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Write With Me: NaNoWriMo & the Annual Young Adult Discovery Contest!


Are you excited?! Oh my goodness. I am BEYOND thrilled that it's almost NaNoWriMo time! 
If you don't know what NaNoWriMo is, I'd be glad to introduce you to it! It's short for National Novel Writing Month and every year, participants sign up to write fifty thousand words of their novel. It's a true gem of a month! In thirty days, if you're totally committed, you can pledge to write fifty thousand words and make an account to connect with others (for free) and spread writing inspiration! You can earn badges and privileges by writing more and updating your word count and even share an excerpt of your story with others! 
Every year, I attempt the hefty word count and so far, I've gotten super close, but never actually hit it. This year, I'm shooting for the stars and REALLY trying to beat my old records. But thanks to the Serendipity Literary Agency, there's an even bigger incentive for everyone! They're holding their 8th YA Discovery Contest and it's got one amazing prize! They wanted me to tell my blog followers that starting November 1st, you can win a chance to get your writing read by editors at Simon and SchusterHarperCollins, Penguin Random House, MacmillanDisneyLittle Brown, JIMMY Pattersonand Abrams Books. How incredible is that?!
Winners from their contest have even gone on to have amazing Literary Agents and gone on to get published! There's also a few other prizes up for grabs for the first people to submit, and for runners up! If you want to read more about the announcement of the contest, everything you need to know is right here!



I'll be writing along with everyone for NaNoWriMo 2017, so if you want to be buddies, you can add me as a friend right here! I'll be doing a few updates here during November to hopefully get everyone as inspired as me with some hacks and helpful writing tips! Also, there's a few writing tips available on my Newsletter, so don't forget to sign up!

happy reading! (and writing)
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Halloween Week of Horrors: Line-Up & Giveaway Announcements!

Hello, book lovers and welcome to the announcement for my yearly, spooky spectacular, that is: HALLOWEEN WEEK OF HORRORS. 
Ah, October. A month when I finally feel me again. There's the crisp, multicoloured leaves and the way the comfort of a warm sweater feels. There's hot cocoa and Pumpkin-Spiced lattes, dark nights and candles flickering ahead with my head nestled in a book. It's the month when everything just melts perfectly into that festive time of year. And, well, the holiday when I thrive...
Halloween.
Beginning Tuesday 24th of October until the 31st, there will be the most exciting events you can imagine! I'm going to be giving away two prizes that are seriously awesome, reviewing three of my favourite Halloween-related reads and getting spooky with some DIY bookish posts!

  • 24th - Review of There's Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins
  • 25th - DIY Halloween Nail Art
  • 26th - Review of Ten by Gretchen McNeil
  • 27th - Giveaway day
  • 28th - DIY Halloween Bookmarks
  • 29th - Giveaway day
  • 30th - Review of voted book (POLL)
  • 31st - HALLOWEEN MYSTERY DAY

There will be some book giveaways, along with the current giveaway of Stephanie Perkins newest novel that's going on over on my twitter page, but also tons of things YOU can get involved in! I really want to hear from my blog readers, so get in touch! I'm always open to new ideas. I'm excited to DIY some cool Halloween bookmarks and show you the surprise giveaway! It's small, yet mighty. 

Happy October! May everything in your life be sprinkled with Pumpkin-Scented things (unless you're allergic, then stay away from it).

happy reading!
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Book Review: "Nyxia" (The Nyxia Triad #1) by Scott Reintgen (Spoiler-Free)

THIS REVIEW IS SPOILER FREE.

Title: Nyxia
Author: Scott Reintgen
Published: September 21st, 2017
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Find the Author: Goodreads 

Disclosure: I was sent this book for review. As always, my reviews are fair and unbiased.
Every life has a price in Scott Reintgen pulse-pounding new sci-fi adventure, Nyxia, as a group of teens are taken to the far reaches of the universe and forced to decide what they're willing to risk for a lifetime of fortune.

Emmett Atwater isn't just leaving Detroit; he's leaving Earth. Why the Babel Corporation recruited him is a mystery, but the number of zeroes on their contract has him boarding their lightship and hoping to return to Earth with enough money to take care of his family.

Forever.

Before long, Emmett discovers that he is one of ten recruits, all of whom have troubled pasts and are a long way from home. Now each recruit must earn the right to travel down to the planet of Eden-a planet that Babel has kept hidden-where they will mine a substance called Nyxia that has quietly become the most valuable material in the universe.

But Babel's ship is full of secrets. And Emmett will face the ultimate choice: win the fortune at any cost, or find a way to fight that won't forever compromise what it means to be human.
First Thoughts
Nyxia has been on my radar for a long time. It's genre has increasingly become more frequent on my bookshelves and with my huge love for the 100, this looked like it could fill that void in my bookish heart after finishing the series so far. When I was given the oppertunity to read NYXIA (thank you, Beth!), I jumped at it, obviously. And I even have a code for you guys to use for money off Little Wren UK - an Etsy store with the cutest designs! Check out the bottom of this post for all the info you'll need for that!

My Review
Emmett Atwater is given the chance he could only dream of in this near-future dystopian masterpiece. Along with nine others, he's given the opportunity by the Babel Corporation to compete against each other to get to Eden - a new Planet; a place that only eight of them can make it through to. But Emmett knows that something about it doesn't feel right and doesn't sit well with him. The other recruits aren't wealthy, either, and they want this just as much. Still, he knows that if he doesn't win, his life won't improve. He wants to save his Mother's life and get back on the right track. But as he becomes close to the other recruits and feelings get tethered, along with suspicions about Babel, Emmett isn't so certain anymore. 
One thing is for certain with NYXIA, and that is that it's life changing. It's got this certain thing that just makes it so likeable and I couldn't put it down. There's the huge diversity which is a huge plus for me because it's about time that there was. Another, is that all the characters had functional and meaningful places in the novel and they didn't just feel like secondary characters. I could bond with them, and Emmett, in the same way that you like to when reading a book. 
Overall, NYXIA is a must-read for fans of the 100, The Hunger Games, and Science-Fiction lovers. I cannot wait for the next novel, Scott. It was unpredictable (in the best way), brilliantly paced, had characters that were flawed (and showed their true strengths and weaknesses) and made me turn pages fast and root for them. It had me totally fixated on the inner workings of the bigger picture, also. I dare you to not be a fan of Nyxia by the time you're finished. Huge five stars!
Rating & Recs
For fans of Dystopia, Science-Fiction and Fantasy!




DISCOUNT TIME
Pretty Little Memoirs readers and NYXIA fans! The discount code for Little Wren is: LWNYXIA10. and it's  valid for 10% off everything in the shop with orders over £10 and it's valid till the end of October. Perfect to pick up a few new things for yourself or for someone you love for Christmas!


Have you read Nyxia?

Let me know what you thought in the comments or on twitter @LittleMemoirs!

happy reading!
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Blog Tour & Review: "The Red Ribbon" by Lucy Adlington


Title: The Red Ribbon
Author: Lucy Adlington
Published: September 21st, 2017
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Find the Author: Goodreads 

Disclosure: I was sent this book for review. As always, my reviews are fair and unbiased.


Rose, Ella, Marta and Carla. In another life we might have all been friends together. But this was Birchwood. 
As fourteen-year-old Ella begins her first day at work she steps into a world of silks, seams, scissors, pins, hems and trimmings. She is a dressmaker, but this is no ordinary sewing workshop. Hers are no ordinary clients. Ella has joined the seamstresses of Birkenau-Auschwitz. 
Every dress she makes could be the difference between life and death. And this place is all about survival. 
Ella seeks refuge from this reality, and from haunting memories, in her work and in the world of fashion and fabrics. She is faced with painful decisions about how far she is prepared to go to survive. 
Is her love of clothes and creativity nothing more than collaboration wth her captors, or is it a means of staying alive?
Will she fight for herself alone, or will she trust the importance of an ever-deepening friendship with Rose?
One thing weaves through the colours of couture gowns and camp mud - a red ribbon, given to Ella as a symbol of hope.
Review
While I remember learning about concentration camps at school during History lessons, we never touched base on what it was like for the captors. In particular, these girls of The Red Ribbon, were prisoners held in the camps and forced into dressmaking. Although Ella, our main character, shares a love of clothes with the others, their passion is pushed aside and destroyed while they are commanded to collaborate together making couture gowns amongst the muddy landscape of their prison. 
As Ella, Marta, Rose and Carla become the seamstresses of Auschwitz, I'm truly taken by the element of sheer truth and believe-ability that has gone into the historical backdrop of these distressing times, particularly emotional for me (and I'm sure other readers) at various times. For a moment, I was wondering how such a deeply harrowing time in history could be conveyed as a Young Adult story, but Lucy does this with care, sensitivity and raw emotion that is suitable and readable for any reader from the early tween years. 
Overall, I just can't stop thinking about The Red Ribbon ever since I closed the last page. I am truly in awe of the effort, truth and pure brilliance that Lucy Adlington has put into this novel, with these fragile and broken, yet strong and kind, characters bound together in a time where they were forced apart. This is a truly mesmerising tale of hope, sacrifice and friendship and I loved it!

Rating & Recs
Perfect for YA and Adult fans alike!


Now, for a special extract from The Red Ribbon!

I’M ELLA. I SEW…
 I’m Ella. I sew…’
Imagine this:  It’s your first day of work. If you don’t do well, you’re out. Once you’re out, you’re dead.  You are literally working to survive.
This is what 14 year old Ella faces in the nightmare world of Birchwood.  Her fictional experiences are based on the real-life stories of young women prisoners in Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp during World War Two, where a select few were saved from death in order to work as dressmakers for their cruel camp guards and for fashion-loving Nazi officers’ wives.
Ella realises she’ll have to toughen up quickly. She fakes confidence and skills to get a job in the Birchwood sewing workshop.
‘To escape from the nightmare I wrapped myself in a world of silk and stitching…’She’s ambitious. Despite the horrors all around she dreams of escaping from Birchwood and opening her own dress shop one day. She refuses to be treated as just a less-than-human, as just a slave with a number not a name.  Talent and determination keep her going… along with the memory of her beloved grandparents…
‘I pushed material under the new machine’s sewing foot and let the stitches run on and on and on, if only to hear the sound of my childhood once more. As it whirred away I was back in Grandma’s room, a little girl again, picking up pins from the carpet…’One of Ella’s biggest challenges comes as her friendship grows with gentle, heroic Rose. Rose is a dreamer, but without Ella’s fierce streak - a quiet hero who teaches Ella the power of love and hope. She gives Ella a red ribbon as a bond of friendship.  In her quest to get home, Ella has to decide how far she’s prepared to go to survive. Will saving her own life mean sacrificing her values and her friends? 




Lucy Adlington is a writer, actress and costume historian. Her novels for teenagers, written under the name L. J. Adlington, including The Diary of Pelly-D and Burning Mountain, have been nominated and/or shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal, the Manchester Book Prize,the Leeds Book Prize and the Rotherham Book Award. She also writes non-fiction for adults about the history of clothes, including Great War Fashion and Stitches in Time: The Story of theClothes We Wear. She founded the historical costume events company, History Wardrobe, has appeared on BBC Woman’s Hour discussing the history of underwear and she lives on a working farm in Yorkshire. She is currently writing a non-fiction book about women in the1940s.



Have you read The Red Ribbon?

Let me know what you thought in the comments or on twitter @LittleMemoirs!

ALSO: join in the Blog Tour celebrations by tweeting your thoughts and use the tag #TheRedRibbon!

happy reading!
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Book Review: "Cat and Mouse" by Jacquelyn Phillips



Title: Cat and Mouse (The Games We Play #1)
Author: Jacquelyn Phillips
Published: March 19th, 2017
Publisher: A Lady And Her Pen
Find the Author: Goodreads 

Disclosure: I was sent this book for review. As always, my reviews are fair and unbiased.


My name is Roxanne Vaughn. Most people just call me Roxy. My parents call me a disappointment. I’m not gonna lie—I hate how much they detest me, but I’ve learned to embrace their scepticism. What better way to write poetry than to feel like an outcast? Insecure. Ugly. Stupid. Even writing about my failure in pre-med has earned me some notoriety in my creative writing classes. Although, some people believe I should write fiction, I don’t know if I could do that. It would probably end up being some distorted version of my own sick reality. I’m originally from San Diego, the daughter of two well-known doctors, and the younger sister to the perfect God-send of an offspring. I moved to Rohnert Park to attend Sonoma State, to escape the pressures related to living with my parents and in the hope of creating some friendships along the way.
I just so happened to meet two extremely different boys—one in San Diego, one in Rohnert Park—on this journey to self-discovery.
I just so happened to fall in love with the wrong one.
I’m not one of those “typical” party girls. Well, at least I wasn’t. My three best girlfriends converted me to their religion of drinking and bad decisions every Thursday through Saturday night. I guess you could say I live two lives. Possibly three, if you count hiding in my bedroom from societal pressures one of them. I’m just a normal girl who puts her pants on one leg at a time. Except I’m sleeping with two different guys every time I put on said pants.
Life could be worse.
I could be striving to live the life of a penniless poet, bussing tables to afford an education my parents refuse to pay for. I could also be in a relationship built off of a foundation of lies. But who am I to judge? I’m just a simple twenty-something year old girl looking for her place in life.
Maybe you’re in the same position as me. But if you’ve already found out who you are—all that soul searching crap—don’t rub it in my face. I’m working on it. It’s just taking me longer than expected.
I’m a poet. I’m a bad daughter. I’m a good lover. I’m a loyal friend. I’m a hot mess. But is there more to life than just that?

First Thoughts
So, as you all may know, my Blogger dash has been acting seriously weird lately. Every post takes forever to load and then on top of that, several of my reviews (old and fairy new) have been deleted! Every trace of them, except the links on twitter, directing to nowhere, have vanished. Silly me writes everything here and I didn't have a back-up, which I really should have done. But, with that said, I'm slowly starting to find out which book reviews were deleted and put them right back up. Cat and Mouse is one of them - one of the best, lesser-known novels I've read this year! 

Review
My first thought when I started reading Cat and Mouse was that I knew some part of me would resonate with Roxy, our main character. She's a college student, kind of lost in the midst of growing up and it sucks - and that, I totally get. She was like one of my best friends, I could just feel myself thinking, "Yes, a thousand times yes" when she would say something, or think something, about being a twenty-something girl trying to live up to her siblings image and find a place in her Parents - who refused to pay for her education - hearts, no matter how small. 
But, Roxy's life is a little more complex than my own. For one, she's dating two people. At the same time. So, ultimately things are up in the air where her own heart is concerned. Her friends are there for her, but more so on the party scene. I thought that Jacquelyn wrote these college experiences and lifestyles with the feelings about going out with your friends and the pressures, so well written and thought out. In fact, her writing didn't feel forced or unnatural at all and it was just like reading something from Gemma Burgess, a twinge of New Adult mixed with the remnants of leaving YA behind and Adult ahead. 
Overall, I can't fault Cat and Mouse for anything. I don't get to read a lot of lesser-known novels, because I get so many requests for them, but I am so thankful that I got to read this book. Roxy is a poet (and so am I), she was strong and wise (even if she didn't know it) and I can't wait to read more in the series (soon, I hope!). Jacquelyn - you have something epic to be proud of! For fans of New Adult, Roxy's story about finding your place in the world (or faking your way there) will be your new favourite book. Highly recommended, four star read. Amazing!

Rating & Recs
For fans of New Adult, but Adult readers will love this too! 


Have you read Cat and Mouse?

Let me know what you thought in the comments or on twitter @LittleMemoirs!

happy reading!
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Paperless Post: the chic & modern take on tradition


At some point in your life, you've probably written out a card, sent out invitations or planned a party of some kind, either for yourself or someone else. But nowadays, for the modern lifestyle, everything is online. It's a blessing at the end of our fingertips, just a tap away. I knew you could buy cards online for a few years and I've used a few services over the past few months to send birthday cards to friends in various countries across the world without having to go to the Post Office. 
But then I was introduced to Paperless Post. The name was bewildering. Paperless, I thought, surely that doesn't make sense. How will they get the cards - and what will the quality and options be like? At Paperless Post, sending cards for any event, making invitations to parties or even for your business, is all digital: completely paper free - endless designs, colours, fonts and occasions and can be organised easier than you think. I was asked to test out some of their designs, cards and various and vast services they use and let you all know what I thought! 





Designers are your new (and affordable) best friends
There are many things in life that I get heart-eyes for, and one of them is Kate Spade New York. I have a few Kate Spade items myself and seeing her designs in card format are so gorgeous. Here, there's a card that I sent to my sister, Sophie. There's something awe-worthy and beautifully seamless about it. When it came to designing, it was super simple. The designer collection of birthday cards are gorgeous, but they also include more than just birthdays, but branches into events, save the dates and occasions to fit your life!








The attention to detail is incredible
Many of my Pretty Little Memoirs readers will know that Halloween Week of Horrors is a yearly theme on my blog for Halloween; one week of scary reads and awesome giveaways. So, I thought that maybe using the events section and sending out test invites to close friends for my Halloween event could be different to creating something myself. Just see for yourself the eerie and magical holiday cards they have! I am so excited to create more.





The possibilities are endless
When I was designing my Halloween invitation, I was surprised at just how creative you can get! Of course, being a cat lover, I had to pick one with a cute kitten on it! But even the envelopes are customise-able (sometimes for free, or for an extra coin, which I'll talk about what coins are later). The fonts are quite unique and pretty and below, you can see that you can alter the size, shape, spacing and more as well, to fit your design. I created this particular card on my iPad using the Paperless Post app from the iTunes store, which is free to download. 

I wanted to test out some designs for the upcoming Christmas season, so I chose this gorgeous, chic design by the creator Jessica Hische. You can also buy some of these designs in paper form. Shipping is more expensive if you don't live within the USA, so digital cards are probably better for those who aren't looking to splash out too much for a card. This card, for example, starts priced at 2 coins, but additions including the envelope, custom stamps for the front of the envelope, can cost extra coins from 1 to 3 extra. A full list of how much the coins cost can be found here, but I'll also add a snapshot of the prices below for those interested! 

 




What can you get for free?
Actually, a whole lot! On my travels through Paperless Post's website, I found many of the free cards (minus envelopes, which cost, but the card itself is free - so those who don't want to pay anything can delete the envelope option and pay nothing) and they were just as striking as some of the cards that cost coins. But it is nice to add that extra little touch that costs a coin or two, but you can buy a lot of coins for a small amount of money if you want to save up them for the year. 

 


















Above is one of my favourites I made. I love the option that you can upload an image - and edit it too, plus add a filter. Adding a picture to a card that you can have pictures on doesn't cost any extra. This combination looks so professional and it's perfect for sweet sixteens, twenty firsts, or any big birthday celebration where you want to send out invitations to close friends and family! Especially since opening the email, clicking RSVP attend, is as easy as it comes. Anyone could make a masterpiece.  

As you can see, buying coins isn't as expensive as you would think. Just 20 coins can get you a little stack of cards, or you can splash out and keep a little stash of coins in your account for the year as birthdays and events come up. I think for the quality of the cards, service and design options, the prices are well worth their money. The user interface is such a seamless process, so it's honestly so much easier than having to go out and buy a card, if you're in a hurry or someone who likes to keep things digital and save some paper!

I was kindly gifted some coins by Anagram Interactive and Paperless Post to showcase and review their items to you, but you know that I will always 100% be honest with you. You will never see me lie about any book, website or post for anything in the world - honesty is what I'm about, wholeheartedly. 
Overall thoughts
I was unsure what Paperless Post would be about. But now that I know everything there is to know about the site, it's safe to say I'll be going back for more! There are so many options for different occasions, and if there's not the option you want, you can create your own! It's so awesome. I truly love everything about it and I'm so surprised I haven't heard of the website sooner! Everything about it is gorgeous. So if you're the modern kind, or you want to reduce your paper for the environment, or even if you're running late and forgot a birthday, Paperless Post is your new best friend. The chic and modern take on tradition.
This post was sponsored by Paperless Post.

happy creating!
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Book Review: "The Best Kind Of Magic" by Crystal Cestari


Title: The Best Kind of Magic
Author: Crystal Cestari
Published: May 16th, 2017
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Find the Author: Goodreads 

Disclosure: I bought this book myself! As always, my reviews are fair and unbiased.

Amber Sand is not a witch. The Sand family Wicca gene somehow leapfrogged over her. But she did get one highly specific magical talent: she can see true love. As a matchmaker, Amber's pretty far down the sorcery food chain (even birthday party magicians rank higher), but after five seconds of eye contact, she can envision anyone's soul mate.

Amber works at her mother's magic shop--Windy City Magic--in downtown Chicago, and she's confident she's seen every kind of happy ending there is: except for one--her own. (The Fates are tricky jerks that way.) So when Charlie Blitzman, the mayor's son and most-desired boy in school, comes to her for help finding his father's missing girlfriend, she's distressed to find herself falling for him. Because while she can't see her own match, she can see his--and it's not Amber. How can she, an honest peddler of true love, pursue a boy she knows full well isn't her match?

The Best Kind of Magic is set in urban Chicago and will appeal to readers who long for magic in the real world. With a sharp-witted and sassy heroine, a quirky cast of mystical beings, and a heady dose of adventure, this novel will have you laughing out loud and questioning your belief in happy endings.


First Thoughts 
When I saw this on Wordery, I was really enticed. The cover, for one, is freaking beautiful and then to match it - that blurb! I couldn't believe I'd finally stumbled upon a Realistic Fantasy Novel that sounded totally plausible and unique. I posted my reading progress on social media and SO MANY of my followers were really excited to see my views on this. 

Review 
Amber Sand isn't a witch. She's not mad over it, but it's a little disheartening. The Sand family gene seems to have skipped her (almost) and left her a somewhat matchmaker. With this power, she can see your perfect match and your future together. But there's not a lot of perks of the job, telling people that their significant other isn't the one for them doesn't sit well with a lot of the public. Although, much to her dismay, she can't see her own perfect match (but she gets closer and closer to seeing her best friend's love story every time they meet up, despite Amani - a fellow supernatural - not wanting to find out). But that doesn't stop her from being a crucial part of the Sand family Wicca shop, enchantingly named Windy City Magic. 
When Amber's Mom starts acting odd, hanging out with a frequent visitor into the shop, the Mayor, she desperately wants to find out what's happening. But because Amber isn't a witch, she's magically sealed off from listening in and whenever she tries to dig for details, she gets nothing but stale information. But when the Mayor's son, Charlie (the most desired boy at school) comes into the store wanting to find his Father's missing girlfriend, Amber ties the two situations together. The more that they start hanging out together, trying to solve the mystery of their Parents secretiveness and the actual mystery at hand, Amber can't hide her feelings any longer. She's falling for Charlie, hard. But she's seen his perfect match, and it's not her, so she feels like the magnetic pull isn't enough to dispute the Fates plan for his own match. As they work together in a bustling, lively Chicago, it's more than clear that they're in for startling revelations and intriguing supernatural enigmas.
I just can't stop thinking about this book (and the next in the series!) and it definitely shows. I finished it a little while ago, but it's taken me so long to try and sum my words up into a considerable amount and not reel on for pages. Crystal has written a world of wonder with down-to-earth characters, sass (lots of it) and a killer vein of romance with an eager pulse on magical elements. As much as I loved Amber and Charlie, Amani was definitely my favourite character. I really loved her personality SO much. Overall, this is probably the best Fantasy book I've read this year, or maybe even longer than that. Huge five-star read! 

Rating & Recs
For fans of Magic Realism and Fantasy! For younger to older YA readers.


Have you read The Best Kind of Magic?

Let me know what you thought in the comments or on twitter @LittleMemoirs!

happy reading!
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