Just Finished…’Burning Up’ and ‘The Note’

Ok, so I’ve read a few post-apocalypse and dystopian books recently, add to that Lost in Space and Fear the Walking Dead on my TV boxset watches, everything was getting pretty heavy. So, after finishing Station Eleven, which was an excellent, thought-provoking look at life after a major, world-wide epidemic takes out 99.8% of the world population in about 2 weeks, I needed something a bit lighter…

First up was The Note by Zoe Folbigg. Here’s the blurb:

The NoteThe note changed everything…

One very ordinary day, Maya Flowers sees a new commuter board her train to London, and suddenly the day isn’t ordinary at all. Maya knows immediately and irrevocably, that he is The One.

But the beautiful man on the train always has his head in a book and never seems to notice Maya sitting just down the carriage from him every day. Eventually, though, inspired by a very wise friend, Maya plucks up the courage to give the stranger a note asking him out for a drink. Afterall, what’s the worst that can happen?

And so begins a story of sliding doors, missed opportunities and finding happiness where you least expect it.

Based on the author’s true story, The Note is an uplifting, life-affirming reminder that taking a chance can change everything.

I got this as a free download from Amazon UK and it was the ‘sliding doors’ feel of the story and the promise of some lighter ‘life-affirming’ reading that appealed with this. I didn’t really get both. The story is told in third-person present tense, which has an odd ‘distancing’ quality to the whole presentation – you are so much inside main character Maya’s head, that it seems strange to me that it wasn’t done as first person, if it had been I think it would have helped you feel more engaged with the story and characters.

Maya works in fashion and whilst I get that some of the descriptions of her clothes and that of co-workers is to give context to what she does in work, I found it quite jarring to read the lengthy descriptions of blouses and dresses and skirts and shoes…and the materials they were made from…and the multitude of colours everyone is wearing… The same treatment was given to food that was eaten and most rooms Maya walked into – it wasn’t quite the manic descriptions of everything I found in American Psycho, but it certainly reminded me of it – and every time you had one of these descriptive interludes it really detracted from the core story I felt.

Anyway, the good bits are – Maya’s mild obsession and imagining a future from a random meeting on the train is quite relatable: ‘Ted Baker Man’ and ‘Red Coat Man’ would not be too far removed from ‘Train Guy’. She takes a l-o-n-g time to get anywhere with this though and as a character comes across as lacking self-awareness in many of her interactions with him. Overall, I think Maya’s best bits – and those of the story – are the characters she meets along the way and are not really what the blurb of the book promised: her Spanish class students, her best friend (who has a better romance story tbh) and sadly for Train Guy, seeing his existing relationship crumble. All those elements are stronger and feature much more heavily and realistically than their actual romance.

This gets 3* from me – the ideas and some of the characters are good; but the presentation of the story is distracting and distancing, which is unusual for what is pitched as a romance.

Burning UpNext up was Burning Up, which was a lot less cheesy than the cover and blurb would suggest… When they cut the chaps face off the cover to focus on his sweaty pecs I feel like it’s taking the potential reader a very specific way 🙂

Anyway, the blurb promises to ‘fan the flames of desire in Jennifer Blackwood’s smoking-hot series about firefighters and the women who want them…

Here’s what the book is about: Unemployed schoolteacher Erin Jenkins is back in Portland, the town she hasn’t called home for more than a decade. It’s not the way she wants to spend her last days of summer: in between jobs and avoiding her mother’s snooping by escaping to the ice-cream aisle. But when the opportunity arises for her to accompany her brother’s best friend—her lifetime crush—to a wedding, summer gets a whole lot more interesting.

Firefighter and single dad Jake Bennett has built a nice, safe wall around his heart—no romance, no getting burned. That doesn’t mean he’s ruling out a fling. Considering Erin’s visit is temporary, they’re the perfect fit for a scorching no-strings one-night stand. Or two. Or five. Until the worst thing happens: Erin and Jake are feeling more. Damn that four-letter word.

Now their hearts are on the line, and when their smoldering summer comes to a close, it’s going to be harder than ever to put out the fire.

Once you get away from the proliferation of puns for flaming romance and firemen in the blurb, the actual book is pretty good – and there’s no cheesy lines in sight, except for the odd one used in full sarcasm mode. Erin also doesn’t spend most of the book cataloguing the gorgeousness of Jake, but gets on with having a real life and change in circumstances around the budding relationship.

There are some heated scenes, so it’s not suitable for younger readers, but for me the book was primarily about fears of growing up and changing, how you balance the importance of a career against family life and potential relationships. It was also interesting reading from Jake’s perspective about balancing the idea of a new relationship alongside his responsibilities as a parent. There was a wider cast of characters in the book, who play important roles and influence Erin and how she deals with losing her job, as much as Jake does.

Overall, this was a better and more engaging read than The Note, with a romance and surrounding cast of characters that felt more in synch with the story and main character, as well as not featuring detailed descriptions of every inanimate object in the room every few pages. 4* rating for this one.

Now that I’ve had a mini-break reading-wise, it’s back to some grittier stuff: I’ve got Malorie Blackman’s Noughts and Crosses series to finish, Ubik on my kindle and Farenheiht 451 just dropped through the door… It’s going to be a mixed few weeks reading I guess…

 

 

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Just Finished…The Crucible

CrucibleThis is a re-read for me of one of my favourite plays to read – if that makes sense?

I first read this in school as a required text and it was one of the first times I really saw clearly escalating drama, then a lull, then another escalation, over the four acts of the play. If I had seen it in a play before, I hadn’t noticed it really. The characters in the play are also strong, whether good, bad or other, I enjoy the story that they come together to tell. It feels like you get more character development in this than other plays I’ve read.

In reading this at school, you really do to death (no pun) the motifs and themes and imagery, dissecting everything until you’ve pulled the text apart, but perhaps aren’t enjoying it so much. Coming back to it again after so many years, I still remember elements of what I learned and so in reading this reasonably fresh the elements that I revised for exam questions now just add texture and depth to a reading of an explosive play.

I’ve seen a few Miller plays performed, but never this one, even though it is my favourite of his. Re-reading this today just reminded me of this. Plus, the edition I have is the one pictured: a little ratty on the outside, found in a second hand book shop and purchased for the grand price of 85p when I was at Uni – so it’s nostalgia all around, even down to the musty-smelling, slightly yellow pages.

Yeah, I suppose this wasn’t a review of the play at all, but of my experiences reading it. Oh, well. It’s Sunday, don’t hold it against me.

I’m three, I’m three!

On my way back from beautiful Scotland and what do I find when I do the usual author-stalk of my books on Amazon….?

I find this!

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Thats right, Faris and Jack at number three in the top ‘horse’ book charts 😊 It also made it to twelve in the ‘sword and sorcery’ category, very exciting… Finges crossed I might break the top ten there soon too!

Thursday thoughts…

Mama Cass 1972“Nobody can tell you, there’s only one song worth singing.

They may try and tell you, cos it hangs them up to see someone like you”

I love this song and, although I don’t know why, it always gives me little chills. That’s good music.

Now, I should try and get back to writing like I’m supposed to be doing 🙂

Blast from the past…

#AccidentalPoet

Poem

Well, look what my Mum found while ‘spring cleaning’ – a cheeky poem, dropped into my Dad’s birthday card nearly 20 years ago – I think I’d have been seventeen or eighteen-ish. I’ll share it with you here and you’ll get the picture on why I don’t normally write poetry!

Happy Thursday! 😀

The Reason Why People “Like” But They Don’t Comment

Interesting post here on why people ‘like’ but don’t always comment. (I’m not sure where ‘reblogging’ sits in this situation…?)

I think there are some valid ideas here in what makes people comment more than like, or do nothing at all. The only one I find that stops me commenting is when I follow blogs which aren’t WordPress and get into the horrible ‘sign in’ to comment thing, which has deleted my lengthy comments or requires me to set up a load of new user stuff just to comment back on something I found interesting…

What do you think, commenter, liker or invisible reader… which are you?

The Golden Lands

I’ve been seeing a lot of blogs recently where the authors have a MAD following.  I sigh and drool and faint whenever I see how many followers these people have.  They average at LEAST 40 likes a post.

But they also average MAYBE 2-3 comments a post.

Why?

These people have 5,000+ followers.  Some have 20,000+ followers.  Why is no one commenting?

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Let’s be honest.  Everybody likes to get Liked.  But I think we can agree that when people take the time to comment, this feedback means way more to us.  Because it’s easy for people to click the Like button, but it takes effort to comment.  And that means they are taking us seriously and actually paying attention.  We like comments more than Likes.

The question is then: What makes people comment?

Personality.

Sig and Armstrong

You might have a huge following, but if you don’t have a sense of personality

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TGIF Throw back!

Looking at old blogs and things last week got me thinking about ‘blogging’ things I used to do and I saw this! The TGIF Look Back was a meme idea, ideally it just took a few minutes to jot down and share how your week had been. For old times sake, this is how my week stacked up – how was yours?

It just takes a few minutes: to play along, just answer the following questions with some Friday feeling…or come up with your own examples for the F R I D A Y letters!

FUNNY – What made you laugh this week?

READING – What were you reading this week?

INSPIRED – What inspired you this week? 

DREAM – What were you dreaming about this week?

ANGEL – Who was your angel of the week?

YUCK – What made you go ‘ewwww’ this week?
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My TGIF Look Back…

FUNNY – I watched The Hitman’s Bodyguard this week and was crying laughing at parts of it – I love Ryan Reynolds (esp. Deadpool) and his character in this was like a slightly toned down, smart-talking, kick-ass Deadpool – replacing the red stretchy suit with a natty grey one. If you like him in that, and Samuel L. Jackson in a role with shades of his Marvel counterpart, you’ll probably enjoy this.

READING – Currently reading my first David Estes book Slip and enjoying the shades of Philip K Dick that the first half of the novel has had…

INSPIRED – Maybe it’s the new year ‘blow out the cobwebs’ feeling I’ve been inspired by this week, but getting my latest book finished and coming fresh into the new year is leaving me in a generally writer-y mood! 🙂

DREAM – Oh – an absolutely crazy one last night about trying to get back to a friend’s wedding because I was her bridesmaid – but to get there I had to navigate the sewers by boat to get there, because that’s where she was holding it! I suggest that Co-Op’s garlic soft cheese roulade is yummy, but best not consumed after 9pm if you don’t want to get the crazy dreams!

ANGEL – Angel / star of the week for me are the lovely people who will have been in to Dogs Trust, RSPCA and other dogs homes in the last few days to rescue and give good homes to little puppies gifted at Christmas and already dumped. It’s astounding – and sad – how much this still happens… They’re for life!

YUCK – Yeah, my attempt at home made stroganoff did not go so well this week. It wasn’t awful, but it really wasn’t good!