Down the TBR hole #3

This is such a great idea – who hasn’t fallen into the trap of adding hundreds and hundreds of books to their GR to-read shelves?

I’ve been really happy with how these have turned out so far. Though I haven’t managed to get rid of too many books off my TBR, it has given me the kick I needed to start picking some books up that I’ve had on there for far too long. What book has been on your TBR for the longest? Let me know in the comments.

Rules

Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.

Order on ascending date added.

Take the first 5 (or 10 (or even more!) if you’re feeling adventurous) books. Of course, if you do this weekly, you start where you left off the last time.

Read the synopsesof the books

  Decide: keep it or should it go?

The Emperors Edge – Lindsay Buroker

Imperial law enforcer Amaranthe Lokdon is good at her job: she can deter thieves and pacify thugs, if not with a blade, then by toppling an…

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In Lieu of Underwear, A Vampire Story: Chapter 1

I was on edge. Well worth a read!

Vampire Fiction and Dark Fantasy

Finally, some fiction from me! This begins the first chapter of a serial novel I’m going to be winging. I don’t know how often I will actually update it, but at this point, I hope to do so once a month.

Contents: Mature language, cigarettes, nudity, blood, violence.

Chapter 1

Jess showed up at my apartment wearing nothing but a long white t-shirt and some high heels. I couldn’t tell if her eyes were all glassy from weed or from crying.

Fuck.

“Just a sec, all right?” I said through the tiny space I’d opened up to talk to her. I shut the door again after she gave me a quiet nod.

I turned back to the bedroom, but stopped short and turned to go into the bathroom. I’d made a mess. Looking at myself in the mirror, I found I’d managed to spill blood down my chin and neck…

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The Boys, Volume One: The Name of the Game – Garth Ennis, Darick Robertson [Graphic Novels]

250px-The-Boys_Volume_OneWARNING: There is likely to be swearing in this review, as personally I think it might be hard to talk about The Boys without a little bit of swearing.

The Boys is a small group of people, four men, one woman, who have one job: to keep the superheroes in line. Superheroes who the public adores, who have fantastic public images, but who, in reality, are little more than ambitious, power-hungry sociopaths who think everyone else is there for their bidding only.

Our way in is through Wee Hughie, a young man from Scotland, who gets roped into The Boys after something horrific happens to him. But throughout the book, we also get glimpses of the superhero groups, of which there are various kinds in North America alone. The Young Americans, Teenage Kix, and The Seven, who are essentially the JL, but with less morals.

Admittedly, this is not going to be for everyone. It’s graphic in nature, both with sex and violence, and it strips away the clean-cut image of the hero to something much dirtier. These heroes aren’t in it to help people. They’re not Captain America, Superman, Iron Man, Captain Marvel or any of the others we’ve seen on the big screen. They are, unfortunately, a more realistic view of what happens when the wrong people get powers.

But they’re not all like that, and in Volume 1, we glimpse a young woman who achieves her dream and gets to play in the big leagues, only to find it’s not exactly what she was hoping for.

My literal reaction, just a few short pages in, was ‘HOLY SHIT’. Throughout, there are moments that make you want to weep, that stick in your throat, combined with a few instances of humour.

It seems like an odd word to use for such a graphic, err, graphic novel, but I did really enjoy reading The Boys, and I’m eager to pick up Volume Two, to find out what happens next. If you like comics with twists on the whole superhero thing, I would definitely suggest checking this out. And hopefully we’ll have the TV series to enjoy one day, too.

On The Come Up – Angie Thomas [Books]

on the come upWhen I read Angie Thomas’ debut novel, The Hate U Give, I knew this was an author I was going to follow for a long, long time. I was super excited when I heard about her next book, On The Come Up, and honestly, I almost squealed in excitement when I spotted it in my local bookshop.

On The Come Up is the story of Bri, who wants to be the greatest rapper the world has ever seen. To try to get her start, she competes in rap battles in the ring, and from there, the story moves forward, showing us this young, strong, argumentative, passionate girl with a powerful voice, who the world wants to silence.

There are certain elements similar to The Hate U Give, a couple of similar themes and elements, and the books are set in the same area, but they are still vastly different. I’ve seen some people say Bri was harder to like than Starr, but I didn’t find that to be the case. I adored Bri. Like Starr, she felt completely and utterly real. A teenage girl, just trying to get along in life, juggling school, social life, her passion, and boys. There were a number of times I wanted to reach through the page and hug her, and there’s little about her personality I didn’t relate to.

When it comes to character voices, Angie Thomas has an amazing gift. Bri practically sings off the page (well, raps…) and it’s so easy to imagine her talking, rapping, thinking. Small touches emphasise her character, as we see the world through her eyes, as we witness the world around her, through her.

Overall, On The Come Up is a brilliant, fantastic novel, about ambition and voice and power (and being powerless), and once again Angie Thomas had me completely hooked right from the very first page until the last. I will be eagerly awaiting her third novel. If you haven’t already, I strongly suggest reading both The Hate U Give and On The Come Up. You really won’t be disappointed.

Guess Who’s Back, Back Again…

unwrapping wordsEllie’s back, tell a friend…

Yeah, so, one of the things I decided for 2019 was to revive this blog. I’ll be updating any successful submissions, confirming where my short stories can be read (all over on the About page, right now) as well as updating the blog with writing advice, as I have previously (such as here and here), book reviews – though don’t expect anything massively new, as I’ll be reviewing whatever I happen to finish reading most recently, and my TBR pile is currently pretty big, so need to get through that before I start buying brand new books. Maybe thoughts on films, games, podcasts as well, all of which I consume on a daily basis.

I’ll update as regularly as possible, and will try to get some posts written in advance, so there won’t be too long between updates.

I always welcome comments and discussions on anything I post, and if you have a blog you’d like me to check out, feel free to let me know. As well as on here, I’m also on Twitter (@elleturpitt).

So, just a quick catch up then.

I’ve recently read Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, which was so good I finished it in two days, squeezing in the last chapter before I had my hair-cut on Thursday. I’m currently reading City of Ghosts, and my boyfriend is trying to get me to read Star Wars’ Tale of the Bounty Hunters next, but we’ll see.

The last film I watched was Aliens, which was good and enjoyable, but I’m not completely sure if I want to watch any more in the series. I’d rather stick to my own head-canon, where Ripley and Newt live together happily ever after, maybe with Hicks, and definitely with Bishop popping in now and then to see how they’re doing.

ripley and newt
Two very bad-ass women

The game I’m absolutely loving at the moment is Jurassic World Evolution. I’m having a lot of fun with it, and I feel like I’ve really got the hang of it. It took me a while to sort of pick up on how to find my way around completely, but I think that’s part of the fun with games like this. I will, however, echo something a friend of mine said – I just wish there were more theme park elements.

Basically, I sort of want a JP Evolution/Planet Coaster crossover game, my other current favourite. I want to build roller-coasters that dip towards dinosaur enclosures, but maybe that would just make the dinos panic? In all fairness, I’ve had enough of that already.

20190119215625_1
Mass transport of escaped dinos

So that’s it, for now. I’ll try to post something else in the coming days. And of course, I’m always willing to check out any book, film or podcast recommendations, if you have any.

 

SDS Wrath–Meet the Authors, Day 3

This is exciting!

standard ishue--Katie

Imagine this: Combine a roller coaster of teenage emotions—those volatile, hard to control passions—with frustration and anger. Can you visualize it? Or perhaps you remember your own younger days, as you pushed through those sensations and into adulthood.

Scary? It can be when the theme is Wrath.

It’s my pleasure to introduce you to our final seven authors and their stories! If any of their blurbs catch your eye, consider posting a review on Amazon or Goodreads. The anthology will be released on August 8, 2017!

 

A Lion’s Wrath by M. Polo

Justin has been seeing the same therapist for three years and there are few things he hates more than their weekly sessions together. He usually feels powerless and at the mercy of his psychiatrist, but today is different. Empowered by new information, Justin feels ready to take on Dr. Winters and make sure he never has to…

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Commute Annoyances

My work days tend to start and end the same way. Get on the train, crack open my book, lose myself in it for the next fifteen – twenty-five minutes, depending on whether or not the train randomly stops outside a station for a while.

There are many others who do the same thing as me, and I really wonder, do we share the same annoyances? Because there are plenty of things I see people doing all the time that makes me cringe. But I’m British so I won’t say anything, or do anything, maybe just glare passively at them when they’re not looking…

Two of my biggest pet peeves on the train are people who put their bag on the seat next to them, and people who sit on the aisle seat, both even more infuriating when the train is busy.

But there is one thing above all others that really puzzles me.

There is such thing as train etiquette – you let people get off the train before you get on, you make sure there’s enough room for them to actually get off and move to the stairs/lift. And you patiently wait for your turn to get on.

What I really don’t understand are the people who almost push to get to the front, who slide in front of others patiently waiting their turn or barge on…so they can stand, near the door, and get off at the following stop. All of those things are annoying (and damn rude) anyway, even if they’re doing it to get a seat, but then they just stand in the way. Would it not make more sense, if they’re going to stand anyway, to just wait and get on last? Why do they still have to be first? And insist on getting in the way of everyone else?

What I’m really asking here is what is wrong with these people? Are their lives so devoid of anything good that getting on a train first counts as a victory for the day? Or are they just unable to actually see anyone else around them, and think it is their right to do whatever the damn they please? And yes, this does get me riled up. And I think within good reason. Like I said, I have seen some of these people barge others out of the way to get onto the train first. I’ve gone to step on a train only to have someone shove past me and in some cases…just stand there.

If you do this, stop. Please, just stop. You’re hated, by everyone, who just wants to get on a train, sit down and go home without any fuss. Okay?

Okay.

Rant over.

 

A World of Pure Imagination

Today I received some good news. A story of mine has been published on the website CommuterLit.  The story itself (titled The Mountain’s Reach) is actually part of a much larger world, and I’m currently working on a novel plus a few other short stories set in the same world. So I figured I’d use this blog to talk a little bit about it, and about where the story idea came from. Before you read on, please check out The Mountain’s Reach on CommuterLit.

The story itself came from a sort of prompt. I was reading the brilliant Writing Magazine one day, and came across a competition run by a tea company. The idea being to use one of their product titles for a short story. Things such as Jade Dragon and, the one I used, Emerald Mountain. Originally, then, the mountain described in the story is much more magical and mystical than it ended up being in the final draft. It was emerald, shrouded in mist, slightly more attractive and yet, I’d hoped, menacing too. The deadline for that came and went but the story stuck with me, and when I went back to it I realised how easily it would slip into a world I’d already created, a world where the northern land of Shaylae is pretty much the last known destination before people reach the mountains and, beyond, the cold, snowy waste lands.

As mentioned in the story, there are two other lands here; Tarka and Sharn. In the centre of these three is the desert. Each land has its own capital, rulers, and characters. The novel follows three main characters; Arrow (Sharn), Rayne (desert) and Jackson (Tarka). The village which the characters in The Mountain’s Reach come from, however, is in Shaylae, which is mostly considered a religious land, with lots of temples, priests and priestesses and, unlike Tarka, the desert tribes and Sharn, is accepting of magic.

So these three – this small family – set out for the mountain. They go past the mountains at the northern part of Shaylae, and most of the story takes place in the unknown lands beyond.

When I started writing it, I didn’t have a clear, solid idea of where it was going to go. (Again, I urge you to read it if you haven’t already; the next bit contains spoilers) I don’t plan out huge amounts before I write, and what I usually find happens is the characters seem to take over. And if I try to make them do something they don’t want to do, or push the story in a direction they don’t want it to take, they push back.

I knew when I started writing it that the father would love his family, of course, and that he would be taking them to a place that haunted his dreams. Turned out, to my surprise, he had been there as a child. The mother does not want to go; the daughter is excited for the adventure. But as they travel, she loses her enthusiasm, and both females become, to him, a nuscence, simply trying to stop him reaching this place he knows he has to get to.

This is the point where the story took a turn I sort of didn’t expect. I wasn’t sure throughout if I was going to end it with the family at the mountain, though that seemed too easy, or if things were going to be a little darker. As it turns out, they never do reach the mountain, and the story ends with the man trudging through the snow on his own.

The world itself is currently unnamed. I’ve been playing around with different ones (Raeg is currently written at the top of my map). But it’s taken shape a lot since I started writing the novel. Every village is now marked down, every city, port, and change in scenery – for example, as one character leaves the desert and encounters grass. These small details are important for me, and crucial for me to remember. I found out a while ago that something like a map was very important for a world you’re creating from scratch, and partly hated myself for not having really, fully used them before.

I described the general geography above, but here’s some other facts about this world (if you’re interested).

  • South of the desert is a land simply known as ‘the wilds’, which most people agree is too dangerous to travel across and better left unclaimed.
  • Tarka borders Shaylae only slightly, and the border contains mountain passes and treks which make it very easy for bandits to hide in. So, most people travel by sea between the two.
  • East of Sharn is the sea, and across this another land which some traders go to but most don’t explore. There’s a story here though, a legend passed down of two brothers – one a prince, one a bastard – and their sister who disappeared mysteriously from her room, shortly before her coming-of-age ball. No one quite knows what happened to her…
  • The world has a mixture of different religions and gods; the tribes worship a full Pantheon of gods, and each tribe takes their name from them – Zeus, Hades, Aphrodite, Ares, etc. The Ares tribe was wiped out, with only two people left alive. And it’s fairly easy to tell those from each tribe apart, as they have varying characteristics and different appearances. The temples in Shaylae usually have areas set aside for multiple gods for people to worship, and the High Temple is home to the High Priestess, who can apparently see the future and helps guide people to their destinies.

So there we have it. A bit of background, and some information, on these lands, and some information about my short story for you.

And if you’re a writer, let me know if you’ve made up any lands yourself – any books you’ve used as reference? How do you plan it out? Do you use maps or something else? I’m always keen to hear about how other writers work, so please feel free to let me know (or link to your blog/site/stories) below.

Image above belongs to my good friend Beckie, who can be found on Twitter @beckiejphoto