Friday, July 29, 2011

A Memory: Another window

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"To perceive Christmas through its wrapping becomes more difficult with every year."
- E.B. White, "The Second Tree from the Corner" (1954)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

July British Book Challenge 2011: Puddle Goblins

Title: Puddle Goblins
Author: David Melling
Published: Hodder Children's Books, 2008

The land of the goblins is hidden, but not so far away. If you look carefully, you might just find it … One day, Septic the goblin falls down a deep dark well. He likes it there, but hopes someone will rescue him one day …
From author's website
I was lent this heavily annotated version by Jan from my critique group. Considering we are all following the advice of reading around our genre, I don't know why we didn't think to share books before. Anyway...

Star parts:  I love David Melling. He regularly posts his pictures on Trapped by Monsters and I have to admit to rather falling in love with them. I pretend I'm showing them to my LO, but really I'm going: 'I wish I could paint like that', 'I wish I'd imagined something like that.' So I was really rather looking forward to Puddle Goblins because we love Hugless Douglas and we've gone all international and got the French version of Don't worry Douglas. Good Knight, Sleep tight has recently been added to our Melling repetoire as well. But...
Black clouds: ...well it was a bit boring. I didn't get into the characters and the story was a bit silly. I know it's for younger readers than I usually read for, but ...
 Do I recommend it: ...I'm very sorry, but it wasn't my cup of tea really. I feel very bad, because like I said I'm a fan of the picture books, I really am. The illustrations are still fantastic, and there are plenty of good gags in it, but... never mind hey, because I've named at least three great books, and it won't be putting me off getting more of his picture books. 

This is the ninth book I've reviewed for the British Book Challenge. I've finished THE GOOD MAN JESUS AND THE SCOUNDREL CHRIST and am now taking a break from Children's books and the BBC to read THE ROAD it is not bedtime reading, so maybe I should stop reading it at bedtime.

Friday, July 22, 2011

A Memory: The window

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“A habit cannot be tossed out the window; it must be coaxed down the stairs a step at a time.”

Mark Twain quotes (American Humorist, Writer and Lecturer. 1835-1910)

Friday, July 15, 2011

A Memory: The seagull is landing Part II

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Every summer, Paris empties during the months of July and August. It's called 'les Grandes Vacances'. It used to be my favourite part of my holidays as it was so quiet. This year we're living next door to a building site, which is apparently good for another couple of years. So to be honest I'm quite looking forward to getting away for a while and hogging someone else's laptop. We may even get to see some seagulls landing again, but there'll be a different backdrop of trees in Richmond Park. See you soon and enjoy your holidays. The Friday photo will appear as usual and I shall return mid August with some good news about the progress of my WIP (I hope, no there will be, maybe, definitely).

Monday, July 11, 2011

A different kind of review: ABBA lit fest

I've never been to a literary festival before, although I suppose they're rather like teaching conferences where you go to meet people, charge your batteries and get re-inspired. I imagine that there are those at festivals who take copious notes, and those who doodle a lot in the margin, giggle and make comments to the person sitting next to them and write key words down, which leaves them scratching their heads when they get home. ABBA lit fest wasn't like that. For a start it was online (and still is if any of you somehow managed to miss it or have ignored its existence).

After going through the programme, I dutifully went to my google calendar and created alerts based on writers that I have connected with in some way through Twitter, blogs or Litopia, but in the end I read/watched ALL the posts. And despite not getting to meet other people or doodle (yep folks that's me I was describing) I do feel re-inspired and there was so much to learn.

So without further ado these are my highlights, purely subjective and whatnot.
  1. Leila Rasheed's 300 words post takes us on a step by step journey through what makes a good opening. Fantastic.
  2. All but one of the competitions is open until 20th July, you have nine days, so go for it. 
  3. Anne Rooney and Mary Hoffman. They do spend half the video looking for a multi-millionaire, but watch it because it's really funny. 
  4. Wendy Meddour's tale of how she did not become an actress is hysterical and there is a cute little drawing to go with it. 
  5. John Dougherty - it may seem just like a competition but scroll down to the video.
  6. Linda Strachan and Cathy MacPhail's reflection on Arvon - I would love to go to one.
  7. I've learnt my lesson about research (maybe), but Jane Eagland's post will help you along the way if you are still battling. 
  8. Then there's the little boy who interviews Emma Barnes, he, his curls, his pile of books and his questions are priceless. 
  9. Katherine Langrish's post on Magical Rooms gives you plenty to think about and I'm definitely looking at my MC's room differently. 
This is my SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE moment. You know how all but one of those competitions are open to the 20th July. Well, if you've peeked at the posts that I really wanted to read, Michelle Lovric's was one that I was particularly interested in. If I tell you that in my 'to be read' pile is Helen Dunmore's Ingo maybe you'll understand where I'm coming from with this one. Anyway, this competition was for the first three people who answered. And *hee hee* I was one of the first three, SQUEE.

Finally, I'd just like to say THANK YOU to all those people at ABBA who gave up their time and organised this for us aspiring/wannabe/gonnabe writers. I've had a great weekend (well it was a bit of a long weekend if we include this morning's more leisurely perusal) and I'm now going to go and have a good hard look at my first three hundred words. 

Saturday, July 09, 2011

July British Book Challenge 2011: The Blackhope Enigma

Title: The Blackhope Enigma
Author: Teresa Flavin
Published: Templar publishing, 2010

Synopsis: When Sunni Forrest’s stepbrother accidentally transports himself into a Renaissance painting, she and her friend Blaise set out to bring him back. They find themselves in a strange world of labyrinths, monsters and pirates.

Can they evade their greedy pursuers? And will they ever find their way home?
Star parts:  So after saying that I wasn't really into YA, here's another. Someone once made a flippant comment about illustrators 'having no idea how to write'. From what I've read of Flavin's blog I would say that she considers herself an artist and the words on the page paint such vivid pictures. From the Tower to the inside of the painting and the different layers of it, everything was so vivid. I was constantly amazed by Flavin's imagination. She has created a world full of intrigue and wonder and it kept me turning the pages again and again. The characters are put through the mill again and again and again. Each of the characters change in some ways along the way, and the ending forces Sunni to make some tough choices.

Black clouds: We were plunged straight into the action (which I like), but I think I'd liked to have known who Sunni and Blaise were before the life changing experience, but that's more a little wonder rather than anything significantly annoying.

Do I recommend it: Oh absolutely. I loved it. I loved all the characters, good and bad. The little hint of possible future 'lurve' action was intriguing, but didn't detract from the story. I just really, really loved it and The Crimson Shard is out in October, so I'm quite excited about that too.

This is the eighth book I've reviewed for the British Book Challenge.  Still got two more reviews to do before I'm all caught up, although I may have finished THE GOOD MAN JESUS AND THE SCOUNDREL CHRIST by then. I'm not sure what I'm thinking about that book at the moment, but I'll save my views for the review. 

Also, just in case you aren't paying attention to the Twitterverse or Blogosphere, we're in the middle of ABBA's first ever online literary festival. If you didn't get a chance to catch anything today, don't worry because it will always be there. I think my highlight of today was Mary Hoffman and Anne Rooney's conversation. I hope they don't mind me saying this, but I loved the fact that the camera was off centre and that it was so 'not' professional and yet they really put across their passion.

Friday, July 08, 2011

A Memory: The seagull is landing

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And this is just a quick reminder that tomorrow is An Awfully Big Blog Adventure's 3rd Birthday. As well as that it's their first EVER on line literary Festival. Click on the badge to see what you have to look forward to . 


Tuesday, July 05, 2011


When I was at university I loved Chumbawamba. I absolutely loved them. Each time I saw them live Alice Nutter came on stage dressed as a nun which I found wonderfully irreverent. They were an excellent band to dance to and I still love them even though they were ALWAYS supporting The Levellers.The thing is I never owned any of their early stuff. When I was at uni I had a cassette of Ssh that I played to death.

Now that we can download music it's really easy to rebuild these early record collections, but although I checked I could never get hold of Ssh on iTunes. Then I read about Spotify, 13 million tunes in a cloud somewhere out there. I wondered what the catch was, but eventually I downloaded it and found out for myself*. I looked up Ssh and listened to ALL of it, starting with Ssh down to Stitch That.

But why this wander down the corridors of nostalgia? Well, you see, today I have been waxing lyrical about the trauma of potty training on Twitter plus one comment about tinkering with my WIP. @belledechocolat replied to the one about my WIP and I started going on about potty training, but soon realised that there were other preoccupations in my life, namely the fact that I have reached a hump in WIP. Something is wrong and until I wrote this, I couldn't put my finger on it:
And in a blinding flash of light I realised that my MC is wrong. So without further ado I give you: Big Mouth Strikes Again by Chumbawamba and can I make it very clear that the parts of this song that I am relating to right now are not the bits about freedom of speech and censorship.

*The catch is that every couple of songs you get an annoying Bruno Mars advert. Who the hell is Bruno Mars anyway?

Sunday, July 03, 2011

July British Book Challenge 2011: Firebrand by Gillian Philip

Title: Firebrand
Author: Gillian Philip
Published: Strident, 2010 
Synopsis: It’s the last decade of the sixteenth century: a time of religious wars in the full-mortal world. But the Sithe are at peace, hidden behind the Veil that protects their world - until their queen, Kate NicNicven, determines to destroy it. 

Seth MacGregor is the half-feral son of a Sithe nobleman. When his father is assassinated, and Seth is exiled with his brother Conal to the full-mortal world, they vow not only to survive, but to return to reclaim their fortress and save the Veil. 

But even the Veil’s power can’t protect the brothers when the brutal witch-hunts begin…  
From Strident Website
Star parts:  I don't think I'm a big fan of YA. You know teenagers are just so awkward and troublesome and they think they're so grown up and know it all and they mess up so much. Really, who wants to read that? But I love fantasy and I'm planning on writing one, and it will probably be YA, so in the spirit of reading around the genre Firebrand ended up in my to-be-read pile. And really Seth MacGregor is one of those annoying teenagers, he's in love with the girl who will never have him. He takes ages to recognise the girl who is in love with him. He does stupid, stupid stuff. He's proud, he's a softie, he's all those things that teenagers are. In addition he's this kick ass fairie that can go into people's minds, fight like you wouldn't believe. He has this amazing horse thing and finds and rears two super cute wolves. Even when he is in big, big trouble he goes back for the wolves. How can you not begin to like him? Firebrand kind of crept into my mind, and instead of staying at my bedside I found myself sneaking a read whenever I could. You know, I think I really rather liked it.

Black clouds: And to be perfectly honest when I started reading it, I wasn't at all sure that this was going to be the case. I found the first half of part one a little overly descriptive, with not enough action for my taste, but that was soon forgotten. The other little niggle was that there were times when I wasn't totally sure what was going on. I didn't quite get all the ins and outs of the political shenanigans that were going on at the beginning. But by the second half of the book I was really into it and now...

Do I recommend it: Yes, and Bloodstone the second book in the trilogy is out in August and one of those beautiful wolves is on the cover. Oh and did I mention that Seth is a tad on the vain side as well?

This is the seventh book I've reviewed for the British Book Challenge. I've had a look at the Challenge rules, so I've done the Winston Churchill bit, but I'm heading for the Royal Family. Kudos to those who are going for the 50 reads in one year - Phewy.  Now I need to get on with the other reviews, The Blackhope Enigma, Puddle Goblins, The Book of Dead Days and I'm in the middle of reading THE GOODMAN JESUS AND THE SCOUNDREL CHRIST.


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