Friday, 20 October 2017

Writing My Next Novel

Yes, it has been a while since I wrote my last actual post. I know. I've managed to post the odd review here and there because that is something I have been doing a lot of - reading.

I have been writing too, though. Some of you may know I write under a pseudonym, under which I have just completed the third book in a trilogy. Phew. I've sent the final draft off to the editor and I'm waiting to do the final read through. The third book will be out in February 2018 so I thought it was about time I wrote a book as me.

Starting to write a book is like lacing up your hiking boots and looking up at Mount Everest and wondering if you packed enough supplies. If you haven't then you're never going to make it to the top. I'm looking up that mountain right now and I'm just checking my backpack before I go a step further.



By chance I came across a fabulous article on the Writers and Artists blog (and if you are not on their mailing list then you really ought to be). It was written by Emily Suvada and you can find the whole article here

I've shortened all her points in case you are already half way up Everest and you've got no signal:

  • See the book in parts rather than a whole. Focus on things like scenes, chapters or character description and make notes
  • Have a game plan before each writing session e.g I will write 1000 words today
  • Write a brief note of everything a particular scene or conversation needs to contain before approaching the actual writing of it
  • Time management. Think Pomodoro Method. It will stop you running out of steam or neglecting everything else that should be going on with your life
  • Stay healthy, eat well and get plenty of sleep and exercise
I hope these were helpful. In fact you could apply this to any project you have, written or not. The article has given me a boost to get going on a book I'm excited to write. Yesterday I wrote 1000 words, another 90,000 and I'll be at the top of Everest and ready to start editing.



See you up there!

Friday, 6 October 2017

Book Review - the Betrayals by Fiona Neill

The BetrayalsThe Betrayals by Fiona Neill
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm usually very mean about giving five star reviews but this title certainly deserved all five.

Neill has such an engaging and easy flow to her narrative that I found myself drawn into the tangled lives of the characters and loved the way she introduced me to subject areas I don't necessarily have an in depth knowledge of with ease. I'm assuming she did her research because I was totally sold on themes such as OCD and the world of medicine.

There are neat plot twists here that are probably not so hard to guess but compelling none the less.

Unlike some books that speak from the point of view of two or more characters, I could honestly say that I knew which character's head I was in, So many authors fail miserably when it comes to a split narrative but this one works.

A real page turner for me and one I would highly recommend this book.



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Saturday, 29 July 2017

Yesterday by Felicity Yap - Book Review

YesterdayYesterday by Felicia Yap
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There is a wonderful premise to this book. A world in which people are distinguished by their memory recall. Some of the population have 48 hour recall while the others only 24. In this crime mystery we discover what happens when a person with complete memory of past events seeks revenge on those responsible for her 17 year stay in a mental hospital only to turn up drowned in the river Cam.

Sounds thrilling, right? And it totally is. Told in the voices of the main protagonists, Yap skilfully relays the events so that we become totally involved in each of their lives. Characters are well rounded and believable in a world some may describe as dysptopian but certainly weird enough to make me glad I was neither a Mono nor a Duo.

The plot is carefully weaved with some intricate twists and turns that I never saw coming. That's always a plus for me. The only time I thought the intensity was lacking was towards the end when I thought the book should have been coming to a close but Yap amps up the tension a notch and I found myself engrossed until the closing pages.

As this is suspenseful and somewhat of a thriller, I don't want to give any spoilers. All I can say is that this is a well written book with a good pace and flowing language that will appeal to readers of several commercial genres and well worth the read.

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Friday, 23 December 2016

Book Review - My Name Is Leon by Kit de Waal

My Name Is LeonMy Name Is Leon by Kit de Waal
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I just finished reading this engrossing novel by author, Kit de Waal.

At first I wasn't sure I was going to enjoy the language and tone because of the opening lines but the story promised more so I kept going. I became more and more involved in Leon's world as the story progressed.
I loved the casual way in which de Waal increases the intensity of the story until a high point towards the end and lets the reader float gently into a satisfying conclusion.

The lives of each character is cleverly woven into the story and we are never in any doubt about their motives. The characters leap from the page as if they were sat right in front of you. The dialogue was realistic and raised your understanding of the characters - none of it was wasted.

Description of scenes and settings are enhanced by some colourful and sometimes poetic language, setting the perfect atmosphere and breathing life into every episode of Leon's journey.

At times I felt as if I was reading a story that has lived and breathed with this writer for a long time because there is a loving and caring touch between the lines that I found most compelling. It is a story that is likely to live with me a long time, especially since some of the history and culture of the West Indian characters resonate with me.

Kit de Waal is a delightful writer and this is a story I could see on the GCSE English syllabus in time and, hopefully, the first of many from this author. Read it now.

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Sunday, 18 December 2016

The Food of Love - Book Review

The Food of LoveThe Food of Love by Amanda Prowse
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was the first title I’d read by Amanda Prowse and the quality of writing would encourage me to read others by her.

The subject matter has been covered several times before so it is always risky to want to write about it again. From reading Prowse’s account of how anorexia infected the lives of one family you would almost believe that she has had personal experience of the illness in some way, which makes the Food Of Love a very compelling read of a well documented topic.

I found the author’s writing style delightful. The beginning goes at a slower pace than the last third but didn’t stop me wanting to keep turning the pages from the start.

The story is told in the third person through Freya (the mother’s) point of view. It encourages a debate in your mind as you read because you are allowed to decide whether you are in agreement with Freya’s decisions or if, as mother, you would handle the situation differently. I like that in a novel. If an author has you questioning a character’s motives then she has a captivated reader and that can only be a good thing.

I didn’t get a very good sense of place or setting throughout. Was I in a town or a village? I was never really sure. And it could be because this was a ‘to be published version’ but I didn’t like that verbs weren’t contracted and a few times I wasn’t convinced that when Lexi spoke (or her sister come to that) that she was a teenager. Her language was a bit wooden and towards the low points of her illness, the language didn’t sound authentic for a girl her age.

I also thought it was a mistake to call a girl with anorexia and dyslexia – Alexia. Weird.

If you can ignore that and you want to indulge in a well written, heartfelt piece of women’s fiction then you couldn’t go far wrong with this book.

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Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Book Review - Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo

Stay With MeStay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was given this NetGalley copy in return of an honest review.

This has to be one of the best books I've read all year. It's so rare that I give a book five stars but by the end of the book I found myself turning the last page and whispering, 'That's amazing,' so five stars it is.

I was drawn into the intrigue of this book from the very first chapter and as I continued to read I was fooled into thinking that this story was not going to go any further than the married couple, Akin and Yejide's problems trying to conceive a child. But as I kept going I became more and more absorbed by the cultural backdrop and the beautifully articulated prose.

Set in Nigeria between 1985 and 2008, Stay With Me tells the story of a couple who meet in their early twenties, their marriage and the problems they encounter with meddling in-laws when they are unable to have a child. But the book goes deeper than that. We learn so much about what motivates our two main protagonists as Adebayo weaves a set of engaging plot twists played out by fully formed and colourful characters. All the of the supporting roles stand out, you really feel as if you have stepped into the world the author creates.

I like the use of foreign words, the writer doesn't lose you by using them and she doesn't hold back in introducing the reader to what might be different culture to the one we are used to.

The middle and end of the book I found the most gripping so there was a nice build up of intensity there that I really appreciated by the end of the book.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys fiction that is true to life, honest, well thought out and thoroughly entertaining. I will look out for more books by this author.

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Saturday, 24 September 2016

Book Review - Underground Airlines by Ben H Winters

Underground AirlinesUnderground Airlines by Ben H. Winters
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this fast paced, well written book by Ben H Winters. As the first of his I've read I will certainly be looking into other work by him. The dystopian world he creates in which slavery is still in existence is so skilfully crafted you could almost imagine it to be true. Winters shows great imagination and a flair for imagery, scene setting and character development.
At first I found it a hard novel to get into but that might be because it is not the kind of novel I usually go for. I think if you like crime or thrillers or psychological dramas, then you won't be disappointed in this one.
You might ask, then, why I didn't give this a full five stars. It was simply because I seemed to become aware in shift in the voice of the narrator. I'm not sure if this was intended or just imagined by me, but I wasn't convinced at the start of part two if I was following the exact same protagonist I'd set out with at the start of the novel.
That said, I'm sure this will be a winner with many readers. I recommend it.

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