Thursday, 21 July 2016

Ninja Writers - Prompt #16: The Kiss

I joined Ninja Writers to get back into my creativity again. Every Wednesday they have a prompt to get the creative juices flowing. The prompt for this week was 'The Kiss'. Although I'm not currently working on a story these characters have been floating around my head for a while. Any feedback will be much appreciated.

She sighed, placing the cutlery down on the work surface. They’d had this conversation a million times.
“I’m not talking to you about this,” she protested, jamming her fingers into a ball of floured dough.
“Please Alice, just listen to me,” he cried. He kneeled on the sofa so he could face her. Alice did her best to avoid eye contact, firmly rooting her gaze on the bread in front of her. She didn’t want to argue, didn’t want to fight. There was no energy left in her.
“I have listened, Harry. I have listened to every excuse, every reason, every lie.” With each phrase she punched the dough. “I am done listening!” she roared.
Harry scooted backwards off the sofa before he could be covered in flour.
“I don’t know how else to say I’m sorry,” Harry said, quietly.
“Then stop saying it!” said Alice. “I’ve heard it enough.” Her voice lowered, became more gentle.
Harry moved round the counter so he was by her side. Standing next to her there was around half a foot between them.
“I love you,” he whispered, putting his arms around her waist, drawing her close to him. She let herself sink in, moulding herself to his body, letting his chin rest on her head.
“I love you too,” she said. “I will always love you,” she added, after a moment's hesitation.
“Then why?”
“Don’t-” she snapped. But she didn’t move, she let his lips travel down to her neck, felt her knees go weak. She leaned backwards, her mouth searching for his. Her lips parted welcoming his tongue inside, the spark in her stomach reignited, burning bright. Not that it had ever gone out in the first place.
Alice turned to face him, her hands going to his cheeks, his shoulders, as she lost herself in the kiss. The kiss, that for this moment, eliminated the outside world. There was nothing, no one, but her and Harry.
After a moment she withdrew, catching her breath, feeling the redness in her cheeks. Despite her hesitation and her almost immediate regret, she couldn’t help but smile.
“What is it?” asked Harry.
“You’re covered in flour.”

Monday, 25 April 2016

Book Review: The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett

The Versions of UsThe Versions of Us by Laura Barnett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My friend recommended this book a while ago and for a long time it's been sitting on my shelf. The concept of this book really grabbed me, the idea that one decision can alter the rest of your life. I often wonder what would have happened if I'd stayed in East Sussex or gone to university at the same time as my friends.
The story (or rather, stories) centre around Eva and Jim. Who meet, or don't meet, in the 1950's. One specific incident is the pin point for the three versions of their life which are each engrossing and enthralling from the get-go. What was interesting to me was despite some events happening in one or two of the version, occasionally, one incident would occur in all three, demonstrating that despite the utter randomness of life, some things cannot be altered.
Eva is headstrong, likeable and a woman well beyond her years for the time period of this novel. Reading her trying to find the balance between home life and career is interesting and makes me thinks about the decisions I will have to take in the future.
Jim on the other hand, I was less fond of. Originally I warmed to him, but as the book continued I grew to dislike him more and more. He was selfish and had trouble keeping it in his pants. Even if this reunited him with Eva, I didn't particularly approve of the methods in which he got there.
The story covers quite a span of time and I didn't find this a problem. At the beginning of each chapter I had to double check what version we were on, especially as we drew further and further away from that initial moment. There were also lots of side characters that didn't need naming. I would have been perfectly happy with 'so and so's business partner' as opposed to another name I had to file away in my head. Keeping track of all the children was also a difficulty, especially as all their names began with similar letters.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book and I look forward to reading more of Laura Barnett's work. It is worth a read, just for it's sheer originality and the questions it gives the reader as it passes through their lifespan.

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Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Book Review: The Bones of You by Debbie Howells

The Bones of YouThe Bones of You by Debbie Howells
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a random purchase at Brighton Train Station when I finished my other book early. The Bones of You is about a teenage girl that goes missing and all the secrets that surround her family and life.
I really enjoyed the pace of this book. From the start I was hooked and I couldn't wait to find out the young girl's fate. As always, no character appears as they seem and the secrets are revealed thick and fast with twists and turns aplenty. I also enjoyed the two sides of the story. We are taken back through Rosie's life to certain events that all link to her disappearance.
To a point I liked Kate, the main character, a local gardener and good friend to Rosie's mum, Jo. She is interesting and her curiosity propels the story along. However, as with most crime fiction, that does not feature a detective, the lead character can come across as nosy. Half of the time I wanted to shout at her to mind her own business. Plus some of the things she did made me roll my eyes more than once.
Overall, a decent thriller with an interesting concept, however I worked out who the culprit was before the very end and that always disappoints me.

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Saturday, 9 April 2016

Book Review: A Year of Marvellous Ways by Sarah Winman

A Year of Marvellous WaysA Year of Marvellous Ways by Sarah Winman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Sarah Winman is one of my favourite authors and I absolutely adored her first novel, so I waited to purchase this with anticipation. Unfortunately it was not as I expected.
Firstly, this novel is beautifully written. The writing is poetic and the characters jump off the page. The author's attention to detail is brilliant. I really liked the character of Francis Drake and the events that happened in his life were the most interesting for me.
But in some ways, it's good points are what made it so boring for me. The author uses ten words when one would do. The descriptions are far too flowery and distract from the story, although what the story is I couldn't tell you because NOTHING HAPPENED!!! It was just lots of flouncy vocabulary and tragic events that really amounted to nothing. I'm giving this three stars because I really like Winman and I hope the next novel she produces has the warmth and humour of her first.

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Monday, 4 April 2016

Book Review: A Night in with Marilyn Monroe by Lucy Holliday (Libby Lomax #2)

A Night in with Marilyn Monroe (Libby Lomax, #2)A Night in with Marilyn Monroe by Lucy Holliday
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I could not wait to get started on the second Libby Lomax novel! A Night in with Marilyn Monroe follows Libby throughout the highs and lows in her life, but this time, she is ably assisted by Marilyn Monroe.
As I am more familiar with Marilyn Monroe than I am Audrey Hepburn it was easier for me to picture her in my head. Lucy Holliday creates her character beautifully and the reader feels sorry for the troubled actress. Libby is more likeable in this book (although no less oblivious) and I still feel that the author tends to go overboard. A situation that would be really funny, then becomes ridiculous and unrealistic. I sympathised with many of Libby's thoughts and feelings, although she does have some flaws. But then, the character wouldn't be so relate-able if she didn't.
It took me just four days to tear through this book, I really couldn't put it down and I cannot wait for the next in the series.

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Friday, 1 April 2016

Book Review: Zodiac: The Shocking True Story of America's Most Elusive Serial Killer: The Shocking True Story of America's Most Bizarre Mass Murderer by Robert Graysmith

Zodiac: The Shocking True Story of America's Most Elusive Serial Killer: The Shocking True Story of America's Most Bizarre Mass MurdererZodiac: The Shocking True Story of America's Most Elusive Serial Killer: The Shocking True Story of America's Most Bizarre Mass Murderer by Robert Graysmith
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I'd seen the film before I read the book, which I think helped enormously. I love reading but I did struggle with this.
First of all, the good points. Graysmith writes in a way that is not dissimilar to a novel, he describes scenes well and there is frequent use of speech. It's not just 'he said, she said'. Also the detail is incredible. Many of the Zodiac Killer's letters are reproduced in the book and I found that really fascinating.
However, in some cases, the detail was overwhelming. We are told names and dates of absolutely everybody and that's hard to keep track of. In some cases, the information can be delivered quite dryly, although perhaps this should be expected in a factual book. I do appreciate that Graysmith was actually involved in the case at the time and it is clear how passionate he is about the case and finding the criminal. Serial killers have always been a fascinating area of interest for me and this case will be in my thoughts for a long time.

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Monday, 14 March 2016

Book Review: A Night in With Audrey Hepburn by Lucy Holliday (Libby Lomax #1)

A Night in with Audrey Hepburn (Libby Lomax, #1)A Night in with Audrey Hepburn by Lucy Holliday
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was in need of a light, girly read and A Night in with Audrey Hepburn was recommended to me by a friend. I'm not overly familiar with Audrey Hepburn's works, but I'm a big fan of that era, and I liked the concept of her turning up in Libby Lomax's living room.
I loved and hated this book almost simultaneously. Libby is funny, seems sweet and charming but regularly ends up in wildly ridiculous situations that always seem to be more and more extreme and unlikely. Although you will Libby to succeed, she never seems to really think much of herself and after a while this gets old and tiresome. The supporting characters in this novel aren't particularly friendly either. Libby's mum, sister and dad are frankly horrendous, and her best friend Olly is a bit of a drip. They're all a bit wishy-washy and you don't really want to support or root for any of them. The only exception to this is Bogdan, a gay hairdresser forced to work for his builder father. He provides much of the comic relief.
Lucy Holliday handles the scenes with Audrey Hepburn well. I could hear the actress' voice in my head and believed that Libby could see her. Audrey being obsessed with the coffee machine was also a nice touch.
A Night in with Audrey Hepburn is a page turner, and there are sections of this book that engross you. The reader cannot wait to find out what happens to Libby, but the ending is rather anti-climactic. Luckily I have the next in the series ready to go!

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Thursday, 10 March 2016

Book Review: The Ghost Fields by Elly Griffiths (Ruth Galloway #7)

The Ghost Fields (Ruth Galloway, #7)The Ghost Fields by Elly Griffiths
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Elly Griffiths is my saviour! My heroine! I absolutely adore her characters, especially Ruth Galloway, Cathbad and Harry Nelson. Opening The Ghost Fields is like visiting a favourite family member: warm; comforting and you know exactly what to expect.
In this chapter of Ruth's life, a WWII plane is discovered buried under the local green, with the pilot still in the cockpit. What follows is an unravelling of family secrets, the invasion of a production crew and assaults left, right and centre.
As always, what makes the Ruth Galloway series are the characters and the trials and tribulations they go through. They are such an eclectic mix and with several love triangles developing it grows more and more interesting. The continuing development of Ruth and Nelson is the one thing that draws me back every time.
My only, small criticism, without giving too much away, is that like every other Ruth Galloway novel, she ends up having to be saved by somebody. It would be really nice for her to do the saving for a change!

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Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Book Review: Disclaimer by Renée Knight

DisclaimerDisclaimer by Renée Knight
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

What originally drew me to Disclaimer by Renée Knight was the original concept. Catherine opens a book to discover that she is the main character and the author knows secrets that only she and one other person has knowledge of. Secrets that she has kept her whole life.
This was a real page turner. I couldn't wait to find out what happened to Catherine and her family and how the story would unfold. However my main criticism with this novel is the characters. They are well thought out and thoroughly developed but maybe that's the problem. I didn't like any of them and when there isn't one sympathetic character I tend to lose interest a bit. I cannot invest my emotions in people I don't like! Despite this, the twist at the end was well worth waiting for and after passing it on to a friend, they really liked it and didn't have the same issues that I did.

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Monday, 22 February 2016

Book Review: Room by Emma Donoghue

RoomRoom by Emma Donoghue
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Many others struggled with the fact that Room is narrated by a little boy. I enjoyed Jack's point of view and I didn't find him irritating or repetitive. Although I work with children, so maybe
that helps.
Room is a rather desolate story of a little boy and his mum who live confined in a room. It is the only life Jack has ever known, although his mum makes it clear that she is here under another person's will. That other person is known as Old Nick, who brings them Sunday treats and regularly rapes Jack's mum.
Jack describes the room in innocent detail and his discovery of the real world is both funny and enjoyable.
The story gathers speed and interest after Jack escapes from the room, with his mum's guidance and planning. Discovering how they treat the world and how the world treats them is fascinating and Emma Donoghue thinks of so many things, such as the fact that Jack has never been in direct sunlight before.
All the characters we meet are well written and easily distinguishable and the story kept me intrigued right through to the end. My only criticism is that it ended suddenly and I wanted more. I hope Donoghue writes a second novel exploring where Jack's life has taken him.

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Monday, 15 February 2016

Book Review: Duma Key by Stephen King

Duma KeyDuma Key by Stephen King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Stephen King's Duma Key is the tale of Edgar Freemantle. After losing an arm and gaining a head injury in a work accident, Edgar's life turns upside down. He divorces his wife and takes a break to Duma Key, an island off the coast of Florida. While there a passion for art emerges, but with serious consequences.
King creates a range of eclectic characters, in Edgar; Elizabeth Eastlake, a local landowner; Wireman, her carer with a shady past and Jack, Edgar's helper and chauffeur. On Duma Key nothing is as it seems and everybody has their own secrets. Edgar's artistic skills develop with the support of Elizabeth, but he soon learns that through his art other talents are revealed.
As well as the characters, King's descriptions of the locations are detailed and impressive. He really paints a picture of the old Eastlake house and the supernatural occurrences. Flipping between the island's past and present is not a challenge and in fact, I could have read this book forever and ever. King writes beautifully and the images he creates stay in your head long after you've closed the book.

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Thursday, 21 January 2016

Book Review: Wild Oats by Veronica Henry

Wild OatsWild Oats by Veronica Henry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wild Oats is based in Shropshire, not far from where I live. I always enjoy reading books set in a location that I am familiar with. I enjoy Veronica Henry's writing style and always get engrossed with the characters and the story lines and this book is no exception. I felt for the characters, willed them to do the right thing and wanted them to achieve happiness. Sometimes I wanted to scream at the characters for making poor decisions, but ultimately I sympathised with them. Henry really shines in her character development. I also enjoyed the different generations and different classes that she discussed. Not everyone had Gucci handbags which has been the case in previous novels. My only criticism is that sometimes situations aren't very realistic. When two lovers wake up in bed neither of them needs to go to the loo and couples orgasm at the same time the first time they've slept together. I think if characters were even more realistic it would make it more relate-able, but this does not tarnish my opinion of Henry and I will always be an avid fan on her books.

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Friday, 15 January 2016

Book Review: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

FrankensteinFrankenstein by Mary Shelley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I am very aware that I have not read many classics during my lifetime. After recently watching Frankenstein I thought it a good place to start. The novel has passages that are engaging. Mary Shelley writes action very well. For me, the passive sections were harder to read and remain interested. The monster is written especially well. The language used for him is almost lyrical and I sympathised with him throughout. My favourite part of the book is when the monster is watching the family in the cottage in the wood.
Considering the age of the book, it is not a difficult read but similarly, it's not what I'd classify as a page turner.

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