5 Things I’ve Learnt from Book Blogging!

It’s officially almost two years since I announced that I would be talking about fictional things on this blog. My introduction to my Fiction Friday posts went up on the 31st of January 2014. That’s so strange to me! My blog could’ve gone in a completely different direction. But I’m glad it went this way, because I’ve learnt a lot over the past two years. Here’s 5 things…

A pile of Penguin English Classic books

1. How to be a better writer!
Here’s the thing; you read more, you write better. It’s just a fact. And it was a fact I wilfully ignored for a long time because reading is hard but I loved writing. But making the effort to read more has paid off, and I’m so happy with what I’m putting out these days.

2. Not everyone will like the same books!
I really love a couple books that other bloggers didn’t. And on the other hand, I’ve really disliked some books that other bloggers loved! Liking certain books, and TV shows, and art is all subjective because we apply ourselves to it and we’re all different. More often than not, there’s nothing wrong with how the book was written- I just don’t enjoy it.

3. There’s not enough time in the day for reading!
New books are coming out every day in the book world, and now I’m a little bit more aware of this- I want to read all of them! I’m kind of getting the hand of prioritising but being a mood reader means that sometimes I just have to go where my heart leads me.

4. I’m a sucker for pretty pictures of books!
9/10 of the book bloggers I follow take their own pictures of books. I know it’s completely superficial but I like looking at books and I don’t get the same vibe from just the cover art.

5. Book Bloggers are amazing!
I’ve been blogging on and off since I was 16, but I’ve never felt as much a part of a community, or made as many blogging friends as I have while I’ve been book blogging. Book bloggers are the best kind of people. You can see my favourites on my blog roll, but I’ve never met a book blogger that hasn’t been a stand-up character.

Do you book blog? What have you learnt?
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How I Got Back into Reading!

Yesterday marked 2 years since I finished my first book after starting reading again. There are a probably a few very complicated reasons I stopped reading, but there was one reason I started up again; I missed it! I was a big reader as a kid and my imagination suffered when I wasn’t reading. Instead of being able to see entire worlds in my head, everything was limited like a scene from TV. I’ve read 138 books since then so I thought I’d tell you what helped me start again.

Pick the right book!
When I first started reading again, I picked up Heat Wave by Richard Castle and it took me a couple weeks to finish it. But then I started The Hunger Games and read all three books in a week. Sometimes it’s just about finding the right book, some young adult or middle grade to ease you in, or a book you’ve seen the movie for already to help your imagination.

Get out the sticky notes!
When I first started reading again I used three different colours of the sticky tabs, one for writing I love (I still use this), one for words I knew in context but wanted to look up the meaning of later (anything I didn’t know I would ask Siri) and one for plot points I didn’t quite understand yet. For example, a character says something referring to their past but doesn’t explain what they mean- this will probably be explained later on so I stuck down a sticky note and went back to it at the end. I don’t do this anymore because I’m better at retaining information but it was definitely useful early on.

Make a reading routine!
There’s nothing like lighting a candle and curling up with a good book on a rainy afternoon with a cup of tea, as Phyllis would say. The weather may not always be controllable but a good reading routine is like a good sleep hygiene routine, it gets you in a state of mind to read. Condition yourself to be ready to read when you sit in a certain chair, drink a certain drink, smell a certain scent. Soon you’ll be able to read anywhere.

Get excited! 
Read book blogs, watch booktube, scroll bookstagram, go to the library or book store, bring home something new, talk to people about books. Do anything that gets you pumped for reading and makes it something you really want to do, rather than something you feel you should do.

Don’t stress!
Everyone has set backs, everyone will hit a reading slump, everyone will pick up a book and not get into it. Stressing over it will do you no good. Put the book down, pick something else, or do something else. Your books will wait for you.

Do you have any tips for getting into reading?
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Books I Want to Buy and Why #8

Blogging always gets a little hectic around January- don’t you think? Everyone’s resolution is to blog more. It’s great! But I think I’ve finally finished all my New Year type posts so I thought I’d jump right back into normal blog mode with the 8th post in the Books I Want to Buy and Why series!

So- what are today’s choices?

What’s a Ghoul to Do? by Victoria Laurie
I saw this series in a picture on bookstagram but I can’t for the life of me remember who posted it. I finished the Sookie Sackhouse series in 2015 so I’m looking for a supernatural mystery type series to fill the gap. This looked like it might. It’s about a medium who helps souls cross over, sounds promising!

F*ck! I’m in My Twenties by Emma Koenig
How am I nearly 22? How did this happen? I don’t know how to do such basic things. I don’t know how to cook an egg! As always, I start feeling a little stressed when my birthday approaches. I’m not a birthday fan. But I am a fan of any journal-type-thing that apparently mentions fanfiction. Yeah, I found out about this on Tumblr.

Confessions of a Guidette by Nicole ‘Snooki’ Polizzi
We know by now that I love Snooki. One of her other books has already popped up on another Books I Want to Buy and Why post. This is her second book, (I’ve reviewed the first one) and is a memoir/guide rather than fiction. I personally love Jwoww’s The Rules According to Jwoww so I have high hopes for Snooki’s version.

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Another Penguin English Library, I know, but how have I got to 21 and never read Great Expectations? This feels like one of those books that I really should have read by now. Or at least own so I can pretend that I’m going to get around to it soon. In fact, the only Dickens I’ve read is A Christmas Carol. Not great, Imogen.

Welcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor
I’ve been listening to the Welcome to Night Vale podcast for years now and I really enjoy it. I even saw it performed live in September of last year. So when I heard that they were putting out a book, I was intrigued. I can’t decide if I should get the hardcover or the audiobook, but since I’m behind on the podcasts, the physical copy is probably the best bet.

The Stranger by Albert Camus

A while ago I was scrolling /r/books and found a thread about books that helped people out when they were depressed. Someone said; ‘After months of depression, The Stranger taught me to stop giving a f*ck.’ It’s recommendations like that, that make you sit up and pay attention, so on the wishlist it went. 

Ultimate Storm by Richard Castle
Pre-show Castle wrote a series about a man named Derrick Storm. He dies in the book presented in the pilot episode but turns out- he’s alive and back in this collection of three stories. I have the graphic novels about Derrick Storm and I’d like to add this to my Richard Castle collection. I’m a marketing persons dream.

Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin
I read The Walled City by Ryan Graudin in March of last year and really loved it. I was immediately looking up more of her work, to find that this was coming out in a couple months. But since I’m mainly a paperback collector and I have The Walled City in paperback, I’m waiting until May for this I think.

Have you read any of these? What did you think?

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30 Before 30: Two Years On!

The past couple years on my birthday I have looked over my 30 Before 30 list to see how I’m doing, what I’ve completed, and what needs to be remembered- and this year is no different! You can see last years post here and my original list here. Sometimes it feels like so much has changed, and other times it feels like nothing has.

1. Complete Pokémon.
Technically, I completed Pokémon X this year. But the game I really want to complete is Pokémon Yellow so call it practice! There are rumours of a yellow re-release for the 20th anniversary so…
2. Write a Novel.
Still working on this one. I’ve started a cosy crime book that is almost completely plotted out and I’m really enjoying writing it when I get the chance. I think I might do one of the Camp NaNoWriMo’s in 2016 to really bang out some words.
3. Earn at least a 2:1 in my degree.
I’m actually changing universities and degrees but all my scores point to a 2:1 so yay!
4. Do a 365 photo a day challenge.
I mentioned last year, this is definitely one for later in my life because my pictures would be super boring these days.
5. Copy the ‘Three Men in a Boat’ trip.
No progress on this one, yet. But I did buy a couple of my buddies copies of the book so fingers crossed.
6. Take a plane on my own.
Nope. Still not done this!
7. Start a Podcast.
This used to be ‘Spend a St. Patrick’s day in Ireland’ but honestly, I don’t really feel like doing that anymore and this list is kind of evolving as I grow up. Anyway, a couple friends and I are going to be starting a podcast in 2016 that we’re super hyped about. 
8. Learn to drive.
A couple weeks ago I got behind the wheel again after being terrified for ages and it just- clicked. And I’m actually pretty good! I think I can pass my test in the next couple months. Hopefully.
9. Write a will.
10. Own The Walking Dead #1.
Unfortunately, the tooth fairy hasn’t left two grand under my pillow lately but hey- a girl can dream!
11. Host Christmas.
12. See my brother get married.  
13. Go to Vegas with my oldest friend.
14. Make a quilt.
I went to a talk by Jane Brocket this year and picked up her book so this will hopefully give me some ideas so I can complete this one soon.
15. Own a Hyundai Ix35.
16. Own a collection of mugs that all have meaning.
I have a few but if I didn’t live at home, I’d struggle to have enough cups for a tea party. 
17. Start a small business.
No closer on this one. I think originally, I saw myself with a little Etsy shop but seriously- the time those sellers put into their work is extraordinary. This one might change in the next year. 
18. Review 200 books. 
I think I’m at around 120 for this goal and you can read all of them here!
19. Road trip the UK.
20. Go to SDCC.
21. Grow a bonsai tree and keep it alive.
I bought two little saplings this year and they’re still alive- but don’t seem to be growing. I think I need to do some more research.
22. Travel Europe on a train.
23. Cosplay.
24. Go to all the places Ashley wants to bring me to.
25. Learn to crochet and make something.

I can’t believe I learnt to crochet two years ago and still haven’t made anything. This year. I must.
26. Keep bees.
27. Cut my hair and donate it to the Little Princess Trust. 

Done! I finally did this in December! I donated 26 inches and I love having short hair now. The time I save in the shower is incredible. I’ll be writing a post about it soon.
28. Learn German.
29. Visit the German Christmas Markets. 
Another thing I did in December 2015. I visited Köln/ Cologne in Germany and saw so many beautiful and different markets that blew my mind, ruined my bank balance and made my Christmassy spirit soar. You can see my picture heavy post here!

Do you have a list like this? Does it help you keep track of your goals?
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My First TBR Jar!

I’ve never had a TBR jar before. And I never really thought they were for me since I’m a mood reader. The problem with this is that I’m a mood reader with 600+ books on her shelves/ in piles that I haven’t read (at least since I turned 20) so I struggle with picking books that fit my mood. So I decided to make a TBR jar…

I put in 20 slips of paper and thought I would list what I wrote below! They’re really just a way of narrowing down what I should read, rather than book titles. Some fit in my 2016 Reading Goals and some are just random picks!

1. A Classic
2. A Gift
3. A book sent for review
4. A blue cover
5. A red cover
6. A pink cover
7. A white cover
8. A green cover
9. A yellow cover
10. A purple cover
11. First book in a series
12. Has an adaptation
13. Mentioned in a TV show
14. Mentioned in a movie
15. A book in a series I haven’t finished
16. A translation
17. A non-fiction
18. A book I won on Goodreads
19. My last purchase
20. A ‘paused’ book

Do you have a TBR Jar? What’s in it?
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5 Things I Love about Writing!

Lately I’ve been working on my novel, and I’ve been having so much fun with it. But I feel it looming, the dreaded Writer’s Block. So to keep myself pumped up and ready to beat any opponent in my way, I thought I’d write down 5 Things I love about writing to remember in the future and keep this streak up!

1. Getting the world in your head down on the page!
Sometimes I’ll sit there and it feels like an entire universe in my brain and I have so many thoughts on what I want to happen to my characters, there are scenes that run around my head for days. So writing it all down on paper or screen is amazingly freeing.

2. Hitting the Sweet Spot!
While I believe in writing even if you don’t feel like it, even if your mind is blank, even if you have nothing to say, I also believe that there is a sweet spot that every writer hits once in a while. When everything is just right and the words flow from your fingers that by the time you hit the end, you’ve written more in one session than the rest of the week.

3. Finding that perfect writing song!
I cannot tell you how many times I’ve paused a TV show or movie to Google the song playing because you just know it’s perfect. You listen to it and you can see your characters lives that much clearer. Personally, I find myself listening to a lot of original soundtracks; Lost, The Walking Dead, The Social Network, Lord of the Rings, or songs that I know the lyrics so well that it doesn’t get in the way of the words in my head.

4. Reaching a Word Count goal!
Word count is my nemesis. I believe that if you can say something in five words, don’t stretch it out to ten. *side-eyes certain books on my shelf* But this can make any work I write pretty short, and fast- which is something I’m working on because some scenes really need slowing down- so reaching word count goals feels awesome! 5000 words? Amazing. 10000 words? Incredible. 50000 words? Unheard of so far but I’m hopeful.

5. Positive Feedback!
Stephen King, who wrote my favourite book about writing, says; “Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open.” And JK Rowling has been quoted saying; I find that discussing an idea out loud is often the way to kill it stone dead.” But. Sometimes there’s nothing quite like sending a snippet or a plot idea to a friend and getting a nice response. Even if they’re lying. Constructive criticism is for the editing process!

Do you write? What do you love about it?

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Under My Christmas Tree!

It’s that time of year again! Post-Christmas, when everything has finally settled and I finally get around to showing what I got for Christmas this year. I love looking back at what I’ve been lucky enough to receive in past years, like how in 2014 I got Julius House by Charlaine Harris which I loved! And in 2013 I got Animal Crossing New Leaf, I was just playing that half an hour ago!

So here is what I got this year…

I was lucky enough to get more than a couple books this Christmas, clearly Santa/ my family members have been reading my Books I Want to Buy and Why series! I’m sure these will pop up in future blog posts because I am so excited to have them on my shelves. There’s Midnight Crossroad by Charlaine Harris, How to be a Heroine by Samantha EllisHeartburn by Nora EphronA Christmas Carol and A Tale of Two Cities by Charles DickensComing Out Under Fire: The History of Gay Men and Women in World War II by Allan Bérubé, Welcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink & Jeffery Cranor, Grimm’s Complete Fairy Tales, The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman & Chris Riddell and the Harry Potter Colouring Book!

What is Christmas without a DVD boxset? This years pick was Monk; a show about a detective who suffers a breakdown after his wife dies and has OCPD. Having OCD myself, I find it really interesting to watch and like seeing a show with a good representation of how hard it can be without making it into a joke.

I also needed some fitness gear and was lucky enough to get a foam roller that I’ve been wanting forever, the Captain America compression shirt from my Christmas Wishlist post, and the cutest galaxy yoga mat!

I’ve actually wanted one a terrarium for a while since I saw different ones on various blogs, and I think this one with the roof that lifts up is just so cute. 
What I got my Sister-in-law for Christmas: Two Illamasqua nail polishes. What my Sister-in-law got me for Christmas: Two Illamasqua nail polishes. I love her, it was pretty neat.
My auntie got me a de-stress kit from Neom that comes with a candle, bath oil and spray that smells so good. It was such a thoughtful gift because I’ve been stressed to high heavens lately.
Socks! I felt very much like Dumbledore opening these; “I see myself holding a pair of thick, woollen socks. One can never have enough socks. Another Christmas has come and gone and I didn’t get a pair. People will insist on giving me books.” And they are so pretty. I never have pretty socks. Stoked about socks, I am definitely growing up. 
I’ve been getting various Liberty products with this print for years and this year was an umbrella! Living in the North West of England, this is going to get a lot of use!

And chocolate! And no, that Toblerone is not really far away, and it was really hard to fit in the picture because it is 4.5Kg and absolutely massive. Last year my cousin got a lot of chocolate in her stocking and we counted it up to 1.7Kg and it became a bit of a joke. With this ridiculous and amazing Toblerone, I told her she’d have to bring her A-game to beat me next year. 

What did you get for Christmas?

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6 Reading Goals for 2016!

On Friday I looked at my 5 Reading Goals for 2015 and figured if I completed them or not, and I realised that having goals really had mad a difference in my reading. I doubt I would’ve picked up a 550+ page book or had such control over my book buying without them! So here are my 6 Reading Goals for 2016…

1. Read a couple Non-Fiction books! 
Over the past two years I have read a grand total of three non-fiction books and that’s pretty shameful so I’d like to finish a couple of the non-fiction books I have piled around this year because I do really enjoy learning. They take a little longer to read which I think puts me off a little.

2. Read a book over 600 Pages!
In 2015, one of my reading goals was to read a book that clocked in at over 500 pages. I completed that and I always love taking a challenge a little further. So- 600 pages!

3. Read a couple classics!
This was a goal for 2015, except I only planned to read one and the results were a little eh. This year I have a couple ideas of which I want to read; Catch-22, 1984 and Brave New World. We shall see what I actually end up reading!

4. Get rid of some books!
Although technically not a reading goal, I would really like to get rid of some of the books that I know I’m either never going to read or not read again. My huge TBR makes me feel bad!

5. Complete some of the unfinished series on my shelf!
Currently there are ten series on my shelf that I haven’t but want to finish. I’d like to halve that this year, hopefully, or at least keep it to ten or under.

6. Read 16 books!
I’m never one to set outrageous Goodreads challenges because if I feel time-pressured into doing something, I tend not to do it as well as I’d like. So sixteen. I’ve read one in eleven days so I’m feeling confident about this.

One challenge I’m not giving myself this year is restraining my book buying like last year, there are a lot of books I want to buy as seen in my Books I Want to Buy and Why series and if I get rid of a lot of books as per challenge 4, I think I can treat myself every now and again.

What are your reading goals for 2016?
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5 Reading Goals for 2015: One Year Later!

So it’s been just about a year since I blogged about my 5 Reading Goals for 2015 and 5 months since I looked over them and re-evaluated! And with my 6 Reading Goals for 2016 all planned out and coming to the blog on Monday, I thought I’d go over my 2015 goals to see my successes and failings!

Read 15 books.
My Goodreads reading goal for 2015 was 15 books. I read 80 so- check!

Read one of the books I ‘paused’ in 2014!
Completely failed on this one, my paused pile has been untouched for 2015 apart from adding to it. I don’t really feel bad about this one though, they’re on that pile for a reason and I have so many other books to read.

Read a book longer than 500 pages.
In January I read The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson that clocked in at 660 pages. And at just 500 pages The Bodies Left Behind by Jeffery Deaver kind of counts for this one too. Check and check! 

Read a classic.
I read A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams and The Black Spider by Jeremias Gotthelf but I wasn’t sure if they really counted as ‘classics’. Then I read four of the Penguin Little Black Classics so I’m counting this one as done!

Only buy half as many as I read.
I bought a fair amount of books this year but not over 40. Good Imogen!

And my one extra to do with blogging. Write more book reviews. I think I did okay on this one. I reviewed all 80 books I wrote, did 12 individual book reviews and 2 series reviews.

Did you complete your reading goals for 2015?

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2015 in Reading!

In 2015 I read 80 books or 21714 pages. Pretty neat, especially looking back at my 2014 statistics. As always you can see all my Books I Read in.. overviews here and I’ve officially hit 136 books reviewed on Imogen’s Typewriter! Now I need a new bookshelf because the one I have is packed full.

This year there were 22 books I rated 
I rated 26 books as 
I rated 22 books as 
I rated 8 books as 
And 2 books as 

So lets give out the Imogen’s Typewriter Award for Favourite Book of 2015!

3rd place goes to Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris!
I originally reviewed this hereI read this entire 13 book series this year, starting in April and finishing in November. I really enjoy Charlaine Harris’s writing and I love the Sookie world. I’m definitely going to continue to read through her complete works this year. I just have to decide between the Harper Connelly series or the new Midnight Texas trilogy!

2nd place goes to The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets by Eva Rice!*
My full review is hereIt’s rare that I read a book and want to slow my reading pace down to savour it. Most books I speed through, occasionally slowing for a beautiful sentence or paragraph. This entire book was beautiful. I can’t believe this sat on my shelves for weeks before I picked it up, I loved it so much.

And 1st place goes to On Writing by Stephen King!
This was featured in my March round-up hereI don’t read a lot of non-fiction but I read this as part of my degree and it inspired me completely. Quotes from this book are scattered around my desk because nothing can get me in the writing mood like remembering; “you can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start, you will.” 

How was your reading in 2015? What was your favourite book of the year?

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