Lists Galore

Hello Readers!

By nature I am not an organized person. And no matter how hard I try to be such a person I never seem to succeed. Because being organized is so far from my realm of being, I am not a list maker.

Because of this, I generally am not a list maker. Well … let me rephrase that — I do make lists, I just tend not to follow them. Thus making the list null and pointless. Why do I do this? Not sure exactly why, but I think it’s because I get bored easily.

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That is until my bestie introduced me to Listography by Lisa Nola  . A few year back she gifted me with this book and I’ve been very taken with the idea of documenting my thoughts and my life through lists.

And after some thought I thought this would make a great feature here on the blog. You, dear readers, already know the books I love (and the ones I didn’t love so much) but sometimes I feel that because I opt not to share personal stories, you guys don’t know me that well. And I want you guys to know me — or get to know me. And I think this is a great way to do just that.

Each week I will be posting and featuring a themed list. The list theme will come directly from this book, however I will not be going in order in which they appear in the physical book.  As I post my lists, I will simultaneously be filling my physical book.

I hope you like this feature, dear readers because honestly, I’m really excited about sharing these lists with you.

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Thankful

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Hello Readers!

First and foremost I want to wish each and every one of you a very happy and healthy Thanksgiving! I hope you are all spending time with your loved ones, making great memories, and stuffing yourself full with delicious goodies!

Today, I want to take the time out of my day to say THANK YOU to you readers. Thank You for following and for reading this little blog of mine. When I started this five years ago I seriously thought this wouldn’t go anywhere. In fact, I figured that I’d start it but walk away not caring. But five years later, I’m still here and I still care about The BookBandit Blog.  And it means the world to me to know that there are people out there who read, who comment, and who keep me motivated.

Thank You to fellow blogger and in real life BFF Miss Print. I know you know this already, but you’re awesome. I’m grateful for the endless supply of books, for all of your helpful tips/tricks/advice when it comes to blogging (and life), but most of all I’m grateful  for your friendship!

Thank You to my fellow bloggers! I am happy to be a part of this community. Thank You for enlightening me to new trends, new books, and new authors. I look forward to all of your upcoming posts!

And above all, to my family and friends – I’m not sure if any of you actually read this – but Thank You! Your endless love and support astounds me! I’m a very lucky girl to have each and every one of your in my life.

Thank You! And Happy Thanksgiving!!! Gobble Gobble!

This Ordinary Life

This Ordinary Life by Jennifer Walkup (Advanced Copy from BEA15)

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Jasmine Torres has her whole life planned out. She’ll land that coveted internship at a top New York radio station. She’ll get a full ride to the college of her choice. And, if life were really up to her, her little brother Danny will live a healthy and happy life – seizure free.

But because it’s life – Jasmine’s life – things never go as she plans. So when she misses her chance at the coveted internship because her little brother Danny has taken quite possibly his worst seizure yet, she knows that her plans have to change. And fast.

Jasmine isn’t just Danny’s sister, she’s more like his mother. That is when their own mother is incapable. Which, with all the drinking, is always. Pushing a dreams aside, Jasmine solely focuses her attention on Danny and making sure Danny is taken care of.

But when the chance to live her own life arises, will she be strong enough to take it?

This Ordinary Life, written by author Jennifer Walkup, is a realistic story that focuses on love, life, and everything in between.

There’s something very breezy about author Walkup’s writing. And that’s a truly great thing because she covers some pretty tough subjects, all of which she handles with honesty. Walkup doesn’t sugarcoat anything making this read, at times often difficult, but real.  Beyond being breezy, her writing is strong. And it really is what will pull readers in and keep them engaged to the very last page.

There’s a lot to love about This Ordinary Life. But most of all is main character Jasmine. The only word that comes to mind when thinking of her is authentic. She’s an honest to goodness great character – the kind readers will easily see glimpses of themselves in and find themselves rooting for all the way through. But Jasmine isn’t the only great character. All the characters that fill the pages of This Ordinary Life are stand out characters. Readers will not be able to help but care for all of them.

Going into this book, in the far corners of my mind I thought there were going to be more than one predictable moments. But truth be told, there weren’t any. Just when I thought I knew what was going happen boom! something completely different happened. And I really liked that aspect.

This Ordinary Life is a great read. And it’s one that will fit many different reading tastes and moods.  So … what are you waiting for?! Read it already!

(Image from GoodReads)

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Quotes From Books I Read This Year!

Hello Readers!

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(The above photo was taken and altered by me for the purpose of these posts.)

And welcome to a new Tuesday with a new Top Ten Tuesday post! Today’s post is focused on some of my favorite quotes. But not just any bookish quotes, these quotes are all from books that I have read (and not to mentioned loved) so far in 2015.

As you already know I haven’t been reading as actively and as steadily as I have in the past, so instead of ten quotes, I’ll be posting my top eight quotes.

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“I hate seeing fat girls on TV or in movies, because the only way the world seems to be okay with putting a fat person on camera is if they’re miserable with themselves or if they’re the jolly best friend. Well, I’m neither of those things.” Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

“I wish for a life so brave, so unpredictable, so full of unexpected joys and unforgettable love that no box could possibly contain all my memories.” Even In Paradise by Chelsey Philpot

“I am a vacation. I am the Caribbean, and a fruity drink and a sunburn and a break from real life. But I am not real life. No one lives in the Caribbean. No one wants a fruity drink every day. I’d rather be water: necessary.” Life by Committee by Corey Ann Haydu

“Life doesn’t have to be so planned. Just roll with it and let it happen.” To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

“Today feels different because yesterday was different.” Things We Know By Heart by Jessi Kirby

“There’s a monster in our wood. She’ll get you if you’re not good. Drag you under leaves and sticks. Punish you for all your tricks. Anest of hair and gnawed bone. You are never, ever coming… home.” The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

“Things… well, things suck sometimes. And sometimes you can fix it. And sometimes you can’t. It’s just the way it is.” Stealing Heaven by Elizabeth Scott

“The funny thing about stop signs is that they’re also start signs.” The Keys to the Golden Firebird by Maureen Johnson

“A good writers are weird. Proudly weird.” Kissing In America by Margo Rabb

A Million Miles Away

A Million Miles Away by Lara Avery (Received a copy at BEA15)

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Kelsey and Michelle are identical twins. From the outside looking in, anyone could see just how different they are. Kelsey is loud and loves to be the center of attention. Michelle is quite and would rather read some boring art book.

But Kelsey and Michelle are identical twins and the bond they share, though not always recognizable, is strong.  So when Michelle dies in a car accident, Kelsey is devastated.

It hurts to think about Michelle. It’s hurts to talk about her. It just … hurts.  But Kelsey soon realizes that there’s one person who doesn’t know about the tragic accident – Peter, Michelle’s boyfriend who has been deployed to Afghanistan.  Kelsey doesn’t want to be the bearer of bad news, but someone has to tell him. She just has to find the right time.

But while she’s trying to find the right time to tell him,  she’s falling head over heels in love with him. And Peter feels the same way … but will he still when he finds out that Kelsey isn’t the girl he thought she was?

A Million Miles Away, written by author Lara Avery, is a realistic story or love, loss, and above all things the loss of love.

Avery’s writing is solid and engaging. Avery’s way with words is undeniable. Reader’s will not be able to help but being sucked into the story. Beyond her writing, she’s created a cast of characters that readers will easily relate to and see themselves within.

As a reader, I alternated between loving and sympathizing with Kelsey and wanting to shake some sense into her.  While Kelsey navigated this new life without Michelle, she grieved and she grew. And this is where I loved and sympathized with her. But I can’t overlook how she treated Peter. I took real issue with the fact that Kelsey knew that deceiving Peter was wrong but continually did it … willingly!

And while we are on the subject of characters, I couldn’t help be feel as if I didn’t know Michelle. She was such a major part of both who Kelsey was as a character and the overall plot, but yet she was so under represented. Yes, I knew she was Kelsey’s other half, that she had a boyfriend named Peter, and that she was an artist. But that’s really it.  Because of this, A Million Miles Away wasn’t the character-driven book I wanted.

I truly wanted to love this book. But unfortunately, I didn’t.  While this wasn’t the book for me, it may be the book for you. So, dear readers, read it! I’d love to hear what you think of it!

Shootin’ The Breeze With Emma Yarlett

Hello Readers!

Today is an exciting day here on the blog. Why? Well, today is the day that I am chatting with the very talented Emma Yarlett!

She  is a picture book author and illustrator who I recently discovered and adored since the moment I cracked open her latest book Orion and The Dark. But you all knew that already since you read my review, right?!?

Anyway, Emma is here chatting a bit about hereself and of course her books!

BookBandit (BB):  Can you tell a little about yourself and about your path as a writer/illustrator?

Emma Yarlett (EY): My name is Emma Yarlett, and I am a 25-year-old illustrator and author living in Falmouth in Cornwall. Falmouth is a really beautiful little quirky town on the coast of England and a truly wonderful place to live. When I moved to Falmouth in 2008 to study illustration at university my journey as an illustrator/writer really began. I’ve always had a deep interest in children picture books, and when I began studying it became apparent very quickly that this was the route for me.

I centered majority of my studies upon storytelling, particularly for children. Eventually this led me to book a plane ticket for Bologna in Italy for the Bologna Book Fair- an international books rights fair with a big focus on children’s books. Here I wandered around approaching publishers and showing my portfolio and ideas for books… this led to my first picture book deal with the wonderful Amanda Wood at Templar (the book was called Sidney and his Shadow– more on that in a moment!) and as they say… the rest is history!

BB: What was the inspiration for your newest picture book, Orion and the Dark?

EY: The first little droplet idea for Orion and the Dark happened way back in 2011. Fresh from graduation, I had a university spawned book called Sidney and his Shadow firmly gripped in one hand, with my portfolio gripped in the other. I soon found my way into the publishing world and quickly realised that this one little book held two ideas which when divided could form the start of two whole separate picture books. Sidney, Stella and the Moon was born quickly followed by Orion and the Dark.

A year or two later (after Sidney, Stella and the Moon was firmly on the book shop shelves), Templar and I officially began work on picture book number two; Orion and the Dark.

Having had Orion and his dear pal the Dark wandering around in my brain for so long, the process of oozing their story from thoughts onto paper came rather quickly. I started with a set of thumbnails, and these early ideas for layout really formed the skeleton of the finished published book of today. There was a bit of toing and froing with die cuts and novelty elements, and a few additions here and there to really get to grips with what Orion was scared of, but all in all these first thumbnails remained core to the printed books winging their way to a book store near you.

My dad and his massive nerdyness about space, the stars and NASA really was a massive inspiration. As a child I spent many an evening looking through telescopes at star formations, the surface of the moon and everything far and inbetween. These magical childhood memories really stuck with me and were massively drawn upon in the creation of my first and second book.

BB: Orion and the Dark isn’t your first picture book, Sidney, Stella, and the Moon is. What was the biggest difference between writing these two books?

EY: I think an author/illustrator’s first book is always a really experimental time. It can be quite uncomfortable as you are trying to achieve so much having never been through the process of being published before. I found I was putting all of my hopes and dreams into the creation of Sidney, Stella and the Moon, which meant I felt a huge amount of (self-inflicted) pressure. Orion and the Dark  was a much more organic process. My confidence had grown, I knew what the process was like and I knew what I wanted to achieve. Writing and illustrating Orion and the Dark was a hugely enjoyable experience.

BB: A big part of who Orion is as a character is fear – he’s afraid of everything. I feel like a lot of readers will see themselves within him (I know I saw myself in him). What aspects of Orion do you see yourself in, if any?

EY: Great question! I definitely feel there are similarities between myself and Orion, I think the main one being that nervousness he has to encounter and experience something new and spontaneous! I have a big fear of heights, and so when illustrating the book I tried to encapsulate that feeling of being fully encapsulated and engrossed in that fear.

BB: What comes first the words or pictures? With that what is your writing process like?

EY: The process of creating my picture books is a bit of a complex one. It might look to an onlooker that it’s the words that come first, as I spend days scribbling down words… but in fact the words and the pictures come together. I have a really vivid imagination and so will be drawing in my head whilst quickly trying to get the words down on paper. I have lots of ideas and don’t want to forget them, and I find writing down words quicker!

BB: If you had to describe your book in three words, what three words would you use to describe Orion and the Dark?

EY: Orion and the Dark: Conquering, Adventure, Friendship… and I can’t help myself so here’s a fourth word… MAGIC!

BB: What do you hope readers – young and old – take away from your books?

EY: Ooo I’m not quite sure. I really hope that they enjoy my books firstly! But I suppose secondly that they take away a feeling of magic, that anything and everything is possible, and that every person (however small and insignificant) is truly wonderful and unique, and has the ability inside them to do wonderful things

BB: Can you tell of any upcoming projects/books that you can talk about?

EY: My third picture book Poppy Pickle has just been published in the UK! Hopefully it will be making the jumps across the Atlantic in the next 12 months or so. It’s about a little girl with a big imagination who one day experiences something out of this world. Chaos and hilarity ensues as her imagination really quite literally begins to run wild.

BB: What advice can you offer to aspiring authors/illustrators?

EY: Work hard, Relax hard, don’t put too much pressure on yourself, and let your work flow!

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You guys! Isn’t Emma awesome!? She is, and I know you’re dying to run our and read her books. But before you do, make sure you check her out online, on her Tumblr, and even on Twitter!

A big THANK YOU to Emma for taking the time out of her very busy schedule to answer a few questions for the BookBandit Blog. It is greatly appreciated!

Orion and The Dark

Orion and The Dark by Emma Yarlett

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Orion is scared of … well, everything. But more than anything else, Orion is scared of the dark. What with it’s terrifying shadows and even more terrifying nighttime noises, of course Orion is scared.

Because of this, bedtime often fills Orion with dread. Until the night that the dark – an oversized creature – climbs through the bedroom window and shows Orion that the dark is not as scary as it seems.

Meeting the dark give Orion a whole new perspective, but is it enough to make him less scared?

Orion and the Dark is a picture book written by author/illustrator Emma Yarlett.

Yarlett’s writing is simple yet strong. It’s the words that fill the pages of this picture that make this story about a common childhood fear both approachable and relatable for readers of all ages. Beyond this, her writing sparks imagination.

And in case you don’t want to use your imagination while reading this book, just take a peek at Yarlett’s illustrations. This author/illustrator truly excels at not just telling Orion’s story, but bringing it to life. The illustrations that fill Orion and The Dark are whimsical, colorful, and above all else beautiful.

There’s a lot that stands out in this picture book. But what stood out most to me was how Yarlett handled the Dark. The Dark isn’t just the world devoid of light, but rather he’s a creature that isn’t only lovable, but he’s also a lot less scary that our imaginations believe it to be.

Yarlett’s Orion and The Dark is the kind of picture book that kids will want to read over and over … and over again. In my opinion, it’s just that good!