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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

sunshine, rain, + holidays // summer reading list

from unsplash.com (If only I had this amount of hardcovers.)
In my part of the world, summer means five things: sunshine (too much of it), rain (not enough of it), school holidays (yay!), Christmas (double yay!) and New Years. To me, it also means more time than usual to read (which, if you can't tell, I will always be enormously excited about), so, without further ado, here's an eclectic list of books I'd like to read this summer (some are snowy, some are quintessentially summery, some are Christmas, some are ones I just really want to say I've read):

X I'll Be Home for Christmas 
O Forge by Laurie Halse Anderson
X Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley
O The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Rueter Hapgood
X Steal My Sunshine by Emily Gale
O Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson
X The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
O The Railway Children by E. Nesbit
X The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkein
O Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

three questions: what is summer/winter/this time of the year to you? what books are you planning to read? have you read any on my list?

Thursday, December 08, 2016

what i wrote // november

This is me: full-time reader, full-time writer, full-time dreamer. I can't not be one of these things at any given time; in fact sometimes I am two or all of these things at the same time. Today I'm talking about the writer thing, specifically the writer thing in November: what I got up to, what goals (if any) I achieved, what I'm excited about, and anything else my brain wishes. : )

If you're a writer, November, most likely, means one thing: National Novel Writing Month.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

if you know a historical fiction nerd // top ten tuesday

Today I'm linking up with the fairly popular (I think) meme, Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Basically, you make a list of books related to the theme. And this week's theme is holiday gift guides, so I present Ten Books for the Historical Fiction Nerd in Your Life. Like, as if you haven't guessed which genre is my favourite, haha. (And yes, I know it's Wednesday for me, but somewhere in the world it's still Tuesday so everything okay. Okay?)
X The Smell of Other People's Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock // Oh goodness! *squeals* *smiles big* This is my definite favourite book of 2016! It's set in the 1970s in Alaska, and there are four main characters which means four storylines. The writing is just so beautiful and the stories intertwine perfectly. The only reason I didn't cry at the ending was because I was eating M'n'Ms and ice cream. (Ice cream is way more important than tears, right?)
O The Book Thief by Markus Zusak // Obviously, I couldn't make a historical fiction list without this one. The characters, the setting, the history, the books: I loved it all. Oh, and the writing! I loved the writing. I would probably get lost in this book anytime.
X Chasing Jupiter by Rachel Coker // This is a sweet, summery, coming of age story that I adore. It's set in the 60s, and involves rockets and peach pies and sisters turning into hippies and chasing chickens around the minister's wife's backyard. It's fun and hopeful and hopelessly sweet.
O Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson // So my one of my favourite historical eras is last half of the 1700s, particularly the 1770s, and guess when Chains is set? 1770s! It's kind of this paradox where the American colonies are fighting for their independence, yet Isabel (the main character), as an African American, gets the freedom she was promised taken away. At times, it is pretty heart-breaking but also incredibly historically accurate.
X Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys // It's the story of four teenagers whose lives are intertwined because of the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship taking refugees out of Germany in 1945. The characters were all so different and interesting. Also impeccably well-researched. (My review.)
O Penny from Heaven by Jennifer L Holm // When I was like twelve, this was the first historical fiction novel I truly, truly loved. It's a fun, family read set over the summer of 1953 and narrated by Penny, an eleven-year-old who loves butter pecan ice cream and listening to baseball games with her Uncle Dominic. The author based the story on her own family history and on the true stories of Italians during and after World War II.
X All the Truth that's in Me by Julie Berry // Set in like the late 1700s/early 1800s, this is about Judith, a mute girl who's been ostracised from her religious community, but she finds a way to tell her story. And it is sad (I feel like all the books I've listed are sad. #ohdear) and mysterious. And the romance is beautiful, though a little too much for me. Also, it's written in second person (kind of) addressed to her love interest.
O Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman // This is kind of a what-if psychological thriller story starring Gretchen, a close family friend of Adolf Hitler. I love how the author showed the behind the scenes of the Nazi party and how dear little Gretchen came to see the light. It was so, so, so authentic. (Though the sequel fell a little flat for me. Awkward.)
X Act of Faith by Kelly Gardiner // I don't remember a whole lot about this book, but what I loved was 1) the huge amount of historical events/happenings touched upon, 2) the characters from all over Europe and beyond, and 3) the emphasis on sharing knowledge and making it accessible. It was pretty cool.
O The Red Necklace by Sally Gardner // Another 1770s setting: the French Revolution. It's darker and more violent, but there is a sweet romance and the characters are unique and tragic. An absolutely haunting portrayal of the horrific realities of the revolution and its effects on all the classes.
anything else you would add to this list? what book is definitely on your Christmas wish list?

Saturday, November 26, 2016

floating islands + cartography // the girl of ink and stars by kiran millwood hargrave #bookreview

Each of us carries the map of our lives on our skin, in the way we walk, even in the way we grow. - The Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave
So, in making good on my goal to read more fantasy and/or dystopian novels, I decided to read The Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave. Thanks goodness I did because it was beautiful. And I mean it: not in the story, but the formatting was breathtaking (like coloured words and illustrations around the edges of the pages and just wow!). Clearly, I need to find more novels that are formatted/illustrated like this.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

letters to authors // 01

This is a new thing, guys, that I want to do fortnightly or every three weeks. Think of it as thank-you notes to authors for the books they've written. This week I've picked out a few authors of books that have helped shape my current work-in-progress from a 15K NaNoWriMo attempt five years ago to the middle grade-historical fiction, I Wished for Wings.

(photo from unsplash.com)

Thursday, November 17, 2016

guilt, fate, shame, + fear // salt to the sea by ruta sepetys #bookreview

photo by me.
Yet amidst all that, life has spit in the eye of death. - Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
As a history and young adult fiction nerd, I am always on the look-out for amazing and realistic YA historical fiction. So when I saw Ruta Sepetys (whose novel Between Shades of Grey I read a year or two ago) had published a new novel this year and that my library had a copy, I pretty much had to read it. Salt to the Sea is a harrowing story set in Germany in the middle of World War II and follows four young people connected to a passenger-turned-refugee ship, the Wilhelm Gustloff. What you should know before reading is it's incredibly sad and true-to-life and there are secrets, but there's also hope. Basically, have a hankie handy (especially if you're an emotional reader) and trust no one. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

i'm coming. i promise.

Um, yeah, so that thing where I accidentally disappeared for a month happened. That thing called life happened. And that thing called getting sick happened. Yikes, I feel bad. I feel like I should stand in the corner and never come back. But here I am. I'm back and I'm giving it another try.

The good news is that while I was gone I finished Year 12. All that school stuff is over. And now comes the fun part which is applying for university. And, while I'm not technically doing NaNoWriMo, basically because I caught this horrid flu and was out of it for two weeks, I started writing a novel yesterday. It's the third draft of the first novel I ever wrote (five years ago), but it's grown and changed so much that it feels like a new novel. So excited. : ) Also, I read while I was gone and sick. Five books in three weeks, the best of which were definitely Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, Ophelia and the Marvellous Boy by Karen Foxlee, and Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee.

I'll be back soon, people, with new posts. In the meantime, go read Aimee's post about creativity in craziness, or Skye's You Are Not Lost, or Ashley's adorable wordless scene, or Cait's truths about Australian book bloggers, all of which kept me a tiny bit sane.

Have a lovely day and keep smiling. xo

Sunday, October 16, 2016

healthy happiness habits // sunday thoughts

Confession/Story Time: The last couple of weeks have been quite limbo-ish and crazy for me. There've been unforeseen, kinda horrid circumstances and then the inevitable thing which is finishing school (which kinda freaks me out because it is huge and afterwards I have to start something new or scary or both). Honestly, I stress easily and worry too much (especially about little things). Sometimes it helps to calm down and get some perspective. Therefore, a list of things I should do more often in order to not go insane ...

X Take a walk through the park, the street, the bush, or around the backyard. Bring headphones to lose yourself in music, or look around and appreciate your surroundings.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

stepping outside my comfort zone (a fantasy/sci-fi/dystopian reading list)

Happy Saturday, friends! So 99% of the time, I read contemporary or historical fiction, which is amazing, but it means I read next to no fantasy/sci-fi/dystopian novels. I often say I don't really like those genres because I don't read enough of them. Consequently, it's remedying time. And today I'm sharing a list of twelve fantasy/sci-fi/dystopian novels that I want to read soon ... (All links go to Goodreads.)
Stars by Colleen Oakes: Firstly,  I identify with Peter Pan on the whole not wanting to grow up thing. Secondly, I love Wendy Darling. Thirdly, this the first book of a trilogy! Fourthly, I haven't read a Peter Pan retelling yet and this one, according to the blurb, has Wendy as the main character and keeps the setting of Victorian London, so what better place to start?
Cinder by Marissa Meyer: I have been hearing so many good things about this Cinderella retelling and the rest of the books in its series, so I have a major case of curiosity. Making me even more curious is the Chinese setting and that it's classified as sci-fi rather than fantasy.
Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee: THE SNOW QUEEN IS JUST AN AMAZING FAIRYTALE, OKAY? I mean it's kinda creepy and there's snow and the emphasis on friendship? Obviously, this is a must-read for me. Plus the title is a delight to say aloud.

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

imagination equals wonderfullness & why do I write?

(Um, I apologise for the lack of photos in my post. I would put some in except Blogger is being annoying with them. Hopefully that gets cleared up soon.)

And here is the sorta, kinda introduction-like post about me as a writer. Be ye warned because it might not make a great deal of sense ...

When you introduce yourself as a writer two questions normally follow: What do you write? Why do you write? I get why people would ask this and it's true that they're important. They're important not only as information for the questioner, but also for yourself as a writer. I think it's because they help to define and describe you. (Not to say you can't change as a writer because, wow, I change a lot.) They give clarity, and clarity, people, is something I crave.

Very simply, here it is: I write contemporary and historical fiction for young adult and middle grade readers. None of my manuscripts are complete to a point where I'm the happiest with them, but I love them all anyway (although they can be infuriating, just saying). And I write because ... because why? Is it enough to say: Because I love it? Because once I discovered this magic I didn't want to go back? Because once I realised maybe my stories could go further than the hard drive of  my computer I couldn't go back?

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

a to z bookish survey (in which I do a tag)

I had really planned to do a bit of an introduction-like post to my life as a reader (why I love it, what my favourite genre/s is/are, etc.) and then one about my life as a writer (why I love it, my stories, etc.) except life isn't going to go as I thought this week (read: life is crazy and I may possibly be stressing out too much, haha.) So today I'm doing the A to Z Bookish Survey, which I found on The Perpetual Page-Turner. (My brain's reasoning is something like: Do a tag because you can answer a couple of questions between each school subject/load of washing/meal.)

A: Author you've read the most from ... I think it's a tie between C.S. Lewis, Ann M. Martin, and L.M. Montgomery. I've read all the Narnia books, all the Main Street series, and a lot of L.M. Montgomery. This goes back to life when I was like twelve, by the way.
B: Best sequel ever ... Honestly don't know. I obviously read too many standalones or lackluster sequels. : )
C: Currently reading ... A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth. It's huge, people. Over 1000 pages. Oh dear.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

the introduction of this blogger

So this is what it's like entering the Internet. Scary, but nice.

Oh, hi! Welcome! And all that jazz.

I'm Annie-Jo Elizabeth, and this is Purple + Yellow. My blog. It's named after my two favourite colours in case you were wondering.

I'm a teenage writer/bookworm from Australia. I'm a Christian. Also, I like marshmallows, caramel, writing inside parentheses, history and quotes. (Which is true, but random. Apologies.)