Back To College

Hello all! I’m so happy you’ve got this far already! Yay, go you!

Me 

As you might have told from the title, this week I’m back at college. And revision has really kicked in. Oh, joy.

It’s not that I don’t like revision. It’s more that, well, I can’t be bothered to start. But once I get started, I find it difficult to stop (although with history I do, admittedly, just get distracted). I set a time limit to be off by 8:30 and have some time to myself every night, and today I actually overran (which is impressive in itself). I set goals, though, and I am a very determined and stubborn person, so I do tend to meet them (hence I overran).

Fun fact: as I was typing just now, I used both ‘over-ran’ and ‘overran’. Did you know they’re both correct?!

The Blog

As per usual, although, le gasp, you might actually get a WWC this week! THEY RETURN!

Or it might be next week, depending on when I write it…

I also made the almost-startling discovery that I don’t have to post every book review I write on here. I’ve recently signed up to BookLook Bloggers and have got a free book I need to R&R and post the review of on here, and I was thinking of when to queue it before realising, perhaps you don’t want to read about all the books I read. It’s weird how that never crossed my mind before. (If you are curious about a review of all the books I read, then you can check out my GoodReads.)

Have a nice week my fantastic followers! 😀

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Fathomless by Jackson Pearce

Fathomless

Lo is an ocean girl. That is, she lives at the bottom of the ocean, naked and with plenty of other girls like her. The only problem is, she doesn’t remember her life beforehand. Like any of the others. Until Molly comes along and tells her she knows everything. Like why the angels don’t really exist.

Celia lives on the shore, with her sisters Jane and Anne. Celia has a power; she can see anyone’s past, if she touches their bare skin. When Celia and Lo help to rescue a boy from drowning, both of their lives begin to ripple.

Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. I love Jackson Pearce, and I love her books. Of course I would read anything by her if I were given a chance, and when I got Fathomless for Christmas, I was jumping for joy (I also got Cold Spell, the last in the series, but I’m saving it because I might cry when the series is over).

Okay so onto the actual storyline. So far, Pearce has had books set in a forest, a town and now at the seaside. Fathomless is a remake of The Little Mermaid, so this is kind of obvious. I really enjoyed the storyline. Naida/Lo’s plight is one that, whilst not being completely realistic, is still relatable: the fear of losing one’s identity, especially when you have no control over the fact it is disappearing. And I really liked Celia’s involvement too, and the love triangle between Celia, Nadia and Jude. Yes, for once, I liked a love triangle. Shock, horror.

That brings me onto the characters. I thought Celia’s sisters, Jane and Anne, had some pretty good character development, as did Nadia/Lo, as well as Celia herself. And, as always with Pearce’s writing, each of the characters have their own unique voice, which Pearce uses to her advantage. For example, a character called Molly, who I would have quite happily strangled, was completely different from the others, which made her character’s twist at the end brilliantly exquisite.

The Reynolds fiasco also popped up again, in Celia Reynolds. I am so intrigued by why they keep appearing, and I cannot wait to read the last one, in the hope that we’ll finally be told!

Although it doesn’t particularly make you think, this book is fun to read and you’ll gobble it up as fast as you can. I enjoyed everything about the book: the dark/light contrast of the settings, the different characters and their lives, the comedy intertwined with some of the darkest parts. And I might be biased, but I say read it!


 

TITLE: Fathomless
AUTHOR: Jackson Pearce
PUBLISHER: Hodder’s Children’s Books (UK), Little, Brown and Company (USA)
YEAR OF PUBLICATION: Originally 2011 (my edition: 2013)
NUMBER OF PAGES: 293
PRICE: £6.99
ISBN: 978-1-444-91555-6
GOODREADS
PERSONAL SOURCE: Christmas present

Liebster Award! (again, incredibly!)

Thank you so very much to Janna at Writing Visually for my nomination of the Liebster Award! Okay so here are the rules…:

  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you and link back to their blog.
  2. Answer 11 questions from the person who nominated you.
  3. Nominate other bloggers.
  4. Give those bloggers 11 questions to answer and let them know they’ve been nominated.

And onto the questions…

  1. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, what would it be?
    Oh goodness, I don’t know. Um… If The-Entire-Harry-Potter-Series-In-One-Book counts, then that. If not… Black Beauty, I think.
  2. If your life was a book what would it be called?
    “Fucking Up and Getting On [Through It]”
  3. Who was your first fictional crush?
    Peter Pan!
  4. Traditional publishing vs self publishing – which would you choose if you had the choice? And why?
    I’d probably pick traditional publishing because it’s like following in the footsteps of all of my favourite authors. However, I would never overlook self-publishing if we’re looking at the question for a serious life style choice!
  5. Ebooks vs real books? Which wins?
    Real books, obviously! I have a Kindle but only really use it to download free books (although I have The Hunger Games on it and am not entirely sure why) for when I’m away on holiday and can’t take too many books with me because of luggage restrictions.
  6. Do you read picture books or graphic novels? Why/why not?
    Picture books were my childhood, and I do love them. I read them when I’m very upset or need a fictional cuddle. My friend is very into Manga too, so I’ve read a couple, and I got a graphic novel out from the library on a bit of a whim (which reminds me, I still need to read that…it’s due back soon!). I bought Chopsticks the other day too, and it’s a ‘novel’ told through pictures. I haven’t read it yet, but am quite excited to. I don’t enjoy graphic novels as much as prose novels, but I wouldn’t pass them up. And I just love picture books! – doesn’t everyone?!
  7. What are your thoughts on NA (new adult) fiction?
    I haven’t really heard the term used often and I don’t even know if I’ve read any NA! It’s a genre I’m intrigued to find out more about, to be honest, but it seems like we’re just splitting adults up into way too many categories. YA and adult are enough to me!
  8. What is a book you’ve read purely because of the cover?
    A Brighter Fear by Kerry Drewery. I have others that I have bought because of the cover, but have yet to read! (As with most of the books on my shelf…)
  9. What must a book have in it for you to fall in love with it?
    Three-dimensional characters, a thrilling plot and a good grasp of SPaG (spelling, punctuation and grammar). I especially love humour and tension, too.
  10. Are there any movies/TV series out there that you think are better than the books from which they originated?
    Um… I don’t think so. Unless you count Merlin, because it’s easier to watch it than read Old English! (Seriously, try it. I took a class in it and still find it almost impossible.) [NB: Merlin is called ‘The Adventures of Merlin’ on Netflix if you’re wondering what this other, closely named TV show is.]
  11. Where is your favourite place to read/write?
    My desk to write, because it’s fairly quiet and I’m surrounded by pens and notebooks, and probably the bus to read. I get to read in 40-50 minute chunks, which is about right for my reading mind, and it’s fairly rhythmic and undisturbed. That said, I don’t get much done if my friends are trying to talk to me!

And now, dun dun dun… my questions!

  1. What is your favourite book-to-movie/TV series adaptation?
  2. Can you remember the worst book you ever read?
  3. Generally speaking, how is your most recent writing project coming along?
  4. What is your strangest writing quirk?
  5. (Stealing this from Janna) – Where is your favourite place to read/write?
  6. Do you write book reviews/rate books (eg on GoodReads)? Why/why not?
  7. What inspires you?
  8. Do you have a human supporter in your writings? What do you love about them? What do they do that supports/inspires you?
  9. How has your blog helped your writing?
  10. Have you ever participated in a reading and/or writing challenge? How did it go?!
  11. What is your favourite genre to read/write in?

My nominees…:

  • Herminia at aspiringwriter22
  • Jeyna Grace
  • Candace Habte
  • Arya at thewordyandnerdy
  • Rachel Poli
  • And because I suck at actually following people and many follow stuff like The Book People and The Broke and the Bookish and The Daily Post I nominate YOU fellow reader, because you must have some stamina to make it this far down the post.

Sorry it’s so long – I do try to shorten these things! Thanks again, Janna, for the nomination, and I hope you guys liked reading it! Thanks!

Why You Should Join A Book Club – Or Start One

I didn’t particularly feel like writing about writing today, so I went for the next best thing – writing about reading!

Reading is great. Simple combinations of 24 letters and sometimes ten numbers and a multitude of punctuation marks can make you laugh, cry, scream or throw your book across the room. Or, slap the person who gave it to you. So yes, reading is great. But what’s better is reading with friends!

Why should you join a book club? Well, here are a few ideas…

  • You read books you otherwise never would have. I recently read Anna and the French Kiss for a book club on Instagram – I’m happy I did, because I loved it, but I would never have read it if I hadn’t joined!
  • You can talk about books when otherwise you might be told to be quiet. In fact, it’s mandatory to talk about books!
  • Book swaps are possible! Whoop, more books!
  • It gives you a reason to get out of the house for something enjoyable if you’re finding it difficult to leave. Especially prominent during the winter.
  • Equally, if you don’t want to or can’t leave the house, you can always find a book club online, on GoodReads, or Instagram like me.
  • It gives you a reason to go to your local library more often if you can’t afford to buy the books – fun fun fun! (I love the library…)
  • Online book shops deliver. No excuses, for you or your friends.
  • If you set up the book club, or are part of setting it up, you can always mention a book you’d like to read, or one that you’ve read and loved and you’d like the whole group to read! (I set up a book group with my friends, and we’re all reading Game of Thrones over the summer, which was my personal suggestion. We all got to choose a book that went on the final list, too, so everyone had a say, and it made it much more fun (and easier) to choose what to read!)

And another thing: you can always make new friends, especially if you join an online book club! Yay, friends – especially bookish friends!

So, what more persuasion do you need? Go sign yourself up to one, or grab a friend or five and start your own!

HALF-TERM

Hello everyone!

Me

IT’S HALF-TERM HERE IN THE UK! Which means one week off! Whoop!

…except I have rather a lot of homework and revision to do. Eh. Ah well. I also seem to have suddenly developed a social life which, whilst surprising, is also taking up a lot of time.

I have also created a writing to-do list which is pinned up above my desk and includes things like when competition entries are due, when to plan my next novellas and book reviews I still have to write. I’m hoping it’s going to be useful!

Other than that, I have embarked on #5books7days on Instagram and have yet to even start one (it finished on the 22nd), however I did spent most of the morning reading Anna and the French Kiss which I finished this morning. You should definitely read it, it made me laugh out loud and squeal with delight! Review coming 1st March!

PS make sure to check out hannahbanana for other stuff going on in my life if you’re interested in what other mischief I’m getting up to!

The Blog

Posts as per usual! I don’t really know why I have this section any more…!

A Cruel Fate by Lindsey Davis

A Cruel Fate

The English Civil War has begun, and has been raging for months. Michael Watts, who fights with the Roundheads, is taken prisoner and forced to walk for days to get to Oxford, where he is locked in the Saint George’s Tower, along with hundreds of other sick and dying prisoners. Meanwhile, Nat Afton is taken prisoner too, and, whilst thousands of others in his village change sides to support to the King to go home, he doesn’t. He stays. Gets himself locked up, leaving his sister Jane to make a dangerous trip to the city to find out what happened to her brother.

Okay, I’m going to do a basic structure for this review: good things, bad things, and a recommendation. To begin with, I really like historical fiction so this book was perfect for me! The Civil War was, most definitely, a brutal time in British history, and this portrayed I well, especially with the treatment of prisoners of war. There was no Geneva Convention then, so there was no obligation for the prisoners to be treated well, or even as living creatures (I refuse to say ‘human beings’, as I believe animals deserve many of the same rights).

Secondly, I liked the characters Nat and Martin, who were polar opposites but thrown into the same turmoil. Nat was my favourite character of the whole novella, even though he was rather fickle. He made me chuckle because of this, however, and I think that if I knew him in real life I would be unable to stop myself giving him a big hug. To me, he really was Jane’s cute little brother. Which, coincidentally, brings me onto the things I liked about Jane – her loving nature, the reaction to Michael and her devotion to her brother.

However, now we move onto the things I didn’t like. Firstly, the structure of the story. There didn’t seem to be a specific chapter about Michael, and then one about Nat, then Jane. It was just kind of clumped in one, and with random, intermittent splits changing from character to character. Bleugh. I prefer much more organised writing, thank you very much. Also, the chapter headings basically told you what happened in the chapter, so I ended up overlooking them. It’s rather like Homer’s Odyssey in that sense.

Secondly, the sentences and lexis. I do understand that Quick Reads are for people who don’t read as often as I do to begin to read again, or be introduced into the world of literature. However, I think even late bloomers in the reading front would find the patronising tone Davis seems to portray irritating. Especially how she defines ‘Roundheads’ during the book, after doing it at the beginning, and how she spells things out I preferred to infer myself. The sentences were primarily short and gave a staccato feel to the novella, which I really disliked. Sentence structure and lexis were the aspects of the novella which I disliked the most, and mainly what gave it it’s extra-low rating. I don’t feel like I could have read an entire novel like this.

Thirdly, there wasn’t much dialogue. This was fine, if the description was more energetic. It was description – that is, it described everything around. A little more action was probably needed also. And, this is going back to the character of Jane – she was a bit 2D, didn’t appear to do too much until close to the end, and I felt she was a bit wet, to be honest. Not the best creation possible, she needed a bit more character, ironically, and I also hated her sisters. If you’ll pardon my language, I felt they were complete bitches!

All in all, I would recommend this book for anyone interested in the English Civil War, and the tagline on the front of the book really is relevant: “As long as war exists, this story will matter.” And, despite this scathing review, I think I will try a couple of Davis’ other works, and see if they differ, because I did enjoy the story and the idea. Just not much else.

Symbolism In Your Writing

Symbols are around in most writing today. Take Divergent for example. If you ask a reader of the series, or even a watcher of the film, and they can probably tell you what the different factions are from a picture. And I bet even a non-Harry Potter fan could tell you about the lightening bolt and the Dark Mark!

When thinking about symbolism in your writing, you might first want to think about what you want it for. Do you want it to be for different establishments, such as the factions in Divergent? Do you want it to be as a symbol for the series as a whole – such as Harry’s lightening bolt – but not for the characters, or does it relate to one particular person, such as the black dog and Sirius Black.

Once you’ve decided, you need to create something original. If you look online and find a picture, you can probably manipulate it to make it your own work. Make it mean something. Going back to Divergent, we’ll take Abnegation, one of the factions. Their faction’s identity is based on helping others and not thinking of the self at all, so their symbol is linked hands – helping one another instead of the self. Think seriously when you make your symbol choices, but have some fun with it too. If you think there’s something humourous to be had – even if it’s only a private joke – why not put it in?

All you need to do now is discover where to put your symbol! Do you want the symbol to be described (like Percy Jackson), printed as a picture in the pages (like Harry Potter), or present on the front cover (like The Hunger Games)? Wherever you choose, just make sure it utilises the picture as much as possible!

Do you use symbols in your writing? What did you do with them?

Personally, I am terrible at using symbols. I really need to get better at it/do it more often! What about you?!

Ready and Waiting…

Hello readers!

Me 

So today, I went and bought another book: Anna and the French Kiss, by Stephanie Perkins. Why do I say another? Well, uh, I kinda, um, ordered 9 books yesterday…?

Amongst the bought are Ambitious but Rubbish by Top Gear, The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick and Travelling to Infinity by Jane Hawking (really looking forward to reading this after watching ‘Theory of Everything’!). I think I shall let you know when they arrive and do a book haul on hannahbanana  if you’re curious!

Aside from buying probably too many new books, I have also found some competitions in Writing Magazine which I am striving to enter! Whoop!

The Blog

Should be as per usual. I am thinking, however, of having a guest post once or twice a month. Who would be interested?!

Have a nice week folks! 

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Christopher Boone has never been further than the corner shop at the end of his road. He keeps his head down whilst his father tries to cope with the loss of his wife and both of them with Christopher’s Asperger’s. But when the neighbour’s dog is murdered in its back garden, Christopher embarks on a terrifying adventure to find out who, exactly, did it.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time has been on my to-read list for ages. Everyone kept saying how amazing it was, how I needed to read it. So when I discovered this book in a charity shop, I just had to get it (to then discover that according to my mother we already have a copy. Hey-ho!).

Christopher is the narrator of this novel, and wrote it after his social worker, Siobhan, suggested it. Due to his Asperger’s, Christopher doesn’t exactly understand the world around him, and things that are perfectly ordinary to us would terrify him, such as a tube coming into a station, or too many people in one place (although if you’ve ever been to Oxford Circus at Christmastime, you’ll find that quite scary, believe me). This book is really interesting to understand how people with Asperger’s see the world around us, how different it is to people who don’t have it.

The plot, the death of the dog, wasn’t as large as I thought it would be. Rather, the plot of this book is about Christopher growing up and discovering the world; this has to be the only ‘crime’ novel, in the loosest sense of the word, where the crime is a side-plot! However, the mystery was still written well, and other mysteries appear as the book goes on. And they’ll all intrigue you.

Other characters include Christopher’s father, who I really didn’t like due to his lying, and the neighbour across the road who’s dog dies, who I also didn’t like because, well, she was a bitch. However, they were still well-crafted characters with their own problems and I enjoyed the fact they seemed realistic.

Haddon has a tender tone which isn’t cutesy or patronising, but stark-ravingly real and still gives you the strange and sad atmosphere he tries to create. Yes, sadness. Well, murder isn’t exactly a happy occasion, but it’s the subplots which tug at your heartstrings.

The Curious Incident definitely makes you think of people in a different way. Try it yourself; read the book then go out into the outside world and look at people. Really look. Don’t be too creepy, but imagine their own lives. What troubles are they coping with? What’s happening to them? Of course loads of other books teach you about this, but there’s no harm of one more to remind you that outside of your own little bubble of personal space, there’s a literal world of people out there.

My recommendations of this book go to those who are interested in autism and want a different type of book to read – one with interesting chapter titles, a unique narrator and some diagrams to break up the text as well as something you probably have never read before.


TITLE: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
AUTHOR: Mark Haddon
PUBLISHER: Vintage
YEAR OF PUBLICATION: 2004
NUMBER OF PAGES: 272
PRICE: £6.99
ISBN: 0099450259
GOODREADS
PERSONAL SOURCE: Picked up in a charity shop – Vitalise, to be exact.

Characterisation Ideas

Characters are the obvious backbone to your writing, no matter what the style is: play, novel, film or TV script, even a simple comedy sketch. So getting them right is clearly the thing you should be working on.

Characterisation is something I am notoriously bad at. In my novella, An Icy Collision, the characters feel like people I vaguely know as opposed to BFFs. My NaNoWriMo 2014’s downfall was, in my opinion, not knowing my characters well enough – I didn’t even know my MC’s skin colour!

I haven’t tried all of these tips you’re about to read, but I would suggest giving them ago. If you want, you could always let me know what happens, because I always love to hear from you. I’ll have a go at these, too, perhaps in one of the exercise books I recently bought. Let’s see what happens, eh?

  • The name game. I saw this in Writing Magazine. Write out your character’s name vertically down a page. Then, next to each letter, write something they like that begins with that letter! (Good luck if their name is Xander.) After you’ve done that, write something they dislike next to each letter again.
  • Go character image referencing. For An Icy Collision, one thing I did do was go picture hunting and now I have various files with captions like ‘Ariane’s eyes’ or ‘Meryll’s mouth’. Pretend that you’re trying to recreate their face for a police investigation and enjoy finding different parts of them you might not have thought of before.
  • Make a meal in their style. Even go out shopping for ingredients. And, though this bit may make you sound crazy, talk to your character/s as you go around the supermarket or even as you’re cooking, get their hints and ideas, whilst learning how they talk to one another and to you as the author. Do they become incredibly sarcastic when you mess up? Perhaps you would never have known this if you hadn’t had dinner with them!
  • Talk to them. Preferably alone. Why preferably alone? Your friends can’t communicate with your characters in the same way you can. Just get a list of questions, sit down and ask aloud what you want the answer to. It might take a while for you to get into your stride, but you’ll make it.
  • Write short stories about them. Say your character loves Harry Potter. Put them in Hogwarts! See how they react, what happens. You’ll learn a lot and it’ll be great fun too.

So here you are, just some ideas about your characters that you might want to use.

I’m going to start planning my second novella in the series from the 16th February (half term here!) – it seems like I’m going to have some fun with my characters that week! Why don’t you join me? We can have a week of character development!

Questions, thoughts? Shoot! 😀