Category Archives: General

Reading Challenge for May – Read a book recommended by a friend…

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Several friends have recommended If I Stay, by Gayle Forman, to me and it has sat languishing in my bedside table for a while now – this cover is for the version of the book I have and so must have been bought around the time of the film release. I can’t remember now if I bought this copy or if it was given to me to read – I have a feeling it’s the latter, but definitely can’t think who it came from. My author buddy Tony Talbot read and reviewed this on the Aside from Writing blog ages ago, so you can check out his thoughts there (spoiler alert!) if you like (also, it’s evidence of the recommendation!)

My thoughts… 

Before you are 20 pages in to this book, you are shocked into experiencing the same trauma as Mia. There’s so little pre-amble to the crash that it is shocking, even though you know that is what the book centres on before you start. You just don’t want this kind of thing to happen to characters like them – you feel how unfair and sad it is, when this type of tragedy strikes.

I found the comments and interviews (from the film actors) with Gayle Forman really interesting at the end, putting the story into context with her own experience of grief. There are so many facets of grief considered through the story: parental love for a child/younger sibling; romantic loss and that of losing your parents. Mia – sitting outside herself – is a very human, emotive vehicle for considering all these things, whilst reflecting back on the life she has lived and the relationships that have been built around her at that point.

This is, as you would expect, a difficult read in places. I think Gayle does a great job of managing the hard emotional parts of the present, with the backstory of the past. It has the mix in the book, just as you do with grief itself, of being overwhelmed by emotion and loss in one instant, then reminiscing and feeling the warmth of love, family and friends the next. I teared up a few times whilst reading, especially in the sections on Teddy, which Mia felt almost with a parental love for her much younger brother.

I think this is a story that will linger with you for a long time, whether it’s because of shared experiences of grief and how poignantly this is told within the story, or because of the emotion you feel for Mia’s fictional family and those of anyone in real life you experiences these similar freak tragedies.

This is a relatively short book and without formal chapters, you tend to read on through the scenes. Whilst very sad, I enjoyed this book, in so much as it has lingered with me the last few days since finishing and I’d like to read more about the characters I met.

5*

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Life Quotes…

Quote The local radio station I listen to on the way to work has a feature where one of the presenters shares a cheesy ‘life quote’  each day, usually for the others to mock. You know the kind of ones…that if you said them out loud, rather than in your head, you’d probably feel a bit silly. (A bit like this one).

I can understand people liking quotes like these, maybe even finding some strength in the words that they relate to themselves…they’re just not for me really. But, I doubt you’d find a writer who doesn’t like quotes at all: they’re like little pieces of word art that you can hang inside your head 🙂 And with pinterest and the amount of ‘word art’ you see in shops these days, it’s easy to see that words as art is more popular than ever.

I have to admit, I am quite partial to quotes about creativity, inspiration and the weirdness of life… Several of my favourites – like this from Einstein – are on the walls around my little desk (my writing cave/corner), mixed in with ones that are aimed at getting me writing and not procrastinating.

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You know the type: “What are you waiting for?” “Do more of what makes you happy” Sometimes you have to be tough with yourself to get anything done!

To stop me collecting quotes on my wall, like the books on my shelves, I’ve taken to popping them on to a Pinterest board whenever I come across them (if you’re interested, you can see the type of thing that makes it here); or the little quote feature in Goodreads is pretty nifty for collecting any of the writerly ones you come across there.

 

 

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2016, a year gone by

Over new year there are always lots of reflection posts and ‘what I’m going to do next’ ones floating around everyone’s blogs. I’ve not done one so far this year – I’ve enjoyed reading other people’s posts, sometimes been saddened to see what they’ve struggled with in 2016, other times I’ve been impressed with what they have achieved. Now that we’re nearing the end of January, I suppose I’m finished procrastinating…

For me, 2016 was a bit of a mix – my new job kicked into high-gear and never really stopped, which meant alot of my mental space was dedicated elsewhere. I wrote sporadically – Cirque de la Nuit moved on a bit, but not as far as I would have liked… my ‘new adult’ project got a few scenes expanded, nothing major. I did release a book (surprisingly) – Faris and Jack – but it was something I had written a long while ago (nearly ten years!) and I got the chance to re-edit and polish it up whilst on holiday in Scotland.

So far, Faris and Jack has proved to be the most popular of my books, in terms of downloads. I’ve not pushed it hugely, opting rather to release it free electronically for all the major e-readers forever. I’ve already written the sequel and the outlines for the final couple of books that go with the series, so I’ll be aiming to get the second one out in 2017, then hopefully (!) finish Cirque de la Nuit because it feels like it deserves to be finished. I’m actually enjoying writing that story more than any I’ve done so far – little pieces clicking into place more easily, more naturally than the books before. Perhaps that’s just practice helping me along?

So that’s about it really, from a writing point of view. I’d like to blog more than I did last year – it was a bit of a bust across the four blogs I work on, with only bits and pieces being posted… I’m not doing too badly so far this year and I’d like to post about the 2017 reading plan if nothing else, I think there’s going to be some interesting reading this year.

For anyone reading this, I hope that you write well in 2017 and that the year is good to you… I hope that readers amongst you find some fantastic books to enjoy and embrace the new writers that you find… For everyone, I hope that 2017 takes you closer to achieving your dreams and that you have a happy year.

Mel x

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2017…I plan to read

I saw this today on Pinterest and thought it might be worth giving it a try. It’s still a pretty loose guide to what you’ll read and I’ve got my own ongoing ’empty the bedside table’ challenge and ‘clear the kindle’, which would fit around this.

I quite like the idea of something that nudges me to read something a bit different, without being too prescriptive. Some of the books in my own challenges will fit into this plan (I think) so I’m going to give it a go. The pin is saved below for you, to see if you fancy trying it too.

For January’s book, I’ll need to have a quick trawl through my shelves and see what I fancy re-reading. It’s been a long time since I looked at some of those books…

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A little challenge…

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My 2016 TBR list 🙂

A while ago I did a challenge where you had to blog about different book things every day for a month – the 30-day challenge. Although I didn’t make it 100% through the month, I did answer all the posts by the end, with some creative mergers!

One of the questions in that challenge asked you what book had been on your ‘to read’ shelf for the longest and I realised that The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy series remained uncompleted from my late teens and so had been carted around university halls and a couple of house moves in the last twenty years or so… And no, I’ve still not finished the series :/

Anyway, I’ve been ‘Autumn cleaning’ this weekend and took in the sorry stack of books stashed in my bedside table… They are a motley bunch and seem to follow no rhyme or reason as to why they are there. The only thing I can find to link them is that, at some point in the last few years, the books have appeared there with me thinking ‘I’ll put that here so I read it next’… Research books for my own writing, autobiographies passed on by friends, novels from family (some bought for my birthday, others loaned when they had finished with them), and my spontaneous ASDA purchases that appealed more than broccoli…

There’s an impressive twenty-four books stuffed into that small space and so I’ve decided to give myself a little push with a challenge to clear the decks of these books. So, this weekend I’m starting the ‘clear the bedside table challenge’ – sounds exciting, I know 😉

https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/7198950?shelf=bedside-table-challenge-2016

I’ve set up my Goodreads shelf (for motivation) and now I’ve posted about it here, I’ll have to carry this through – I just need to decide where to start Game of Thrones, James Bond, Antigone or Essential Bushcraft…? Decisions, decisions…

 

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Dystopian Apocalypse A-go-go

Well, it’s been a depressing (?) few weeks of reading and viewing for me..

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After reading the post-apocalypse dystopian trilogy The Testing I descended into a world of zombies, desolation, crazy governments and plucky teens (for the most part).

Whilst on holiday I read the last two books in the Pittacus Lore ‘Lorien’ series, which I’ve read in fits and starts over the last few years. I have to say after a couple flatter books in the middle of the series it really finished well – I went straight from one to the other, eager to see how everything works out (or not!) in the end. I’ll have to take the time to do a full review of the series at some point as it is a great, action-packed YA series.

On the return flight, I watched Alligent, the last in the Divergent series. From here you may know that I didn’t really get on with Tris in the first book, but I thought I’d give it a second chance and tried book two… It still wasn’t for me – the writing wasn’t bad but I didn’t feel that the factions premise held up well. In some ways the films got me through the story better, but the third was a let down again for me – the rationale for the factions and experimenting really didn’t seem that strong, it was a bit like the faction idea wasn’t thought through fully to the end of the series before the first was finished. I liked Tris better in the films than as narrator, but in the last she was ridiculously naive and several stock dystopian elements seemed to be thrown in, with no signficant enhancement of the story.

On the flight out, I’d downloaded eight hours of The Walking Dead to watch… It was a long flight and I managed to get through most of them. I’ve been power watching season four and five since we’ve been back home and now half expect it to be normal for the knock on the window to be a walker, or that sharp garden tools should be carried at all times – you know, just in case. I’ve got a few more episodes to go now, it’s been a much better series for me than the third, where I lost a bit of my affection for characters. There’s some really good development and focus on individuals in these two seasons which has definitely got me back on the (zombie) wagon. (Oh, random image just struck me then, I wonder if you could use walkers to draw you along in a cart, using flesh on a stick as the carrot…? Kind of disgusting, but could prove a viable alternative to fossil fuel in post-apocalyptic Georgia…)

Zombies on the back-burner (well, just a bit) I watched the second Maze Runner film this week. I’ve not read the books, but I did like the first film and the slight Lord of the Flies feel to it. Second film was similarly enjoyable. I think the characters and story are stronger than Divergent and in the films they have some good people cast in the core gang. Not sure I’m 100% convinced on the back story to some of the things at the moment, but I can see how there might be some good reasons behind what you see in this film that will be fleshed out, so will hold off deciding for now.

That brings me up to my latest read, Legend by Marie Lu. I’ve seen this around the web FOREVER and so I’m way behind on getting to read it, but I saw it I the library last weekend and thought ‘why not?’ if it’s free. And so I’m about halfway through now, enjoying my latest bout of humanity scraping along to survive under the thumb of a reasonably oppressive seeming government. When their lead by a glorious leader who has pictures everywhere it doesn’t usually bode well, trust me – we’ve been there before in my adventures through the end of the world 😉

i have to say, despite all of these outside influences , I’ve not really been feeling the creative spirit in me to get on with my own dystopian series, maybe finishing editing the kids book will perk me up… Less gore and guts (well, you’d hope so!)

 

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Long time, no post

Happy new year! Time for a little catch up 🙂

It’s been a busy few months since my last post – mainly with life away from writing and after some good progress in September, things have stumbled a little since then on completing Cirque de la Nuit. I’m hoping it’s not too far off completion now, just a few more chapters and the joys of editing to contend with.

My new year report from Goodreads tells me that I’ve averaged reading one book a month in 2015, which is pretty pitiful for me. Blogging has had it’s peaks and troughs too – if only the Time Turner I got last Christmas really worked, I’d be able to get everything done (damn my Muggle-ness!)

Anyway, here’s to 2016, I hope it brings you all success in whatever you’re up to.

Mel x

PS – If you’ve not read my latest book The Rainbow Maker’s Tale, you can grab a FREE copy today until 3rd January, just click the link and send it to your Kindle 🙂

http://www.amazon.com/Rainbow-Makers-Tale-Ambrosia-Sequence-ebook/dp/B00GF48NKE/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1451684250&sr=8-2&keywords=cusick-jones

 

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