Tuesday, 30 June 2015

How to search for foreign books successfully on Amazon

This isn't something that everyone will need because they might already know how to do this - I feel as though I've been stuck under a rock or something where I only have limited knowledge of how to actually work Amazon. But nonetheless I felt it important to share, because if I didn't know about it, there is a good chance that others may not.

You can get pretty much anything on Amazon, and books are a main seller. But what I didn't know is that you can get any book translated into a foreign language, and there is only a certain way to go about it. 

For those just learning a language and have never owned books in a language other than your native one, this is an important internet skill to have. There might be a contemporary young adult novel that you are dying to have in two languages, but if you search Amazon for it you may not be able to find it.

Take a look at this picture. I've searched 'the fault in our stars French edition' and you will notice that Amazon has provided me with other young adult titles - none of them in French:


You will also notice that just below the search engine, there isn't a bar with the language options like in the photo below. The search engine hasn't even registered what you're searching for, even though you have done the best you can in describing the item you want:


So what you have to do is use something that I certainly don't normally use... the shop by department drop bar. Just click on the normal 'Books' button and it should take you to a much more accurate destination than your original search:


In the left column, just scroll down until you meet the language options, and choose from there:


I'm going for French in this tutorial, but you can see that through this search there are many more language options, so you can try your hand at anything:


It will then take you directly to a page of all of the best-selling French books right now, and on the left again is the genre list where you can narrow your search further. You then just have to do a bit of digging to find the book you want, or if you know the original language's title, then you can search that:


That's it! I like Amazon but this was a new discovery for me when I was starting to research French books to improve my language skills. I couldn't find what I wanted, and you can't just go onto amazon.fr or amazon.es and order your books internationally because you won't have an account on any foreign Amazon site. 

I hope that this helped those that were confused, because even as internet-savvy as I am I didn't know this before a couple of weeks ago, and so I figured that others might be having the same problem. If not, then congratulations! You've conquered the internet.

There will be more language learning posts in the near future, but this had to be done first, because what's the point in recommending foreign books if you can't find them!?

Happy shopping!

Monday, 29 June 2015

Review: We Were Liars by E.Lockhart

Photograph from my Instagram @bookfangirlingblogger

Title: We Were Liars
Author: E.Lockhart
Cover Artist: Getty Images/kangg-gg
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Release Date: 15th May 2014
Genre: YA Contemporary
Page Count: 240
Original Language: English
Format Read: Paperback 
Other books in series: N/A
Movie Adaptation: N/A



Photograph from my Instagram

I read this book back in January but got caught up in exams and school-work and so it has been put off until today. I am absolutely DYING to tell you everything about this book but unfortunately I can't give too much away, however I can give my thoughts.

Kendal also did a review of this a while ago and you can see this here.

Blurb:

We are liars.

We are beautiful and privileged,

We are cracked and broken.

A tale of love and romance,

A tale of tragedy.

Which are lies?

Which is truth?

You decide.


The first page:



*Spoiler Alert - this review does not assume you are familiar with the story*

I think I'm going to have to talk in some kind of code, and this will also be a short review compared to my other blog posts, because the novel is advertised as being extremely hard to explain without spoiling everything. And they are soooo right.

I'm just going to start off by saying that I love it when a book outsmarts me, and this one really did. I honestly had no idea what was going on, in the best way possible. I really respect the fact that the plot is a mystery until the very end, and this is it's biggest selling point. How did I not guess Cadence was guilty of something?

This is ultimately a book about class privilege and how money can destroy a family. This is the best way to accurately describe it without completely ruining it. The characters are shallow and greedy for a reason, and liars too.

There have been a lot of mixed reviews about this book, but I'm guessing that those who hate it have no patience waiting for the truth to come out. For me, it is a modern masterpiece that faultlessly delivers a story and builds its characters. THAT'S HOW ITS DONE.

One final note to leave you with - technically the group are not 'The Liars' - everyone else around them is. Either that, or they refuse to talk, not technically making them liars. Do with that information what you will.

Overall, I ate this book up but it in turn chewed me up and spat me out. We Were Liars is as close to perfection as a novel of this genre can be, and so I'm gladly giving it 5/5 cups of tea. If you haven't already read it, please do! It will keep you guessing and you'll be glad it did.




About the author:

Emily Jenkins (born 1967), who sometimes uses the pen name E. Lockhart, is an American writer of children's picture books,young-adult novels, and adult fiction. She is known best for the Ruby Oliver quartet (which begins with The Boyfriend List), The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks and We Were LiarsUnder her real name Jenkins has collaborated with illustrators to produce children's picture books.

Where to find E Lockhart: twitter,

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Saturday: French book and stationary haul and what you've missed


This post took wayyy longer to prepare than to actually write, as I've taken a lot of pictures and had to edit and upload them before transferring them over to my blog. So its going to be photo-heavy today, which I hope is okay for you! All of my photos are from my Instagram.

Since I've finished school, I've been looking forward to expanding my knowledge, my way. And the thing that I really wanted to focus on was improving my French. I self-taught myself the very basics whilst I was in primary school since we never had any language lessons, and I took French lessons six years out of the seven that I was in high school. 

This means that I haven't practised my French for over a year, but I adore the language and hope to become fluent, or as close to fluent as I can get. I have to rely on self-teaching now, which I know how to do efficiently (but am still learning on how to improve my self-teaching all the time) and so I thought I would take you on the journey with me.

I decided to get some resources, and so I did a haul about a week ago that I can now fully show you.


For my French translated books, I used Amazon. They are really good with this kind of stuff and offer a whole range of languages, but it took me a while to figure out how to search successfully for the things you want so I'll put that in another post. 




I bought Asterix chez les Bretons, and a French translation of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (notice how the name doesn't translate completely on HP). Asterix is a really popular comic that has been running for years in France, with movies being made of the stories. I would highly recommend that anyone learning French from just after the beginning tries Asterix.



Then I moved onto stationary to help me make notes from other textbooks I own (which I will put in another post if you would like) and to make a note of the words from these books that I didn't understand the first time. Learning is all about making mistakes! The notebooks are from Paperchase and they are lined.



Next came some gel pens to write with, as when learning you need your brain to pick up on colours and interesting patterns or doodles. These are also from Paperchase.


Last but not least, what is learning without something to strive for? These cute stickers from Paperchase featuring cute cats and Peter Rabbit will brighten up my plain notebooks and indicate when I have learned something in a chapter of a textbook. I just had to get them!



That's all I got from this haul, but it was really nice to start the summer off with. Next week I will be reporting on the books I bought from independent book shops as this week was #IBW2015.

I also owe you a bullet journal post from after exam season! That's coming up soon as well.

Have a nice day or night, wherever you are x

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Learning away from school

My own photo: taken in Paris in 2012 (Notre Dame)


I had my high school leaver's assembly today, and do you know what?

I'm not sad.

Because I know I can get my education in other institutions, but more importantly I can get an education on my own.

Let me explain. I adore learning and knowing things that are relevant to my life. For example, I love learning about books, genres, authors, bookshops, and publishing houses. I learn about them because I want to. I've never been taught in school that some publishers have umbrella-term names and own multiple publishing companies, or that the first gothic vampire novel was not in fact Dracula but a book called Carmilla that was published 26 years beforehand. Its the little things about author's lives and the tropes of a genre that I love, or the characteristics of a good contemporary novel or how to properly build a character before writing them into your story. All of these things are very relevant to my life and my future, and I couldn't learn most of these things in school. My time is better spent learning individually.

The same can be very much said for learning languages. Languages are another thing that I love (you can see the trend - its anything to do with reading or writing) and the language that I have learnt for a number of years is French, but I am no where near fluent yet. Since my time at school has ended, there are other ways of self-teaching, but you have to be selective with your resources and very motivated. Which, considering I have just completed high school, I am certainly not in the motivated mind-frame right now. 

But I have ways and means of learning by myself, and these include:
  1. textbooks with audio CDs
  2. literature in your chosen foreign language
  3. foreign film and television
  4. youtube videos
  5. books about the culture around your chosen foreign language
  6. foreign pen pals
  7. conversation classes
All of these combined are very important but I have to stress that you must be careful about which textbooks and what level of difficulty you start out with in terms of literature. The most frustrating thing in the world is starting out with too difficult of a book and getting nowhere with it because you don't understand half of the words and have to keep referring back to a dictionary.

I will make blog posts in the future about self-teaching languages, as I think that some people who love reading in their native language may find it enjoyable to learn a second or third language and be able to read their literature too, as translations are just not the same! There are many differences in translation depending on which two languages you are comparing and your native language will not translate directly to the original language. 

I also want to give tips on which textbooks you can use and at what level, because I know quite a bit about learning languages and the steps are the same for all. 

There is a blog post coming this Saturday about my first French book and learning resource haul, so keep an eye out for that! I have bought a couple of things that I wanted to show you and tell you how I am going to use them for effective self-teaching.

For reference, there will be a tag that you can click which will take you to all future posts about languages and self-teaching them, called self-teaching languages. I know. Original.

I thought it would be a nice addition to my blog because languages open up so many doors, and help you learn more about your native language in the process. You'll definitely see what I mean when I make more blog posts about it. 

That's just a little update! Leave a comment if there is anything in particular that you would like me to focus on concerning learning languages.

NOTE: I'll also be going to France in a few weeks, so I will take lots of photos and buy some books and blog about my experiences! 

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: Binge by Tyler Oakley

Final Cover coming soon!
Title: Binge
Author: Tyler Oakley
Page Count: 256
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Release Date: 20th October 2015
Format Available: Hardcover and Kindle
Original Language: English
Genre: Autobiographical

Pretty much everyone knows Tyler Oakley as the incredibly funny guy from YouTube, with over 7 Million subscribers and a charitable soul, having raised over $500,000 for the Trevor Project which provides crisis intervention for LGBTQIA+ youth. If you want learn more about this and how you can donate yourself, the link is right here.

If you haven't heard of Tyler before, then you're really missing out. He is hilarious, and one of the only YouTubers who can make me cry with laughter. Here are a couple of my personal favourite videos for you:





The book is described in the following way via Amazon:


A hilarious book from a pop culture phenomenon and one of the most recognisable YouTube stars!
For someone who made a career out of over-sharing on the internet, Tyler Oakley has a shocking number of personal mishaps and shenanigans to reveal in his first book: he experienced a legitimate rage blackout in a Cheesecake Factory; he had a fashion stand-off with the White House secret service; he crashed a car in front of his entire high school in his fast food restaurant server's uniform; he projectile vomited while bartering with a grandmother.

With millions of fans clamouring for more Tyler Oakley, he delivers his best untold, hilariously side-splitting moments with trademark flair in Binge.

This is going to be an autobiographical novel in which Tyler tells stories, and they sound as though they are going to be the type of stories that make you laugh so hard you will begin to feel as though you have grown abs overnight. If there is anything I have learnt about Tyler from his videos it is that he doesn't disappoint, and I know it is going to be exactly the same with this book.

If want to know more about Tyler, his Twitter opens up more about his personality. But I don't think you'll be disappointed with this book, because that is simply not Tyler's style. 

I sincerely hope he goes on a book tour, because I would love to meet him and feel the positive vibes that he so clearly radiates. If you want to be cheered up, then his book will be the perfect tonic for your sadness.

If I haven't already said everything, then there is more information about his book on the official website.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

On being a reader and a writer


I don't know whether any of you have experienced this, but being both an avid reader and writer is really hard. Not because we find either of these activities boring, because we don't - in fact if we had an infinite amount of time in the world we would spend every single second doing a mixture of these two things.

The problem is something more, and I compare it to 'the red wire and the blue wire' problem that appears in many cliche movies. 

Reading and writing both take an enormous amount of time to accomplish as a daily, weekly, or monthly task. They require all of your mental and emotional effort to fully immerse yourself in them. So this raises the problem of which one to prioritise. It might be easy for some people; sure! I'll focus on finishing this book this week and then next week I'll schedule in some time for writing.

Oh no. It doesn't work like that for people who love reading and writing in equal measure. And I've found that it is an extra hard dilemma when you own a book blog that requires constant book reviews, which means you have to read at least one new book a week or have a lot of notes on recent reads stocked up, whilst at the same time you want to research soon-to-be releases and do some of your own writing to kickstart your career as a novelist. This is a huge problem for many people in the book blogging community because the majority of bloggers blog because it gives them valuable insight into the publishing world whilst it allows them to make contacts with publishers and editors and other people who work in the book business. Mostly because its fun, but these are some more advantages of working so hard on blogs.

So, you have a decision between cutting the red wire or the blue wire. Reading or writing. Cutting one wire will have consequences, much like cutting off either reading or writing would have different consequences depending on which one you choose to abandon for a hefty amount of time. It could either be the best decision or the worst decision you've ever made. Everything could explode around you, taking you with the flames, or it could stop the ticking time-bomb of doom that is threatening to destroy you. 

Personally, I don't want to abandon either, which really sucks because I either end up completing books later or I don't write anything at all. Usually what happens is that I decide on reading, which has had somewhat a negative consequence on my writing career. I will have owned this blog three years tomorrow and I put off writing for reading, and look at me. A book blogger who has not yet written a novel. Just goes to show that you can't do two things at once!

Which do you prioritise: reading or writing? Or if you manage to do them both each day, how do you do it? I would love to hear your thoughts on whether this is a genuine problem for you as well!

Quick note: it is my blog's third birthday tomorrow so I will plan something good for it! 

Have a wonderful day/night wherever you are :)

Monday, 22 June 2015

Review: Picture Me Gone by Meg Rosoff



Title: Picture Me Gone
Author: Meg Rosoff
Cover Artist: Niklas Sagebiel and Zoe Norfolk
Publisher: Penguin Books
Release Date: 5th September 2013
Genre: YA Mystery 
Page Count: 195
Original Language: English
Format Read: Hardcover 
Other books in series: N/A
Movie Adaptation: N/A



My good friend Kendal gave me this book last Christmas and it is a beautiful hardcover edition with Rosoff's signature printed on the inside cover, so of course I was so excited to read it. Plus, she had bought me some Lush products and put it them in the bag with the book, so it still smells of Lush and its probably the nicest smelling book I've ever had.

I've also had this review in my draft file for about six months (editor's note: a year), so sorry about that Kendal!

Anyway, onto the review!

Blurb:

Mila has a gift. 

She can read a room, a person, a situation - and tell if you're happy, or pregnant, or having an affair.

When her father's best friend, Matthew, goes missing, Mila joins in the search. She sees clues no one else notices, facts everyone overlooks.

But the answers refuse to line up and Matthew refuses to be found.

Is there something Mila has missed? Something closer to home than she ever imagined? 


The first page:




*Spoiler Alert - this review does not assume you are familiar with the story's ending*

I picked up this book not knowing what to think of it. I hadn't heard of it or Rosoff before, but by looking at the reviews and such beforehand I understood that it was seen as quite the gem of a book, and Rosoff is a highly esteemed author as I gathered.

I've heard that this book possesses many people, and for me this rang really true. I read this whilst on holiday last year and I remember just not caring about where I was or how much I should be relaxing, because all I wanted to do was read this book. And that's a good feeling to have about a book. It really did possess me, and I let it.

One thing that struck me as strange... not really strange as such, but different, was the complete lack of speech marks. Many different countries have different ways of providing their speech in novels and its not always with speech marks, but the original language is English and so it was a change to read something without the use of them. I thought it would ruin my reading experience, but Rosoff handles it perfectly and because the story flowed so easily you really didn't need speech marks to know when Mila or her father or any other character was speaking. It was very well done and I never thought I would feel comfortable reading a book like that but it didn't present any difficulties whatsoever.

Another thing that I liked about it was that the novel was really well balanced and raw. I don't usually call books raw, but I just felt something about it was unlike other novels. I can't pinpoint what it was exactly, but something felt special. I drew out some emotions such as fear and curiosity and empathy in ways that other books cannot. That was a cool feeling.

The only thing I didn't feel was right was the fact that Mila was supposed to be 12 years old, and yet she had such a mature voice that it was as though someone in their late teens was speaking to me. It wasn't 100% believable that such an independently-minded and trustworthy narrator would be so young, and this was the only problem that I had with the novel as I was reading it. I sometimes forgot that Mila was 12 and it felt more natural that she should have been at least 14 or 15. Its not a major issue, but the characterisation depended on those mature qualities, and no 12 year old is so sure of herself and so 'flawless' (as flawless as a human being can be) in the real world, so it just didn't translate for me.

Despite this, I still highly recommend this novel. I want to read some more of Rosoff's work but this was an extremely good starting point for anyone who is like me and hasn't heard much about her before. My copy is gorgeous so I suggest the hardback, as it isn't too thick, and for average readers with a few hours spare you could read the majority of it and feel as though it was worth it. I have given it four out of five cups of tea, and would definitely enjoy re-reading it at some point. 





About the author:

Meg Rosoff is an American writer based in London. She is best known for the novel How I Live Now, which won the Guardian PrizePrintz Award, and Branford Boase Award and made the Whitbread Awards shortlist. Her second novel, Just In Case won the annual Carnegie Medal from the British librarians recognising the year's best children's book published in the U.K.







Where to find Meg Rosoff: website, twitter,

Thursday, 18 June 2015

What I will miss about school and what I will not



So yesterday I finished high school for good. After seven long years of being stuck in the same place, at age eighteen I finally managed to break free.

This may sound as if I'm going to rant about the horrors of a teenage institution which provided me with a chance for an education and a life experience. Don't get me wrong, there are many things I will miss about school. But there are also many things that I will not.

What I will miss:


1. Being around my friends five days a week. 

My friends are the only thing that keep me sane during the school week, because if I feel alone in school then it means there is nothing to motivate me to go there. They have all been so lovely and understanding about my stress issues whilst exam season was going on, and even the months before when I was so worried about failing. Being around them five days a week is something I always took for granted and since we are all going to university at different ends of the country, I will only be about to see them a few times a year from now on. I sincerely hope that we all stay in touch and as close as we have become this past year, but I know that in some cases this may not be possible.

2. Easy access to an education.

This is something that I have never taken for granted and I never will. If I wanted to know something, I could ask a teacher, and they would give me the answer without me having to look through countless textbooks and websites. And university will be partly like this in that I can ask a question and my lecturers will be happy to provide me with an answer, but mostly I will have to do the majority of the work myself. And although I will be extremely happy to do that as I dream of a career in academia, the easiest thing about high school overall was the fact that I didn't have to read Plato's lifeworks to get a summary of his thoughts on society, as my teachers would give me a direct quote or an explanation for me. I am going to miss having such an extreme support network around me that would give me a deep insight into a subject when I know I could not achieve that myself, especially in a subject like history. 

3. Getting the fulfilment that school usually gives me. 

I don't know what it is about school, but it gives you a structure if nothing else. For about fifteen years of your life you wake up in the morning at exactly the same time, you eat the same breakfast, you go to scheduled classes, do the homework and show up for the exams. I feel as though I am dong something with my day if I show up at school, and completing the homework on time feels like something else I can cross off my list, and I will feel calmer and more fulfilled. As much as I hate doing homework, getting it done felt good, and I'm going to have to find a schedule of my own that works for me and makes me feel as though I am doing something with each day.

What I will not miss:

1. The other people who go to my school.

Its no secret that every single year group in your school hates everyone else who isn't in that same year group, and this is a universal thing. Its not that I hate them for no reason, but younger kids make me so anxious with all of their pushing through hallways and messing about and their stares that always look like they are going to insult you in some way. I felt suffocated in school with so many of these other people running around acting like you were from a different planet, and now that I have left I will begin to calm down. People still scare me, but not as much as the younger people in the blue shirts and ties who go around in packs and make every classroom stink of sweat.

2. Exams.

Ah yes. Exams. Quite possibly the worst thing about school and the hardest tests of your commitment and memory that you will encounter in your lives. Exams terrify me and everybody knows it, so much so that for the past two years I have been put in a separate room to everybody else which contains only me, an invigilator and a dreaded exam paper. I don't know why exams scare me so much because I got pretty good GCSE grades and I have done consistently well in exams for most of my life, but I think its just a combination of my natural anxious state of being and a fear of failure. The exams I have just sat were so, so hard, and it took all of my courage to keep going. Revision and examinations are just not the way I learn best, and so I will have a lot more time to prepare for my university exams, because they don't churn them out like an exam factory there. 

3. Always feeling like I'm not good enough.

A lot of you might relate to this feeling. Its the sinking feeling in your stomach when you get another D on a mock test in class and everyone else around you has got B's and A's. Its the feeling when you spend hours on an essay at home and the teacher marks it and you only score half marks, even though you thought it was written quite well. School is a place where you can feel either on top of the world or like your life is going nowhere, depending on a letter of the alphabet stamped to the bottom of a piece of paper. By leaving school, I am leaving not only the physical place but the feelings of self-doubt and emptiness, because I am going to be able to control my life and not have it controlled for me by things that cannot feel pain but are more than willing to see me suffer. 

I will no longer have to sit in silence when an adult repeatedly tells me I am lying about not being taught properly, or they say that I am disappointing them as they know I can do so much better, or that I am at risk of getting a detention if I do not complete a silly piece of homework that is irrelevant to my studies and my entire life. 

So yes, I will miss school for a number of reasons. But I am not sad about leaving because there are many reasons why I will not miss it, and these outweigh the positives of secondary education every time. 



(Have some Katherine Jenkins: Time to say goodbye for the lols)