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!

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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.

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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! 🙂



Confessions of a Writer Tag


I’ve been tagged by the lovely Aura @ Oxford Writers Lounge to do the Confessions of a Writer Tag! I’m by no means a published author, but I do love to write in my spare time, and with NaNoWriMo going on right now (which I’ve had to start a week late due to life getting in the way…) I thought I’d give this tag a go! Please check out Aura’s blog, and also her awesome book Secrets of Oxford, which is available on Amazon.

In case you were wondering, the photograph is of the beautiful antique miniature writing desk my boyfriend bought me for my birthday this year! The writing paper and quill (possibly the most pretentious purchase I’ve ever made, but whatevs) are from Scriptum, a magical little shop in Oxford full of old-timey writing goodies, which I keep forgetting the name of because I just want to call it Flourish and Blotts, tbh.

1) When did you first start writing? Was being a writer something you always wanted to do?

In primary school I loved writing stories, although apparently I wasn’t very imaginative, because I ended every single one of them with the same sentence; “And then, they all went to McDonalds.” If I ever finish writing a novel, I’m actually kind of tempted to wrap it up with a trip to McDonalds, in homage to little-kid me, and her authorly aspirations.

2) What genre do you write?

I haven’t finished a novel, but the short stories I write tend to be a blend of surreal/psychological thriller. I’ve posted a couple on this blog – The Crow and The Box – if you’re interested in checking them out!

3) Can you tell us a little about your current work in progress? When did you start working on this project?

The novel I’m working on right now is a YA contemporary romance, and my main characters’ names are Calvin Rayes and Olly Branwell. I don’t have a title yet. Most other novels I’ve started have been dark and depressing, so I wanted to write something warm and uplifting for a change. I’m still in the planning stage right now.

4) What was the first piece that you can remember writing? What was it about?

I wrote this classic poem as a child:


That’s copyright, y’all. No stealin’.

5) What’s the best part about writing?

Editing! I like polishing up my writing and making it sound better. I’m never happy with my first draft (but who is?!)

6) What is the worst part about writing?

The feeling of being blocked, staring at a blank page or screen and wondering how the hell you’re going to fill it with something that isn’t shit!

7) What’s the name of your favourite character and why? (This can be from another author or your own work. Book crushes are perfectly acceptable here as well.)

Bridget Jones! I love that she’s not just a humorous character, but also complex and full of contradictions; she’s constantly striving to be taken seriously, yet almost seems to enjoy playing the person everyone thinks of as a little bit ridiculous… she’s a proud feminist, yet desperately wants to find a man (and worries about whether this makes her less of a feminist). To me, she’s deeply relatable.

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Image via Giphy / Tumblr

8) How much time a day/week do you get to write? When is the best time for you to write (morning or night)? How much time a day/week do you get to write? When is the best time for you to write (morning or night)?

I struggle to write after a day at work, and I’m good for nothing when I first wake up in the morning! Weekends tend to be my most productive. I’m not good at writing in small scraps of time; I need a whole day to get into the flow of a story.

9) Did you go to college for writing? Or if you haven’t been to college yet, do you plan to?

I did an English Literature degree, but my final dissertation was in Creative Writing! I wrote a gothic retelling of the myth of Oedipus, from the perspective of the mother, set in 19th century England. If you want to read it, you’re very welcome, although it’s a bit long to post on here.

10) What bothers you more: spelling errors, punctuation errors or grammar errors?

Spelling errors are the least forgivable, because that’s what spell-check is for!

11) What is the best writing advice that anyone has given you?

Turn off your ‘inner editor’, and just write! (I am bloody awful at doing this, but it is good advice!)

12) What advice would you give another writer?

Plan before you write, and work out how your story is going to end! Every time I’ve tried to write without a clear plan, I’ve written thousands of words worth of waffle, before abandoning the story altogether.

13) What are your favourite writing sites or blogs that you turn to for help, tips or encouragements?

I follow tons of authors on Twitter, and lots of them have blogs where they post writing tips; there’s so much good free advice out there!

14) Besides writing, what else do you enjoy doing? What are your hobbies?

Blogging (I know this is also writing, but it’s a separate activity to my fiction writing), binge-watching Netflix, and sleeping.

15) What is the best book you have read this year?


Reviewed here.

16) What is the best movie you have seen this year?

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So clever. So adorable!

17) What is you favourite book or series of all time? 


The most devastating but beautifully written book.

18) Who is your favourite author?

Cassandra Clare! I obsessively read everything she writes and I’m in love with the world she has created!

19) What are your plans for the rest of the year in terms of your writing?

NaNoWriMo probably isn’t going to work out the way I’d hoped, so my goal is just to finish planning my novel by the end of November, and then get writing!

20. Where else can we find you online?

Twitter. I’ll be opening a Wattpad account soon too!

I’m not sure who to tag for this, as I don’t know how many of my book-blogging friends are also into fiction writing, but if you are, consider yourself tagged! Also, if you’re doing NaNoWriMo this year, let me know! I’d love to hear what you’re working on this month 🙂


My 2nd attempt at Camp NaNoWriMo

So, it turns out that I haven’t used this blog at all, despite all my good intentions. But the important thing is that I have been writing, and I don’t want to jinx it, but I’m pretty pleased with what I’ve achieved so far.

My real saviour has been this year’s July Camp NaNoWriMo (like the official November National Novel Writing Month, but erm… in July). I attempted to start writing a different novel back in the April Camp, but failed abysmally. This was because I came up with a rubbish idea the day before it kicked off, and I just pantsed my way through the first week, before giving up because I hated my story so damn much. I had no clue where the plot was going (because I hadn’t done ANY planning whatsoever), and the characters were flat, and basically all acted like clones of one another. The main problem though, was that I really wanted to be telling a different story… one I wasn’t brave enough to start. 

The novel I’m really passionate about (the one I’m writing now), is something I started years ago, back when I was 17. I’m 22 now, so it’s been a long time coming. During sixth form I wrote about 60,000 words, and I was absolutely obsessed with my characters. Their lives were more real to me than my own. But then I went off to university and things got exciting, and life got in the way.

Ever since I moved back home, I’ve been trying to go back to it, but finding it near impossible to even look at. I’ve read through everything I wrote before and it makes me cringe, because it’s just so angsty and over-the-top. You can definitely tell it’s written by a seventeen year old, and although it’s a YA novel, I’m not sure that’s such a good thing… The voice isn’t too far off the mark, but there’s no structure at all. It’s basically just a big outpouring of emotion; it sounds like me, whining.

I think one of the major problems was that before, I wrote random bits here and there; I would keep revisiting the exciting bits, trying to improve them, so much so that I never got any of the story down into a proper order. I’ve since discovered, through writing short stories and essays at university, that I’m somebody who cannot structure well unless I start from the beginning and keep going until the bitter end! I’m also a chronic perfectionist, and it hinders rather than helps me most of the time.

For the past year or so, I’ve been trying out a bunch of different ways of re-structuring the novel, but none of them have seemed right. So I made the decision to do a total rewrite, starting from 1st July. And Camp NaNoWriMo is working so well for me this time around. I’m writing something I’m genuinely passionate about, from start to finish. I’m turning off my inner editor and just telling the story as it happens. I’m structuring well, because I’m not getting carried away and jumping to later scenes, telling random bits of the story all over the place. And I’m making myself do this, because I’m setting myself manageable goals each day – goals that I can work around, so that life won’t get in the way.

Like I said, I don’t want to jinx anything, but right now I’m on track, and I still love what I’m doing, and that can only be a good thing… 🙂