Saturday, 30 April 2016

COLOURING CORNER| 'Draw Your Way To A Younger Brain: Dogs' by Anastasia Catris (****)

Hello readers! I’m sorry I haven’t had time to post anything in the past week- it has been absolutely hectic with university work, planning various *exciting* trips in the next couple of months and even a Gatsby ball! But I have come home for the weekend for my mum's birthday so I finally have some time to relax, read and write blog posts!

Today I'm kicking things off with a 4* review of the latest of Anastasia Catris' stunning colouring books: Draw Your Way To A Younger Brain! As you know from previous blog posts, I am a massive fan of this illustrator, and I now have a huge stacking collection of them in my university bedroom! Over time I have also built up a rather extensive hoard of colouring pencils and pens (whoops).

I was kindly sent copies of the whole Draw Your Way To A Younger Brain collection (CATS & BIG CATS, DOGS & WOLVES and SAFARI) by Virginia at Orion Books in exchange for an honest review :)

Today I am going to review my favourite book from the collection: Dogs & Wolves! I hope from this review that you can get a bit of a feel for what the series is like, and hopefully you will feel inspired to pick up your pencils and pens and give it a go yourself!

Intrigued? Check out the blurb...

Misplacing your wallet, forgetting where you parked your car, or getting your friend's birthday wrong: these are just some of the many common memory slips we all experience from time to time. And such cognitive lapses don't just plague the elderly: the most common worry of people over 40 is memory loss. 

A recent study by Newcastle University, featured on BBC news, showed that art therapy has greater benefits than puzzles and exercises when it comes to improving memory function. Engaging the brain in new and creative ways may be the key to a sharper 'younger' mind. 

Helping to enhance your brain's cognitive function through art therapy techniques, these books contain 30 intricate line drawings of animals, with space on the opposite page for you to copy the illustration and some helpful hints to start you off. There is also the opportunity to colour in and to create some of your own illustrations as you progress. Gradually becoming more challenging, every page will help to stimulate parts of the brain that are vital for memory retention. With these books you will draw your way to a younger brain.

As always, the illustrations were gorgeous and intricately detailed, which is why I love Anastasia Catris' books so much. I love taking hours over one drawing, and all of the drawings are manageable and I never worry too much about keeping the colours within the lines. This book in particular had a mixture of more detailed and less detailed drawings which meant that I could afford to be more carefree with my drawing and colouring than others. This worked for me in the sense that some days I could complete a more difficult and intricate colouring, and other days I could just let rip and do whatever I wanted to.

The illustrations in this book were so cute and I loved how it included so many different breeds of dogs- the book gave you the chance to draw your own doggy haircuts, coats and even some pretty stars in the sky, right by the towering figure of a braying wolf!

The only thing that I wasn't a huge fan of (which is why my review is 4*s instead of 5), was the drawing aspect. I am not the greatest drawer and I like to have some kind of direction to follow- I enjoy colouring in lines and patterns but I don't like being given free reign over how the drawing turns out!

Overall I really enjoyed Draw Your Way To A Younger Brain: Dogs & Wolves and it was such a unique twist on the traditional colouring book- with the chance to put your creative flair to the test. I'd highly encourage you to pick up a copy (or all three!) of the Draw Your Way To A Younger Brain books because buying an Anastasia Catris colouring book is always an investment! 

Check out my other posts about Colour Me Mindful here:

Check out Anastasia Catris here:

Buy the Draw Your Way To A Younger Brain books here:

Until next time :)

Monday, 18 April 2016

LONDON BOOK FAIR 2016 | Accent YA List Launch!

Hello readers! I hope you all had a great weekend doing whatever you were doing :)

Today I have a very exciting post- a write up of the amazing day I spent at the London Book Fair 2016! When I started blogging I had no idea I would get the opportunity to go to anywhere as exciting as London Book Fair, so I was really grateful to get the opportunity to go! 

I headed off from Manchester Piccadilly to London Euston station at 11:59 on the train, and had to write my essay which was due for the next day (because I'm great at balancing my university life and my blogging life, obviously). 

When I got to London Book Fair I honestly couldn't believe how huge the place was. I mean, I had seen it before in pictures but in person it just seemed so much more massive. The place was packed with so many publishers, publicists and companies, and as predicted, I got lost on at least ten separate occasions. However, even when I got lost I saw so many cool things- I went up to the children's section on the first floor and there was just so much to see. Some stands were so creatively put together and beautiful that I had to literally drag myself away.

Eventually (after consulting a help desk, a fold-out map and the main map at the entrance), I finally managed to find the Accent YA stand, and meet the lovely Bethan who I have been emailing for many months. I don't know if you guys know this, but I am part of the amazing Accent YA blog squad, which means I get so many wonderful opportunities for example reviewing books, interviewing authors, attending events, having a say about the design of book covers, and so much more! I met Accent YA at YALC last year, and have enjoyed every moment I have been blogging for them.

Accent YA is a recently launched YA book list from the publishing company Accent Press. Quoted from an article written by the Bookseller, Accent YA is 'dedicated to showcasing the best new voices in YA writing', with lead titles including magical realist novel Luca, Son of the Morning by Tom Anderson, 'beautiful' fable The Sea Singer by Shome Dasgupta, 'gritty' knife crime novel The Deepest Cut by Natalie Flynn, and WWII time-travel adventure Rosie Goes to War by Alison Knight. I was lucky enough to grab a copy of all of these beautiful books, and I cannot wait to read them.

It was also fantastic to meet so many fantastic authors, including Tom Anderson, Alison Knight, Natalie Flynn and Sofi Croft, who I have been speaking with on twitter for quite a while now. It was lovely to meet so many bookish people and everyone was so supportive of what bloggers do and how much they mean to the reading community. I love attending events like these when you come to realise just how important your work is to authors and publishers alike! With wine and nibbles flowing it was a relaxed, friendly event and I loved hearing about the backstory to so many of the authors' books. I was also fortunate enough to be given an amazing goodybag, filled with bookish delights (I've also got another awesome tote to add to my growing collection!)

Thank you so much, Accent YA, for inviting me to your launch, and I am so so fortunate to be part of the blog squad!

Check out Accent YA here:

There will be reviews of the books I picked up at the fair in a few weeks time! Also, keep an eye out for when it's my spot on Sofi Croft's blog tour in June...

Until next time :)

Friday, 15 April 2016

WAITING FOR CALLBACK | Perdita and Honor Cargill- 5* Review!

Hello readers! I hope you have all had a lovely week and are looking forward to the weekend ahead- whether you are doing anything exciting or just curling up with a good book!

Today I have book review for you- a 5* book review at that- of the wonderful Waiting For Callback by the equally wonderful mother/daughter writing duo Perdita and Honor Cargill! I was lucky enough to be sent a copy of the book by Perdita and I am so so glad she did- I read it a couple of weeks ago and absolutely adored it. If you hadn't noticed this is my first 5* book review in a while!

I was kindly sent Waiting For Callback by the author in exchange for an honest review :)

As soon as I read the blurb online for the book I knew it was something I would really enjoy. Promised to be a mixture of Geek Girl and New Girl with loads of hilarious moments and a whole lot of heart, Waiting For Callback was set to be a funny, feel-good novel I would breeze through, but when I read it I soon realised it was so much more than that! Waiting For Callback follows fifteen-year-old Elektra James as she is scouted by an acting agency and is thrust into the crazy, unpredictable world of child acting! Elektra has to juggle her blossoming career as an actress (even though this might mean being a voice-over for a squirrel named Squirrelina), friendship problems with her bestie Moss, and boy problems as Archie, her long-time crush, doesn't even know she exists.

Intrigued? Read the blurb here...

Geek Girl meets Fame meets New Girl in this brilliantly funny new series!
When Elektra is discovered by an acting agent, she imagines Oscar glory can't be far away, but instead lurches from one cringe-worthy moment to the next! Just how many times can you be rejected for the part of 'Dead Girl Number Three' without losing hope? And who knew that actors were actually supposed to be multi-lingual, play seven instruments and be trained in a variety of circus skills?
Off-stage things aren't going well either - she's fallen out with her best friend, remains firmly in the friend-zone with her crush and her parents are driving her crazy. One way or another, Elektra's life is now spent waiting for the phone to ring - waiting for callback.

 Can an average girl-next-door like Elektra really make it in the world of luvvies and starlets?

So I went into this book with pretty safe expectations that I would enjoy it, but I didn't know how much I would adore it until I had to slow down my reading because I didn't want to finish it too quickly! 

One thing that stood out for me in the book was definitely the characters. Elektra was such a believable character (probably because Honor is a teenager herself- haha) and I adored all of her quirks and mannerisms. I really cared about what happened to her and my heart broke when things didn't quite turn out right for her. I loved her relationship with her Mum (who was basically the epitome of every parent EVER) and although they grated on each other's nerves a lot, you could tell that their relationship was very strong.

The other two characters who get a massive shoutout are Moss and Archie who, basically, I 
want to be my best friends. Well, maybe not Archie. I could probably marry Archie.

Moss was just so effortlessly cool and I loved the therapy she gave Elektra (mainly consisting of food, obviously) and Archie was honestly one of the most adorable love interests I think I have ever read in a YA novel. He was just lovely and gorgeous and totally amazing. The scene at the end of the book in the garden made me squeal so much. I'm going to move on now before my fangirling takes up the whole of this review...

As you can probably infer from the blurb, Waiting For Callback was hilarious and there were so many bits where I actually 'lolled' (so sorry) which was slightly unfortunate since I read a lot of it on the plane, which was embarrassing for everyone involved. My favourite bit was probably when Elektra was cast as a squirrel... that chapter is absolutely hilarious. Also, when Elektra was at an audition for a film and the secret she chose to reveal about herself in an icebreaker was that one of her boobs was smaller than the other... Ah, she's just my fave!

Altogether, I think it's pretty safe to say that I adored Waiting For Callback in every way. Superbly well-written, heart-warming, hilarious and believable, it's a book that every teenager can relate to and get lost in. I also learned a whole lot about the acting industry, which I must admit I'm pretty clueless about. The emails between Elektra's agent and her mum were really fun and interesting to read, and I hope they continue in the next books!

Also, speaking about the next books, can I have the sequel now? Like, please? PLEASE.

I hope you all enjoyed reading this review, and feel inspired to pick up a copy of Waiting For Callback! I promise you that you won't regret it :)

I also interviewed Perdita and Honor on my blog at the beginning of this week- check it out here!

Check out Perdita and Honor Cargill here:

Buy Waiting For Callback here:

Until next time :)

Monday, 11 April 2016

WAITING FOR CALLBACK: 5 Minutes with Perdita and Honor Cargill

Hello, readers! Today, I am delighted to so be sharing with you an exciting author interview with you- with the amazing Perdita and Honor Cargill: the mother and daughter duo who have just published a FABULOUS new YA book- Waiting For Callback! The novel has been described as Geek Girl meets New Girl and I absolutely adored it- review coming next week!

Interested? Here's the blurb...

Geek Girl meets Fame meets New Girl in this brilliantly funny new series!
When Elektra is discovered by an acting agent, she imagines Oscar glory can't be far away, but instead lurches from one cringe-worthy moment to the next! Just how many times can you be rejected for the part of 'Dead Girl Number Three' without losing hope? And who knew that actors were actually supposed to be multi-lingual, play seven instruments and be trained in a variety of circus skills?
Off-stage things aren't going well either - she's fallen out with her best friend, remains firmly in the friend-zone with her crush and her parents are driving her crazy. One way or another, Elektra's life is now spent waiting for the phone to ring - waiting for callback.

 Can an average girl-next-door like Elektra really make it in the world of luvvies and starlets?

As the book was so fantastic I was really excited to get the opportunity to interview Perdita and Honor Cargill. Read the interview to find out where their inspiration came from, what it's like for a mother and daughter to write a novel together, and what the best thing is about being an author...

What inspired you both to write Waiting For Callback?

H: I’m like Elektra in at least one respect - I’m a total drama geek.  Most of my experiences were school plays but I did a tiny bit of professional too.  That gave me a real insight into the weird world of child acting and although no question it can be traumatic it is often a bit ridiculous. We used to joke about how it would be a good context for a funny teen novel and then on one frankly dull family holiday we just started.  Of course we had no idea how much work would be involved. 

How do you feel now Waiting For Callback is published? What was your publishing journey like?

P: Ok it’s exciting and surreal but right at this moment what I mostly feel is tired! The deadline for delivering book 2 is in a few weeks and we can’t really push the date because at some point Hon has to revise for her A levels (and yes I do appreciate that I sound like Elektra’s mum when I say this). I think we’ve probably had a pretty blessed route to publication.  The Literary Consultancy matched us up with our brilliant agent Hannah Sheppard (she read our manuscript for them) and our editor at Simon & Schuster is the multi garlanded Jane Griffiths who did amazing work getting more out of us.

H: (I can’t quite believe that she’s saying that she’s tired given I’m the one with the A Levels looming and coursework! Harsh.)  I agree that it’s surreal. I got an embarrassing amount of pleasure out of walking into Waterstones with a sharpie… I really enjoyed being edited, the pressure and challenge of turning new scenes around fast - it felt exciting.  I should probably confess that I failed miserably to pull my weight at copy edit stage but I’m dyslexic and I would have been worse than useless…

As a mother and daughter duo, what was it like writing a novel together? What was your writing process like?

P: So much easier than everyone seems to think it must be.  We never had a big discussion about how to do it; it just evolved in a way that we were both comfortable with.  After each mammoth (carb fuelled) plot gossiping session we’d identify a couple of scenes that needed done, allocate them according to enthusiasm (Hon always shouting for the most dialogue heavy bits because that’s her comfort zone) and then each go off and separately (i.e. as far away as possible) turn out a first draft.  Then we exchange and brutally edit until hopefully it’s pretty consistent.  

H: The whole collaboration thing can really easily seem cheesy but for us it worked, we have a really similar sense of humour and we had fun.  If we hadn’t we’d probably have quit. Actually no, we’d definitely have quit.

Would either of you say that you are similar to Elektra?

H: A few of her multiple moments of cringe and embarrassment are strangely familiar to me but no, it’s a bit of cliche but it really does feel like she’s real and doing her own thing. 

P: Hon loses her phone ALL the time and is very, very messy so that for sure is drawn directly from life.  

 What do you guys love about YA? 

We weren’t really thinking about YA or the YA market when we were writing, we just wanted to write a book that would make teens laugh and where they’d have lots of those lovely moments of recognition.  But it is an amazing part of the book market, wide and free and pacey.

Do you have any favourite YA authors who inspired you to write Waiting For Callback?

H: When I was about 11 Sophia Bennett published the first in the Threads series.  I got one of the beautiful special edition Giles Deacon covers and I loved that book.  But most of my reading experiences were on audio which meant lots of classics because they’re all recorded.  I loved Ballet Shoes.

P: Yes, I’d put Ballet Shoes as an influence too – it’s a great book and better for all the real moments when the burden of being a child professional is at its least glamorous.  We wanted to get a bit of that into our book.

What’s your favourite part of Waiting For Callback?

Tricky. We both love the Squirrelina scene because it’s mad and yet quite realistic - and any scene with Elektra’s extravagant and mildly inappropriate French step-grandmother Eulalie.  

Best part about being authors?

Well at the moment there’s all the excitement of publication but we both enjoy the actual writing, the building of scenes – just writing funny lines.  

H: Also it’s a much less stressful way to make money than babysitting.

Any advice for aspiring young writers?

H: Because of my dyslexia I feel quite strongly that young people with lots of good stories in their heads shouldn’t feel excluded because they’re not good readers or spellers.  There isn’t some scary literary bubble that you’re never going to be allowed to get inside, there’s a publishing business looking for people with great imaginations to tell stories.

P: Maybe have a go at collaboration?  People have different strengths, there is no shame in teaming up to get to something stronger.  And it’s a lot of fun. 

Sum up Waiting For Callback in three words?

Try – Fail – TryAgain (yes we cheated)

Thanks for appearing on my blog guys :)

Thank you for having us! x

Check out Perdita and Honor Cargill here:

Buy Waiting For Callback here:

Until next time :)

Thursday, 7 April 2016

MEET CUTE BLOG TOUR | Katey Lovell on Diary Writing!

Hey readers! I hope you all had a lovely Easter and are just about settling back into work and the strains of everyday life. Lucky for you I've got two gorgeous new books to share with you- and a guest post by the author Katey Lovell on the wonderful art of diary writing! 

These two new stories look brilliant and I hope that you guys enjoy them.

Katey Lovell is the author of The Meet Cute series, published by Harper Impulse. The Boy with the Boxes and The Boy on the Bus were both published today- April 7th!

Katey Lovell is fanatical about words. An avid reader, writer and poet, she once auditioned for Countdown and still tapes the show every night. Getting the conundrum before the contestants is her ultimate thrill. She loves love and strives to write feel-good romance that'll make you laugh and cry in equal measure. Originally from South Wales, Katey now lives in Yorkshire with her husband and their eight year old son.

The Meet Cute series is a gorgeous set of short stories that follow 'meet cute' tales where two unsuspecting individuals fall in love with each other, in various scenarios. With these stories Katey hopes to bring romantic fiction back into the mainstream and allow readers to discover stories that are beautiful, romantic, and generally feel-good.
Intrigued? Here is the blurb for The Boy with the Boxes...

A gorgeously romantic short story, part of The Meet Cute series. 
Rosie's starting afresh. Her best friend and former housemate is starting a new life in Australia leaving Rosie to move into a new flat on her own. But when she meets her next door neighbour, Rosie realises she may not be quite so alone after all…

And here is the blurb for The Boy on the Bus...

A gorgeously romantic short story, part of The Meet Cute series.
Lucy's morning bus journey is the highlight of her day – it's the only time she sees her crush. But how can he take up so many of her thoughts when she doesn't even know his name?

Also, did I mention how utterly gorgeous the covers are for these books! Check out the art... stunning!

And here is Katey Lovell talking about diary writing: what it means for her, why it's important in her life as a writer, and how this all links into blogging and the social media phenomenon that has exploded in the past few years!

I’ve always seen The Meet Cute series as somewhat experimental.  Short stories in their truest form (ie. stories that are not serialised nor novella length) are still relatively rare, even in an age where reading on tablets, phones and e-readers is increasingly popular, and I found that most publishers were wary of pushing the boundaries of fiction and taking a chance on these mini-romances.

However, when writing The Boy on the Bus I took the experiment one step further – I wrote it in diary format.  Diaries in fiction are nothing new, in fact some long standing best-sellers are told this way (Bridget Jones’ Diary, the Adrian Mole series for instance), but in short stories they’re not often used.  I was really keen to try this out as I’ve always loved to read stories told via diaries because they give the reader a real insight into a characters thoughts and feelings.

I’ve also written a diary myself for many years. My first diary was a small red leather pocket-sized book when I was ten – I couldn’t fit more than a sentence about my day within the miniscule dated boxes (good practice for Twitter!).  

I then progressed to much thicker journals, where I’d swoon over boybands and talk about my own insecurities to my heart’s content, and I kept a lockable journal until I left home and went to university aged eighteen.  It was through keeping a diary that writing became an integral part of my day, and I found there was something therapeutic about reflecting on events and emotions before going to sleep. During my late teens and early twenties I didn’t keep a diary at all, but I’ve been blogging on and off for the past fifteen years now.  Live Journal, MySpace, Blogger, Wordpress – I’ve tried them all.  I’ve blogged about my life, my health and fitness and predominantly about books in that time, and it’s taken over from diary keeping (Books with Bunny is the longest running of any of my blogs and I’m still updating it sporadically at

With the advent of social media, recording our daily lives changed.  How many people do you know who photograph every meal they eat?  I’d hazard a guess at a few.  And what about those that tweet their Outfit of the Day?  It’s a modern form of keeping a diary in this technological age.

The Boy on the Bus has changed slightly since I originally wrote it back in 2014, but it’s still told over a week with Lucy’s feelings for the attractive boy on the bus who she wishes she knew more about as the key element in the story.  It’s got a different feel to the rest of the Meet Cute series, but it’s still all about the romance – which is just what my loyal readers have come to expect.

Thank you so much, Katey, for appearing on my blog! Readers make sure you check out the Meet Cute series- you will not be disappointed <3

Check out Katey Lovell here:

Check out the Meet Cute series here:

 Until next time :) 

Monday, 4 April 2016

5* BOOK REVIEW | I Am Doodle Cat by Kat Patrick (illustrated by Lauren Marriott)

Hello, readers! Today I have a bit of a different book review for you today- my first children's book! Ever since I was little I have loved reading and loved picture books (check out my last post) so when I Am Doodle Cat came through the post I couldn't be more excited for this blast from the past- a brand new children's picture book for me to review!

I was kindly sent I Am Doodle Cat in exchange for an honest review from Scribe Publishing :)

I Am Doodle Cat is a gorgeously illustrated, hilarious, charming picture book, recommended for children between 0-4 years. It follows the main character, Doodle Cat, as he explores the magic of silliness and celebrates all the lovely, silly things in the world- including farts, friends and drawing! This is definitely a feel-good book as it teaches children that the most important thing is to love yourself and appreciate the world around you!

As well as the thoroughly engaging main character that the child can follow throughout the book, I Am Doodle Cat has gorgeous illustrations and the book itself has a really nice feel to it- sturdy hardback, with big enough pages so children can turn the pages themselves.

This is a picture book that definitely encourages imagination and the importance of expressing yourself creatively. But also, perhaps even more importantly, there are pages that celebrate the lovely ordinariness of everyday life- for example swimming in the ocean, wearing a onesie and playing the guitar.

As my reading tastes have only slightly matured since I was five, I passed on I Am Doodle Cat to my two lovely cousins Naomi and Theo- safe to say I think they both love it! How cute are these pictures? <3

Check out the author, Kat Patrick here:

Check out the illustrator, Lauren Marriott here:

Buy I Am Doodle Cat here:

Until next time :)