room. Only without the saggy sofa with the Yazoo stain or the quarantined microwave or Fat Kylie trying spray tan a Goth. 

4. What advice would you give to aspiring young writers or those wanting to get into the publishing industry? 
Just write. Like playing violin, it's something you will only get good at by practising. So write every day. Even if it's a diary or a blog. In fact definitely keep a diary – it may come in handy one day for a teen novel. 

5. What is the best book you've read? 
That changes on an almost daily basis, along with my Desert Island Discs and who I thank in my Oscars speech (so going to happen one day). At the moment I'm on The Great Gatsby as I'm studying it again for my doctorate. But I'm also going to say Adrian Mole, as without him, there would be no Rachel. Those books gave me hope as a teenager – that I wasn't the only gawky, nerdy, unlucky-in-love thirteen-year-old out there. Which is what I hope Rachel does a tiny bit today. 

6. Are there any plans for your next novel? 
I write a lot of books. Some funny. Some serious. And I'm definitely in a serious phase now. So I have a YA thriller called Eden out later this year - set in drama school in 1988. Then a funny/sad/scary middle–grade book set in a tower block in Peckham out next year. And I'm just starting work on a YA high school novel about changing your identity. Kind of like Mean Girls crossed with The Great Gatsby crossed with Election. That could so work, right?
(Yes a Mean Girls/The Great Gatsby/Election high school novel can DEFINITELY WORK. I'm already excited for this!)



Follow Joanna on: Website | Facebook | Blog | Twitter





This is the first post in a five day blog tour stopping at some of my favourite blogs. Check them out every day this week!


6th March - Bookbabblers
7th March - Amy Bookworm
10th March - Book Angel Booktopia
11th March - What Danielle Did Next
12th March - Fabulous Book Fiend

Monday, 3 March 2014

Mini Reviews: The Hit, Stay Where You Are & Then Leave, Debutantes In Love

This is kind of a catch up of reviews from some of the brilliant books I read during my blogging break at the end of last year. Let me know if you've read any of these and what did you think yourself!

The Hit by Melvin Burgess

I've never read much of Melvin Burgess' books before although I have heard some good things about Junk. I was a bit unsure myself about reading The Hit. The blurb and idea of the novel sounds interesting, something I was intrigued to read yet it seemed like the kind of gritty, urban genre  novel that I just don't enjoy. However, when I saw this in my local library, I thought it was time to give it a go.

Synopsis: A new drug is out named 'Death'. Everyone is talking about it, many are taking it. It gives you the best feeling, the ultimate high. At the ultimate price. Because you have one week. One week of feeling on the top of the world and then you die.
Adam is tempted. His girlfriend, Lizzie, is on the verge of dumping him, his brother has gone. He thinks he has nothing to lose...but Lizzie shows him otherwise.

Review: One of the things I liked about this book was the gritty, harsh portrayal of England that is so refreshing to see in books that is so rarely seen. It is in interesting concept and something in the rapid evolution of drugs in recent years, that you can imagine happening potentially. This is made realistic as the events of the novel are set in a shadow of revolution and change for the future that are beyond Adam and Lizzie's control. Even though the concept is one is liked for the contemporary feel, at times the action and events within the story seemed far from the realism I was expecting, particularly latterly in the novel making this a book that was ultimately quite hard to read at times. I really disliked Adam and Lizzie and their portrayal was far too stereotypical of how people perceive teenagers. The choices they make are stupid and although in some ways, this may be the point of the book, it just didn't make this book enjoyable at times. However, saying these negatives, I have to admit that I did have that urgency throughout reading to find out what happens in the conclusion for Adam and Lizzie and the ending was a good one. This is an interesting, original book that covers a lot of contemporary and controversial issues in today's society, however, in my opinion it could have been done better.

I give it a 3.5 out of 5

Stay Where You Are & Then Leave by John Boyne

Synopsis: It's four years since Alfie's dad promised he wouldn't fight in the war, and then the following day broke that promise. Alfie has no idea where his father is, making him think he's on a secret mission.
This is until Alfie is shining shoes one morning at King's Cross for a military doctor when he sees his father's name in some dropped papers. Alfie is determined to rescue his father and bring him home finally.

Review: This was one of the last books I read while I was at Waterstones as a proof and wow, it was worth it!
I opened to the first page expecting another version of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas yet set in the shadow of the First World War, something that would make me cry. Yet I was pleasantly surprised! While there is the child narration that characterises Boyne's most famous work, there is an element of mystery and adventure that runs throughout as Alfie tries to find his father.
There is something so powerful about Boyne's writing as he illustrates a world that is vastly different from now. The narration seems so innocent and simple, yet he makes you read between the lines in a way that is incredibly hard to do in some books aimed at children.
A lot of books set in this period normally go two ways: either they are set trenches and show the harsh reality for the soldiers fighting for their country, or they romantise the First World War a little showing those left at home. This book does neither and show a stark portrayal through the eyes of an intelligent, scared young boy and illustrate the true life of those left behind by the soldiers at war. This is a book that leaves you with all this hope and warmth, surprising for a book set in the shadow of war. Yet, there is the shadow of the Second World War looming that Boyne eludes do where, with a quick calculation, many readers will know Alfie will be in his late 20's by then and probably fighting. This is a brilliant book, and I really, really hope that this gets the attention that is deserves.

I give it a 5 out of 5

Debutantes in Love by Cora Harrison

Synopsis: It's 1924 and Poppy and Daisy Derrington leave for London to start their season as debutantes. As they cannot inherit their father's estate, they need to marry for wealth otherwise they will be left penniless. However, money and marriage is not their primary focus when they arrive in London but rather the cinema, music, jazz, parties and gossip that surrounds them while they are there. Trapped in the traditions of their class, the two girls must decide between duty to their family or the flapper lifestyle of the 1920's.

Review: I was a fan of Cora Harrison's Jane Austen series and loved the first book in the Debutantes series. Historical fiction is a favourite of mine, be it serious or not and it's hard to come by historical fiction that doesn't make me want to vomit with details of gore or that is just plainly well written.
As I read in one Goodreads review, Harrison has a knack of taking a book that looks like a fun read full to the brim of historical detail and yes, you do get that. But you also get adventure and chaos mixed with some hilarious moments, and dashes of culture of the time that create a well rounded and constructed book. I loved all those different elements of this book!
This isn't the best historical fiction book I've ever read but it's a lovely, fun read for a lazy afternoon or on holiday when you do not want something too serious! Harrison shows time and time again how brilliant her writing is and I hope there are more books of hers to come in the future.

 I give it a 4 out of 5



Related Reviews:
Debutantes - Cora Harrison
I Was Jane Austen's Best Friend - Cora Harrison
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas - John Boyne