Wordless Wednesday – Enough Food IF

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Bill Nighy adding his name to the IF campaign.

http://www.oxfam.org.uk/get-involved/campaign-with-us/find-an-action/if-campaign-signup

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Top Ten Tuesday – Top Ten Most Frustrating Characters Ever

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Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme hosted over at The Broke and the Bookish (http://brokeandbookish.blogspot.co.uk). This week’s theme is the top ten most frustrating characters ever. A few characters immediately came to mind but I haven’t got ten!

Bella Swan – Twilight

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I know you all thought of this character as soon as you read the title of this blog post. I did too.

Let me own up though, I am a twilight fan – I love the books and the films (but the books are better).

However, Bella is the most annoying character I can think of. Not only that but she is a terrible role model for teenage girls too! She can’t live without her boyfriend and actually spends a year basically in mourning because he leaves. Now I’m all for true love but she needs to get a grip!

She also spends the whole four books just constantly moaning. I swear she is never happy.

 

imagesQuinn – True Blood Series

Quinn appears in the 5th True Blood book and has become a constant character. I can’t quite pin down what it is about him that I find so hugely annoying. He is over the top confident and comes across as very big headed and yet he is extremely boring! He also tries to pry Sookie away from Eric which I’m never going to be happy with. Back off Quinn and leave it to the vampires.

Bill – True Blood Series

Bill starts off as Sookie’s vampire in the first True Blood book. Sure he’s charming but as soon as other (more interesting) vampires were introduced I went right off him. Then we find out that he went after Sookie just because he was told to and nearly got her killed in the process. Seriously guys, back off and let Sookie be with Eric like she should be!

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Catherine Earnshaw – Wuthering Heights

Wuthering Heights is my favourite book and I love all of the characters. However there is a frustrating streak to the main character, Cathy. She was in love with Heathcliff and yet she married Edgar Linton basically because he was rich. I couldn’t help but think she loved all the attention!

Linton Heathcliff – Wuthering Heights

Linton was Heathcliff’s son and was always a sickly, weak child. I just spent the whole book wishing he’d fight back against his father and just stop complaining and making everything about himself!

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Romeo and Juliet

Both equally as frustrating, in a similar way to Bella Swan! Where do I start? Maybe Juliet should have come up with a better plan than than just hoping that she’d wake up before Romeo got there? It’s all just slightly over dramatic!

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Dolores Umbridge – Harry Potter

The hated character of all Harry Potter fans! She was a cotton pink coloured toad who was condescending and just plain horrible to everyone she met.

 

 

 

Which literary characters do you find annoying? Do they make you hate the book or, like me, do they make the story more interesting?

Anne & Kristilyn’s 2013 Book Bingo Reading Challenge

There’s nothing like a good reading challenge as long as it fits with the kinds of things you wanted to read anyway! It’s no fun if it makes reading more of a chore.

I recently found a reading challenge for 2013 that includes everything I want to do this year. You can join this challenge too on http://readinginwinter.com/2012/12/08/challenge-anne-kristilyns-2013-book-bingo-reading-challenge/

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The rules are:

  1. Be awesome. If you’re not, this isn’t going to work.
  2. The challenge runs from January 1 to December 31, 2013.
  3. If you want to participate, you can join in any time of the year! Feel free to write up a blog post with the rules linking back to my and Anne’s blog in your sign-up post.
  4. If you read one book for the “1 book” in any category, you can’t change it later on when you read another book to “2 books.” Once a square is crossed off, it’s crossed off for good! (Feel free to print off the scoreboard to keep track!)
  5. Books read for one square are for that square ONLY and cannot be counted towards another category. This is all about reading ALL THE BOOKS.
  6. The FREE SQUARE isn’t really a free square. In order to cross it off, you must read a book by either:You can start your board over again, but ONLY if you receive the stamp of awesome by completing a blackout. The “winners” of the challenge will be the ones who achieve the most winning combinations by the end of 2013.
    1. Reading a book picked by another participant, or
    2. Reading a book in a genre picked by another participant.
  7. You can feel free to post your reading list for each category, though it’s not a requirement.
  8. Having a blog or writing reviews for books read is not required. So long as you want to have fun, you can participate!
  9. This isn’t a race, but don’t be afraid to rub your reads in the other player’s face. This will be seen as encouragement. Feel free to use the hashtag #2013BookBingo on Twitter!

As you can see, I’ve already completed a couple of squares in my challenge! So far this year I’ve re-read the first two books in the True Blood series. I wasn’t sure whether to count them as rereads or as series books so I’ve counted one for each.

I’m well on my way! Are you joining in on this challenge this year?

Top Ten Tuesday – Settings I’d Love to See in Books

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly book meme run by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme is Top Ten Settings You’d Like To See (http://brokeandbookish.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/top-ten-settings-jana-would-like-to-see.html). I only have five of these which probably means I need to expand my horizons a bit!

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1) Old Villages

By this I mean Stonewylde style villages. I love that period of time and the characters being that close to nature.

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2) Hidden Worlds

I love the idea of the book being set in the real world but with a hidden world inside it. This worked really well with JK Rowling’s wizard world.

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3) Totally made up worlds

There is something amazing about fantasy novels where the world is entirely new. It’s something you can emerge yourself in.

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4) France

Particularly little french villages like in Chocolat or Amelie. I’ve never been there but I love reading about the country.

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5) Circus/Carnivals

I read two amazing books set in a circus last year – Water For Elephants and The Night Circus. They both had a magical atmosphere and were really gripping.

What are your favourite settings? Do you have any recommendations for me?

Booking Through Thursday – Winter

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It’s the depth of winter here where I live right now … what books do you like to read when it’s snowy and white? What books do you read to evoke a real feeling of winter (good or bad)?

Booking Through Thursday is a weekly meme about books and reading. Every week a question is asked which can be answered on your own blog. This week’s question can be seen above. It is about what books you prefer to read in winter.

Below I’ve listed the books that I like to read around winter/Christmas time.

 Hogfather – Terry Pratchett

This is a Christmas must read for me! This is the 20th novel in the Discworld series and is focused on my favourite character in the series (Death).

“It’s the night before Hogswatch. And its too quiet.

Where is the big jolly fat man? Why is Death creeping down chimneys and trying to say Ho Ho Ho? The darkest night of the year is getting a lot darker…

Susan the gothic governess has got to sort it out by morning, otherwise there won’t be a morning. Ever again…The 20th Discworld novel is a festive feast of darkness and Death (but with jolly robins and tinsel too).

As they say: ‘You’d better watch out…'”

 

A Christmas Carol and Other Christmas Writings – Charles Dickens

I bought this beautiful hardback book last Christmas when I was working at Waterstones. I used to read a copy of A Christmas Carol every Christmas but now I’ve got a beautiful version to read. It’s good to read the lesser known Christmas stories as well. Dickens just screams Christmas to me.

“Dicken’s Christmas writings-in a new, sumptuous, and delightful clothbound edition.

Dickens’s classic A Christmas Carol has had significant influence on our ideas about the Christmas spirit, and the season as a time for celebration, charity, and memory. This handsome edition features appendices on A Christmas Carol and The Haunted Man, an essay on Dickens and The Arabian Nights, and Dickens’s prefaces to the collected editions of the Christmas books.”

 The Snow Child – Eowyn Ivey

 This is a beautiful story set in the snowy Alaska woods. Perfect for winter.

“Alaska, 1920: a brutal place to homestead, and especially tough for recent arrivals Jack and Mabel. Childless, they are drifting apart–he struggling to maintain the farm; she crumbling from loneliness and despair. In a moment of levity during the first snowfall, they build a child out of snow. The next morning the snow child is gone–but they glimpse a young girl running through the trees.
This little girl, who calls herself Faina, seems to be a child of the woods. She hunts with a red fox at her side and somehow survives alone in the Alaskan wilderness. As Jack and Mabel come to understand this child who could have stepped from the pages of a fairy tale, they begin to love her as their own daughter. But in this beautiful, violent territory things are rarely as they appear, and what they eventually learn about Faina will transform them all.”

What books do you read in the winter?

Uproar about eating horse meat… why?

I’ve been reading the news that horse meat has been found in burgers being sold in Tesco, Aldi, Lidl and Iceland and the uproar it has caused.

I’d be the first person to say that horses should not be eaten. Then again, I say the same thing about cows, chickens, turkeys, lambs and pigs (not to mention fish and seafood). What I don’t understand is why people are so annoyed that there is horse meat in their food when they are eating a processed patty of dead animal on their burger buns anyway. What’s the difference between eating cow (which, by the way, is probably the grizzly horrible bits of the cow that nobody wants seeing as these are value burgers) and eating horse?

Just my mini rant for the day. What do you guys think? I’d love to hear from a meat eater about why they feel this way!

Top Ten Tuesday – 2013 Debuts I’m Looking Forward To

ImageTop Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme hosted over at The Broke and the Bookish (http://brokeandbookish.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/2013-debuts-books.html). This week’s theme is 2013 debuts I’m looking forward to.

Although I’m a keen reader, I often stick to the same authors and so I had to do a bit of research into which debuts were coming out this year. A lot of my choices are young adult. I do love young adult books (which makes sense as that’s the genre I write).

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  Splintered – A.G. Howard

 I’m a sucker for anything Alice in Wonderland related! This looks really good,  I love the idea of a dark side to Wonderland. Splintered was released on 1st January 2013 so I know what I’m buying on payday!

“Alyssa Gardner hears the whispers of bugs and flowers—precisely the affliction that landed her mother in a mental hospital years before. This family curse stretches back to her ancestor Alice Liddell, the real-life inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Alyssa might be crazy, but she manages to keep it together. For now. When her mother’s mental health takes a turn for the worse, Alyssa learns that what she thought was fiction is based in terrifying reality. The real Wonderland is a place far darker and more twisted than Lewis Carroll ever let on. There, Alyssa must pass a series of tests, including draining an ocean of Alice’s tears, waking the slumbering tea party, and subduing a vicious bandersnatch, to fix Alice’s mistakes and save her family. She must also decide whom to trust: Jeb, her gorgeous best friend and secret crush, or the sexy but suspicious Morpheus, her guide through Wonderland, who may have dark motives of his own.”

Pantomime – Laura Lam

Last year I fell in love with circus themed novels after reading Water For Elephants and The Night Circus. This caught my attention straight away. Out on 5th February 2013.

“R. H. Ragona’s Circus of Magic is the greatest circus of Ellada. Nestled among the glowing blue Penglass—remnants of a mysterious civilisation long gone—are wonders beyond the wildest imagination. It’s a place where anything seems possible, where if you close your eyes you can believe that the magic and knowledge of the vanished Chimaera is still there. It’s a place where anyone can hide.

Iphigenia Laurus, or Gene, the daughter of a noble family, is uncomfortable in corsets and crinoline, and prefers climbing trees to debutante balls. Micah Grey, a runaway living on the streets, joins the circus as an aerialist’s apprentice and soon becomes the circus’s rising star.

But Gene and Micah have balancing acts of their own to perform, and a secret in their blood that could unlock the mysteries of Ellada”

 Dreams and Shadows – C. Robert Cargill

 Ooh this sounds fabulous. I love the idea of two children growing up and their scary magical world is waiting for them still. Out on February 26th 2013.

“There is another world than our own, as close and intimate as a kiss, as terrifying and haunting as nightmares, a realm where fairies and djinns, changelings and angels, all the stuff of which dreams are made is real…and where magic awaits in the shadows, just a hidden step away. Between this realm and that other lies a veil, a gossamer web that muddles the vision of mortal man and keeps him from seeing what is all around him. Sometimes, someone pierces that protective veil. But one glimpse of this world can forever transform lives. Just ask Ewan and Colby…

Once upon the time, the pair were once bold explorers and youthful denizens of this magical realm, until they left that world behind them. Now, Ewan is a musician living in Austin, and has just met the girl he wants to marry. Colby is still coping with he consequences of an innocent childhood wish that haunts him all these years later. While their time in the Limestone Kingdom is little more than a distant memory, this supernatural world has never forgotten them. And in a world where angels relax on rooftops, whiskey-swilling genies and foul-mouthed wizards argue metaphysics, and monsters in the dark feed on fear, both will learn that fate can never be outrun.

The many fans of Neil Gaiman, Lev Grossman, Erin Morgenstern, and Kim Harrison will love this fabulous debut tale of the magic and monsters in our world…and in ourselves”

The House at the End of Hope Street – Menna van Praag

Not the kind of book I usually read but it sounds good! Out on 4th April 2013.

“Distraught that her academic career has stalled, Alba is walking through her hometown of Cambridge, England, when she finds herself in front of a house she’s never seen before, 11 Hope Street. A beautiful older woman named Peggy greets her and invites her to stay, on the house’s usual conditions: she has ninety-nine nights to turn her life around. With nothing left to lose, Alba takes a chance and moves in.

She soon discovers that this is no ordinary house. Past residents have included George Eliot and Beatrix Potter, who, after receiving the assistance they needed, hung around to help newcomers—literally, in talking portraits on the wall. As she escapes into this new world, Alba begins a journey that will heal her wounds—and maybe even save her life.

Filled with a colorful and unforgettable cast of literary figures, The House at the End of Hope Street is a charming, whimsical novel of hope and feminine wisdom that is sure to appeal to fans of Jasper Fforde and especially Sarah Addison Allen.”

The Falconer – Elizabeth May

This sounds like an interesting and different interpretation of faery folklore! Out on 19th September 2013.

“18 year old Lady Aileana Kameron, the only daughter of the Marquess of Douglas, was destined to a life carefully planned around Edinburgh’s social events – right up until a faery kills her mother.

Now it’s the 1844 winter season. Between a seeming endless number of parties, Aileana slaughters faeries in secret. Armed with modified percussion pistols and explosives, every night she sheds her aristocratic facade and goes hunting. She’s determined to track down the faery who murdered her mother, and to destroy any who prey on humans in the city’s many dark alleyways.

But she never even considered that she might become attracted to one. To the magnetic Kiaran MacKay, the faery who trained her to kill his own kind. Nor is she at all prepared for the revelation he’s going to bring. Because Midwinter is approaching, and with it an eclipse that has the ability to unlock a Fae prison and begin the Wild Hunt.

A battle looms, and Aileana is going to have to decide how much she’s willing to lose – and just how far she’ll go to avenge her mother’s murder”

The Madman’s Daughter – Megan Shepherd

I’m not usually a historical fiction reader but I love the sound of this and a gothic novel is always good! Out on 29th January 2013.

“In the darkest places, even love is deadly.

Sixteen-year-old Juliet Moreau has built a life for herself in London—working as a maid, attending church on Sundays, and trying not to think about the scandal that ruined her life. After all, no one ever proved the rumors about her father’s gruesome experiments. But when she learns he is alive and continuing his work on a remote tropical island, she is determined to find out if the accusations are true.

Accompanied by her father’s handsome young assistant, Montgomery, and an enigmatic castaway, Edward—both of whom she is deeply drawn to—Juliet travels to the island, only to discover the depths of her father’s madness: He has experimented on animals so that they resemble, speak, and behave as humans. And worse, one of the creatures has turned violent and is killing the island’s inhabitants. Torn between horror and scientific curiosity, Juliet knows she must end her father’s dangerous experiments and escape her jungle prison before it’s too late. Yet as the island falls into chaos, she discovers the extent of her father’s genius—and madness—in her own blood.

Inspired by H. G. Wells’s classic The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Madman’s Daughter is a dark and breathless Gothic thriller about the secrets we’ll do anything to know and the truths we’ll go to any lengths to protect”

 City of a Thousand Dolls – Miriam Forster

 A fantasy/mystery novel about a girl who loves cats. Yes please. Out on 5th February 2013.

 “An exotic treat set in an entirely original, fantastical world brimming with deadly mystery, forbidden romance, and heart-stopping adventure.

Nisha was abandoned at the gates of the City of a Thousand Dolls when she was just a child. Now sixteen, she lives on the grounds of the isolated estate, where orphan girls apprentice as musicians, healers, courtesans, and, if the rumors are true, assassins. Nisha makes her way as Matron’s assistant, her closest companions the mysterious cats that trail her shadow. Only when she begins a forbidden flirtation with the city’s handsome young courier does she let herself imagine a life outside the walls. Until one by one, girls around her start to die.

Before she becomes the next victim, Nisha decides to uncover the secrets that surround the girls’ deaths. But by getting involved, Nisha jeopardizes not only her own future in the City of a Thousand Dolls—but her own life.”

Broken – A.C. Rought

First off… how brilliant is that cover? This is a sort of modern day version of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. It sounds beautifully gothic and is out now.

“A string of suspicious deaths near a small Michigan town ends with a fall that claims the life of Emma Gentry’s boyfriend, Daniel. Emma is broken, a hollow shell mechanically moving through her days. She and Daniel had been made for each other, complete only when they were together. Now she restlessly wanders the town in the late Fall gloom, haunting the cemetery and its white-marbled tombs, feeling Daniel everywhere, his spectre in the moonlight and the fog.

When she encounters newcomer Alex Franks, only son of a renowned widowed surgeon, she’s intrigued despite herself. He’s an enigma, melting into shadows, preferring to keep to himself. But he is as drawn to her as she is to him. He is strangely… familiar. From the way he knows how to open her locker when it sticks, to the nickname she shared only with Daniel, even his hazel eyes with brown flecks are just like Daniel’s.

The closer they become, though, the more something inside her screams there’s something very wrong with Alex Franks. And when Emma stumbles across a grotesque and terrifying menagerie of mangled but living animals within the walls of the Franks’ estate, creatures she surely knows must have died from their injuries, she knows”

 The Typewriter Girl – Alison Atlee

 Historical fiction like this is usually something I love or hate. This one sounds good though! It’s out on January 29th 2013.

 “In Victorian London, there’s only so far an unmarried woman can go, and Betsey Dobson has relied on her wits and cunning to take herself as far as she can—to a position as a typewriter girl. But still, Betsey yearns for something more…so when she’s offered a position as the excursions manager at a seaside resort, she knows this is her chance for security, for independence, for an identity forged by her own work and not a man’s opinion. Underqualified for the job and on the wrong side of the aristocratic resort owner, Betsey struggles to prove herself and looks to the one person who can support her new venture: Mr. Jones, the ambitious Welshman building the resort’s pleasure fair. As she and Mr. Jones grow ever closer, Betsey begins to dream that she might finally have found her place in the world—but when her past returns to haunt her, she must fight for what she’s worked so hard…or risk losing everything.”

The Curiosity – Stephen P. Kiernan

This had me straight away. A man frozen in arctic ice a century ago awakens in the present day. This is out July 9th 2013.

“Dr. Kate Philo and her scientific exploration team make a breathtaking discovery in the Arctic: the body of a man buried deep in the ice. As a scientist in a groundbreaking project run by the egocentric and paranoid Erastus Carthage, Kate has brought small creatures-plankton, krill, shrimp-“back to life.” Never have the team’s methods been attempted on a large life form.

Heedless of the consequences, Carthage orders that the frozen man be brought back to the lab in Boston, and reanimated. As the man begins to regain his memories, the team learns that he was-is-a judge, Jeremiah Rice, and the last thing he remembers is falling overboard into the Arctic Ocean in 1906. When news of the Lazarus Project and Jeremiah Rice breaks, it ignites a media firestorm and massive protests by religious fundamentalists.

Thrown together by circumstances beyond their control, Kate and Jeremiah grow closer. But the clock is ticking and Jeremiah’s new life is slipping away. With Carthage planning to exploit Jeremiah while he can, Kate must decide how far she is willing to go to protect the man she has come to love.

A gripping, poignant, and thoroughly original thriller, Stephen Kiernan’s provocative debut novel raises disturbing questions about the very nature of life and humanity-man as a scientific subject, as a tabloid plaything, as a living being: A curiosity.”

 

What are you looking forward to reading this year? Any recommendations?

Harvesting Spider Silk

I watched a video this morning on The Guardian website where a group of people have perfected extracting silk from a spider of the species Nephila edulis. The video can be found here – http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/video/2013/jan/12/fritz-vollrath-spider-silk-video.

My first reaction to this was disgust as I thought the spider had been killed. It turns out the spider was not dead but just sedated with carbon dioxide. My second question was what possible reason could there be? Fritz Vollrath is the scientist behind these experiments. He says that he would use the silk for medical reasons “for anything from knee replacements to heart transplants”.

My only worry really is that nowhere does it mention whether the spider is in discomfort (which it obviously would be) and what measures have been taken to minimise this. As a Zoology graduate I know that this will probably have been considered and measures will be in place. I think these should be explained in the video or article.

Another thought springs to mind. The number of people who hate spiders means that if these spiders were being treated badly the sympathy level would be extremely low. It seems that animals must be fluffy and cute for people to react to their pain. I myself consider all animals to be of equal importance and think that no animal should be caused discomfort or pain for our benefit.

What do you think? Should animals be used for human benefit or do they deserve more respect?

Writing Related Book Haul

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The only problem with my job is the amount of contact with exciting books that I have. These were a donated last week and I just had to have them.

A Complete Guide to Fairies and Magical Beings – Cassandra Eason

This is such a good book. It has chapters on old legends and the different types of fairies. I think it’s going to be really good for finding out about different beings to use in my writing.

 

Poetry By Moonlight

An anthology of poetry based on moonlight and night time. After a little flick through this looks like it has some beautiful poetry in it. It also fits with one of my reading goals for 2013!

 

Watercolour Fairies – David Riche and Anna Franklin

This is a step to step guide on how to paint fairies. I’m not artistic in the slightest but some of the pictures are truly inspiring.

 

Fantasy Encyclopedia – Judy Allen

This has some of the folklore in that I’m looking at for my writing. But as a keen reader of fantasy I’m really looking forward to reading the rest of this one as well. Vampires and dragons anyone?

 

Comprehensive Writing Course

This is a proper mail order writing course with lots of booklets in on different topics in writing. It covers everything from poetry to children’s writing. I was very excited about it!

 

So that’s my little haul. I couldn’t really afford it but I think some of it will be very valuable to my writing en devours! 

Top Ten Tuesdays – Reading Goals for 2013

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Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created over at The Broke and the Bookish (http://brokeandbookish.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/paulas-top-ten-reading-goals-for-2013.html). This week’s theme is reading goals for 2013.

My goals are:

  1. Read 50 Books – any type, any genre! Last year I pledged the same on goodreads but didn’t do too well so this is my second attempt.
  2. Read more non fiction – I have a lot of non fiction on my book shelves. It’s mostly animal/science related stuff which I have a lot of interest in from my Zoology degree. I don’t know why I don’t read it more often.
  3. Read more poetry – I write a lot of poetry but have to confess that I don’t read it very often!
  4. Sort out discworld – by “sort out” I mean figure out which ones I have read and haven’t read, which ones I own and which ones I need. Then try and catch up a bit!
  5. Read 10 books that I’ve owned for more than a year – I have a lot of books and yet I always read my newer ones first! I want to clear some of my “to read” shelf.
  6. Read more Stephen King – I have loads of Stephen King books and keep buying more!
  7. Don’t waste time on books I don’t like – I always persevere with books and then get in a rut. If I don’t like it I’m going to put it down and start a new one.

 

 

I also have some writing goals:

  1. Actually start my story – I love planning but I need to start writing at some point!
  2. Read more books on writing – This goes with the non fiction goal above but I’ve got so many of these it’s getting silly when I never read them!
  3. Enter writing competitions – I’m at that point where I’m finally a bit more confident with my writing and I’m going to start letting other people read it. Scary but good!

And those are my 10 book related goals! I’m going to try and keep up with Top Ten Tuesdays because they’re quite fun (that’s another goal…) so check back in a week for another one. Also if you want to join in check out http://brokeandbookish.blogspot.co.uk/p/top-ten-tuesday-other-features.html.