book haul

March Haul and Packing for Camp NaNoWriMo

March is almost over, and I’m so excited because this April I’m participating in Camp NaNoWriMo (aka the April offshoot of the official November “National Novel Writing Month”). For the first time ever I have a plan and I know how my story is going to end… Yay for organisation skills!

giphy (19)

As you all know, I’m not the most consistent of bloggers (y’all get nothing when I’m having a sleepy week), so you may be wondering how I’m going to fit in writing thousands of words of a potential novel AS WELL AS thousands of words on The Mud and Stars Book Blog without imploding…

The answer is, I’m not. I won’t be taking a hiatus or anything, but over this bank holiday weekend I’ve frantically advance-written a whole month’s worth of reviews to tide me over until the end of Camp. Second yay for organisation skills! You’re welcome guys.

giphy (19)

Gif source: Giphy

If you’re Camp NaNoWriMo-ing this April too, let me know in the comments, and we can all support each other as we embark on our writing adventures! 😀

I’m putting myself on a book buying ban during April because I have so many books waiting to be read, and I’ve recently been buying at a rate I’ll never catch up with (unless I discover a way to freeze time or something.) You know how people stuff themselves silly with pancakes before Lent? I kind of did the same thing with books this month in preparation for the ban… Here’s what I added to my collection this March:

***To have and to hold***

Lady Midnight – Cassandra Clare


I know I included this in my January haul when I pre-ordered, but now it has finally arrived I couldn’t resist posting a photo of it because LOOK HOW PRETTY IT IS! And it’s signed!!! I don’t think I’ve ever fangirled so hard over post before. My review of this amazing book (which I’m pleased to say lived up to all of the hype and my ridiculously high expectations) will be coming soon. (Spoiler alert: I bow down and worship the Goddess that is Cassandra Clare ❤️)


The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern


I picked this one up at a lovely independent bookshop called Mostly Books in Abingdon (my hometown) last weekend. I don’t know very much about this book, but people always rave about the beautiful writing, and I couldn’t resist the gorgeous cover.


Harry Potter Deathly Hallows journal


Okay, this isn’t technically a book, but I wanted an excuse to brag about it because I am a little bit in love with it. This was an impulse buy from Mostly Books alongside my copy of The Night Circus. I really wanted a House notebook, but alas – they only make Gryffindor and Slytherin, and I’m Hufflepuff through and through. I’m very happy with this one though, and just look at those beautiful illustrations on the inside cover!

***Digital love***

The Neverland Wars – Audrey Greathouse


I was so excited to receive my first ever ARC this month! This is a huge blogging milestone for me, and it really made my day when I saw the email from Audrey. I love the story of Peter Pan, and the concept of Neverland, so this one sounded right up my street. (Also, isn’t that cover magical?!) I’m about half way through at the moment, and loving the book so far! Full review coming soon.


P.S. I Still Love You – Jenny Han

ps i still

I picked up this sequel after finishing and adoring To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. These two books are perfect for comfort reading – lighthearted, funny, and sweet. You can find my review of the first book here.


Catch My Breath – M.J. O’Shea

catch my breath

When I saw the description for this book (which FYI is about two members of a boyband falling in love) I knew I had to read it. It’s pretty obviously One Direction fanfiction (you can tell from the personalities of each of the guys in the band), but if you’re a boyband lover in general this book will make your fangirl heart happy. Every chapter is named after a different boyband song; I mean, it’s like the author looked into my SOUL and wrote this book especially for me!


Lady Midnight – Cassandra Clare


No, you’re not having a weird episode of deja vu – I really did buy this book twice. In what can only be described as a total dick move, Past Jess decided to be cheap and only pay for second class delivery on her pre-order of the hardback, so it did NOT arrive on release day… Present Jess was NOT amused. I was so desperate to start reading the book after waiting FOREVER for it’s release, that I HAD to download a copy for reasons relating to my sanity and happiness.


Four Past Midnight – Stephen King


After finishing The Lottery and other stories by Shirley Jackson this month, I was in the mood for some more horror, so I downloaded this collection of 4 novellas by Stephen King. I loved most of them, and I’ll be posting a review of this book later in the month.


The Ghosts of Heaven – Marcus Sedgwick


I’ve enjoyed several of Marcus Sedgwick’s books, and the description for this one sounded so weird, I knew I had to read it (you know I’m all about the weird!) Apparently it’s written in four parts which can be read in any order (intriguing), although, being the total square that I am, I’ll probably go chronological first.


Insurgent and Allegiant – Veronica Roth


I’ve only ever read half of the first Divergent book, although I watched the first two films and really enjoyed them. I’m determined to finally finish the whole trilogy this month before I go and see Allegiant at the cinema.


Threshold (Whyborne and Griffin book 2) – Jordan L. Hawk


I really enjoyed the first book in this historical/paranormal mystery series, so I’m really excited to start this one. Annelise and I started a book club this month, and Threshold will be our April read. (Our March book was Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard and I’ll be posting a review for that very soon!)

So that’s a wrap for March! Have you read any of these books? Did you fangirl hard over Lady Midnight this month? And are you participating in Camp NaNoWriMo this year? I’d love to hear from you! 🙂



61 thoughts on “March Haul and Packing for Camp NaNoWriMo”

    1. Haha thanks! It’s only because I know myself and how unorganised I can be when I have loads of things to do at the same time (I think that whole ‘women are good at multi-tasking’ thing is a myth!)

  1. Ooo, awesome books you picked up in March! I’ve been wanting to get into the Night Circus for a while now, but have yet to pick it up. Also, that edition of Lady Midnight is gorgeous! 🙂

    -Jess @jbelkbooks

    1. Thanks, I know – I am a little bit in love with it to be honest ❤ And I'm really excited to read The Night Circus, I keep hearing wonderful things about it 🙂

    1. It is very beautiful! I was almost scared to read it, because it would hurt so much if I damaged it haha! Luckily I finished it without scratching, accidentally ripping, or spilling anything on it! (which is an achievement for me because I am sooo clumsy!) 😀 Oooh I’m glad to hear you enjoyed The Night Circus, I’ve heard so many good things about it so I’m really excited!

      1. That’s great! I’m clumsy too which means if I’m eating chocolate while reading I have to be extra careful! I’m glad it came or unscathed!
        It’s slow out the start but it really becomes amazing! Hope you like it when you read 🙂

      2. Haha, I understand – I have lots of books with chocolate smudges on them… now I have to be strict with myself and stay away from the reading snacks! 😦

      1. I’m working on a novel set in Texas about a girl who’s struggling to find her father who she’s never known amidst a chaotic family life. In between all of that she falls for a cowboy throughout the summer who, in the end, has to leave town. As you can probably tell, it’s YA. I love Texas so wanted to base something on that.

        What’s yours about? Good luck!

      2. Ahh that sounds awesome! I don’t think I’ve ever read any books set in Texas, but I can imagine it being a great setting for a novel. Mine is YA too, about a boy who’s just lost his best friend (who was really the only person he was close to), and he blames himself for her death (even though it was an accident) – it’s about him having to make new friends (after years of not really bothering with anyone else). And it’s also about his relationship with boy in his new group of friends that he wants something more with, but isn’t really read to let in (because he’s still carrying around so much guilt and feels like he doesn’t deserve to be happy). But obviously he does deserve to be happy, and there will definitely be a happy ending 😀

      3. Ohh that sounds like such a sweet and heartbreaking story. I’m glad it has a happy ending. It’s so poignant.

        I haven’t even started writing anything yet today (it’s currently 9.22pm where I am), so I’m excited to start now! If you’re not planning to already, you should join the Virtual Write In at 10pm! Hopefully see you there. x

      4. Aww thank you! 🙂 I think I left it a bit late to join tonight 😦 I’m at a bit of a disadvantage because I’m going away this weekend, so I’ll be starting late, but planning to continue after the end of Camp anyway – I’ve set quite a low word count. Are the write-ins a regular thing? If so, I’d love to join the next one if I’m available 🙂 x

      5. Oh no! I’m sure you will manage to pick up the pace – a weekend away sounds great! The virtual write in was awesome this evening (I got a lot of back writing done, woo!) But there’s another one next week on Thursday. We should get a mail in our Camp NaNo inbox about it pretty soon. I always mark it down in my calendar so I don’t forget! x

      6. Ahh that’s awesome, glad you had a productive one 🙂 I may be able to do a bit of catching up on the train back, I have my notebook packed. I’m at a YA book event on Thurs, but if it’s starting at 10 I may be back in time to participate 🙂 if not, I’ll definitely look out for the mail about the next one! x

      7. Oh wow. What book event are you going to? Sounds exciting! I’m going to a Holly Smale event in Waterstones next week, woo woo.

        I am so sorry for spamming all your comments all the time. I’m just really enjoying this convo.

      8. Aww that’s okay haha, me too! Spam away 🙂 Ooh that cool, I saw her speak on one of the panels at YALC last year and she was awesome! I haven’t read any of her books yet though. I’m going to an event at the Oxford Literary Festival – it’s a talk by David Fickling who is a children’s book editor/publisher, and Lisa Williamson who wrote The Art of Being Normal. 🙂

      9. Oh wow, that sounds incredible! I’m so jealous. I read The Art of Being Normal a few weeks ago and loved it. I can’t believe you went to YALC! I’m so desperate to go – but tickets are a bit expensive. Plus I live in Cornwall so it’s a bit far to travel. I will make it one day!

        Hopefully after the event though you’ll be feeling inspired and write out a hella lot of words! That’s always what happens with me whenever I go to writing/book events. I hope you have fun!

      10. Me too, it was an awesome book! Yeah I can see that it might be a bit of a trek from Cornwall. I think last year they did giveaways/competitions to win tickets so if you follow YALC on Twitter there might be something like that again this year 😀 and I completely agree, I’m always really inspired by book events, so probably a perfect time for the write-in 😊 I was actually inspired to start my blog by YALC because they had a workshop on book blogging! How is your Camp NaNo project going so far?

      11. Oh I will definitely be checking out their Twitter updates then! That would be amazing if they did it again this year. Free tickets! And I can’t think of any better way to be inspired to start blogging than YALC. That’s pretty special.

        Well I’ve missed two days of camp as of now! Tomorrow’s going to be spent making up for that. Feeling guilty! But I’m on about 5,000 so far anyway, so yay! Most of it is really messy writing but I’m getting the basic plot down and characters developed, so I’m pretty happy. How is yours going?

      12. Aww don’t worry, I missed the first few days so I’m in the same boat. I’m sure you’ll catch up 🙂 Are you going for the full 50k, or did you set a lower limit? I’m aiming for 12K because I am going away for most of the weekends this month – bad timing! And my first day (yesterday) went well – like you I’m doing messy writing trying to get the plot down, and I had a good splurge yesterday! I started writing by hand and I think I’m going to carry on that way for the moment, because it seems to flowing more easily than when I write on my laptop. I’m feeling quite inspired so far, so I hope it continues 🙂

      13. Oops. Sorry, I was away from my laptop for a couple of days! My word count goal is just 10,000 as I’m currently meant to be writing my dissertation project for my final year of university too, so didn’t wanna get too carried away! But I’ve managed just over 6,000 right now anyway, so I’m pretty sure I’ll hit it. What’s your word target?

        Writing by hand sounds so inspiring. I used to do that a lot, but it got so bad that I couldn’t write ANYTHING via my laptop, so I kicked the habit and joined the virtual world. (Boo, hiss). I still keep my notepad with me all the time though, just in case inspiration strikes!

        How did the book event go today? x

      14. Wow, I’m impressed you are doing this alongside your dissertation (I remember how much third year takes over your life haha!) That’s awesome – I’m almost at 6,000 too (I typed it all up the other night), and my goal is 12K so I think I’ll definitely be able to make it 🙂 I’m away again this weekend, but next weekend I’ve got a full free weekend so I’m hoping to make lots of progress then. How much did you plan before you started writing? I’m feeling a bit like I’ve planned to rigidly, and now I just want to do the opposite to what my plan says haha. I know what you mean about not being able to write on your laptop after only writing by hand… it’s like all the creativity just dries up out of me. But it is sooo much quicker and less achey than writing by hand. I also love keeping a notepad with me in case I get ideas while I’m out and about. The book event was fantastic 🙂 David Fickling was a real character, and it was really interesting to see what editors look for in YA manuscripts. And the authors were both great, and like you said, I came away feeling really inspired (especially as it made me realise that everyone struggles with writing, and it’s not easy for anyone, even people who’ve had amazing books published!) x

      15. I’m glad it went well! I love book events so much. I actually went to a signing today but didn’t manage to get in – even though I bought a ticket and everything. It was the Holly Smale event for Waterstones. I don’t think I realised how many younger readers there would be and I felt embarrassed, so I bought a book instead and read in the cafe upstairs. I was hoping to catch her afterwards but ran out of luck! Oops.

        Your word count sounds like it’s going really good! We’re gonna smash our word counts in no time haha. I hope you have a fun weekend away.

        On a side note, I would love to hear any tips the editors mentioned about what they look for in YA manuscripts – if you remember any! x

      16. Aww I’m sorry you didn’t get into the signing 😦 I’ve felt like that at YA events before too. I hope you get another chance to meet her sometime. And if it makes you feel any better, imagine being a 25 year old going to a One Direction concert… I’ve never felt so old in my life haha. Camp NaNo isn’t going so well for me right now, because I had a few days off, but I’m going to shut myself away this weekend and just write. How’s yours coming along? And the tips the editor mentioned… I’m struggling to remember everything, but the main thing I remembered was him saying that he looks for a distinctive voice, and immersive writing that makes you feel like you’re experiencing what the character is. And he also said they look for writing that is relatable – so even if it’s a fantasy book, there’s something which readers can look at and see themselves in. He also said he looks for someone who’s a great storyteller (although this is a bit vague, as there are so many different ways to tell a story!) x

      17. Oh my God. I LOVE One Direction. I never got to go to a concert when they toured, but I do have 1D cushions in my car and a blanket at the end of my bed, plus posters.. I’m 21. You should never feel silly for loving One Direction – though I totally understand where you’re coming from being at a concert haha.

        Sorry camp hasn’t been going so well – I get it when you’re busy! Weekend plans sound good though and you’re really committed to keep writing as you travel in your notebook. I would just cave in and read a book by someone else instead. Mine is getting put on hold every couple of days or so, mostly because I’m doing other things. But on days that I do write I make sure I bump up the word count a lot. Yesterday I wrote 2,000 words which never happens! So it’s going steady. I hope you get a lot of writing done over the weekend!

        That advice from the editor sounds great! It’s always nice to have an insight into what they’re looking for. I’m going to another lit fest event this weekend and hoping to meet more writers and publishers, so really looking forward to that! x

      18. Omg, I’m so happy you said that! It’s always nice to meet a fellow adult One Direction fan haha. I also have posters, and a cushion (my boyfriend bought it for me as a ‘joke’ birthday present, but I loved it!) Also, with the writing whilst travelling thing, although the intentions were there, it didn’t end up happening (I also caved in and read a book instead!) Mine’s also been on hold as it has been such a busy week, so the weekend will be all about catching up. But wow, 2000 words in one day is awesome 😀 hopefully I’ll manage the same at the weekend. Ooh the literary festival sounds awesome – which one is it, and which authors will be there? x

      19. Ahhhh a fellow ADULT One Direction fan. That’s made me so happy too. Sorry your writing while travelling plans didn’t carry out – I get it though, it’s hard! Reading a book is so much easier.

        My week is pretty busy right now too, so I’m hoping to squeeze in a LOT of writing time over the weekend morning/evenings.

        The lit fest is being held in Porthleven (not far from me, yay!) They will have authors like Liz Kessler (she wrote the Emily Windsnap books), Anna McKerrow (Crow Moon witchy trilogy), Lisa Glass (Blue series about surfers) and Lu Hersey (Deep Water). They’re all YA authors so I’m excited!

        Paul Dodgson will be there too and he’s a writer for BBC Radio 4. They’re also doing things like workshops and interviews there as well. Really looking forward to it!

      20. Ooh that sounds awesome! Writing workshops are so much fun. And that’s a great lineup of authors – Liz Kessler was at YALC last year, and she was great! I haven’t read the Emily Windsnap books, but I’ve read one of her other books (I think it was called Read Me Like a Book?) And if you’re doing writing mornings/evenings over the weekend maybe we can give each other some moral support 🙂

      21. YES, I have Read Me Like A Book and she was nice enough to sign it for me the first time I met her. It’s a brilliant book.

        Some moral support sounds really good actually. Do you use Twitter often? We could have word wars/sprints to spur each other on at certain times and stuff, if that sounds good to you.

      22. Ooh that’s awesome you met her! 🙂 I really enjoyed the book too. I’m doing some character development stuff today (interviews, etc.) but how about tomorrow? I do use Twitter a lot, so that would be great 😀 And I’ve not done word wars or sprints before but that sounds like it could be really helpful!

      23. I’ll be around on Twitter tomorrow morning probably anywhere between 8am and 12pm. When I start writing I’ll send you a tweet or something, or vice versa if you begin before me. Should be fun! x

    1. Ahh thank you! 😀 I know, I am very in love with it haha. I was so scared about accidentally damaging it whilst reading (because I am really clumsy!), but thankfully I finished the book and it’s still in perfect condition 🙂

    1. Haha, I am not normally this organised – I really just did it because I know I can’t multitask, and I would probably end up neglecting either my blog or Camp NaNo if I attempted to do both at the same time! And thank you – goo luck to you too! Not long to go now 😀

  2. I just decided that I will participate because I have to have this book written before July (or is it June). I gave myself that deadline and Nano is a good motivator.
    Good Luck on Camp Nano!

      1. Yup. I write, delete and rewrite the beginning over and over again.
        Currently at 7474 words. I’m aiming to write at least 25,000 this month (hopefully more), cz Im sick of still being at 4 digits.

      2. Ahh I know that feeling – it’s what I do with all of the novels I’ve started writing. I can never let go of a beginning. And every NaNoWriMo I pick one of the many novels I’ve started and I start re-writing it all over again haha. This time I’m going for something completely new, and I’m determined not to do the same thing. Hope yours goes well and you manage to reach your goals too! 🙂

      3. Don’t worry, I haven’t either!! I feel awful, but I’m away this weekend, so there was always going to be a bit of a delay. I think the writing every day thing isn’t the be-all-and-end-all… if there are some days where inspiration won’t come, it doesn’t matter, because there will be other days when the words come pouring out 🙂

      4. That usually happens before I start Nano. I cant stop writing but I tell myself I should wait because I’m going to run out of words LOL I know it sounds stupid, in retrospect the point is to write not count words.

        Don’t feel bad, ur right some days words do come pouring out. What I usually do is make notes, wherever I am, then come home and type it out, that way I’m not forcing myself to concentrate on writing-does that make sense? Its easier to expand on those notes.

      5. I do exactly the same thing – for some reason I have this idea that Nano is a magical time for writing and I should save words for the ‘official writing time’. And you’re right – it’s not about the word count (although I always become really obsessed with the word count!) – I’ve set myself quite a low one this year, and I’m gonna try and focus on getting chapters done, rather than counting my words. The making notes thing is a good idea, I think I’m going to take a notebook on the train with me later and jot down all of the stuff that comes to me 🙂 Hope your second day goes well.

    1. It was amazing!! I hope you love it as much as I did, and I look forward to seeing what you thought 😀 And ooh that’s awesome, good luck! What kind of story are you working on?

  3. OMG WILL YOU STOP TALKING ABOUT THIS ANNELISE GIRL?! SHE IS SOOO ANNOYING! HAHAHHA lol I’m stupid, I know. Thanks for accepting a second book club month with me ❤ Love you, Jess! Oh, and I loved EVERYTHING on this post! Congrats on the first Book Review Request, I'm beyond proud of you and happy to no ends!!! ❤ ❤

    1. Aww thanks m’dear! It was so exciting when the email popped up in my inbox! 😀 And of course – I am really excited about our next month of book club ❤ I still need to read my chapters!! Sounds like a plan for my Friday evening 🙂

      1. Me too! I may have got delayed by a Marquis’ son and his handsome captor, a very manly pirate… *sigh* Hahaha! But we both have until Sunday to read and you can leave the first e-mail on my account 😀 Love you ❤ ❤

      2. Haha, don’t worry, that sounds like a pretty worthy distraction! <3<3 (What is this book though?? I need it in my life right now!!!)

      3. It’s The Quartermaster and the Marquis’ son ❤ ❤ very suggestive, haha!

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