Thursday 30 July 2015

Colour Me Mindful (*****) Review and Giveaway!

Happy Thursday, readers! Now if you follow a lot of UKYA blogs, you will have noticed that recently, a lot of bloggers have been talking about one thing... Colour Me Mindful, three intricately-drawn colouring books for grown-ups! I was approached to see if I wanted to receive the set of three books from Orion in exchange for an honest review, and I jumped at the opportunity. Colouring was one of my favourite things to do when I was younger, and since I was (and have always been) completely rubbish at drawing, colouring was a way for me to still be creative with art- which I do and have always loved.

Intrigued? Here's the story behind one of the colouring books (the underwater version)...

A mindful art therapy colouring book for adults, filled with beautiful underwater scenes.
Not just for kids anymore, colouring delivers a deeply satisfying experience that is almost meditative and colouring books are growing in popularity as anti-stress aids for adults.

Complete with intricately detailed and beautiful line-art, this book will depict breathtaking scenes of underwater landscapes.

Your mind will focus as you fill the pages with colour, becoming calm and reducing stress. This is mindful, simple therapy for adults that can be carried out every day.

With stunning illustrations to colour in and admire, this book provides a creative outlet and a deeply soothing mindful experience for those in need of a little artistic stress-busting.

I was lucky enough to receive all three colouring books from Orion: Underwater, Tropical and Birds. But I have to say, the Underwater book was my favourite. I have always been fascinated by the sea and love the colours blue and green, so the Underwater colouring book, with beautiful ocean scenes, gave me the opportunity to be as creative as I liked! The artist is the ever so talented Anastasia Catris, and the drawings are so delicate and beautiful, with a good mix of small and large shapes to colour in! 

The books were quite small; the perfect size to take in your handbag for your journey to work or school, or on holiday! Me and my friend Lizzie had a FAB time colouring on the train down to Cornwall, haha. 

I used Pentel artist colouring pencils, and WHSmith fine liners. I have to say that I liked to use a bit of both when colouring the drawings. However I am starting to experiment using watercolour paints and watercolour pencils, which works really well also.

Overall, I am so glad that I requested these, as it really is mindful creativity. It's so relaxing to just sit and colour while watching the TV, listening to music or a podcast. It exercises your mind as well as calming it, and also provides you with a beautiful finished picture at the end that you can be proud of.

Have I convinced you yet that you NEED all three copies of Colour Me Mindful? Well, for one lucky winner, you will soon possess them, because Charlie at Orion has kindly agreed to give away ALL THREE Colour Me Mindful books! To enter, simply comment below what your favourite sea creature is! Don't forget, you can always enter by retweeting my tweet of this review, via my Instagram account or on my Facebook page! Please read the terms and conditions (urgh, boring I know) here, and don't forget only enter if you live in the UK.

Check out my pictures, and don't forget to enter the giveaway!

Enter the giveaway on Facebook here:

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Enter the giveaway on Instagram here:

Until next time :) 

Sunday 26 July 2015

'Avalon' by Vanessa Morgan (**.5) + GIVEAWAY!

Hello, readers and happy Sunday! Today I have another giveaway for you, and it is the 2/3 giveaways I will be hosting for this month (exciting!) But before we get to that, I've got the review of the book I am giving away, Vanessa Morgan's novel 'Avalon' that is perfect for anyone who loves cats! I kindly received 'Avalon' from the author in exchange for an honest review. Intrigued? Here's the blurb...

Some cats need nine lives to make a difference. Avalon only needed one.

From Amazon bestselling author Vanessa Morgan, Avalon is the heartwarming and once-in-a-lifetime love story of a girl and her neurotic Turkish Van cat.

With humor, the author details how Avalon made other creatures cringe in distress whenever he was around, how he threw her dates out by means of special techniques, and how he rendered it almost impossible for her to leave the house. Avalon was so incorrigible that even her landlord ordered her to get rid of him. But beneath Avalon's demonic boisterousness, Vanessa recognized her own flaws and insecurities, and she understood that abandoning Avalon would be the worst she could do to him. Thanks to her unswerving loyalty, Avalon transformed into a tender feline, and even landed a major role in a horror movie. In turn, Avalon made it his mission to be there for his human companion.

By turns jubilant and deeply moving, Avalon is a memoir for anyone who has ever been obsessively in love with a pet.

Now, not being a cat person, I was a tiny bit unsure about whether I would actually enjoy this book. Not that I hate cats, but I just don’t have any real feelings/emotions towards them. *Hides from crazy cat people*. But honestly, I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would. I think that the main reason for this is the fact that the author’s passion comes so clearly through her words; by the end of the book you feel as if you know Avalon, and a tiny bit of you even loves him, just because Morgan’s emotions are so strong, and infectious. 

The book is immensely autobiographical, and you get caught up in Morgan’s life just as much as Avalon’s. It is so interesting to read this history, all whilst realising that one cat’s existence had the power to sustain the happiness and vitality of the author’s life. I loved the tone of writing and it was a hugely personal style of writing, which I think suited the book perfectly.

There is a good mixture of cheerful and desolate in Avalon, and the ending, although miserable and somewhat anticipated, it was vastly moving. Morgan evidently has the power to make her readers fall in love with Avalon just as much as she clearly was. 

Overall, this was a touching story that I enjoyed enough to complete in one evening, and I think if you love cats then you will adore this story. The relationship between Avalon and Morgan was a fascinating one to read about, and I am glad that I got the opportunity to read and review this.

Check out 'Avalon' here:

Check out Vanessa Morgan here:

Enter the giveaway on Facebook here:

Enter the giveaway on twitter here:

Enter the giveaway on Instagram here:

Thursday 23 July 2015

Giveaway Winner!

Hello, readers! I'm sorry I haven't been very active recently, but I am writing a post today to let you know the giveaway winner of my Girls competition! I advertised this giveaway on this blog, my Instagram account and my Facebook page, and I have picked (at random) one winner!

And the winner isssssss....... *EPIC DRUMROLL*

Hayley- who entered via my twitter account! Congratulations :D

Thank you to everyone who entered and keep your eyes peeled for TWO more giveaways soon.

 Until next time :) 

Saturday 4 July 2015

'Girls' by Savannah Avery (**) + GIVEAWAY!

Hello, readers! The sun is out here in London and for me that means one thing… to be able to read loads of great books in the garden, and at the same time probably get horrific sunburn. But lobster-red skin aside, I have a book review for you today, of Savannah Avery’s eBook and paperback Girls, available on Amazon. This is an edgy YA read that deals with the issues of peer pressure, high school bullying and human trafficking. I was sent Girls in exchange for an honest review. Intrigued? Here’s the blurb…

When Coco meets the girls she wants nothing more than to be apart of their group. They have everything she ever wanted- friendship, independence, beauty, and attention from boys.

But being one of the girls isn't easy. The group's leader M has strict rules and requires all of her girls to use their bodies to make her money.

How much is Coco willing to give up to be one of the girls?

I finished the book in a mere couple of days, and I thought it was just the right length to keep me interested and caught up in the main action of the plot. I never really connected with the main character, Coco, and at times found her irritating and contradictory. Her attachment to the other main characters M, Katherine and Kitty made her sound incredibly clingy and not reliant on herself; this made her seem a bit empty as a character, and not likeable at all. Furthermore, the use of rhetorical questions in her narrative at first gave a glimpse of chaotic mind of Coco, but after a few chapters became slightly frustrating.  However, this view is completely subjective!

Although I didn’t connect to Coco, I very much liked the characters of M, Katherine and Kitty. They were carefully crafted characters with distinctive personalities and the clash that ensued with their different aspects of character caused a sense of unease throughout the book, which I loved. The relationship between the girls was what drove the plot and ensured that Girls was an uncomfortable, but thrilling read. 

There were some spelling and grammatical errors, however these can easily be fixed with some proof reading. What matters is that there are exciting plot twists, idiosyncratic characters and a narrative tone that is distinctively adolescent. Although I didn’t think that Girls tackled the deeper issues within human trafficking, in the sense that it seemed slightly detached from the main plot of the novel, it was a good contemporary slant on a problem that is both universal and relevant through all periods of history, as well as the present. I loved the ending and I liked that the novel started with the end, if that makes sense. Although I was confused at the beginning, everything suddenly made sense when I started the final chapter.

Overall, I wasn’t in love with this book, however I thought the plot itself and the character development had potential and the story just needed a bit of polishing. Savannah Avery has kindly agreed to give away a copy to one of the readers of my blog or follower on social media, so if you would like to win a copy of Girls, just comment below your favourite YA summer read! Also, read the terms and conditions for giveaways on Delightful Book Reviews here. The only change in these T+Cs is that this giveaway is open to ONLY THOSE LIVING IN THE U.S.! I am allowing entries to this giveaway on all my social media platforms, so feel free to enter on all of them if you want to be in with a greater chance! 

Buy a copy of Girls here:

Check out Savannah Avery here:

Enter the giveaway on Facebook here:

Enter the giveaway on Instagram here:
Enter the giveaway on twitter here:

Until next time :)

Friday 3 July 2015

#IBW2015 Bookshop Crawl!

Hello, readers! Today I have a post for you about my #IBW2015 Bookshop Crawl. This is my first year participating in the crawl, and I was so excited to join in! The bookshop crawl is part of Indie Bookshop Week, a week celebrating the independent bookshops all over the UK. The best independent bookshops are full with top-notch booksellers who really know their stuff, and are passionate about the books they sell and recommend to folks like us. In my opinion, this is very worthy of celebrating. The bookshop crawl invites everyone who loves books: bloggers, vloggers, booktubers, publishers, book organisations and simply people who adore the written word to support their local bookshops and in the meantime pick up some cracking reads! 

I was so excited to participate as one of my favourite things in the world are independent bookshops; I always feel like it is a much more personal experience than popping into a Waterstones or Foyles (I have nothing against these two branches of bookshops, just so you know). Before, I never really made a conscious effort to visit an indie bookshop if I wanted to pick up a new read, but after discovering some lovely new stores on my crawl, I will definitely be visiting them from now on whenever I want a new book. Not only are the booksellers passionate about the books they sell and incredibly friendly and welcoming (in the case of the ones I have visited), but each bookshop has a different feel to it and it feels more like an experience, and less of a shopping trip.

I based my bookshop crawl in the borough of Richmond Upon Thames, and I visited four bookshops: The Open Book (Richmond), The Alligator’s Mouth (Richmond), The Sheen Bookshop (Sheen) and The Kew Bookshop (Kew). Armed with some maps and plenty of water, me and my best friend Megan (armed with a camera to record the whole affair) set off for the first bookshop on our list, The Open Book.

Having lived in the area for the whole of my life, I had always walked past The Open Book but had never, ever stepped inside. I always thought it seemed so small, and consequently I got a big surprise when I walked in! We were warmly welcomed when we entered and were instantly greeted with floor to wall shelves of lovely books. I could have spent hours in there, there was so much stock. After having browsed for a while I decided on Alexander McCall Smith’s The Handsome Man’s Deluxe Café, one of his latest in his series! I also had a nice little chat with the lady at the till about the sheer amount of books McCall Smith manages to write- the woman thought that he must write his novels in his sleep! This was definitely a signature trait of independent bookshops in general- in a Waterstones or any other mainstream store, the bookseller would have no time to chat because of a long, winding queue: it’s great to be able to chat ‘books’ with the people who are selling them to you. 

The next bookshop I visited was The Alligator’s Mouth in Richmond, which I have visited before and I have been fiercely in love with ever since! This bookshop has the most amazing range of children, picture and YA books, and it didn’t take me long to find the book that I wanted- Sarah Dessen’s new book, Saint Anything. This store is so cool and airy and the shelves are clearly organised. There is also a lovely little sofa so that children can snuggle up and read a few of the books. Again, the booksellers were wonderful and friendly and I was asked several times if I needed any help. There was also chocolate cake on hand for all the book crawlers- top marks from me!

Next, I visited The Sheen Bookshop in Sheen and I did not even know that this bookshop existed! However, after visiting it on my crawl and I am absolutely certain that I will be paying it another visit in the future. The woman who worked here was SUPER friendly and welcoming and she had no idea we were even participating in the book crawl! The shop was so large and everything was well spaced-out and I felt like I could wander around at my own pace and not worry about knocking anything off. However tempting it was to buy another book for myself, I thought I should abide by the general rules of the crawl and therefore I bought a bike book for my Dad for my #giveabook tag.

Finally, I visited The Kew Bookshop in Kew and I remember visiting here when I was younger but I haven’t been in for a very long time. This is a very tiny bookshop compared to the other three I visited but nonetheless it is very well stocked and there are books in every corner you find! The YA/teen section was not very extensive but there were many sections like philosophy, biography and history that looked very abundant indeed. In this store I picked up a book I had never heard of before but loved the cover and the blurb intrigued me: Life Drawing by Robin Black. Can’t wait to give it a go! My mum also very much likes the look of it, so I guess I will have to wait to read it until she’s finished!

Overall, my IBW Bookshop Crawl was an amazing experience and it allowed me to discover and appreciate greater the independent bookshops in my area and beyond. I definitely have a newfound appreciation for booksellers and the hard work they do to inject the passion into their work, often without the economic benefits enjoyed by big companies such as Waterstones. Check out all the stores I visited below, along with my vlog of the day!

Did you embark on a bookshop crawl? Lemme know!

The Open Book:

The Alligator's Mouth:

The Sheen Bookshop:

The Kew Bookshop:

Until next time :)

Wednesday 1 July 2015

'This Book Is Gay' by James Dawson (****)

Hello, readers! Today I have a book review for you, of the brilliant James Dawson’s This Book Is Gay. This book has been on my TBR pile for so long- almost a year, which is really embarrassing. I received this book last year in a goody bag at the YALC Blogger’s Breakfast and got it signed by THE MAN HIMSELF, however I haven’t gotten around to reading it until now. Since I have begun reading it, I have been trying to place my finger on the exact reason why I haven’t read it until now, but cannot for the life of me figure out why. Perhaps it was an inkling of stupid self-consciousness at reading a rainbow splattered, boldly-titled book on my way to and from school, or my family and friends seeing me with this book and thinking: ‘OH MY GOSHY GOSH I THINK SHE MIGHT BE GAY’. Look at the cover and title. I think you’ll agree, it’s not exactly subtle. 

But, cue the *eyeroll* (at myself, my younger self, not at you lot, just so you know). When I saw the book a few weeks ago, sadly neglected on my shelf, I thought to myself: ‘Who the hell cares? I should be friggin’ proud to read this book in public! I should be waving it from the rooftops! And if people think I am gay, what flipping fig of a difference does that make? You don’t hear people saying, ‘Oh no, people might think I’m straight!’’ Safe to say, I was a pretty silly person for having these worries, and I wish I could go back and read the book earlier. Whatever you may first think, this book is for EVERYONE. That’s the whole point of it, in my opinion. It is beautiful because of it’s inclusiveness. Whatever your sexual orientation, or gender, once you read it, you are left feeling more knowledgeable and less ignorant than ever before, once you turn the final page.

I received the book in a goody bag last year, and I am writing a review of my own volition. intrigued? Read the blurb here:

A funny and pertinent book about being lesbian, bisexual, gay, queer, transgender or just curious - for everybody, no matter their gender or sexualityFormer PSHCE teacher and acclaimed YA author James Dawson gives an uncensored look at what it's like to grow up as LGBT. Including testimonials from people across the gender and sexual spectrums, this frank, funny, fully inclusive book explores everything anyone who ever dared to wonder wants to know - from sex to politics, how to pull, stereotypes, how to come-out and more. Spike Gerrell's hilarious illustrations combined with funny and factual text make this a must-read.

There are many things I loved about this book. For one, James Dawson’s voice was what made the book the beauty that it is. I didn’t feel preached or dictated to, or that I was being ‘told off’ for being ignorant of certain things. You will also find yourself tearing up at a few places, and also laughing your head off (on public transport, in my case, which was hugely embarrassing but also surprisingly gratifying). The mixture of seriousness and upfront hilarity kept the book fresh and new with each page turn. I never knew what to expect, and that is what made it the most exciting and enjoyable non-fiction book I have probably ever read. Also, if you are fortunate enough to follow James Dawson on Twitter, you will be happy to know that the narrative sounds EXACTLY THE SAME AS HIS TWEETS. I.e, hilarious and lighthearted. I really love it when an author’s voice on social media sounds exactly the same as is in their books. It makes them seem like real people, if you get me. Not that authors are real people, Alix… *sarcastic applause*. 

Another aspect I absolutely loved were the illustrations. They not only gave the book it’s touch of humour and lightheartedness, but also added to the factual element, too. They made the book immeasurably special. This way, the book seemed especially created for young people, and not one of those books that say they are for teenagers but in fact are made for parents to enforce upon their unfortunate offspring. You know, like those fact books that have no soul in them whatsoever. It seems like James Dawson really gets what young people want from a book like This Book Is Gay. There should definitely be more cool illustrations in books for young people, in my opinion. 

A vital aspect that is fiercely incorporated in This Book Is Gay that I should probably have mentioned before is the factual element. I like to consider myself a marginally intelligent specimen of a human being, but I found myself constantly coming across information that I had genuinely never considered before. Dawson himself was a PSHE teacher and it was clear that he is not only hugely knowledgable in all areas of sexual education and puberty, but also how young people want to be taught about these things. If James Dawson had been my PSHE teacher at school, I would have learned a hell of a lot more. The stuff they miss out in sex ed at school is literally, cray. Why are schools still tiptoeing around the issues of sex and relationships? Why do children get talked about how straight sex works, and not sex between people of the same gender? Dawson opens up these questions, and lets the reader ponder over them. Safe to say, I learned a hell of a lot, about everything from legislation towards homosexuality in countries all across the world, transphobia, what different religions say about homosexuality and how to argue with a Bible Basher (someone who uses out-of-date and extreme Bible teachings out of context to argue in favour of marginalising people in society- not cool). In tackling generalisations and stereotypes (all whilst acknowledging that stereotypes exist for a reason), Dawson further emphasises his message that inclusiveness and understanding= cookies for all, and marginalisation and ignorance= no cookies AT ALL.

All in all, I think I have made it pretty clear that I loved This Book Is Gay, and I think that everyone should read it, whatever your sexuality and gender. You seriously learn a lot, no matter how knowledgable you think you are. The most important thing that Dawson emphasises through This Book Is Gay is that although times have improved since the 1950s, there is still a hell of a journey until there is equality for all LGBTQ* people in the UK and throughout the world, and this book only marks a small step along the way on this journey.

*LGBTQ is a generalisation of sexuality; sexuality is so broad that it cannot be defined through five letters.

Check James Dawson out here:

Buy This Book Is Gay here:

Check out Stonewall here:

Until next time :)