Spotlight: Happy Hour and Other Philadelphia Cruelties – Tony Knighton

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Friends, I’m really excited to read this book. It’s got some fantastic reviews on Goodreads, and seems really interesting. I love short story collections, and this definitely feels right up my street.

The book, by author Tony Knighton, is currently $0.99 on Amazon until Friday, November 22nd, 2019 and can be found here.

You can also check out a video from the book’s author below, which has just added to my eagerness to read this collection.

And check out this video of the author discussing the book – I promise it’s worth a watch!

The Author

Tony Knighton is a Lieutenant in the Philadelphia Fire Department, a twenty-nine year veteran.

He has published short fiction in Static Movement Online and Dark Reveries.

“The Scavengers” was previously published in the anthology Shocklines: Fresh Voices in Terror from Cemetery Dance Publications. “Sunrise” originally appeared in the anthology Equilibrium Overturned from Grey Matter Press.

Books: Happy Hour and other Philadelphia Cruelties, Three Hours Past Midnight.

Amazon Author Page

Book on Goodreads

Book Reviews

Anyone who follows me on here and on Twitter might be aware I, not that long ago, started reviewing for Dead Head Reviews. The focus on there is horror, but I review a variety of genres here on my blog, too.

More and more recently, I have been contacted directly by publishers and authors with requests to review their work. For me, that is so exciting, and I love having the opportunity to help promote new and indie authors. I’ve also started taking part in blog tours!

Because of this, I have now added a Review Policy to this website, with my contact details for any authors, publishers etc who might be interested in me reviewing one of their books.

It basically outlines the ideal information for requesting reviews, but importantly also has my new review e-mail address, so if you’re trying to promote a book, please feel free to get in touch, either on Twitter (@elleturpitt) or via my new e-mail, elleturpittreviews@gmail.com.

 

The BBNYA Reveal!

Writers and bloggers definitely need to check this out!

Servillas Speaks

It has been ten days since we started teasing this project on Twitter (@BBNYA_official) and it has been really fun to see everyone so excited, but also confused and eager to know what is going on.

Well, the time has come to finally reveal what this shady business is about…

We are proud to introduce

The First Annual Book Bloggers’ Novel of the Year Award!

in association with
The Folio Society & The Write Reads

BBNYA, the first annual Book Bloggers Novel of the Year Award, is a competition for indie authors (both self-published and published by small indie presses).
The contest will be judged by a large and diverse panel of book bloggers from all around the world. The panel will put the books through several rounds of judging based off a wide set of criteria. As each round goes by, we will have bookbloggers announce the…

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Esme’s Wish – Elizabeth Foster [Book Review]

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Blurb

When fifteen-year-old Esme Silver objects at her father’s wedding, her protest is dismissed as the action of a stubborn, selfish teenager. Everyone else has accepted the loss of Esme’s mother, Ariane – so why can’t she?

But Esme is suspicious. She is sure that others are covering up the real reason for her mother’s disappearance – that ‘lost at sea’ is code for something more terrible, something she has a right to know.

After Esme is accidentally swept into the enchanted world of Aeolia, the truth begins to unfold. With her newfound friends, Daniel and Lillian, Esme retraces her mother’s steps in the glittering canal city of Esperance, untangling the threads of Ariane’s double life. But the more Esme discovers about Ariane, the more she questions whether she really knew her at all.

Review

Esme’s mother disappeared when she was a child, and when her father remarries, Esme believes he’s making a mistake, convinced her mother is still out there, somewhere. Esme has always been a loner, neither her nor her mother quite accepted into the community. But when she discovers a new world, she finds more layers to her mother than she could have thought possible. Retracting her mother’s steps, Esme untangles the secrets of Aeolia, an enchanting world with magic and dragons, as well as making new friends, Daniel and Lillian, who help her find out both about Aeolia and her mother.

Esme’s Wish is the debut novel for Elizabeth Foster, and the first in a series for MG-to-YA series, and it was an absolute delight to read. From the opening chapters, to the strange world of Aeolia, Foster completely draws the reader in, connecting them instantly with Esme and painting a picture of such a beautiful if dangerous secondary world.

The threads of the novel wind together really well, and the characters remain believable and engaging throughout. From the strange, mysterious figures who seem to follow Esme, to the mayor and enchantress who might not be completely trustworthy, to the mystical beings inhabiting this world, everything about this novel keeps the reader riveted and keen to read on.

Esme is a really great character to follow, confident in her choices, yet uncertain about everything she discovers. The way the friendship was formed between the core three was handled really well, and felt realistic for characters their age, including the initial hostility between Daniel and Lillian, and the way they put this aside for Esme. The writing is magical and engaging, the descriptions stunning without being too much, and the worldbuilding handled really well.

Overall, this was a fantastic novel, one I definitely think younger, MG readers would enjoy, and which leaves plenty of room for the sequel. I’ll really be looking forward to book two in the series.

The Author

Elizabeth Foster grew up in Brisbane, Australia, and now lives in sunny Sydney. Apart from writing and reading, she loves swimming in the ocean, walking, and playing the piano (badly). She has just finished the sequel to Esme’s Wish and is now hard at work on the final story in the Esme series. You can usually find Elizabeth on Twitter @e_foster3

Praise for Esme’s Wish

‘Absorbing, enchanting, whimsical, Esme’s Wish is a story to lose yourself in. I would recommend this book to readers one and all.’ – Isobel Blackthorn, author.

Wendy Orr, NYT bestselling author of Nim’s Island, commended Esme’s Wish as ‘…a fresh new fantasy, of an enchanting world.’

Get the book via Amazon

Twisted Tales Books

Twisted TalesWelcome to day three of my Disney blog themed posts, during which I will be in both Disneyland AND Walt Disney Studios. Exciting times. I am also now officially thirty, which is odd cause in my head I’m still somewhere in my early 20s. Today I’m going to talk about one of my favourite book series, and don’t forget you can enter my Twitter giveaway to win any Disney themed book of your choice – details at the end!

Twisted Tales

Twisted Tales are a series of books, written by three different authors. Each book tackles twisted 1a Disney film, inserting a twist into the story we know and love – A Whole New World asks ‘What if Aladdin never found the lamp?’ Reflection – ‘What if Mulan had to travel to the underworld?’ Mirror, Mirror – ‘What if the Evil Queen poisoned the prince?’ etc. There are currently seven books in the series, with two more coming out soon.

This is probably my current favourite book series, and it’s introduced me to three fantastic authors. Each book is skillfully twisted 2written and thought out, with the characters we love, yet giving them just enough changes to make the story feel fresh and exciting. And so far, the choices for stories has been really good, with a focus mainly on the princesses, but exploring a couple of others as well.

The only released one I haven’t yet read (at the time of writing) is Conceal, Don’t Feel/Let It Go (it seems to have a different title everywhere I look), which is focused on Frozen. I’ve been saving it for my Disney trip, so perhaps by the time you read this, I might have read it. Either way, look out for my review!

twisted 3The three authors are Liz Braswell, Elizabeth Lim, and Jen Calonita. Each have their own distinctive writing style, yet still feel like they match the stories really well. And it’s clear from the writing and characters how much love they have for these tales – Elizabeth Lim recently released Spin the Dawn (my review is here), a Mulan retelling, which is definitely worth checking out. Not to mention Reflection is currently my favourite of this series.

But this is the kind of series where everyone has their own favourite,. There are three of us in work who get every book, as soon as it comes out, and we each prefer different ones. Overall, the series has proved imaginative, with interesting storiestwisted 7 about the characters and adding further depths to these worlds.

In some, the book is set in the middle of the film, either changing the outcome of the rest of the story – as in A Whole New World – or giving more weight to middle-scenes, the book taking place in a contained moment which feels like it could fit easily into the classic animated film, such as Reflection. In others, the twist comes right at the very end of the film, giving us a chance to see what happens to the heroes if they don’t actually win, as in Part of Your World, which explores what happens to the kingdoms under and above the sea, if Ursula actually won.

twisted 5If you are a Disney fan, I cannot recommend this series highly enough. With talented authors telling fantastic stories, this series really does add a lot to classic animated films, and I can’t wait to see what comes out next, after Elizabeth Lim tackle’s Cinderella and Liz Braswell takes on Peter Pan.

 

The Series, In Order

A Whole New World – Liz Braswell – What if Aladdin never found the lamp?

Once Upon a Dream – Liz Braswell – What if the sleeping beauty never woke up?

As Old as Time – Liz Braswell – What if Belle’s mother cursed the beast?

Reflection – Elizabeth Lim – What if Mulan had to travel to the underworld?

Part of Your World – Liz Braswell – What if Ariel had never defeated Ursula?

Mirror, Mirror – Jen Calonita – What if the Evil Queen poisoned the prince?

Conceal, Don’t Feel/Let It Go – Jen Calonita – What if Anna and Elsa never knew each other?

Upcoming

So This Is Love? – Elizabeth Lim – What if Cinderella never tried on the glass slipper?

Straight on Till Morning – Liz Braswell – What if Wendy first travelled to Neverland with Captain Hook?

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Giveaway

I am currently hosting a Disney book themed giveaway on Twitter. Just follow that link, make sure you’re following me on there, and retweet. You could, if you so wanted, pick any of the fantastic Twisted Tales books, or Elizabeth Lim’s Spin the Dawn. Good luck!

A Trip to Disney, 1994

Welcome to day two of my Disney themed blog posts, posted November 12th, 2019 – my 30th birthday! It’s also the first day we get to spend in the parks, so if you’re following me on Twitter, be prepared for lots of excitement and probably a fair few pictures. I’m actually writing this on Saturday, and I’m already a bundle of nervous, excited energy. So much to do, so much to see, I cannot wait!

Don’t forget to check the end of this post for details of my Twitter giveaway. Also, the absolute best moment of this story comes at the very end.

That said, this isn’t the first birthday I’ve spent at Disney. This is a story I’ve shared before on Twitter, but doing it as a post allows for…well, a bit more, doesn’t it? So if you excuse me, I want to share something that happened to us 25 years ago this month, something terrifying (to us), amazing, and which ended with the best holiday of my life.

And my fifth birthday.

(Please excuse the lack of pictures – this is going to be a text heavy post, apologies in advance for that. This is a mix of my memories and things I’ve learnt since, mainly from my dad.)

(And a trigger warning – there’s a car accident in this story, no deaths, but it was…pretty bad.)

Way back in 1994, my mother entered a radio competition, which resulted in her winning a trip for two, to Florida. For the week before my birthday. With a 4 year old girl and 9 and 10 year old boys, it wasn’t like they could really go without us. So my dad did everything he could, borrowing money wherever possible, so all five of us could go, and so we had an extra week there, to make my birthday absolutely bloody magical.

I can still remember leaving school the day we were to travel to London, staying overnight before the flight the next day. The jealously of my classmates, the sheer excitement I felt, piling into the car, my neighbour running out calling not-my-name. “Helena! Helena! ” She had a present for me, she said, and handed me a small box.

A collection of puppy-in-my-pockets.

If there was anything I loved as much as Disney, it was dogs, and I was building a collection of the small toys. I kept them close in the car, playing with tissue to make flowers, something we’d just learnt in school – or maybe my brother had taught me.

Either way, I loved making them, and did so as we came over the bridge between England and Wales.

I was in the middle of one, in Swindon, when something…happened.

The car rolled.

And I mean, went full on upside down, over and over. Thankfully, we landed on the hard shoulder. Not thankfully, we were upside-down. My brother unclipped his belt and dropped to the ceiling. Dad got out. Couldn’t get to Mum, but managed to get me and my older brother out of the car.

It was only years later I’d find out people stopped, but not the driver. As far as my dad could tell after, someone undercut us, caught the side of the car, and sent us spiralling out of control.

With the people who stopped, one woman said to my dad, “I wanted to help, but I froze. I thought you’d all be dead.”

As we stood on the side of the motorway, a police car came rushing down. Remember, this is before mobile phones – someone must have called from a roadside phone, and the police were quick. They went past – Dad says he saw the officer look over, gesture to the driver. The police car backed up down the hard shoulder. When they reached us, he checked Dad over. Paramedics arrived and got Mum out, and as they realised we were all walking, the officer looked up, gestured, and a helicopter – about to land – flew off.

They asked if we wanted to carry on or go home. Paramedic insisted that, nope, we were going to the hospital before any other decisions were made.

Asked Dad if he was okay. “I’m fine,” he said, then blinked, and his eyes stung. He looked down, and glass fell out of his eyes. How the hell his eyes weren’t badly injured, we have no freaking idea.

We were taken in an ambulance, to Swindon Hospital. Mum taken away, Dad checked out, my brothers left in charge of me. I think we went to the play area, but all I remember thinking was that I’d never see my mother again.

As it turned out, she was actually okay. A deep cut above her eyebrow – we think Dad fell into her, knocking her into the window – but stitches on that and all was fine.

We survived, we walked out…because we were all wearing our seatbelts. And people wonder why I’m so insistent if I get in a car with anyone and they don’t put them on.

We had to go the garage – Manathome – to get our stuff when we were out of the hospital. Had to go in a taxi. And I….refused. Screamed, cried, did not want to get in another car. Reasons for that should be obvious. Dad threw me in, and off we went.

Walked into the garage, and the mechanics asked – “You’re not here about the Ford, are you?”

Readers, please note, I could not tell you any car we have had in recent years. I know my dad’s current car, but most, I can’t identify them for shit. I’m useless with Ubers – have to check the licence plate. But that car? I can remember it, remember loving it, remember it being a happy place, and remember being devastated we would never ride in it again. But damn if it didn’t protect us.

Why did they say that about the Ford, you may ask. (I’m making an assumption here)

Because they could barely believe anyone had walked out of that car alive, let alone WALKED OUT, with nothing worse than bruises, scratches and cuts, no broken bones or worse injuries.

Mechanic – “Today was not your day to go, was it?”

Hell no it wasn’t!

We got our stuff. I don’t know when it was – if it was in the ambulance or in the recovery vehicle that took us to our digs – but at some point, me and my brothers were asked, “Do you want to go to Florida, or go home?”

We nodded. Dad says we looked sorta terrified, shocked, but it was one thing we could agree on without needing to talk.

We were freaking going.

So we got to the digs – the very lovely pub which welcomed us, set us up in our rooms, and let us have free roam of the pub in the morning, leaving out cereal and other breakfast things for us.

On the plane, I cried when Dad showed me why there was a sign saying, “Do not flush toilet.” When we landed, I howled.

“What’s wrong now?” The question, I imagine, many exasperated parents put to their kids.

You said we were going to Diiiisneeeey!

I can’t imagine how frustrated they felt at that. Probably had to explain the whole concept of airports to me and how we couldn’t just land in the park.

We were in Florida.

Throughout the holiday, my parents received looks from different people – people who’d glance at my bruised mother, then look at my father, with his cut, bruised knuckles. A pair of old ladies approached my mother at one point.

“If you and your children need somewhere to go-”

“Oh, no, we were in a car accident.”

“Of course, dear, but we can help you if you need it…”

Dad always said he wasn’t even angry at them – at least they said something, rather than just giving him dirty looks like everyone else.

I was poorly – not enough to disrupt the trip, but I barely ate, had to use the toilet by the time we got to the front of every queue, could barely walk. I was four (then five) and had to be put in a pushchair. When they went to the doctor’s to have Mum’s stitches checked, the doctor looked me over. Gave them a prescription. They collected it, gave me a couple of drops, and…

I fell asleep in the middle of the shop, Great Western Boot Company.

I missed TWENTY-FOUR HOURS of that holiday.

BUT I had an amazing birthday, and the whole thing…a lot of that trip remains firmly fixed in my memories.

And after sleeping away a whole day, when we went to Universal, as we went past the Jaws ride, I spotted a hot dog vender.

“Dad, can I have a hot dog?”

He almost cried – it was the first time I’d asked for any food the whole trip.

At Universal, they had a Jurassic Park exhibit. We walked in, I spotted Triceratops, my absolute favourite thanks to Land Before Time, and bawled my eyes out.

“What’s wrong now?”

They killed all the diiiinoooosaurs!

However, Dad’s favourite memory, the one he says made the whole awful ordeal worth it, was when we first arrived and went to the Magic Kingdom.

Me, little four year old me, running up to Chip and Dale, hugging them, and turning to my brothers.

“See!” Triumphant, overjoyed. “I told you they were real!”

Giveaway

I am currently hosting a Disney book themed giveaway on Twitter. Just follow that link, make sure you’re following me on there, and retweet. Good luck!

Underrated Disney

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When this post comes out, I’ll be on my way to Disneyland Paris to celebrate my birthday. So I’m scheduling a few Disney themed posts for your reading pleasure while I’m away.

There are so many Disney films out there, and typically, the majority usually get a lot of love. But to me, there are just a few which always seem to be overlooked. I could be wrong, and in Disney fan circles these could be worshipped as the treasures they are, but these are ones I personally don’t see mentioned a lot. Or which are perhaps fan favourites, but overlooked by Disney themselves.

Like all my lists and posts, these are just my opinions – I am more than happy if someone wants to ‘correct’ me and point out if a film isn’t overlooked, and feel free to tell me your own underrated favourites.

black cauldronThe Black Cauldron

I really enjoyed this film. It’s far from being one of Disney’s best, and came at a time when the studio was struggling. It was seen as a bit bleak and dark for a children’s animated feature, and if memory serves, they went way over budget on it. But it’s still black cauldron2enjoyable, with more of a Celtic fantasy feel than Disney’s over films. It’s a little bit reminiscent of Sword in the Stone, too. If you haven’t seen it yet, definitely check it out, and here’s hoping we eventually do get a live action remake of this one – it’d be great to see it a little bit redeemed. And if anyone is sort of familiar with Celtic mythology, I think they’d get a definite kick out of this one.

 

brother bearBrother Bear

I only watched this one relatively recently, but I fell in love with it so much I watched the sequel straight away. The second film was supposed to lead into a TV series, and it’s such a shame we didn’t get that. Brother Bear is an adorable story, the characters are insanely loveable, and the focus on love, redemption, forgiveness and family make it so poignant. The soundtrack, too, is an absolute blast, bringing back Phil Collins – this and Tarzan are two of my favorite Disney soundtracks, and what’s not to love about the bears themselves? Safe to say, I  laughed and cried at this.

Also, I have to admit, as the youngest of three – and the only girl – I can totally relate to Koda, especially when he’s excited and chattering away and won’t shut up because, yep, I was that kid. I bugged my brothers no end, and could talk the ears off anyone, who I was comfortable with, anyway.

Bugs-life6A Bug’s Life

This is a classic and I won’t have anyone tell me different. A Bug’s Life is a fantastic story, and when it came out, I remember being absolutely blown away by the world created – the animation had only really been seen in Toy Story. A Bug’s Life was Pixar’s second bugs lifefeature film, coming out three years after Toy Story. And I loved it just as much. We now have four Toy Story films, a sequel to Incredibles, and a whole franchise from bloody Cars – where’s Bug’s Life 2, people? Considering how much I actually hate bugs and cringe away when they come near me, it’s a surprise this and James and the Giant Peach were two of my childhood favourites, and I still remember my friend, cousin and I arguing over which VHS cover each of us would get, after my aunt got one of each and we had to pick.

moana

Moana

I love Frozen, but Moana is better. I will fight anyone who says otherwise, and I don’t think I really need to say more about this one, except I seriously hope we get a sequel to this eventually. Amazing music, brilliant cast, visually stunning and overall a fantastic film.

oliver and coOliver & Co

When I was a kid, if there was a dog in a film I wanted to watch it. This was no exception, I adored this film, and watched it constantly. I also very much liked the musical Oliver, so this was a perfect combination for me. What happened to Disney taking classics and oliver and co2doing them with animals? (More on that below) Oliver & Co is cute and fun, and the ending is….freaking dark. Talking of which, when did Disney stop doing the dark endings??? I miss them – villains just seem to…slink away now, or are dragged away. Frozen should have ended with Hans dying, really. But yeah – Oliver & Co, like Brother Bear, has a fun soundtrack, adorable characters, and is overall really fun.

 

lion king 2 upendiLion King 2 – Simba’s Pride

Yeah, I freaking love this film. Again, classics, retold with animals. Lion King is Hamlet, Lion King 2 is Romeo & Juliet. Lion King 1 1/2 also deserves a mention, for being a recreation of a Hamlet spin-off play. But 2 has a special place in my heart because damn, I freaking love it. He Lives In You is such a legendary song they worked it into the musical (and the live action version), Upendi is pure bliss, My Lullaby is an amazing follow up to Be Prepared, Not One of Us is creepy and dark and heart-breaking and We Are One  brings a tear to my eye every time. Once upon a time, Disney sequels had a particular formula – either show what happened during the character-growing-up-montage, or character from original has a kid and their main want is the opposite to their parent’s – of course, parent completely doesn’t understand this and forgets what they were like at the same age. Ariel’s daughter wants to go into the sea, and Kiara really doesn’t want to be royalty. But they come to understand each other and everyone, of course, ends up happy. This film is a gem, and I can honestly watch it over and over again. And He Lives In You doesn’t make me cry like Endless Night from the musical does.

Honourable Mentions: Dinosaur, Enchanted, Lilo & Stitch, Little Mermaid 2, Fox & the Hound and probably many more I have forgotten.

Don’t forget, friends –

Giveaway

I am currently hosting a Disney book themed giveaway on Twitter. Just follow that link, make sure you’re following me on there, and retweet. Good luck!

Giveaway Time!

Disney Book GiveawayI promised before I would do a book giveaway if I hit 100 followers before my birthday, and somehow it actually happened! With over a week to spare, too.

So firstly, huge thank you to everyone who follows this blog. It really does mean a lot to me, and I just hope you get some enjoyment out of reading my various ramblings.

This giveaway is Disney themed because it’s where I’m going to celebrate my 30th birthday. I’m flying to France on 11/11, back on 14/11, so the giveaway ends 17/11 and that’s when winners will be drawn.

To enter, just make sure you’re following me on Twitter (@elleturpitt) and retweet (don’t QT) my pinned tweet. The giveaway is for a Disney or fairy tale retelling book of your choice, up to £15. It includes Star Wars and Marvel, and graphic novels as well as long as they’re below the price limit.

It is international as long as Book Depository ships to you.

That Dreaded TBR #2

A while ago, I did a post about cutting down my Goodreads TBR. I thought it would be worth revisiting, and seeing if I can’t get it down just that little bit more.

I originally saw this at Becky’s Book Blog, as explained in the previous post.

Rules

Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.

Order on ascending date added.

Take the first 5/10/however many books. If done again, start form where you left off.

Read the synopses of the books

Decide: should it stay or should it go?

what happensWhat happens in office, stays in office – Ankur Mithal

A no-holds-barred account of life in the cut-throat world of large corporations, told in a unique humorous and ironical style. A world where millions are employed and are forever engaged in finding a balance between doing right for the organization and doing right for themselves. The domineering boss, the whining employee, the counter-productive policy-making, the jockeying for visibility, are all products of this interesting world. Not all, however, is as it appears on the smooth and shiny surface of this world. There are personal anxieties and fears which get carried into business interactions.

Though informal outlets are available to people in corporations, mostly through the often innocuous art of bitching, many of these subterranean currents never get recognized or discussed openly. Perhaps for the first time ever, this book discusses situations where these subtle (to the doer) and shameless (to the doee) acts often create outcomes that are both poignant and funny and, at times, downright disgusting. In the garb of humour and satire, this book delivers some hard-hitting management lessons. In doing so, however, Ankur may have inadvertently let out some never before talked about secrets of success of The Club that the Corporate world appears to be from outside.

I added this book to my TBR way back in May 2013, just under a year after graduating from uni, less than a year into an office job I would remain at for five years. Something about this book really intrigued me at the time, but I feel like now it might even have more of an impact. I’ve been in two office jobs since leaving university, and it would be great to read about different experiences. The one I was in for five years was for a big, global organisation. The company I work for now is much smaller, but some elements remain the same. I’m going to keep this one on, because rereading the synopsis has rekindled my desire to read it.

a prayer for owenA Prayer For Owen Meany – John Irving

Eleven-year-old Owen Meany, playing in a Little League baseball game in Gravesend, New Hampshire, hits a foul ball and kills his best friend’s mother. Owen doesn’t believe in accidents; he believes he is God’s instrument. What happens to Owen after that 1953 foul is both extraordinary and terrifying. At moments a comic, self-deluded victim, but in the end the principal, tragic actor in a divine plan, Owen Meany is the most heartbreaking hero John Irving has yet created. 

I’m kind of on the fence about this one. Okay, so it has a lot of positive reviews on Goodreads and is one of those ‘must read’ books, but I’ve had really mixed experience with all kinds of absolute must reads. Hmm. Although I do kind of want to read this, I don’t really think I’m ever going to. It goes.

something wicked this way comesSomething Wicked This Way Comes – Ray Bradbury

A carnival rolls in sometime after the midnight hour on a chill Midwestern October eve, ushering in Halloween a week before its time. A calliope’s shrill siren song beckons to all with a seductive promise of dreams and youth regained. In this season of dying, Cooger & Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show has come to Green Town, Illinois, to destroy every life touched by its strange and sinister mystery. And two inquisitive boys standing precariously on the brink of adulthood will soon discover the secret of the satanic raree-show’s smoke, mazes, and mirrors, as they learn all too well the heavy cost of wishes – and the stuff of nightmare.

This is another of those must read books, but more for horror rather than ‘literary’ purposes. I know this book has inspired a fair few American horror authors. Goodreads has it noted as the second in a series (after Dandelion Wine) but as far as I’m aware, they can be read as standalones? I definitely still want to try and read both, however. This one stays.

divine comedy

The Divine Comedy – Dante Alighieri

The Divine Comedy describes Dante’s descent into Hell with Virgil as a guide; his ascent of Mount Purgatory and encounter with his dead love, Beatrice; and finally, his arrival in Heaven. Examining questions of faith, desire and enlightenment, the poem is a brilliantly nuanced and moving allegory of human redemption.

I want to read this, I really do, and I’ve tried a few times, but I never can quite get into it. Maybe I need to give it another chance. Or, as I did with Camilla, try and find an audio version? I slogged my way through Paradise Lost, and most of that was – excuse the pun – hell to get through. There’s just too many other books I physically have that I know I’m going to enjoy, to get a book which I have a feeling I might not enjoy as much. Like I said, I’ll probably check out an audio version eventually, but for now, this goes.

brave new world.jpgBrave New World – Aldous Huxley

Far in the future, the World Controllers have created the ideal society. Through clever use of genetic engineering, brainwashing and recreational sex and drugs all its members are happy consumers. Bernard Marx seems alone in feeling discontent. Harbouring an unnatural desire for solitude, and a perverse distaste for the pleasures of compulsory promiscuity, Bernard has an ill-defined longing to break free. A visit to one of the few remaining Savage Reservations where the old, imperfect life still continues, may be the cure for his distress …

Huxley’s ingenious fantasy of the future sheds a blazing light on the present and is considered to be his most enduring masterpiece.

I have a feeling this is one those books which are now considered…problematic. I’m not entirely sure, but the fact ‘Savage Reservations’ is in the blurb makes me think yeah, I probably wouldn’t want to actually touch this. Even if that wasn’t the case, it’s another of those ‘classics’ that probably don’t hold up well, and there are way too many better books out there, by writers who aren’t white men, I’d rather spend time on. This one goes.

Not too bad today – three out of five taken off the Goodreads TBR. These ones leaned more towards ‘classics’ too, and I think I’ve grown out of feeling there are particular books I have to read. I’d rather spend my time now reading books I enjoy.

Have you read any of these? Agree or disagree with my choices?

NaNoWriMo Is Here

Yep, we have reached that time of year some writers love, and some absolutely dread with every fibre of their being. A few times in the past, I’ve sworn off doing NaNoWriMo – “I don’t have time this year!” – but by the first, an idea has festered in my brain and demands to be written. This year, I actually am resisting the temptation, because I do have a lot going on that will, unfortunately, keep me away from my own writing anyway. I’d rather use what time I have to work on going stuff, than force something else in which will just end up sitting in a virtual drawer until I eventually, one day have time to edit it.

Anyway!

As it is the first day of NaNoWriMo2019, I thought I’d share a few tips and tricks and a bit of advice that’s gotten me to the 50K word goal in the past.

1. Remember: It’s a First Draft!

This is important. The point of NaNoWriMo isn’t to end the month with a polished, ready to submit draft. It’s to get the ideas and characters down on paper, and give you something to work with. If you find yourself struggling, not sure what to do next, throw in a flashback. Use the opportunity to explore the characters a little. Write those aspects of them that will get cut later on – those little bits you should know about the character, but the reader doesn’t need to see. And if still get stuck, do something random – aliens appear in the room, a unicorn emerges from the woods, Godzilla starts attacking the city. See what your characters do if put in an unusual situation, and it might help work through writer’s block.

2. Use Dialogue

To extend the word count, use dialogue. Have a character who speaks formally, not using a single contraction – I have instead of I’ve, it is instead of it’s, do not instead of don’t. Maybe a character says like, well, ummm errr I dunno a lot? Little marks of speech like that, again, will help with the word count, and maybe you’ll find out a bit more about the characters, too.

3. Use Music

If you are able to write to music, use that to your advantage. Put on some fast paced, tense music, and it might help your fingers flow that little bit fasted across the keyboard.

4. Change Font

Yep! One thing I was really surprised at by switching from Times New Roman to Comic Sans when drafting was how much flowed out. Like a switch turned in my brain, unleashing a bit more creativity.

5. Get Ahead

On the days where you can, don’t just stop at the target word count. Use the time you have, get as many words down as possible. If you can double your word count on one day, it gives you more leeway later on. Even if you can only write 100 or 200 more words, it all adds up.

6. Don’t Panic About Word Counts

And if you can’t hit the word count every day? Don’t panic! Even if you only write 10 words on some days, you’ve written ten words! Don’t fall into ‘I ONLY’ or ‘I JUST wrote … words’. Life can get busy, and you may fall behind, but 50K isn’t the only goal of NaNoWriMo. If you end the month with something to work with, you’re still a winner!

7. Have Fun!

Seriously! NaNoWriMo is a really great time to unleash your creativity and really play around. Get involved as much or as little as you like, take part in sprints or use prompts or just do your own thing – whatever your preferred approach, don’t forget to take breaks, to look after yourself, and enjoy it! Go wild with your novel, and have fun learning about the characters and worlds you’re creating.

Are you taking part of NaNoWriMo? Any tips you’d like to share?