Book Review: Long Journey to Deep Cañon by TT Flynn

long journey

TITLE: Long Journey to Deep Cañon (Pronounced “canyon”)
GENRE: Western!
PUBLISHER//YEAR OF PUBLICATION: AudioGO Ltd (Golden West LIterary Agency) // 2011 (the collection)
ISBN: 9781445856315
PERSONAL SOURCE: Bought from The Works

In this collection of some of TT Flynn’s greatest short stories, men must fight with the odds against them to achieve their justice. Drama, mystery and excitement are all found in the pages of this collection.

Because this is a short story collection, I’m going to review each one separately.

THE OUTLAW BREED: This was a pretty strong starting point, I thought. Brad, the new Sherriff, has to combat prejudices against him because he is from a family of outlaws, and his brother as recently been released from prison. This short story had questions of loyalty and friendship vs. law and order, and I think Flynn mixed these really well. The conclusion was satisfactory and, well, conclusive.

BITTER VALLEY: This story begins with the protagonist, Donnigan, about to hang for a supposed crime. When he evades the hanging, he goes into hiding in the valley, with his friend Indian Joe, who helps to fix him up and get him back on his feet. Unlike THE OUTLAW BREED, this story contrasted law and order with law and order – or, in other words, right vs. wrong. I found this one interesting to read, how people argue about things which aren’t necessarily important.

BULLETS TO THE PECOS: A twisted story of love, life and law and order sees two groups of young men moving cattle over the valley. Competing gets too much for some of the more testosterone-fuelled men, and the whole thing quickly turns into a guerrilla warfare-style gunfight. Whilst I felt there was too much killing in this one, it still featured a satisfactory conclusion, which I feel is a style of Flynn’s writing. There was even a strong female character in this one! – Which was nice to read about.

LONG JOURNEY TO DEEP CAÑON: The book’s namesake was one of Flynn’s longer works before he moved on to novel-length fiction, and I really enjoyed this one. The protagonist, Calhoun, was a genuinely nice guy stuck in a not-very-nice situation, and I wanted to give him a hug! (Also, cowboys?! YES, PLEASE.) Seriously, though, he was trying to get over his previously-awful reputation and prove to himself and the others in the town he’d changed and was different. At the middle of this story is an old-fashioned fight over a girl, and, of course, lots of gunfights ensue. I quite enjoyed this one.

Overall, I would recommend this collection. Western is often an overlooked genre, I feel, for rednecks and Texans. Actually, I think it’s for all sorts of people who just fancy a sense of adventure. My favourite stories of this collection were THE OUTLAW BREED and LONG JOURNEY TO DEEP CAÑON, if you were curious. I might re-read this sometime, as Westerns can be hard to get a hold of, but, yes, I would definitely recommend it to all those adventure lovers out there!


5 Ways To Get Writing Again

Between now and the 18th of December, I’m doing a prompt-a-day short story challenge (which I made up myself and you can read about here). It really has gotten me writing again, and I enjoy doing the challenges (even thought I’ve only done two so far!). I started it because I was struggling with writing, so I thought some other people might find it helpful, too.

  1. Do a writing challenge. You can find one on the internet fairly easy via Googling, or you can make up your own, like me!
  2. Write down a list of reasons why you can’t write right now. Beat them. The list could include things such as “I have to wash the dishes” – in which case, do them – or “I have to pass my A levels!” In which case either wait until they’re over, or overcome this.
  3. Write something outside of what you either normally write, or outside your current project. So, write a piece of non-fiction, like an essay, or write a poem, or a short story from a genre you’ve never tried before. This should get your writing juices flowing fairly well!
  4. Talk to a friendly writer friend. They might help you to be able to work through your writing block, they might offer ideas, or they could just offer their support and sympathy and hopefully their vast collection of chocolate.
  5. Just push on through it. Sometimes if you can’t write, all seems lost, but you might just be over a tricky bit in your plot. You’ll be able to do it eventually.

I hope these have helped! If you have any more ideas, want me to be your aforementioned friendly writer friend, have any comments in general or just want to chat, feel free to comment below! 🙂

I hope your weekend is writerly and your words come well!

Book Discussion: Libraries

Libraries are wonders of the universe. Isn’t it cool that a race as selfish as the humans can create things where you get free books (for a period of time, anyway)?! It’s just amazing.

I love libraries, and when I go down to my local one I always take out way more books than I should which is then annoying because I have to read them. For example, I have two due in 3 days. I haven’t read either. Oops.

BUT! Libraries are really cool not just for the vast array of fictional books on offer. They often have cool displays or exhibitions, or a child’s area with picture books, colouring pages and audio books.

Actually, let’s get on to all of the things that aren’t just books. There tends to be computers, audio books, DVDs, CDs, and people to talk to! What else does one person need?!

And if you actually want the books, then not only is there fiction, but also non-fiction. Ah, it’s wonderful.

I think we should appreciate libraries more and quell any person trying to shut them down. They’re valuable necessities to society.

How much do you love libraries?


Hello everyone! Sorry this post is a day late. I completely forgot yesterday, which is a tad awkward.

So thus far this week I’ve already, with the help from friends, resurrected our book club! We’re running until at least July, and so far we have books like Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, NYPD RED by James Patterson and Boys Don’t Cry by Malory Blackman. There’s been a few qualms with sorting out books etc. but all is sorted now and I’m excited to start!

I was also pleasantly pleased with past me (for once) for queuing a post for last Friday! I hope you enjoyed that two-part “series”. No book discussion last week, but I’ll try and get one up this week.

How’s your week gone so far? Hope it goes well for the rest of it!

Book Review: The Pleasures of Men by Kate Williams

pleasures of men

TITLE: The Pleasures of Men
AUTHOR: Kate Williams
GENRE: Historical fiction/mystery
PUBLISHER//YEAR OF PUBLICATION: Michael Joseph (Penguin) // 2012
ISBN: 9780241951392
PERSONAL SOURCE: Picked up at college during World Book Day
RATING: 2.5/5

Catherine Sorgeiul has been living at her uncle’s house for a while now, in Spitalfields. She has dark secrets she’s trying to get over, but when a serial killer – known as the Man of Crows – begins to commit horrific murders near where she lives, Catherine’s fragile mind is turned to the horrors to keep her from herself. But no one is who they seems in Spitalfields, so how can Catherine know who to trust?

When I picked it up, I hoped for a good, historical fiction/mystery. I guess I kind of got that, but there were so many problems I gave it 2.5/5 (I rounded it up because the historical accuracy was pretty awesome).

Let’s start with the good things. It was a mystery – both the actual murders, and Catheirne Sorgeiul herself. Most of the characters were mysteries too, and most didn’t reveal all of their sides. The narrator was unreliable, which made for an interesting read, too.

Onto the actual narrator. The primary narrator was Catherine in first person, but sometimes it flicked to third person so the audience was ahead of the character, and then sometimes it also flicked to another first person narration of Grace Starling. But if we stick to Catherine, well, I actually liked and felt sorry for her. The ending of it was justified for her character, I felt, and I was pleased at how it ended. I also liked the subtle diversity the author dropped in – it was never out-rightly said, but kind of obvious that Catherine was in love with her maid, Grace, although I wouldn’t say she was a lesbian (some later scenes make this clear, but I’m not going to go into that because spoilers!).

The actual story wasn’t bad, but I felt it was concluded a little too rapidly, although any longer than the perfect amount would have been too long. Aka, it took one chapter for it to be wrapped up, the mystery being picked away at the edges (Catherine doesn’t have unusually high intelligence, nor is she a detective, so I felt it was revealed at the right speed). A note on the repercussions would have been nice, and we kind of got it in the final couple of chapters. I actually quite liked the actual murder story, but there was also a few too many subplots going on, with too many characters, which made it difficult to keep track of. I did like, however, that it was just a stand-alone book, a series would have been too much (although, I wouldn’t mind a non-mystery story of what happened next…).

Although I’ve just said I liked the story, I did mention the subplots, and I felt like there were far too many and they dragged on for far too long for them to be affective. Additionally, as aforementioned, Catherine has a “fragile” mind, but I felt like the characters just blatantly lied to her, which then, of course, made it worse afterwards! Needless to say, aside from Catherine, I liked one other character. One. Out of the whole book. Some of the characters were plain horrible, like her uncle, and I felt like the “thing” that happened in her past which gave her the fragile mind was dealt with too harshly, and I really didn’t like that part – it just seemed to be unnecessary violence and hardship, which wasn’t needed and therefore shouldn’t have been in.

Now, onto what brought down at least one whole star for me: the writing. It was just written so badly. The entire thing was full of typos_ and somme of the names were spelt wrong in later chapters. . Aka, in that previous sentence, all of the mistakes were ones that happened in the actual book. Yes, really. I’m surprised that the author didn’t spot them, but surely the editor/publisher/beta-readers? Yes? Apparently not. Some of the writing was also really confusing at points, and I had to read it over and over to fully understand it, which isn’t something you want in a book, especially historical fiction where the reader is thrown into an unknown world anyway! And the spelling of one character’s name changed later in the book! What was that about?!

Overall, I didn’t particularly like this book. I gave it three instead of two stars because I liked the historical accuracy. The author is clearly a well-established historian, and I’m going to be kind of harsh and say maybe she should stay that way. The back of the book – listing her achievements – says she is a “stunning new voice”. I probably wouldn’t say so. However, that doesn’t mean it’s all bad. I think if it had been written better, then I would’ve viewed it more highly, but to be perfectly honest I was surprised it was published. HOWEVER, the characterisation was a strong point, and I did like Catherine and wanted to find out more about her life “after”.

PS – this book was surprisingly sexual, and I wouldn’t recommend it for younger readers. (That and the psychological aspect, as well as the violence, obviously.)

PPS – the title didn’t come into it at all, and I’m still confused over why it was named that. Should’ve been The Pleasures of Women if anything!

Using Real Life In Your Writing – Places

real life - placesLast week, I spoke about using real life people in your writing. THIS WEEK: PLACES!

Obviously, we all live somewhere. Be that in the middle of a city, the outskirts of a town or in the middle of the countryside, either isolated or perhaps in a little hamlet. So, why not use that setting in your writing? Just go out, soak up the atmosphere. Listen, really listen. Do birds make sounds? Are there lots of shouting kids, or is it quieter in a more elderly area? Look around: what colour is the sky? At night? Are there lots of bus stops? Even the littlest thing can make it seem the most realistic to your readers. Even if most of the place you live in is grass or gravel! – note it. It’s ideal if you’re writing somewhere where you live, because you can just go out if you need inspiration.

Okay, perhaps you hate it, and don’t want to write about. Fair enough. There are other places you can use in your settings.

If you’re on holiday, and you find somewhere you love, why not write about? It’d be perfect, no? Just remember that no where is idyllic, and people who live there probably hate it too! But note the same things as you did for your own hometown. Have a look down some narrow alleys where your MC might walk down to get home, for example. See what the weather is like. If you’re not there all year round, can you talk to some locals? Eat in a local cuisine shop, visit museums, shops, see where your MC might work or go to school. Yes, it sounds very long-winded and difficult, but it’ll be key in convincing your readers about the realism of a place.

If you’re writing a setting of somewhere you can’t get to, why not look it up online? Use Google Earth’s awesome Street View feature. It’s actually pretty cool, and quite interesting. Look for weather news, go on the country’s main news website, you could even find some books based in that area, even if they’re non-fiction (probably especially, actually). Check out the wildlife online. Ask people who’ve been there, if you can find anyone.

And obviously, if you’re writing about a fantastical world or an alternate universe, things are going to be a little different, but you could always try and find somewhere as close to our world as possible, like New Zealand for Lord of the Rings. If you can’t, though, at least try and think of the same things as you’d notice if you were in the place for real – wildlife, the smell of the air, the language or many languages spoken, if people interact in the street or if people only leave their homes if they have somewhere to go.

The setting is so incredibly important in writing, and yet it is often overlooked. You could even try drawing a map and plotting out everything. Perhaps just writing notes, or finding pictures (try Pinterest).

Good luck with your settings! Don’t overlook them, and make sure you’ve done all you can. If you can get to your ideal setting and stay for as long as you can, do it! It’ll benefit you greatly.

Book Review: iBoy by Kevin Brooks


AUTHOR: Kevin Brooks
GENRE: YA/action
ISBN: 9780141326108
PERSONAL SOURCE: Borrowed from my boyfriend

Tom Harvey was just a regular, normal, slightly OK-not-OK 16 year old when it happened. An iPhone, thrown from 30 stories up, split open his skull. Tom woke up in hospital, generally feeling normal… until something started to hum in his brain. Tom becomes iBoy, trying to find out who committed a horrible crime against his friend, Lucy, and, against all of his conscience, he sets out to punish them. 

So iBoy wasn’t really what I expected it to be – in a good way. It dealt with horrifying issues like gang rape, and was also really funny and unputdownable. I enjoyed reading it for both the content and the way in which it was written and read the whole thing in one evening!

To start with, let’s look at Tom, or iBoy. He has some pretty cool powers and reminded me of an X-Man, to be fair. He could search the internet in his brain, and send and receive calls – in his brain. I think that’s pretty awesome. Obviously there’s the cliché of with great power comes great responsibility, and it was interesting in that Tom didn’t seem to take this seriously – at all. He gets a guy stabbed because of what he did with his new found powers! I mean, jeez. But this – Tom’s power – is obviously an integral part of the plot, and I liked how Brooks has shown that not every cool power a character in a book gets means its a good power for them to have.

The character development of Tom was both interesting and backwards, because he seemed to lose his conscience the more the book went on, and even though he was trying to fight to stay human, he seemed to adopt two different identities of the original Tom and iBoy – the character even starts to refer to himself in the 3rd person. The things that kept Tom grounded were his grandma – Gram – and Lucy, his friend who Tom fancies. I did like this more “human” side of him being portrayed and kept being referred to throughout the book, especially as it showed Tom losing this side of himself to develop into almost a psychopathic hero.

There is a lot of not-very-nice violence in this book – actually, I was almost taken aback with how violent it was. There’s gang rape, shootings, stabbings, and explosions which kill, as well as people just getting beaten up. AKA – not for younger readers. Although I felt like the violence did fit in really well in the book. There were a few parts where I wondered if it were necessary but all in all I felt like it did work well with the plot.

Overall therefore this was an action-packed 5* read, and I would recommend it but probably only to those 14-15 and over. It’s a unisex read which is refreshing for me (I’m having a bit of a girly reading month…) and I’d just like to thank my lovely boyfriend Jake for lending it me!

Using Real Life In Your Writing – People

real life - peopleReal life and writing correlates quite a bit, even if you’re writing fantasy, for example. Obviously, you’re writing in a language you know, so there’s a point – you’ll probably use your own language tics in your work (such as the main character dropping articles, for example). Your characters are probably also influenced by people from your real life and conversations. Have you ever read a character and thought, “Hey, my friend does that…”?

Obviously you can’t completely copy people in your real life – there’s probably a law against it, or something, and you wouldn’t be creating your own characters. But, there’s nothing against you using aspects of people around you in your writing. If your friend has a really funny sneeze, or they have a catchphrase that they say all the time, then why not magpie it and use it in your own work? Even if they noticed, they’d probably be happy that you thought that that part of them was good enough to be used in your novel!

Bit how do you know what type of stuff to take and what type of stuff to leave? Well, you can keep a writing journal, obviously, and write down everything (a really great exercise for this is sitting in a coffee shop or on a train for example, and writing about the people around you). Then, you can flick through and find out the things that best fit your characters. Alternatively, you can just notice around you, and write it down later. Or, not write it down at all, and hope you’ll remember! If you use something in a close friend, you’ll probably know it anyway.

Even if you don’t write anything down, you probably will realise that some aspects of people around you in everyday life will come through in your own work subconsciously. This isn’t a bad thing! Even published writers are still influenced by people around them – take JK Rowling, for example! Besides, it gives you some great ammunition for writing and it means your characters are likely to seem realistic to the reader, because they have characteristics from real people!

Therefore, using real life people in your writing is a pretty good idea – just, don’t copy them completely. Otherwise, I guess you’re writing fanfiction about your own life… now there’s something for you to think about!


Hello! Happy Monday and all of that doo-dah.

I’m in a pretty good mood today. I went to a gig of my favourite artist, Frank Turner, last Friday which was absolutely amazing! (Uh, thanks boyfriend for the tickets!) NaNoWriMo is going (I wouldn’t necessarily say well, but at least I’m due to finish in February 2016 as opposed to April 2016 as it was yesterday), my work at college is also going, I wrote a rather sad 500 word short story (which I might post another day on my other blog) of which I have already fallen in love with the character, and I’m playing with my story cubes again. So yeah. Good.

The only thing is… This blog? Not so good.

Guys, whaddya want from me (CUE TAKE THAT)? I’m struggling to come up with Friday posts nowadays, except for making lots and lots of lists! So, if you have any ideas, want to see something, want some help or just want to have a chat, please comment below. I’d love to hear from you, and I’ll keep on trying to blog this week anyway!

Have a lovely week, all!

Book Review: All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

TITLE: All The Bright Places
AUTHOR: Jennifer Niven
ISBN: 9780141357034
PERSONAL SOURCE: Borrowed from library

Violet’s sister, Eleanor, died in a car accident a few months ago. Since then, she’s had “Extenuating Circumstances” and misses her sister dearly. When she finds herself, scared, on top of the bell tower, it’s another student, Theodore Finch, who talks her down. It’s only together they can be themselves, but as Violet’s world starts to grow, Finch’s continues to shrink.

Let’s start with the obvious with this novel: the incredible, lively, alive writing. I just couldn’t stop reading. The author uses a dual narration – Violet and Finch – to narrate the novel, and their voices were so different and exploring different things that it was truly a pleasure to read.

Much of the book is about suicide – contemplating it, attempting it, etc. Violet and Finch don’t want to die per se, they just don’t want to live anymore. It’s a heavy topic, and, I understand, not for everyone, but it was dealt with in a brilliant manner and really gives you something to think about: would you notice it in the person you love?

But it’s not just about suicide! It’s about friendship and love and first happenings and PTSD and guilt. A wide range of topics, huh? And it was just all written about so well, I am amazed. These topics are so relevant and always have been and always will be, and especially to me, this book came at the right time.

The characters were the full-blown, 3D effect. They were realistic and well-written. They had real-life problems, and their ways of speaking and doing both contrasted and complimented, making for a really dynamic read.

This book hurt to read. By the end, I was reading (I can’t actually remember where I was…) and holding back tears and wailing. It was a hard read, but really well worth it, and I’d definitely recommend it. I don’t think I’ve read anything quite like it, and I really, really adored reading it.