Good Reads 2016 Challenge


I am doing the Good Reads reading challenge again this year. I love being able to track what I have been reading and it ensures I always have my head in a book when I have some free time.

I did a similar post to this last year, so I have decided again to post my thoughts about my favourite books of the year so far.

The Outsiders by S.E Hinton

The Outsiders

I was always a little curious about this novel. Quotes from this book (and the subsequent film adaptation) seem to come up in pop culture quite a lot. Also, when I lived in New Jersey, I knew a boy who had ‘Nothing Gold Can Stay’ tattooed across his stomach in huge letters! So I was quite happy to finally order a copy of the Outsiders and see what the fuss was all about.

It’s a fairly short read, and one I wish I had read when I was younger. I feel like it would have been a lot more relevant to me as a teenager. It’s scrappy and raw, a contemporary classic that truly reflects all the layers and pain of being young and misdirected.

The Lola Quartet by Emily St John Mandel

 The Lola Quartet

I have been slowly reading all of this author’s books. I loved Station Eleven, so thought I would check out the rest. I have The Singer’s Gun left to read, which I actually reserved and collected from my local library last week (recently re-discovered – how much fun libraries are!).

Firstly, I adore her writing style. It is detailed and slow burning. All the different strands of the story come together and nothing is forgotten.  I love anything that combines genres – you couldn’t put any of Mandel’s books into a specific box. Her characters are flawed and realistic, with tiny details and quirks, some of them likeable, other distinctly annoying or frustrating. I recommend this one for anyone who loves mystery, drama, and has a yearning for travel in their literature.

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

 Me Before You

This isn’t my usual genre at all, but this book really got to me. I couldn’t wait to read the sequel, but I actually gave up on it because I couldn’t get on with the story and a certain main character wasn’t there! Anyway, there was something so lovely and sad about this book I just couldn’t put it down. It is definitely outstanding within its genre, something that I imagine is very difficult to do. The ending DID frustrate me a little, but it also asks a lot of complex questions. We all have a limit, so what would yours be?

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Big Magic

I briefly mentioned this book in my last blog post. Having struggled to manage writing and full time work recently, alongside a busy social life, going to the gym AND staving off bouts of anxiety…I’ve not felt at my creative best for a while.

This book made me realise the picture of a writer that I have in my mind is not real or attainable. It takes hard work and persistence, the drive to develop writing skills and be constantly learning all the time. It also made me see that having a full time job is SMART.

I really would recommend this to all creative types. I know of many people who give up completely when they realise that writing or making art is not something they can do all the time. I have learned that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing, which is a big, important lesson that everyone should learn.

Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig

Reasons To Stay Alive

I really needed this book. As someone who battles depression and, more recently, anxiety, it was a necessary read. It is important to talk about these things in all forms – through reading or writing, or discussions with family and friends.

Reasons to Stay Alive helped contribute towards my perspective on the things that affect me, and it’s nice to remind yourself sometimes that it’s not just you and you’re not alone. Other people feel it too.

Can’t believe it’s March!


Spring is coming, and I am very excited about it! Lighter mornings, longer evenings – it’s lovely to finally be coming out of hibernation.

I’m still not finished with the first draft of my second novel, though I am now on the final third! I am aiming to be done by the end of April. That may be a little optimistic, but I am really looking forward to a long summer of polishing and editing.

Aside from my writing and other projects which take up so much time, I have been making a huge effort to read as much as possible. I’m even doing the Good Reads 2015 reading challenge! Reading is so important – it inspires, it educates, it calms and keeps the mind active and engaged.

I thought I might write a little about some of the books I have read and loved recently. If you have read them also, I’d love to know what you thought!

Station Eleven – Emily St John Mandel

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It took me a few chapters before I was really into this one, but I am so glad I stuck with it. The post Georgia Flu world is both terrifying and inspiring (from a writer’s perspective!). I love anything apocalyptic or dystopian, and I found this book to be original and gripping, with all the ends nicely tied up! I definitely recommend this and would love to see a film adaptation!

Wild – Cheryl Strayed

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I just loved this book and was sad to finish it. I wanted to carry on reading about Cheryl’s adventures and now feel inclined to take myself on a similar journey! I love the idea of utterly challenging yourself and doing something so life changing. Wild is beautiful, funny and has an exceptional message throughout. It’s not too late.

Norwegian Wood – Haruki Murakami

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This had been on my list for years and I can’t believe it took me so long to actually read. The story is melancholy and just stunning. I rarely sob my heart out at books, but this one really got to me. I loved the writing style and the main character of Toru. I sort of wish there had been more written about his life as an ‘adult’, but I guess the missing parts all adds to the beauty of it!

I have so many other books to read right now, but the ones at the top of list are:

The Mime Order – Samantha Shannon

Stone Mattress – Margaret Atwood

Trigger Warning – Neil Gaiman

Testament of Youth – Vera Brittain

Thanks for reading and fingers crossed I will have a bit more writing progress next time!

Christina xx

Free on Amazon


From today until Sunday, The Poisonwood Shadows will be free to download on Amazon. The Kindle KDP Select programme offers a lot of promotional benefits, so I’ve recently chosen to exclusively publish with Amazon. Click on the image below or visit this link to go straight to the book on Amazon and check it out 🙂

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Literary Heroines


As it’s coming pretty close to ‘publishing time’, I decided to reblog a post I did for another website on Literary Heroines. My own book features what I believe to be a pretty strong female lead, and I enjoyed looking up some of my favourites. I’ve since thought of A LOT more, so would love to do another post on this subject sometime soon!

Anyway, I hope it’s an enjoyable read for you all. The best heroines are smart, brave and independent, but not necessarily the perfect woman. Which of the below do you relate to most?

Hermione Granger – Harry Potter books

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Hermione is smart, sassy and knows exactly how to defend herself. She may not always know exactly how to act in certain social situations due to her extreme smarts, but she is loyal friend. Most importantly, rather than becoming pathetic and useless when her boyfriend left her, she got on with saving the world with her friend. Now that’s a heroine!

Elizabeth Bennet – Pride and Prejudice

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Lizzie is an independent, do it your own way sort of girl.  She doesn’t excel at anything in particular and she’s okay with that. She may be stubborn and judgemental at times, but she is open to the lessons life has to offer and it certainly works out okay in the end!

Catherine Linton – Wuthering Heights

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The daughter of Cathy and Edgar grows up innocent of her mother’s volatile history. Adorably curious and adventurous, she looks for the best in people and doesn’t always find it. With the fire of her mother and mildness of her father, Catherine is smart and caring, but knows how to stand up for herself.

Jane Eyre – Jane Eyre

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Jane may be meek and plain, but she’s got it figured out. She is content with the simple life, shunning the gaudy, false side of life. Slow and steady is her approach, and though often overlooked, she sticks to her values, stays true to herself  and still wins the man she loves.

Daenerys Targaryen – A Song of Fire and Ice books

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Dany is a fighter, with a steely determination. She will suffer through anything and still come out with her head held high. She’s no stranger to the tragic, the horrific and downright bizarre, but remains clear-headed and never doubts that she’ll come out on top eventually.

Lisibeth Salander – Millennium Trilogy

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Lisibeth is unique and unashamedly herself. She will gladly embrace her dark side if required, and always finds a way to defend herself in the most creative of ways. She embraces her work with dedication and razor sharp intelligence, doesn’t care what people think of her, and loves to stay on the rebellious side of things.

Wendy Darling – Peter Pan

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Wendy loves to play, and is certainly in touch with her inner child, but she’s also mature enough to know when it’s time to grow up and be an adult. She is caring and motherly, with a desire for fun and adventure. If only it could be that way all the time!

Paige Mahoney – The Bone Season

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Paige has cut her own path in life. She might be an outside, but she’s okay with that. Fiercely caring defiant, Paige will fight with all she’s got to look after her friends. Through all of life’s unexpected, unwanted turns, she keeps her fighting spirit and never gives up.

Celie Johnson – The Color Purple

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Celie is inhibited and stamped upon for a long time, but life’s lessons slowly give her a purpose in life. She is not the smartest of women, due to the restrictions the men in her life place upon her, but she loves powerfully and patiently waits for her talent and lot in life to find her.

Alina Starkov – The Grisha Trilogy

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Alina has a dark side and she’s well aware of it. She is no stranger to living in conflict, torn between one life and another. One side wants a quiet, easy life, the other yearns for power and success. The goodness in her will always fight for the ones she cares about, though she will always wonder about what the other side of things would be like.

Matilda Wormwood – Matilda

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Though surrounded by total fools, Matilda quietly gets on with things in her own way. She keeps the secret knowledge that she is meant for great things to herself, patiently biding her time and doing the best she can with what she has until her world begins to grow a little.

With such a fantastic list of heroines, you can’t fail to be inspired! I hope you enjoyed reading, now go out and do something great with your weekend 🙂