Favourite reads of 2017

We walked underneath twinkling lights, feet tapping on the cobbled winding street, passing shops still half full as twilight settled. Covered in our thick coats and gloves we walked past the blinking light for Waterstones and my friend suggested gong in (I know. . . shocker it wasn’t me this time) but – here’s the thing. As prior my recent Book Buys, I’ve put myself on a temporary book buying ban. This meant we went in for my friend, and not me. No no, I’m not crying, it’s dust. As we went into the warmth of the shop we had a good gander at everything and when we came up at a loss I finally asked the question. You know, the one that makes you feel as if you work in waterstones (and totally knowing you’d be fantastic if you did..)

“Are you looking for anything in particular?”

“Romance, maybe.” she said. I’d loaned her a romance novel the summer just passed and she’d really enjoyed it, so I started to think. I started to think of all the books I had read this year, and which ones stood out to me the most. I’ve read some really great stories this year, stories I was late in the game to read, stories I had found on my own and stories I had been recommended. So what ones did stand out? And which ones were my favourites? I absolutely love reading people’s recommendations and thoughts and so I’ve compiled a little list for you all today of just that. A round up of my favourite reads this year.

 

#1 Lord of Shadows (The Dark Artifices) – Cassandra Clare

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Wow. Cassandra Clare NEVER ceases to amaze me. The Dark Artifices series is set five years after her main series The Mortal Instruments – one of my all time favourite series. I absolutely lived and breathed these books, and devoured the prequels too. Lord of Shadows is the second instalment in her new series and it follows Julian Blackthorn and Emma Carstairs, who make an appearance in the last novel of TMI. They are Parabatai who have fallen in love, and if you’ve read the series then you know that it’s not allowed. After a death at the end of the first novel, the actions of that person follow through to the second instalment. LoS comes as the first on the list today because it has been my absolute favourite read, and I recommend any of Clare’s books.

 

 

#2 The Harry Potter Series – J.K Rowling

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Yes. I’m one of those people. Someone who hadn’t read the books as a child hanging on to every word.  My parents took me and my brother to see the films (que groans about how books are better… Believe me – I know!) yearly, but I hadn’t been interested in reading at the time and neither had my brother. Because of this, in my last year of university I had received the set as a gift and finally sat down to read them. It took me a week. One week. And although I already had scenes from the film in my mind, I was amazed at the extra content that I had missed. I knew I would love these books because I loved the Harry Potter series, and I was so happy to get to read them finally. I was not disappointed.

 

#3 Caraval – Stephanie  Garber

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I absolutely fell in love with Caraval.

I purchased this book in America, after having toured shelves and shelves of Booksamillion for the first time. The story follows two sisters living with a cruel father on an island they have never left and the eldest, our protagonist Scarlet writes to the master of Caraval, a magical one-year performance where the audience is involved, asking for invites before she is to be married to someone she doesn’t know. Her sister goes missing during Caraval, and we follow Scarlet on the journey to get her back. I read this book by the pool, or at the large dining table set up elegantly. For me, Caraval is not only a fantastic story and so well written but a reminder of being in another country for the first time in years. It was also the book to bring me out of my writing slump!

 

#4 Big Little Lies – Liane Moriarty

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Ah. I don’t think I’ve raved about this book enough, and I liked it so much that I even have a full blog post on my thoughts. You can find that right here. Big Little Lies is a step away from what I usually read and I picked it up after the TV series debut. After watching the first episode I became intrigued enough to buy the book and I honestly did not put it down. The book made me laugh – out loud, and surprised me. It follows the lives of three mothers and their familial lives, the dramas, the secrets and the reality of the lives of these mums. It explores abuse, love, murder, mystery and separation. I won’t say too much as I talk about it in a bit more depth over on my previous post.

So, that’s it for my round up! I’ve read lots this year and I’ve really enjoyed some of these reads. I’d like to tag my writing pals Natalie Chloe and Amber, because I’d love to see what some of yours are guys! Voluntary of course.

And you, reader, if you’ve read some of these or you’ve read some amazing books this year, what are they?

2017 has been a fantastic reading year. Here’s to 2018.

 

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NaNoWriMo: My third week, my final week and how I got inspiration

Brace yourself for a long post today, guys. I advise grabbing a cup of tea. So let’s talk about week three. Week three hit me hard. If I was having self-doubts the previous week, they were magnified this week as I set myself down to write on Monday morning. This ia a very tough challenge, and at one point there is going to be a moment when you feel that you can’t write. That’s what happened to me this week to the point that I wouldn’t open up my laptop. I didn’t want to look at my story because I didn’t feel like it was any good – and that’s just mind games. I wouldn’t be trying to tell this story if I didn’t think it was good!

So, because of this I wanted to push past that self-doubt monster. I decided to do a few things to help. For one, I made character aesthetic boards – putting together different images that represent that character, maybe their personality or maybe even something that happens to them in the book. This proved to be a success for me, and even inspired a scene I wrote and will weave in at a later time. It helps to learn more about your characters or maybe even discover that you don’t know them enough yet. It helped me to keep on writing due to new scenes, and also so I could flesh our their personalities.

I’ve included the aesthetic boards for you here.

Another tactic I used to give me inspiration and spur on my writing was – and this was a simple one – write at night time. It sounds silly doesn’t it? I know it does, but as someone who has always worked better at night (I painted better at night, I drew better at night and I write better at night) it really worked. I found I’d been forcing myself to write as much as I could in the day time and really, it just wasn’t working for me. So that night I sat down among my candles, popped on my writing playlist and boom. It wasn’t instant, but I wrote 2000 words that night. This then meant I received my next Nano badge – the 15000 words one.

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I’d like to also mention something else I struggled with during NaNoWriMo and that was – editing. I wanted to edit so much that my fingers ached to go back over what I was writing so much I had to break from my laptop. I felt like everything was a mess but that was fine, that was okay. I had to remind myself that when this month finished I can go back, edit and structure it better and see it come together. What I ended up doing, because my novel has a dual narrative, is open up a fresh new word page (is anything better?) and focus on ONE main character and write her storyline leading up to her meeting the SECOND main character. Then I would do the same with his storyline. This way it wasn’t all bundled together and hard to keep track of – I felt like I could finally write and I was heading in a clear direction.

Was this a problem for anyone else? If you were a contender this year, I would love to know and hear about your struggles with NaNoWriMo .

Week three of Nanowrimo saw me with over 18,000 words. Adding to a word count I already had, my novel was now over 30,000 words! I finally hit another goal – and I’m still very disbelieving of it! In fact I seem to get so excited that I wanted to write scenes that happen later in the book and had to stop myself before I did. I do this thing, where I write little “snippets” as I call them when I’m inspired and many scenes from my book have come from doing this – but I want to let myself look forward to writing certain events that happen and so I’ve not done this for big things now.

So, week four. I said hello to week four feeling quite stressed by how fast the month was disappearing. I had almost reached the point in my story where my two protagonists meet and therefor thought it was the right time to take an evening and look at the structure. This was to keep me sane – some people decide to just write, write, write and not edit but it seems so messy to me. I wasn’t editing, just writing down what happens in my chapters up to the point they meet. This cleared my head and I was ready to write again the next day.

I got inspiration this week from the likes of Ruelle and her completely fitting songs and you can find some of the main ones at the end of this post. Some of them have inspired some really interesting scenes for me, and I get a really apocalyptic and epic fighting battle vibes from her music. I also had Imagine Dragons – Believer on a fair few times as it was giving me some good ideas too. Music never fails me when I’m writing and it really helped.

When it came to the last day of NaNoWriMo I was challenging myself to get to 30,000 as my goal. I had reached 25,000 in week four from late night writing, earned my next badge on the site (I was ecstatic to reach this!) and had crawled up slowly in the days before NaNo would end. Now it was for the final push and I did anything I could to reach it. I met my goal before midnight.

This meant I finished with a total of …

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I’ve got a long way to go, and a lot of editing and shifting around before I carry on writing – but I’m so proud.

SO that’s it from me! All in all I’m so very proud of myself for pushing through with this challenge, even when my self doubts threatened to become unbearable. I wrote and wrote and my story has shaped and become something I can see. How amazing is that? It’s growing, and has growed due to NaNoWriMo. For the future, I’ll be editing and going through this part of the book and then carrying on to write in January -my need to edit will finally be allowed!

It’s a relieving thought.

 

 

Book Buys, November 

 

So I have a problem? But that’s okay, most bookworms do, right? Either way that’s my excuse for having yet another two books to write about this month. And if you’ve read my last month’s Book Buys, a theme is definitely beginning to occur. I’ve officially put myself on a book buying ban till after Christmas because I will definitely be gifted with books this year. These were bought at the beginning of the month and I honestly didn’t think I’d get the chance to read, due to NaNoWriMo, but somehow I did! The weather is getting so much colder, with frosted windows and white puffy clouds, so reading with a hot drink in the evening is perfect.

So, what these two books I have to talk about today have in common this month is mystery, murder and young adults/teens. I was really feeling the mystery vibes this month after reading Big Little Lies (I did a discussion of this as I LOVED the book and it definitely shocked me) so I knew what I was looking for when I went into Waterstones this month. So, let’s take a look.

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One of Us Is Lying – Karen McManus

I would describe this book as “The Breakfast Club” meets “Gossip Girl” – with a murder. I’ve actually written a full book talk up on the blog already which you can find here for more details. The story follows five teens sent to detention and only one of them comes back out alive. We follow the consequences that happen due to this event and we get to delve into the lives of the four other students – jock, criminal, princess and geek, as we uncover secrets and dramas of their lives. The murderer is uncovered in this dramatic and attention grabbing investigation. I fully recommend this as the book isn’t that long, can be considered an easy read and has enough suspense to keep you interested! I will also mention that I thought the characters were presented quite well, and I felt with them on the journey. This was the first book of McManus that I’ve read.

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S.T.A.G.S – M.A. Bennett

So the tag lines and blurb sold me on this book and I do have to say – it’s not what I expected. I didn’t actually get on very well with this novel and I think it has to do with the narrative and tense. I’ve never done well with being foreshadowed so much, the novel has a lot of telling me what happened later without actually revealing much – it hinted a lot, and the first person narrative was telling me, in my opinion, too much. I kept wanting the speaker to get to events happening to her in the present so I felt like I was there along with the story. I suppose I went in expecting something different and although this type of storytelling isn’t bad at all – it just isn’t something that I wanted to read. Now, that being said, I did finish the book. It took me a few tries but I eventually did, and it did end up surprising me.

We follow a teen named Greer MacDonald as she goes to an expensive private school named S.T.A.G.S where the people that really rule the school is a group of elite teens. This group of teens invite her, along with two others, for a Blood-Sport weekend in the leaders country home. The idea, and what they are promised, is that they will become one of the group if they attend. Greer has found being at this school extremely difficult and she doesn’t feel like she has any friends so when she’s picked, she says yes despite these people being bullies. One of the invited will be chosen to join them but, of course, there is far more to it than that and something is revealed in the end about the whole school, and this group and it’s past. That was interesting to read.

If you can get along with the writing style, and point of view then this book will definitely suit you but sadly for me, it isn’t something I will be reading again.

That’s all I have for today’s post!

I’ll be back after Christmas (if I keep to my ban…) with another Book post.

Mood-board Mondays – Nanowrimo edition

I know, I’ve been non-stop posting about Nanowrimo but hey, it’s been a massive deal for me and my first time as a contender. I wanted to be able to look back and see how I got on, especially if I decide to do it next year! The thing about writing every day and challenging myself to do something like this, is that I was always going to need something to inspire me when I felt I couldn’t write. And a good ole mood-board was exactly what I needed, if you hadn’t guessed from my content, I may be a massive fan of these. Maybe a little.

So, what better way to get back into Mood-board Mondays than to share some of the images that kept me going when I didn’t think I could! Here are some of the pictures and images that inspired me during the stress of Nano-ing.

Underneath are some aesthetic boards that I made to help me write, and some extra photos that may have given me inspiration or I just found they fit! They aren’t the best things I’ve thrown together but the male one is actually SPOT on to my male lead.

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I do apologise for only having a few photos, but I can’t be giving away all my material! These are only small snippets of sight into what I’m writing about but I do want to keep locked away what’s happening. Very exciting things are about to happen in my novel. Things I’ve been dreaming about since I was twelve, scenes I’ve been trying to put into practice since I started writing and I’m so happy they’re coming to life. I’m motivated and dedicated to finish early next year and finally be able to set my eyes on a full manuscript. 

Of course…then the editing begins! 

 So having said that, I’m off to write some more of it.

I’d love to see what has inspired you this NaNoWriMo!

NaNoWriMo2017: my first two weeks, self doubts and self care

So it’s been two whole weeks of Nanowrimo 2017, and my first time entering the challenge. One of the very first things I was told before entering the event was don’t force your words and after two weeks of trying to write every day and as much as I can – that one little phrase has wrung very true. When I force my content it doesn’t feel like mine anymore, it feels like I’m completing an assignment that I’m about to lose all interest in. It takes away the fun of writing – it takes away what started me writing in the first place.

My first day of Nano was very successful, I was feeling optimistic, refreshed and I had been up early with coffee on a cold morning, writing, writing, writing. I had prepared in my own way, which you can read all about here but my first day success did not carry on that way. I started a routine of waking up early, taking my dog for a walk because we had some really amazing, cold frosty mornings. I would then come back, make a coffee and breakfast, then sit down to write. But with any project, you’re bound to have days where you find yourself a little bit stuck – even with preparation. In my first week I didn’t make it to 1000 words again, but I wrote almost every day. Coming back to the idea of forcing content, there was one day where I couldn’t get my mind into a creative space at all. Writing like that was frustrating me, and I decided to give myself a break and not beat myself up over it. I think that’s important – you want the word count, I get it, but take care of yourself first.

I’ve written a lot about how I’m a big night owl, and writing in the evening with candles and lights really does help with inspiration. I think all of these things can help if you’re feeling stuck and it helps to create an area where you don’t think of the writing as work – more down time at the end of the day. I fit writing in around my day, even if it was 50, 20 or even 10 words at a time. The Nano page is there for you to update as you go – and every word counts.

 

Week two has just ended and the self doubt and inner critic is out and thriving in my mind. I read what I have so far and tell myself that it isn’t very good, that no one will want to read this story and that why am I even trying? I think we all get that little voice sometimes, trying to knock us down a few steps till we don’t do anything at all. I can’t seem to shut it up this week and I’ve barely managed over 1000 a day, sometimes I only write 200. I feel this deep and nervous feeling whenever I don’t write much and I’ve had to sit back because – A, it’s a hell of a lot of good that I’ve even written and B, these things take time. It all adds up.

 

With the end of week two,  I started to free write and now a scene – which is going to add to my whole narrative – has seemingly come out of nowhere, and I began tapping rapidly with inspiration. Because I didn’t plan my timeline down to a T, it means I’m open for new content to knock me on the head whenever an idea lights up my brain. This meant I ended week two almost reaching 10k, and you know what?  I’m very proud of that.

My aim for NaNoWriMo was never to reach 50,000, as I already had my start. My aim was to push myself to write almost every day and finally get my story going where it needed. And I’ve accomplished that so far, even if  I did get stuck a few times and even if I just opened my laptop and wrote 50 words, breaked to think, and then carried on.

If you’re struggling, don’t force it. Take care of yourself.

 

One of us is Lying- Karen McNamus 

So it happened again. A book has surprised me and seemingly captured me because I found myself up late last night gripping the pages with strained eyes and the flickering lights of my candles. I’d stopped checking the time eventually – it was late. Last month I posted about Big Little Lies and how I was, again, up reading because I had to find out the ending, I needed to know. I needed to see if I had guessed right, if I had picked up on any hidden hints or if it was completely taken in another direction.

One of us is lying was a quick buy for me this month after a lovely weekend in Winchester on the day of the Vintage Market. I stopped in because – actually there is no “because” and I’m guilty of going in every chance I get. I mean why wouldn’t I? Waterstones is a creative mind’s heaven and I always have a look. Instead of a wandering look though, I knew I wanted to find something a bit different and went to the section I wanted immediately.  I’ve been pushing my reading to wider genres since leaving university, and have since begun to like contemporary, crime and mystery. And if I can find something with all three combined? Perfect. I would explain this book to be The Breakfast Club meets Gossip Girl with a murder. When I walked to the counter to pay, the girl at the till scanned the book and said,  “my friend has read this one, she said it’s like the breakfast club with a murder! Really good” and we laughed as I said I had thought the exact same thing after reading the blurb. I really like it when the person behind the desk is a passionate reader too, and they’re happy to discuss the book. 

So, five teens are sent to detention after phones are found in their bags, the catch? None of those phones actually belong to those students and despite their protests, that story isn’t believable to the teacher. In the detention room we meet Addy, a popular pretty girl dating a popular boy that controls most of her life. Bronwyn, a smart geek with her eyes set on Yale. Nate, a criminal with an absent mum and drunk father. Cooper, a star baseball player for the school team hoping to get a scholarship. And Simon. Now, Simon is different. He’s the owner of a gossip site named About That, where he reveals juicy or cruel secrets plauging the school. And everyone in that room has secrets they don’t want in the open. 

Simon doesn’t make it out of detention.

Now I was quite surprised that it was Simon to die, and as the book went on and the four teens that had come out alive are plagued by an investigation that doesn’t go right – at all, I started to try to peace together why he was murdered. He made a lot of enemies from his site and as the group gets closer we begin to learn what they had been hiding. The Bayview Four as the school starts to call them have a lot of secrets and you can bet that they won’t stay that way. It was great to get a glimpse into their family lives, it gave them depth and real problems that young readers can relate to. I won’t discuss what those issues are, because one issue was a surprise for me. In my opinion the reveal was really well done and the worries of that characters are very real for youths across the country. 

I also love it when the story tries to lead you to believe one thing and then I didn’t get it right even once. I was surprised at the reveal, but could see that it was leading to that afterwards. 

I loved the Breakfast Club feel to this story with the four different types of people in a school being thrown together. I really enjoy those kinds of things and I was very happy to put myself into Bayview high and enjoy a “high-school” read. The characters are very believable and I liked how their arc changed and developed toward the end. 

As always I don’t say too much about the novel, these aren’t reviews as such but more my thoughts. I don’t want to spoil anything. If you’re looking for an easy read, which I do believe it is, with twists and turns to make you think – this is a winner.

Letters from 1973 & the Winchester vintage market

It was cold on sunday, tell in the way people walked through town in thick wooly scarves, gloves and hats. We made our way down the highstreet after a warm breakfast in a pub, smelling roasted chestnuts and coffee on the air. Today Winchester was heaving with people due to the vintage market and they millied around slowly, talking and browsing all these different stalls of history. I really made sure to look around everything. Stall owners were chatty and welcoming, willing to talk to you about their wares with interest and vigour.

I was amazed by how much there was: old photographs of Winchester and surrounding areas, old war ornaments, medals and bullets. Jewelry long forgotten, delicate teacups and saucers. Each stall had something different and unique, and one in particular caught our eye. A whole stand dedicated to quotes from famous novels, painted over vintage extracts from that very book. Among them was Alice in Wonderland, Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, Shakespeare and so many more.

I went immediately to the Shakespeare section and tried to find my favourite quote, fortunately it was the second one in! My favourite Shakespeare is Much Ado, and as you can see pictured below, my favourite quote is a known one! There were lots of people around this stall and I chatted to a few as they decided which ones they wanted. One lady was buying a birthday present for someone and had an arm load. When she saw me look over she chuckled and said,  “There’s just too many to be able to decide! They’re all so lovely”. She proceeded to show me, and read out, the ones in her arms and I gave her my opinion. It seemed many people thought like her too, there was just so many that lots of people just couldn’t decide. The owners of the stall were two lovely women that chatted and told us to take our time. These cost around twenty pounds for three, and if you’re a lover of vintage writing and the classics, or EVEN Harry Potter, then I really recommend the prints.

My prints. Here you can also see I bought one with a quote from The Hobbit. 

In these photos you can see all of the different things the stalls had to offer, including a pack of old postcards with scrawled writing. “Pick one at random, and that’s the one I’ll buy,” he said, and  I slid out an old looking postcard decorated with an autumn scene at the back. You can see below what it said, and even though it’s quite difficult to see – trying to work out what it says is half the fun.

The old cameras were quite good to look at too and we stopped at this one for a while. I love photography, shown in my mood-board posts, and looking at all of these was really interesting. There was also a few stands selling furniture, old looking chairs or pieces that had been done up and updated. Coffee tables made from aged wood and little white painted rocking horses. And some of my favourites- the art work stalls.

However what really drew me were things like hundreds of old coins, and little trinkets like old rusted keys. They really got you thinking, how many people have touched these? How many doors still exist that these keys can open? What did they open? Your imagination can run wild. 

When stopping at a particular one, I picked up old looking letters clasped together with a clip. Now, as a writer, things like this really do amaze me. To see the written hand of someone in the past, and glimpse how their life was. I bought them and immediately found a few more, which I picked up in my arms and went to pay for. As I asked her where she had found them, the lovely lady of the stall said I could just take them without any more charge. We talked about me being a writer, and she said if I was here in two weeks she would bring the other letters for me to take. I was a bit taken aback by her kindness, and she wished me luck with the novel as I left, giving me her card so I could contact her. I intend to email soon so I can ask her some more questions about the letters.

We settled down in a pub after our browsing and I took the letters out of the bag and we started to read some. They are the words of a woman in love, the history of a couple lost in time. They are addressed to a P. J. Crouch, living and studying at Cambridge in the year of 1973, however some of these letters date up to 1975. The lady writing, who we believe to be named Shirean, is in love with this man and they converse weekly. With the four letters we had, we tried to peace together as much information as we could.

In one Shirean talks about visiting him at the weekend and that “Nana is insistent on coming” which did make me laugh as she went on to explain that they hadn’t seen eachother in a long time yet her grandmother was letting that go over her head and was crashing their time together. 

She often remarks on how she misses him and always asks about his studies in Cambridge too. You get the impression that she cherishes the letters, and the weekly telephone calls they plan. His replies are lost and I will never know what Peter says back, but we do know that he does reply. In one letter she remarks on how she’s only just received his letter and is writing back straight away. 

“Dearest, darling Peter”

There were many more letters and I’m going to be reading the rest of what I have. What I find really harrowing is the questions I have. Are these people still alive? Did their love last? Why were the letters discarded?

I’m debating writing another post just dedicated to my findings with these, let me know if you’re interested! I do find it so facinating and I’m so excited to attend another one of these markets. I had a perfect little weekend. 

 

Book Buys, October 

This has felt like my favourite month so far in Book Buys. It’s the first month I’ve devoured a book I wouldn’t normally read, have taken a leap with another and bought my first GRRM novel for myself.  October is all the Autumn things, pumpkins, Halloween prep and the leaves fully falling but also a very busy month with work. I’ve found myself falling asleep with a book in my hands way earlier than normal and waking to it lost in my covers. I’m a night owl so this is very new for me.

Speaking of work, there’s an hour before I finish where it’s very slow and I can pick up a book on my desk to read.  It gives me some extra time to read and it makes the time go a lot faster. This is why I’ve picked up a few more books than usual this week! And I had offers on all of them.

Big Little Lies

Now, I’m not going to say too much here, why? Because I’ve written a whole post about this book! I found it so gripping that I wrote down my feelings as soon as I finished it. That’s how much I enjoyed it. Big Little Lies is cleverly written and basis around the lives of three primary school mothers and their children after an incident happens at their school. It explores the family relationships, secrets and manipulations of the mothering world and keeps you guessing as to who dies at the end. I won’t say anymore, you should give it a try!
The Couple Next Door

After reading Big Little Lies I’ve found a new love for mysterious novels and wanted to pick something up that was a little bit more thrilling. The couple next door has been staring at me on stands for a few weeks but I avoided it, and I’m not too sure why. Maybe because I hadn’t read anything like it before, but I’m glad I did.

Anne and Marco Conti are new parents to a beautiful little baby named Cora. Since having the baby Anne has been struggling with postpartum depression, and their relationship is strained. Next door lives another couple, with a wife that is beautiful, confident and flirtatious.  She also happens to dislike children. Her husband is quieter and a buissness man. One night they invite Anne and Marco next door for a dinner party – but the baby isn’t invited. When their babysitter cancels Marco convinces Anne that leaving Cora asleep next door is fine as long as they have the baby monitor on.

Of course. It isn’t.

They check on her every half an hour and as the evening goes on the couples are drinking more and more. Marco and the wife are flirting in front of Anne, and she’s beginning to get upset and wants to leave. When it’s her turn to check on Cora at one o’clock, she forces Marco to leave with her.

When they reach their home the door is open. Cora is gone.

Is it a kidnapping for money? Annie’s parents are wealthy. And just how did they take he? … There is no evidence of an intruder.

The story was good but can be slow in certain places, I found myself skipping parts of info I was being given as I deemed it unnecessary. 

A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms

Who hasn’t heard of GRRM today? Game of Thrones has been a massive success on so many different levels and I’m a huge fan. What’s not to like? Now,  this novel is set in a time before the events of Game of Thrones and I thought I’d give this a go before delving into the actual books. I know, they’re said to be amazing and I know I’m going to love them, I just haven’t had time to get round to them yet!

A Knight of the seven kingdoms follows the story of Sir Duncan the Tall and his squire, Egg, whose true identity must be hidden as they venture on their journey. Why?  Because he is actually Aegon Targaryen and will one day rule the seven kingdoms. I’m really looking forward to reading this one.

Gifts

I’m including a little extra section this week due to my cousin buying me a popular book series as a graduation gift. She called me up and told me she’d bought them, but when she mentioned the authors name I had been worried I’d read them. You see, I am a massive Sarah J. Maas fan, and I thoroughly enjoyed her Throne of Glass series. I don’t know why but I always held off from buying A Court of Thorns and Roses, the first book of this series. I’m now glad I did as I get the excitement of reading them now as a lovely and thoughtful gift. (Also, hi Sammy, because I know you’ll be reading this to see if I mention you. Thank you for the books!)

That rounds off this month’s Book Buys! I can’t wait to start some of these.

 

First Look: In the company of monsters 

Today is the official launch of my writing page, and I thought I’d share a little teaser for what you can find there. I decided on this Halloween short after being inspired by the above photo, I mention so much how my mood-boards inspire my writing, and today I have an actual example. I’m a third person writer, but I’ve tried something a little different with this story. I hope I’ve managed. Without further ado, here is a first look at what my writing style is like and if you like the beginning, you can go on over and click my writing page – you’ll find the rest there!

*

It was dark when the howls rattled the paint-stripped walls of the house. They had started out as just a distant hum at first but now they were close. I lifted my eyes from the writing pad propped on my lap, away from the messy scrawl and little annotations, to stare out into the darkness that stretched through the conservatory windows. The fairy-lights strung above my head reflected on the glass like glittering sparks, and just below my own reflection stared back at me. A tumbling of messy dark hair and large grey eyes. Wherever I looked in this room of windows, that was all I was able to see.

And it was for the best, really.

Bobbet stirred beside me, her fluffy white head lifting from the wicker sofa my aunt had passed down to me. The gold patterned cushions were sunken in and aged but it made just the right amount of pocket for her small feline body to fit beside my outstretched legs. She gazed at me with luminous yellow eyes for a few seconds before putting her head back down. She knew what tonight was too and otherwise didn’t react any further.

I stroked through her soft fur, staring but not really seeing.  I couldn’t even begin to think what I would ever do without her company.

‘Almost midnight, Bobs,’ I could hear the sulum tone of my voice and how frail it sounded in the echo of a large house with just me and her to fill it. Nevertheless I got an animated purr back. I suppose I was lonely, and if I didn’t have her the usual silence of the house would stretch over me and pull me into despair. Perhaps I was already in it, stuck in a that looping despair because I couldn’t be helped. I will never leave this house.

From the connecting kitchen the old cuckoo clock ticked down in rhythmic motions and I bit down on the inside of my cheek, rising to check the time. Bobbet jumped after me, following my footfalls through the arched door as I stepped into the cold tiled kitchen. Across the room, above the rickety iron table with it’s sad looking pair of chairs that I refuse to sit in,  the clock ticked away and told me it was almost midnight.

The cold seemed to magnify now. I could never get this house warm and I suppose I never would. It groaned with the wind and rattled violently, as if it wanted to shake me out of its foundation and force me into the unsafe forest. As if I was an intruder in a home that had once brought me happiness.

Walking to the granite counter I clicked on the kettle and waited for the water to boil, it didn’t matter that it never would boil. That it would never work for me. I could taste the steaming tea on my tongue and feel the hot warmth on my hand. It was enough to just pretend, just for a minute, that I could feel it on my calloused and bruised fingers. Beside the kettle lay my diary, open on the October section. I skimmed my hands over the large red scrawl over today’s date. October 31st. 

When another howl began I stilled my hand. Better to go back into the conservatory, with my flickering battery operated candles and familiar sofas. Better to have the perfect seat while the madness unfolds.

 

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