July roundup

July began with that huge change that we talked about in June, I started my new job! This month has mostly been learning about robots, amongst other things! This month saw the fourth anniversary of my book’s release, you can check out Harley’s Angels on the sidebar if you know… You like! It was great for movies, Spider Man, Baby Driver and Dunkirk are all amazing, it was the month we got a new Doctor and DEAR GOD THEY’RE FINALLY A GIRL! I also headed into London at the end of July to attend YALC and try and fail to stop myself buying ALL THE THINGS. I made a little thing about my YALC swag, check it here!

What I read this month:

When it happens to you – Molly Ringwald
So, Molly Ringwald can act, she’s fabulous and she can write! I’m not sure how to explain this book, the story is presented in a really interesting way – so we have a collection of what is essentially a series of short stories, but all the characters over lap into each other’s stories and are some how related and complement each other’s lives. It is engaging and addictive reading and how I hope Molly Ringwald has another book in her because I really loved this!

The Power – Naomi Alderman
If you’re looking for something to follow the Handmaid’s Tale, this is kinda perfect.  I think that, this and Only Ever Yours are the feminist novels we have longed for this whole time. What we have is a novel set out almost like a research paper of a phenomenon where women all over the world suddenly develop the power to harness and use electricity and how they use it to overturn the patriarchy. Utterly genius and made me think a lot about how different life would be if women were the dominant gender.

The Song of Achilles – Madeline Miller
I picked this up because long ago I was given a list of things to read and on it were many retellings of the Iliad (which I’ve never read) so when I saw this in the library I thought I’d give it a go… While the story was interesting, I didn’t like the way it was written, it had a lot of short sentences which made the pace a bit juttery and kept taking me out of the action. Think I’d like to give more books like this a go though!

Strange the Dreamer – Laini Taylor
Dear God, this is my favourite book of the year. I’m not even adding a ‘so far’ on the end of that because I don’t know if I’m going to be able to find anything else that quite matches up to this. I did tell myself that I wouldn’t buy any more books until I’d read everything on my shelf and gotten rid of what I don’t want any more, but honestly, I am breaking that because I need this in my life especially so I have it to re read for when the sequel comes out!

Optimists Die First – Susan Nielsen
I’ve read Susin Nielsen before and this was very similar in tone, it was a sweet, flippant tale of a young girl with anxiety dealing with the aftermath of a traumatic event and the odd characters she comes across during her therapy sessions. While this was a fun, easy read, I did think that the whole anxiety thing was dealt with a bit too easily. If only my own mental health problems could be solved by a tall boy with a bionic arm. Once the story’s big reveal came about it was all wrapped up very quickly and nicely, I’d have rather spent a bit more time on it, but it was a fun read nonetheless.

The One We Fell in Love with – Paige Toon
I was really looking forward to reading this because everyone tells me they love Paige Toon, but honestly, wtf did I just read? This is the story of three identical triplets who fall in love with their childhood next door neighbour… who is also in love with all three of them and at one point in the novel kisses two of them 24 hours apart. Like… I’m supposed to think this is romantic? He’s a douchebag. Anyone who dates you and when not dating you is going after your sister is a douchebag. These girls deserve better. No one should read this and think of it as romance and aspirational. Don’t fall for emotional fuckwits who don’t respect you enough not to bang your family members! I know there is a big reveal that some how makes it ok but no. Really no. Its a shame because I liked her writing style but the story didn’t sit right with me.

The Jane Austen Book Club – Karen Joy Fowler
As Jane Austen got herself on the ten pound note this month and was listed as Andrea Leadsom’s favourite living author. Yes, seriously. This is a woman who tried to become prime minister and she thought Jane Austen was still alive and writing. Anyway. This was a nice quick read, but I’m not really sure what exactly Jane Austen had to do with it?

Easy Way Out – Steven Amsterdam
I was sent a copy of this by the lovely people over at Bookbridgr and while I had a vague idea what the book was about, I really wasn’t prepared for this at all. I have a review coming for this if you’re interested, but for now here are a few trigger warnings for you because you know I can’t be recommending people things without letting you all know if there is content that might hurt you. This is a book about assisted suicide, there is also some explicit sex in there and lots of mentions of terminal illness and hospitals. Just so you know.

Films I watched this month:
You may have noticed if you follow me on twitter, have been keeping up with my Film reviews in 10 tweets or less posts or this video, that I really like films and that I spend a lot of time watching them, so here are all the films (some new, some rewatches) that graced my television/cinema screen this month!

  • The Circle
  • Baby Driver
    This is my new favourite film, please see it!
  • Spiderman: Homecoming
  • Escape from Planet Earth
  • While we’re Young
  • To the bone
  • Captain America Civil War
  • The Amazing Spider Man
  • Dunkirk
    mate what a film!
  • War for the Planet of the Apes
  • Before I fall

TV I watched his month:

  • Doctor Who
  • Handmaid’s Tale
  • Rick and Morty
  • House of Cards
  • Ripper Street
  • Game of Thrones
  • Shadow hunters

My favourite Instagram posts this month:

baby driver more like bae-by driver

A post shared by leah-marie smith (@leeeeeeeeah) on

playing frome festival tonight

A post shared by leah-marie smith (@leeeeeeeeah) on

thanks for the awesome book post @bookbridgr

A post shared by leah-marie smith (@leeeeeeeeah) on

So. Many. Books

A post shared by leah-marie smith (@leeeeeeeeah) on

What I did on YouTube this month:

What I loved on YouTube this month:
Firstly, Dan Howell and Anthony Padilla’s collab was hilarious! Here’s more D Hizzle because he is bae, ok? Also because I literally only joined Tinder so I could find him and charm him with my awkwardness and then I left because I couldn’t find him and then this. Damnit Daniel. Why not fill this whole section with his face to hide my disappointment, here’s Anthony, Dan or a Rat for your pleasure and a PSA on former emos.  Not had enough yet? Here’s TomSka’s latest sketch! I also want to mention Lucy Moon’s latest 168 Hours and James Cordon’s protest song because yes.

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Happy birthday, Harley!

 

My book was released two years ago today!! So, happy birthday, Harley! If you haven’t checked it out then head to my website (www.leahsmith.webs.com/my-books) where you can get the character prequels for free!! Also, you can check the book out on goodreads and befriend me if you like! (Because I am nice… even if I do shamelessly self promote the fact that I was writing books before the rest of YouTube was….)

Happy First Birthday, Harley’s Angels!

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A year ago, I was sat at Mardon’s social club with my parents, my uncle Ryan and my auntie Julie watching my dad’s friend’s band murder a Kasabian classic, when I had a text from my good friend, Chris Loveder, telling me he had just added my book to his Amazon shopping cart… And that’s how I found out my book was for sale! Its my version of the DanRad “and I was in the bath” story.
So, like, happy one year anniversary of Harley’s Angels being an actual tangible thing and as it’s my cover designer’s birthday too,  it’s a double celebration! (I’m rubbish at self promotion, but, like, buy it and stuff. Kaythanxbai.)
It’s weird to think that I even have an actual proper paperback book for sale, even weirder to think that a whole year has gone past since it was released and even weider still to think that I wrote this two and a bit years ago during NaNoWriMo.
Here’s hoping on the two year anniversary, that I’ll have another paperback to my name!

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Shameless self promotion and a question or two.

I really hate self promotion.
Like, really, really hate it.
See, the thing is, I’m a writer by trade (no really, I write for a newspaper by day and then at night, I write many a fictional tale) and self promotion is the only way that I can get an audience for the things that I’ve written, I write a thing, I get a friend to edit the thing and then I load it up to jottify, turn it into an ebook and unleash it on the internet.

This is where the shameless self promotion that I hate so much comes in. I like being an independant author. I like that I don;t have to work to deadlines and I can publish what I want when I want to publish it. There are no rules because there are no consequences, I’m not looking to earn money from anything and so, if people don’t like what I’ve written, no harm no foul. The reason that I love writing so much can be summed up by this quote from John Green:

Writing is something you do alone. Its a profession for introverts who want to tell you a story but don’t want to make eye contact while doing it.

It is absolutely that. Part of the reason why I like being independent is because of some of the horror stories I have heard about traditional publishers, so I’m hoping that some of you can assuage my fears.

Last year, I won a competition in which I was able to have a story of mine published, (you can buy it by clicking on the picture of my face on the side bar there) and the other day I got a lovely remittence notice telling me that I’d actually managed to earn some money from it. Which was nice. I know that earning a living from writing novels is pretty much non existent, you have to have had an JK Rowling sort of success to be able to give up any other jobs that you have and focus just on the writing, but I still can’t help but think that maybe I should go down the traditional publishing route in the future.

Herein lies my problem.
I don’t really care about earning money from things that I have written. I write because I like writing, living in a fantasy world in my head with people I’ve created is way better than being grounded in reality. In fact, I’m not overly concerned about whether other people even read what I’ve written or like it, but I do wonder sometimes if I would reach a wider range of people from traditionally publishing something. The reason I’m thinking about all of this is that I am currently writing my fifth full length novel and am about to release my fourth in ebook format all published by yours truly. Now, because I hate spamming people with this kind of thing, I’ll maybe tweet about it twice, if that, when I unleash it on the world, which means, of course, it isn’t going to come into contact with very many people. So, what this long winded post is about, I guess, is some  advice from fellow writers, perhaps who have done the traditional publishing thing or who know more about it than I do.
I am tempted to leave the world of self publishing behind me and try for something a bit more traditional, publishers have people that can create amazing covers and are more likely to get my book into a shop, obviously they will want to make money from it, so I’m assuming that some of the awkward self promotion stuff will be taken off my hands – but the fact that they will want to make money is what is making me nervous.

If I do strike lucky and a publisher wants to take my story and make it into an actual proper book, I’m scared that I’ll have to change things or drop entire projects on their whim. I know that editing is good and I am always open to constructive comments to make my work as good as it can be, but I’m against say, adding in unnecessary things to ‘sex’ a story up a bit for instance. Is this something that is likely to happen? Am i going to have to betray characters that i have created because someone else thinks the story would sell better if they were white or male or whatever. I guess I’m scared that the creativity of it would be taken from me. So someone needs to tell me if this is the truth or if this is just a horror story perpetuated by the internet.
Someone also needs to tell me if Scrivner is worth forking out for, because seriously, it sounds amazing and you have no idea how difficult it is to write a 75,000 word novel using a normal word processor.

Basically, I want to keep doing something that I enjoy and I want to leave an imprint on the world and combining the two would be wonderful. It would also be nice to be able to continue to live by John’s words up there and to relate to this gem from F Scott Fitzgerald:

My whole theory of writing I can sum up in one sentence: an author ought to write for the youth of his own generation, the critics of the next, and the schoolmasters of ever afterward. 

So, there we have it, two questions and some shameless self promotion.

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Top 5…

Holiday reads!

So I’m going on holiday!
In ten days I’ll be strolling around the city of Paris which I am ever so excited about! I’ve wanted to go since watching Midnight in Paris and then I read A Moveable Feast and decided I HAD to go, so, just in case you guys are also planning your holidays, here are five and a half books you might want to consider taking with you.

Choosing books to take away with you is a difficult task. I say this as some one who was reading One Day on a train at THAT moment and had to try really hard not to make a noise. I also thought it was wise to read The Fault in our Stars on a 7 hour flight to New York and spent at least half of it trying not to have a break down. It’s times like this when I wish I’d maybe waited to read Anna and the French Kiss or something, just so that I could have something Parisian to take with me! Some of the following books have featured on this blog before, some of them from way back when this was a 52 books project! I’ll link reviews where applicable.

#5 13 Little Blue Envelopes – Maureen Johnson
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13 Little Blue Envelopes is the perfect travel companion. It’s about a girl going on an international scavenger hunt aided only by a group of envelopes left to her by her aunt which send her all over the world on an adventure. This book will give you such a need to travel that even if you’re not on holiday, you’ll want to start planning one immediately!

#4 Where Rainbows End – Cecelia Ahern
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While this isn’t as traumatic as PS I Love You, it still isn’t a walk in the park, I know that when you’re on holiday, you just want a nice easy read, this is a book that is charming and enthralling and one that I remember reading three times on one holiday because I feel a little in love with this and whenever I see the cover it makes me think of blue skies and sandy beaches, which is of course, what I want you guys to enjoy on your holidays.

#3 and #3.5 This is What Happy Looks Like – Jennifer E Smith/
Billy and Me – Giovanna Fletcher

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I’m lumping these two together because they are essentially about the same thing. Both are about a girl who meets a famous boy and they get together. It’s a story that This is What Happy Looks Like does infinitely better, but both of them are cute, easy and most definitely beachy reads. Once you get over the annoying “blooming hecks” in Billy and Me, it’s actually quite enjoyable and it’s nice to read the same story from the point of view of an adult human and a teenage human and the different ways in which they deal with the situation. Also, Happy is set in a seaside town which makes it even more holiday related.

#2 Harley’s Angels – Leah Smith
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Sorry I’m not sorry. My dad and my auntie both selected this as their holiday read. So although it isn’t about beaches or travelling (unless you count that chapter where an angel and a teenage boy both use public transport) I thought I would include it. Also, you know, who is going to promote me apart from me?

#1 Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist – David Levithan and Rachel Cohn
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Every holiday needs a killer soundtrack, this book, although set all in one city, is the story of two different people who meet at a gig and then spend an evening together travelling around in search of a secret gig and the songs that await them at each destination as they have this crazy adventure around the city. Plus, it’s Levithan, you you know it has to be good. Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist is one of those books that stays with you after you’re finished, and if your holiday happens to be in New York City, it’s kind of perfect for this list!

So those are my top 5 1/2 holiday reads! I hope you enjoy these if you haven’t read these and if you have, do you agree or disagree and more importantly, which books should I be packing in my suitcase?

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