Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Fire Study by Maria V. Snyder Book Review

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Fire Study is the third book in the Chronicles of Ixia series. I reviewed the first book here and the second book here.
Fire Study follows Yelena facing a larger scale threat, with new friends and old. She relied more on her magic in this book and faced self-doubt. The plot twists were even more shocking and the story was less predictable, something that I feel that Snyder has improved upon throughout her novels. 

However, I feel as though I had more issues with this book, particularly in the beginning than I had with the previous two. The tenses seemed to switch between past and present in places, making the writing feel disjointed and confusing. Furthermore, there were times where previous events seemed to have been forgotten. Additionally, this book was inundated with explanations of characters and events in the previous books. I understand that some reference is needed for readers who have not read the series for a while but there were literally paragraphs summarising what had happened and I just wanted to read on in this story, rather than being told things that I already knew.
I enjoyed seeing the blossoming relationships with different characters and there were pieces of advice that I feel were well written. I was happy to see characters that I love return and there humorous interactions.
It was interesting to see some different locations. However, I feel that some were visited for too long and it didn’t seem like it took Yelena long enough to travel across the country. There were parts of the story that I felt went on for too long and others were just brushed over, for example, there was one point where it said that they made a plan but it didn’t go into their discussing of different plans. It would have been nice to see how they develop their plans and how they might not go to plan when enacted.
I feel that this book improved significantly as it progressed. The first half was full of travelling and battles, whereas the second half featured returning characters, Yelena’s difficulties and the unravelling of plans. I wish that the other characters had been featured earlier or that Yelena had voiced her problems earlier. I kept wanting her to talk to someone about how she was feeling. It would have been nice to get a peek at the thoughts of some of the other characters, for example, Valek. I feel that there are parts of the novel that are not as cohesive as they could have been.
However, overall, the story was excellent. It brought me to tears and made me gasp. The characters were again complex and it was good to see different group dynamics. Yelena and the other characters have grown throughout this original trilogy and I can’t wait to see more of them in the next set of books (this trilogy is followed by a trilogy following another character and then it is another trilogy following Yelena).
Rating: 4/5 stars.

ou can purchase this book here:

Have you read this series? If you have, what did you think of it? If you haven't, are you thinking of reading it now?

Monday, 26 February 2018

Magic Study by Maria V. Snyder Book Review

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This is the second book in The Chronicles of Ixia series, I reviewed the first book, Poison Study here.

Trigger warnings: rape, abuse, torture, murder, suicide, abduction

Magic Study follows directly on from where Poison Study ended. Before reading Magic Study, I read the extra content on Maria V. Snyder’s website that fits between these two books: chapter 1 of Poison Study from Valek’s point of view and Assassin Study, a short story featuring Valek.
This book followed Yelena entering Sitia: her country of birth, trying to find her family, going to a magic school and navigating her magical powers. There were politics, tactics, fights, magic, historical lessons, mysteries, different cultures and varying relationships. 
I loved Magic Study. The structure was very similar to Poison Study with different threads of the story and the stakes being raised. I was glad to see that Valek was mentioned and that he was in this book too. There were new characters introduced and I really liked seeing Yelena getting to know her family, culture and learning magic. Similarly to the first book, all of the characters were interesting and multi-layered. This book was slightly less predictable than the first which was nice to see.
The only negative comment that I have about this book is that there were quite a few grammatical errors in the Kindle edition that I was reading, so much so that it became an obvious annoyance. However, it did not interrupt my enjoyment of the story too much.
I can’t wait to read the next book, Fire Study. I love all of the characters and the plot always increases in tension and makes me want to keep reading. Again, I felt a range of emotions reading this book and I just want to read more about these characters and this world. 
Rating: 4.5/5 

The Liebster Award

Thank you to Chloe at for nominating me!
The rules:
Answer the 11 questions that you have been asked.
Nominate 11 other bloggers.
Ask your nominees 11 questions.
Let them know you nominated them.

1.       If you could get any two characters from any two books and put them in a relationship/friendship who would they be?
I would love to put Sydney from Vicious by V. E. Schwab and Yelena from The Chronicles of Ixia series together as I feel like they have a lot in common and would be good friends.

2.       Favourite song at the moment?
I don’t think I have one favourite song at the moment but I have been listening to some songs from past decades lately!
3.       What’s your spirit animal?
I did the same quiz that Chloe did and also received a deer. It was an interesting result!

4.       Any advice for people thinking of starting a book blog?
Do it! Just start and see how you feel.

5.       If you had to be the sun or the moon which would you rather be?
The moon because it has an affinity with the sea and I love going to the beach.

6.       A place you want to go to and visit/live for a while?
I would love to go to Japan!

7.       Paperbacks or hardbacks?
I usually go with the cheapest option, I don’t really have a preference between them but I do really like ebooks.

8.       Three things you want people to know about where you live?
It rains a lot, it is usually cold and it sometimes seems dreary but it is home.

9.       Other than books, blogging and book related things. What other hobbies/interests do you
Does writing count? If not, I also play video games, draw and craft.

10.   Do you have any advice for people trying to use social media to get more traffic to their blog?
Post regularly and interact with others. Commit to at least one platform to build.

11.   Favourite season and why?
Spring because it is bright but not too hot.

I nominate:
Eleanor @ eleaanormay
Jenni @ oddsocksandlollipops
Jen @ bookwormjenblog
Kate @ thetustingirl
Emily @ emilywilliamsauthor
Matilda @ thematildaslibraryblog
Evelina @ avalinahsbooks
Madison @ madisonloethen
Stephanie @ stephanievivienne
Charlotte @ writtenbycharlotte
Jenna @ parchmentandquillchronicle

My questions:
1.       What is your favourite book genre?
2.       What are some of your favourite books?
3.       What is your favourite type of blog post to write?
4.       How do you blog around other commitments?
5.       What advice would you give to new bloggers?
6.       What is your favourite film?
7.       What is your favourite TV series?
8.       Which social media platforms do you use?
9.       Why did you start blogging?
10.   What are your goals for 2018?
11.   What are your goals for the future?

Sunshine Blogger Award/ Q&A

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So, I have already been nominated for this award: see post here. However, another lovely blogger nominated me again! I decided that I would like to answer her questions anyway so here is a mini Q&A.
1.       What is your dream job?
My dream job is to be a full time blogger and author.

2.       What do you think your life will be like in a year? And in ten years?
This is a difficult question because you never know what is going to happen! In a year, I hope to be earning something from my blog, to still be reading a lot and to be working on a creative writing project that I love and will finish. In ten years, I hope to have my dream house and be a published author.

3.       What is your proudest achievement?
The first thing that comes to mind is my degree. I worked so hard to do well and despite feeling bad mentally and physically, I got to the end and received a 2.1.

4.       What is your favourite blog post you’ve ever written?
I think my favourite would be How Anxiety and Depression Can Affect Reading and Writing because I expressed some raw things that I have struggled with and people who related to that felt like they could reach out and talk about it too. One of my main aims in life is to help people and I hope that in a small way this blog does that.

5.       Apart from blogging, what are your hobbies?
Reading, writing, playing video games and art.

6.       How would you describe your fashion style?
I literally have no idea. Because of my IBS, I tend to go for more comfortable clothes. Sometimes I’ll wear something more towards Japanese Kawaii style, sometimes a geeky style, I’m not really sure!

7.       What’s the best place you’ve ever been to?
Wales, it was beautiful.

8.       If you had £1000 (or equivalent in your currency), what would you spend it on? Or would you save it?
I would probably treat my loved ones to a holiday because they deserve it and just put money towards things that need doing around the house.

9.       What is the bravest thing you’ve ever done? What would you do if you were a little braver?
This is a difficult question to answer. I have anxiety and so for me, things that might seem small to other people, feel like a big achievement. I would like to go to more big events and I am hoping to try this in the future.

10.   What is/ was your favourite class at school, college or university?
I would say law, I loved learning about statutes and precedents and being able to apply them.

11.   What is one thing you want to learn or change in 2018?
I want to keep blogging and reading a lot. Reading more was a goal of mine for 2018 and I’m really proud of my progress so far.

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Friday, 23 February 2018

Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder Book Review

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Trigger Warnings: abuse, rape, torture, murder

Poison Study follows Yelena, who is awaiting execution after killing a man. However, she is given the opportunity to become the poison taster for the commander, who is in charge of the country. I do not want to tell you too much of the plot because I loved unravelling it myself. This book features action, betrayal, heartbreak, magic, friendship, love, court politics and independence. If you love fantasy/action and romance, you need to read this book.

The only negative comments I have are that the chapters were quite long and that sometimes I had worked out what was happening and I was shouting at the characters to work it out and do something. However, I am now thankful that the chapters were so long because there were so many strands to this story and Maria V. Snyder built them up perfectly to overlap at the right time.

I love the main characters, they were each developed well, with their own different personalities and their pasts revealed at appropriate points. Yelena’s story was so interesting, in fact, it was multi-faceted. There was the past that led to her imprisonment, training to be a food tester, her skills, mysteries to be solved and how she approached different characters. She analysed people and soon began to learn about tactics. Even the extended cast of characters were interesting and it was great to find out more about them.

During the first half of this book, I was reminded of The Hunger Games. However, the rest of the book, and the book as a whole was unlike anything I have ever read. It combined everything you could wish for in a fantasy and I read the entire second half in one day. I audibly commented as I read and became excited/ wanted to cry at different points. I think that this book has become my favourite book and I would like to recommend it to anyone I meet. Maria V. Snyder, in this book, was an expert at creating interesting and loveable characters and despite a couple of obvious plot points, she surprised me with different characters and their own histories. This book made me feel so many different emotions and it made me want to keep reading the series. I did not want this book to end and I cannot wait to read the next one. I hope that the rest of the series is as excellent as this book. I am ready to devour all of Maria V. Snyder’s writings and I thank her for writing these characters into existence.

Rating: 5/5 stars (Although I wish that I could rate it even higher)

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Things that help me relax

I have anxiety so I don’t often feel relaxed. I am working on improving my anxiety but there are a few things that I have found helpful when I am feeling tense:
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1.    Walks
       Sometimes I feel like I can’t think straight, I cannot decide what needs to be done and when I should do it so I find that going for a walk, even just fifteen minutes actually does help to create mental clarity. By the time I come back from the walk, I have a plan or at least know what I am doing next.

2.    Music
       I have recently started listening to music again. I use Spotify and just put on a playlist or a particular song that I feel like listening to whilst I do other things. I find that after a while I can be singing along and feeling a bit better.

3.   Drawing

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I have always wanted to be a good artist but I did not really think that it was possible for me. I thought that I just didn't have the artistic talent. In the past, I have used different artistic forms, including sketching and sewing. I had thought about trying digital art in the past but I just thought that I wouldn't be any good at it. However, recently I began wanting to try digital art so I was fortunate enough to have some gift cards that I used to get a Wacom Intuos tablet. It comes with a pen that you use on the drawing tablet, as well as an art programme. You can also download free art software to use with it. It was actually a lot easier to use than I thought it would be and I have discovered that after I have done a drawing I feel so much calmer! I thought that I would get frustrated with any mistakes that I made and with the drawing not being what I envisioned but you can easily undo any errors and you can keep trying until the drawing looks how you want it to look. Although I don’t think that I am going to be a great artist any time soon, I am using this entirely as a hobby: something that I enjoy doing and that I want to keep practicing. I am currently only drawing fan art because I find it a lot easier to use a reference picture and because I love the characters that I am drawing. You can find my art at: if you are interested. 

4.    Blogging
       I love writing blog posts. Similarly to writing creatively, it allows me to pour my thoughts out. I can write about topics that I am interested in and I hope that I am reaching people and that my content helps them/ that they enjoy it. I love the community: everyone is so nice and they are passionate about the same topics or have shared similar experiences or give me advice when I need it. I feel amazing after posting a new blog post, as well as talking to people online. Blogging has become something that I am incredibly passionate about and that I wish to continue and work on regularly. 

5.    Reading

How could I not include reading on this list? It is so enjoyable and relaxing once my mind becomes completely immersed in the story and when I feel compelled to keep reading.

6.    Video games
       Some games make me feel really relaxed. For example, watching the environment in Skyrim. I think that it depends on the type of game that you play, some are for a challenge, others for enjoyment but that are not necessarily calming and then there are those that just make you feel calm as you stare at the beauty of the visuals, participate in the cute gameplay or fall in love with the characters.

Thank you for reading! What helps you to relax?

Monday, 19 February 2018

Writing Strategy

My last writing post was about getting back to writing my novel after taking a break. I said that I wanted to write when I wanted to write. I still do, if I start to feel stressed about the prospect of writing, I will change what I am doing. However, I would like to finish at least a first draft this year if possible so I am going to look at different strategies that I could use, here (inspired by my current read, Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder):

Strategy 1: Counting Words

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One method of making writing progress is to create a word count deadline, either daily, weekly, monthly or bimonthly. I have tried daily/weekly and monthly only once when I participated in NaNoWriMo. Daily/ weekly caused too much stress. If I did not reach my word count (which was often), I would feel terrible and I would stress about trying to catch up or having to write a certain amount of words the next day. Monthly did not really work either: I wrote probably more than I would have normally but I was far off the 50,000 word count goal and lost steam after a while. Bimonthly is an option: I know of at least one author who uses this method. It would be less stressful than having a daily goal and it would be quite lenient, especially if I didn’t set it too high. However, the impending goal could be stressful. Then comes another problem, deciding on what the word count should be.

writing strategy, writing tips, tips for writing, tips from a writer, advice for writers, advice for aspiring writers,Strategy 2: Time

Another method to track writing progress is to set a time goal, for example, spending an hour a day writing. I have tried this before but I felt as though I could not relax doing anything else until I did my writing and when I did, I spent a lot of the time not actually writing.

Strategy 3: Scenes

I could make goals based on scenes, for example, I could say that I wanted to finish a certain scene in two days. However, each scene could differ in length and as I do not plan everything in detail, I would not know how long each scene would take me. I could just say that I will focus on a certain scene until I finish it. However, sometimes if I’m not very excited about a scene or if I have spent a lot of time on that scene then I can procrastinate writing about it. I don’t like skipping ahead to other scenes because I like my progress to be quite linear. However, perhaps it is something that I should consider.

So, here are three strategies. Which one would you choose? Or do you follow another? Let me know in the comments below. I am still figuring my one out.

Friday, 16 February 2018

Getting Back to Writing

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I have wanted to be a published author for almost as long as I can remember. I have been writing potential books for years, first during school and then a smaller amount during university. When I finished university, I said to myself that I would dedicate most of my time and energy to finishing a novel and trying to get it published. Mental health issues and work interfered. Again, I tried but I found myself feeling stressed and anxious about having to write the next day and reaching a certain word count. I tried different ways of measuring progress: word count, time spent on writing and just writing anything but nothing stuck. Then I realised: writing is meant to be fun, yes, it is hard work but I don’t want to be spending my time feeling stressed and anxious about something that I am supposed to love. So, I took a break. I ended up starting this blog which I absolutely love and I believe that it is one of the best decisions that I have ever made.

After about a month of not working on my novel at all, I started to feel like planning. I had about half of a first draft and I knew the main points of the plot but when I sat down to write I struggled to write much because I did not know exactly what was going to happen. When I have the scene outlined or in my head, I can just sit down and the words can flow. So, I decided to work out a more comprehensive outline. I had some cue cards that I had bought for outlining before so I picked them up and titled each one with each location that I knew the characters would be going to. Then I added some plot details: significant things that I knew were going to happen there and I started bullet pointing each step in the scene that I was currently on. I moved the scenes around until the order clicked in my mind and I could see the entire plot. These cards are now on my wall and it is amazing to see the rest of my novel up there.

Instead of trying to write every day or reach particular word counts, I think that the best thing for me is to write when I feel like it. It may take longer to finish my novel or it may take the same amount of time given that my routines never worked for long but I will enjoy the journey far more. It may take one year or five to finish my novel and although I do want to get my stories out into the world, I also want to enjoy life and making a passion into a chore is just not for me.

I think that once I have finished one novel, I will find it easier to write the next one and that I will write it more quickly. After all, improvement is about practice and I cannot wait to write down all of the stories that fill my heart and mind.

How do you write? Have you ever taken a break from writing?

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Guest Series: Writing About Mental Health and Cancer Survivorship by Sam Rose

Today's guest post is by writer Sam Rose, an amazing woman who has survived cancer and blogs about her experience. Here is her post:

Writing About Mental Health and Cancer Survivorship

While I was making notes on how I might approach writing this blog post, I jotted down “talk about writing in the context of dealing with cancer survivorship”. But the truth is, these days I find myself writing about little else. Cancer has had a huge effect on my body, my mental health, and subsequently my creative work.

I had colon cancer in 2010 when I was 22. The offending organ was whipped out but since then I have had yearly screenings and check-ups, as well as a handful of scares and other unrelated health issues to worry about – all fear-inducing, but luckily leading to nothing sinister so far. When these things happen (or even when they don’t), it can really take its toll on my emotional state. Over the last seven years I’ve dealt with varying degrees of nightmares, flashbacks, anxiety, and poor self-confidence.

I don’t have a diagnosed mental health problem. I used to wonder if I did. I looked up PTSD. I looked up dissociation. I looked up depersonalisation. I decided I didn’t have any of those things exactly. The therapist I saw for a handful of sessions confirmed this. She said my reaction and feelings about my illness are all perfectly normal.

That hasn’t made dealing with it any easier.

guest post, writing about mental health and cancer survivorship, writing about cancer, cancer survivorship, writing about cancer survivorship,Enter: writing. Well, writing has always been there, for me – I’ve made up stories and written them down for as long as I can remember. When I was a teenager, I turned from fiction, to song lyrics, to poetry. Now I write poetry, I blog, and I write the occasional story. Even my fiction is shaped by my mental health these days. Writing is a way to get out what I can’t bear to say out loud, to speak uninterrupted about the things that matter to me. I don’t know how I would manage at all if I couldn’t write down all my thoughts and worries. Even before cancer, as a child and a teenager I used writing as an outlet for anything I needed to. These days I am very lucky that people enjoy, relate to, and sometimes even want to publish my work.

Writing about my physical and mental health gives me a way of turning something bad into something good that I can be proud of. I can tell my story in whatever way I see fit – while cancer has felt like something that has shaped and defined me, writing is an opportunity for me to decide how to define myself, and to figure myself out. On top of all that, writing, and especially writing about this subject, has provided me with an online community of like-minded people to engage with, who have had similar experiences. I use my blog and my Twitter account as my platform – I can write as an advocate if I want to, or I can simply get it all out and perhaps reach someone who understands or who is looking for empathy themselves. Writing helps me to discover more about myself and other people – whether I’m venting on my blog or constructing something a little more thought-out and eloquent. Writing about my experiences and my mental health is essential for my mental health.

Sam Rose is a poet, writer, editor and colon cancer survivor. She lives in England with her
partner and in her spare time she enjoys listening to music and learning Swedish. You can find her on
Twitter @writersamr, and at her website

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Poem: Becoming a Vegetarian

I always ate meat
Loved barbecue ribs
Tried veggie diet once
Lasted a day
I was just a child
A world away
I saw some vegans
All online
And I began to wonder
One day at a time
Saw an advert
About a cow
Where they take the meat from
Mind changed now
Went to the shops
In search of alternative foods
Began my new diet
Salads and veg
Noodles and rice
Can’t eat cheese
IBS does not like
Always loved fruit
So no problem there
But not much for vegetables
I never really cared
Now I’m trying all things new
And I feel better
A brand new you
People may laugh
And misunderstand
But I can make my own choices
And make a stand
If my stomach agrees
Then I will try
To continue
My brand new life 

-Lucy Ann Smith

Monday, 12 February 2018

Children's Poem: Monster Under the Bed?

Monster, monster
Who is it that is lurking there?
Has under my bed become your lair?
Is it my imagination?
Are you really there?
Did you come to give me a scare?
Or act as my new teddy bear?
Monster, monster
Are you now under the stairs?
Who else would create those creaks?
Is it old wood
Or are you not good?
Do you just want a friend
With no other way to communicate

Monster, monster
What are you doing here?
Are you lost
Or banished?
Do you come from far or near?
Did you seek to travel
To discover new worlds?
Or come out from the shadows
To wreak havoc
Hide my things
Give me spots
And even bad thoughts?

Or did you hear my fears
And found yourself here?
Monster, monster
Why did you come here?
I hope one day, I will get near
Or is it my imagination
And you will disappear
Monster, monster
I think I wish that you were here 

-Lucy Ann Smith

Children's Poem: Vision... Clear

They say I need to wear glasses
Because I don’t see well
As when I look at the board it all becomes a swirl
I can’t see every detail on a person’s face
No high definition for me
But what is wrong with glasses?
I hear the adults say
You will always be perfect in every single way

-Lucy Ann Smith

Sunday, 11 February 2018

I Have Been Nominated for The Sunshine Award 2018!

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I cannot believe that I am writing this post. The wonderful Kate Carter at nominated me for the Sunshine Award 2018! Thank you so much to her for nominating me and for all of my readers for visiting and commenting on my blog. I have discovered that I love blogging and I really hope that people are finding my posts helpful.  There are 4 rules to follow for this nomination:
1. Thank blogger(s) who nominated you for the blog post and link back to their blog.
2. Answer the 11 questions that the blogger asked you.
3. Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 questions.
4. List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or blog.
So, here are my answers to Kate’s questions:
1.       Why did you start your blog?

I started my blog because I originally had a bookstagram and then a booktube. I discovered book blogging and fell in love. I have always been passionate about writing and I had tried blogging in the past. Writing and reading are two central parts of my life and as I began writing my blog I found a passion for writing about mental health and I was encouraged to post my own creative writing too. Blogging makes me so happy and I am so grateful for all the amazing, friendly and supportive people that I have found because of it.

2.       What is your favourite way to unwind and relax?

This is a hard one, as I suffer from anxiety, I find that I rarely ever fully do this. Depending on my mood, I find that a bath or reading a good book can be very relaxing.

3.       What would your ideal job be?

I have wanted to be a published author for many years. After discovering how much I enjoy blogging, I would love to work as an author and blogger.

4.       What is your favourite film and why?

My favourite film is Letters to Juliet. I have watched it so many times and I have even been known to watch it three times in one week (please don’t judge me!)! I love it because it features two great romantic storylines across different generations and it is set in Italy, a beautiful country that I would love to visit one day.
5.       Which option would you pick between having a good, stable job with a good pay or doing something you love for very little money?

Definitely doing something I love for very little money, I would rather be happy than rich.
6.       Where would you most love to live and why?

By the sea because I love going to the beach as I find it relaxing and inspiring and it is a great place to walk.
 7.       What is your biggest fear?

Bereavement. It is the worst thing and I would not wish it on anybody.

8.       What has been your biggest struggle, to date, with your blog?

Not knowing whether people are enjoying it and finding it helpful.

9.       Which quality do you admire most in people and why?
Living without fear: people that travel and do amazing things without letting fear get in the way.

10.   Which famous person (alive or dead) would you most like to be like and why?
I would love to write amazing, whimsical stories like Diana Wynne Jones. Hopefully, one day people will love my stories a fraction of the amount that they love her beautiful works.

11.   What is your goal for 2018?
I would love to start making an income from blogging as this is what I want my job to be. Additionally, I would like to make considerable progress on the first draft of a novel and possibly finish one.

I nominate:
Eleanor (eleaanormay)
Karenza (karenza's corner)
Simon (raisedbysimon)
Stephanie Vivienne
Lorlitta (Lozstyleblog)
Kristyn Garza (thebibliophileempress)
Rosanna Leo (rosannaleoauthor)
Charlotte Dawson (writtenbycharlotte)
Jenna Louise Barrett (parchmentandquillchronicle)
Emily Williams (emilywilliamsauthor) 

Here are my 11 questions for my nominees:
1. Why did you start your blog?
2. What is your dream job?                                                                                                                               
3. What problems have you faced with your blog?
4. What are your goals for 2018?
5. What is your favourite book and why?
6. Who is your favourite writer and why?
7. What is your favourite television series?
8. What hobbies do you do?
9. What is your favourite form of exercise?
10. Where would you love to travel to and why?
11. What is your favourite film and why?
If you have already been nominated, please link me to your post with your original questions as I would love to read them. 

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