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Blog Tour: Amy Cole Has Lost Her Mind by Elizabeth McGivern

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About the book:

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Amy Cole is a stay-at-home mum and a woman on the edge. 
After a very public breakdown and failed suicide attempt, Amy finds herself trying to make it through her everyday life as a high-functioning zombie. 
Elle De Bruyn is a force of nature ready to shake Amy back to life whether she likes it or not. 
After a fortuitous meeting, the two embark on a journey together which will change them both and help them find out exactly what they’re capable of when rock bottom is just the beginning. 

Purchase from Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07B4FW7TZ/ref=la_B07B4HV9B6_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1519837964&sr=1-1

Purchase from Amazon.com – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07B4FW7TZ/ref=la_B07B4HV9B6_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1519837964&sr=1-1

My Review

Amy Cole Has Lost Her Mind grips you from the first page. It starts with a harrowing scene of Amy attempting suicide and from that moment I could not stop reading. It was hard to read Amy’s story at the start, I had to fight off tears but I continued eager to learn more about her.

Amy’s thought patterns were so scary to read, being someone who is a worrier and being anxious I could relate to some aspects of the way her brain worked. Some. Scarily accurate. I have never experenced what Amy had and I wanted to read this book to learn more about depression and straight away I learnt a lot. And could feel nothing other than a deep sympathy for this woman.

Amy’s worries and dilemmas about bringing up her children and her mental health struggles could be anybodies, the story is as realistic as fiction can get.

Although the beginning of this novel is heart wrenching the mood does change when Amy meets the big personality of Elle, she encourages her to try new things and as a result Amy gets into some hilarious situations.

It’s strange how quickly the tone of the novel changes, it starts off being a harrowing dark story and suddenly turns into a comedy. The change of tone does not bother me, although there is not much mention of her depression anymore maybe that’s because she isn’t thinking of it or caught up in the feelings and it’s reflected in the story.

I loved this book, sometimes I did feel like the characters were over the top but then this may often be the case in comedy novels. Despite that I really enjoyed this novel. I would recommend this book to anyone, the beginning may be hard but then it’s realistic and does increase our awareness of depression and it’s effects.  It’s an honest, sad and also hilarious book. I really didn’t want it to end. I was so relieved when I got to the final page and read the words: “AMY COLE WILL RETURN IN: AMY COLE IS ZEN AS F*CK” I didn’t expect to care so much about her. I have to read the next book.  

 

 

 

About the authorAmy-Cole-liz-9.jpg

Elizabeth McGivern is a former journalist turned hostage-in-her-own-home surrounded by three men and a horrible dog named Dougal.

In an effort to keep her sanity she decided to write a parenting blog after the birth of her first son so she can pinpoint the exact moment she failed as a mother.

In an unexpected turn of events, the blog helped her to find a voice and connect with parents in similar situations; namely those who were struggling with mental health issues and parenting. It was because of this encouragement – and wanting to avoid her children as much as possible – her debut novel, Amy Cole has lost her mind, was born.

Elizabeth lives in Northern Ireland although wishes she could relocate to Iceland on a daily basis. To witness her regular failings as a parent you can find her on:

www.mayhemandbeyond.com 

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/mayhemandbeyond

Twitter – https://twitter.com/MayhemBeyond

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/mayhemandbeyond/

Picture credited to Jess Lowe

 

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Writing Wednesday: progress

Last week I talked about being in a slump and how to overcome it, find the post here. I tried doing a mindmap:

The word I used was “Pathways” and it managed to spark a lot of ideas. I see images of characters and scenes when I get ideas and I had one that resulted in the start of a short story. 🙂

I now have two short stories that are works in progress. At the moment I’m working on them and later on will give my novel some attention. Might be an edit before I continue writing it.

I haven’t got any further with these stories yet. I may have to carve some time out next week, I haven’t had much writing or even reading time at the moment. But it’ll keep.

Maybe I’ll plan to finish a rough draft of one before the end of June. That’s plenty of time.

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Next Wednesday it’s time for the Insecure Writer’s group blog hop. Let me know if you’re involved I haven’t been for long.

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Guest Post Series: My Favourite Literary Character by Bridie

This week it’s Bridie from Bridie’s Book Abyss turn to share her favourite literary character, thank you Bridie.

Skulldugger Pleasant

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Skulduggery Pleasant is a gun wielding, Bentley driving, fine suit wearing, magical detective. Also he’s dead. Literally. He is a walking, talking, fire throwing skeleton. And he is the best damn character in the world.

He is an elemental, which means he is able to control and conjure the elements to help him in his daily battles against the bad guys. Although as we get further into the series we learn that his magic abilities don’t just end at fire, water, air and earth…

With a velvet Irish accented voice, the quickest wit around and seemingly endless charm, it is impossible not to fall in love with Skulduggery Pleasant.

 

Books featured in

Skulduggery Pleasant series by Derek Landy.

1 Skulduggery Pleasant

2 Playing with Fire

3 The Faceless Ones

4 Dark Days

5 Mortal Coil

6 Death Bringer

7 Kingdom of the Wicked

7.5 The Maleficent Seven

8 Last Stand of the Dead Men

8.5 Armageddon Outta Here

9 The Dying of the Light

10 Resurrection

11 Midnight (Released May 31th!)

 When did you first read this character? 

I cannot remember exactly what age I was when I was introduced to Skulduggery Pleasant. I believe it was early double digits either 12 or 13. In a rare show (back then) of sibling social interaction; my little sister said you “You should read this book, it’s about a Skeleton Detective”. “Sounds awful” I thought, but appreciated the gesture so decided to give it a go. From the first few chapters I was absolutely hooked, and I am still a Skulduggery Fan girl to this very day.

Confession time. Despite being old enough to know better, I spent many hours trying to do elemental magic as described in this book. You know. Just in case.

 Why do you like this character? 

He is suave and debonair, with the sharpest wit I’ve ever read in a character. He is utterly hilarious, dry as a bone (pun intended), and the first (and one of the only) book character to genuinely make me laugh out loud. But he is also one of the most genuinely dark characters I have ever read. He has a severely tortured past, and (as an immortal skeleton) he has to deal the reality of living with these memories and regrets for eternity. I find it hilarious that this book, which is classed as 9-12 children’s fiction, has some serious darkness that most ‘adult books’ WISH they had. I love a character who can make you laugh hysterically, but who is also quite frightening in their unpredictability and sense of justice and repentance.

I’ve never wanted to be a book character more than I want to be Valkyrie Cain. Purely so I get to hang out with Skulduggery Pleasant everyday. (The magic would be cool too)

 Has the book been adapted to film/tv? 

Not as of yet, but there has been talk for years of it being made into a film by Warner Brothers. Although I hope it isn’t. I love it so much that I can’t bare the possibility for it being ruined by a film. Also if I can’t play Valkyrie Cain then NOBODY CAN.

 Quotes 

Can I quote a whole book? No?

Skulduggery Pleasant is an insanely quotable character. So I’ve tried to narrow it down to my absolute favourites.

 “Doors are for people with no imagination” 

 “We’re not retreating, we’re advancing in reverse.” 

 “What is it?” Stephanie whispered. “That, my dear Valkyrie, is what we call a monster.” She looked at Skulduggery. “You don’t know what it is, do you?” “I told you what it is, it’s a horrible monster. Now shut up before it comes over here and eats us.” 

 “I’m sophisticated, charming, suave and debonair, professor. But I have never claimed to be civilised.” 

 “Only a heathen would bring a gun to a sword fight.” “And only a moron would bring a sword to a gun fight.” 

 “The world is bigger than you know, and scarier than you might imagine. The only currency worth anything is being true to yourself, and the only goal worth seeking is finding out who you truly are.” 

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About Bridie

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My name is Bridie and I am a self-confessed Bookmaggot. I am also largely sarcastic and cynical but that is neither here nor there. Aside from being a bibliophile I am a professional Actress and Singer. And on top of all that I work part-time as a Bookseller in one of London’s largest bookshops. It’s safe to say that I know my way around a bookshelf. But that wasn’t always the case.

When I was little, I struggled with reading, and was always a few steps behind the level I should have been for my age. Even into my late teens I always felt drawn towards books, but would shy away from the commitment of reading. Then in my early twenties a well-placed recommendation sent me down a spiral. (BEWARE – uncharacteristically soppy sentences ahead) – it left one of those gaping holes inside that only a great book can leave and the only way to fill it seemed to be to search for a replacement. Except then I found another book that ripped my soul and another and still another. Until suddenly, I was an infinite crevasse of paper and ink. Children were screaming. Men were crying. The Aztecs said ‘I told you so’ as the world was sucked into the abyss of my book-lust. (I’m passionate and overdramatic and you’ll just have to be okay with that).

So let’s talk books. We all know that everyone has a genre (don’t lie) that is their comfort blanket. Mine is Fantasy and YA Fantasy. But that doesn’t mean my blog is going to be all magic and wizards; oh no my friend; because I also dabble in 9-12 fiction, general fiction and even the occasional classic *quelle intellect*. One of my personal goals for this year is to branch out and read books that I would never have chosen before, namely sci-fi and non-fiction. So we can share the struggles and triumphs of that journey together on my blog, whilst holding hands (you don’t have to hold my hand if you don’t want to, just thought it might be nice).

SO – If you’d like to hear my opinion on some of the books I’ve read in the form of shining/brutally scathing reviews. If you’d like to hear my various recommendations and reading lists. If you’d like to hear my funny and enraging bookseller tales… Welcome to my Book Abyss.

Twitter: @bridiebookabyss 

 

 

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Ninja Book Box Unboxing

It’s time for the next Ninja Book Box.

There’s a lot of book subcription boxes out there but the Ninja Book Box is unique, everything is from independant publishers and the gifts are from indie suppliers and some are handmade too. So much thought and effort goes into each box, it’s really worth buying one for yourself or a friend. Here’s what’s in this quarters box

Conspiracy by Candlelight May Box

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There’s the usual: welcome note and the spoilers envelope,( reminding me that I can now open my envelope for Dead Of Winter from a previous box since I finished that recently.) A recipe for Sweet Wine Cakes. And the charm this time is the symbol for justice, a weighing scales.

New item: A handmade bookmark with a brilliant quote “If you have a garden and a library you have everything you need” 🙂 This box also had an invite to sign up to get a penpal, I had penpals when as a child.

Also a reminder to sign up if your interested in the summer reading box.

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The gifts in this quarters box are perfectly matched to the book. This one is a pack of writing paper and envelopes with a roman theme and the theme name of the box ‘conspiracy by candlelight’ printed along the bottom. This would be perfect for using to send to a penpal 🙂 This is from designer and maker Esther Fairbairn.

 

 

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I was thrilled with the sealing wax and seal!!! It’s from Stomp Stamps.  I love old fashioned writing things, I have a quill and a typewriter already and now can add this to my collection. Also keeping in with the roman theme and handy to seal your envelope to send to your penpal. I love how this is all coming together, it’s great the thought and effort involved.

The ‘mystery gift’ a canvas and easel: the Ninjas are inspring us to “make a tiny piece of book inspired art and share it with us” I love the idea and I have been thinking about maybe having a go and doing a book quote or cover. But I’m not artistic at all so I’m not sure.

So here’s the book published by Duckworth Overlook:

 

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I can always rely on it being a book I would never think to pick for myself but something that always appeals to me and I look forward to reading.

This is definitely a unique book, a crime set in Rome 70 BC. I don’t read a lot of crime or historical books so it’s an opportunity to read something different. 🙂

I honestly don’t know how they do it, I am never unhappy with the choice of book.

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This is the final little gift, they made a note to say that it’s not an indie book but second hand and it was just something funny they thought to add to the box and its set in the same time period as the book. It’s a very clever idea!

I left this to the end to mention. My brother loved Asterix and Obelix when he was a child, he used to watch the film starring Gerald Depardieu. I laughed when I seen this in the box because they had no idea about this of course 🙂

Another thing you can always rely on with the Ninjas: you’ll always have some creative present or something different that makes you think ‘how did they think of this’.

I love Ninja Book Box. The first box I bought was last May, and each gift included was relevant to the book- just like this one. Reading the book you realised the significance of each item. You can find my unboxing here:  this was one of my early blog posts originally on my blogspot blog. I have just planted the seeds from this box and I recently bought the next book in the series which I am looking forward to reading and also trying the candle now I actually have something to light it with! (yes, it takes me that long).

There’s also a bookclub and a group on facebook and now a youtube channel. If you visit their website you can learn all about them and check their shop for great indie books and gifts.

Hope you enjoyed my unboxing, let me know what book subcription books you love and share your blog post in the comments below 🙂

 

 

 

writing

Writing wednesday: in a writing slump or where to start with your writing?

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I’ve written posts on here about being inspired and overcoming writers block. Lately I’ve hit a slump and it’s got me to thinking again about what causes it and how to prevent it and get back to writing again.

I took a week off from writing my novel -which turned into a month- after CampNaNoWriMo intending to work more on some short stories. But (as usual) that didn’t happen.

I am going to get over this slump and get back to it!  I’ve set little challenges for myself in this blog to get back to it.

Why not do the challenges yourself, write your own blog post and/or share in the comments if you feel brave enough. 🙂

First challenge, try to figure out what was holding me back and what I could do to turn it around:

What causes a slump/stops you from writing

Not having a goal or having unrealistic or far reaching goals 

My goal is always to have a short story published, so whenever I write it’s with that in mind. I think that this has made me worry more about the quality of my writing and push myself hard. But when I don’t then send anything out that sends me into a downward spiral.

Solution: I’ve set a smaller more reachable goal, just to finish a story. And an even smaller goal to just think of a new idea and work more on a story I will be sending to a competition in November.

Having a knock to your confidence can also result in a slump. 

I was reading over the stories I was working on and I wasn’t happy with them. It knocked my confidence and that made me not want to work on them anymore.

Solution: find someone to read these stories and tell me if my thoughts are right. Get a critique. Or set them aside and work on something else, coming back to them with a fresh eye and making the changes I need to.

Challenge: What’s holding you back?

You only fail if you stop trying. What’s holding you back? How can you overcome these obstacles? I’ve listed mine below and I’ve already mentioned my solutions. What’s yours? 

  • Thinking that my writing is not good enough
  • My goals are not realistic, I need to break them into small goals: instead of a goal of sending a story out change it to finishing a first draft or think of an idea.
  • General negative thinking.

 

Challenge: List your achievements.

One of my obstacles is my negative thinking so this challenge will help to change the negative thoughts and make me focus on the postive.

What’s your achievements? They don’t have to be writing related, anything you’ve done you felt proud of. Here’s mine:

  • Won a short story competition a few years ago
  • Met my goal and won CampNaNoWriMo 2018
  • In previous months I met my weekly word count writing goal
  • I write and post regularly on my blog 🙂

So what next? I’ve worked out my obstacles and thought of how I can overcome them. I’ve mentioned changing my goals. These are some ideas I’ve probably mentioned before:

  • Find a writing prompt and use that to start writing or mindmapping an idea
  • Read over old ideas and stories to find hidden treasures to be rewritten or reimagined
  • Free write- set a timer and write until it stops
  • Read some great books which will help to get the imagination working again
  • Be kind, give yourself some space to help your imagination. You will get there.

My stories usually start with an image of something in my mind that sparks the idea and gets me writing. How about doing something different? How about mindmapping? Think of a theme or a word and put it in the centre of the page thinking of all the ideas you can come up with that could be made into a story. Write anything, even if it’s silly, this is meant to be creative so get out the coloured pens and have fun!

I don’t usually plan my short stories before I write, so maybe my challenge and my mini goal for the next week should be to come up with a new idea and maybe plan out a story. I could use character exercises and try to do things differently from how I usually do them. Encouraging myself to be imaginative and enjoy the process. 

Sometimes you just need to remember why you love writing and what brings you back to it over and over again. You need to make it fun again.

So there’s my thoughts, one day I will be writing in this blog about my successes. If you feel brave share your own challenges in the comments or links to your blog posts. Share your words of wisdom and your successes. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

So there we go. I am going to get back on track. I had a new idea recently, I’m letting it stew for a while and not forcing it. I’m wondering where it will go Hopefully I will finish some stories soon and maybe have something more positive to write about 🙂

. Share your writing successes and woes in the comments below or any advice you have.

 

 

 

 

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Guest Post Series: My Favourite Literary Character by Lydia Wilkins

This week it’s Lydia’s turn, her website is: http://mademoisellewomen.com/ Thank you for getting involved Lydia.

My Favourite Literary Character: Kate Walters

Kate Walters is the main character in two books by Fiona Barton (and also a third, to be realised next year.) She is a journalist, who is always at the core of the literal ‘story’; she writes the story as the reporter of a paper in the book. She’s forty five-fifty, and can occasionally be archaic in her views, however she’s the journalist I’d love to be.

Book(s) Featured in:

The Widow

The Child

The Suspect

The Suspect is out in 2019.

When did you first read about this character?

I’m not sure; either last year or the year before. I’d seen The Child in bookshops a lot; after I read that book, I was looking for The Widow. It took me ages to find the book!

Description of Kate

Kate is the journalist I want to be. (Spoiler: I’m a trainee journalist.) She’s also incredibly tenacious, crafty, as well as kind. She’s also flawed-the imperfect mother, the older journalist who can’t keep pace with technology. She’s one of the best two-dimensional characters I have come across.

Best moment

Reflecting on how she learnt Shorthand, Kate narrates how a Japanese prisoner of war taught her it. (It’s also an incredibly difficult thing to learn.) Then there’s a passage about how the people she writes for-the people of a story-send her Christmas cards every year. That’s a true journalist.

Worst moment

Going ahead with a story that turns out not to be true. (Kate finds out in time, but always check early on!)

Has the books been adapted into a film/tv series?

No. However, I think it would make an excellent Crime thriller film-like The Girl On The Train-or even a Netflix boxset.

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About Lydia

My name is Lydia Wilkins,

Twitter: @MlleWBlog

Mademoisellewomen.com

Trainee journalist / Autism Blogger

I am currently studying for my NCTJ journalism diploma (National Council for the Training of Journalists). I am due to graduate in July 2018. I blog over at Mademoisellewomen.com in order to document my Aspergers Syndrome. I have also recently gone freelance. My favourite thing is interviewing; I also enjoy the podcast:Untold. My heroes are Sir Harold Evans and Jacqueline Kennedy.

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Come back next Monday for the next post in the series 🙂

review

Jezebel’s Daughter by Wilkie Collins

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I was encouraged to read this book by the read-along-a-classic on readitswapit book forum. I’d just finished watching the recent tv adaption of A Woman In White by Wilkie Collins so I was intrigued to start reading this book.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

“‘The power that I have dreamed of all my life is mine at last!’ 

How far is a mother prepared to go to secure her daughter’s future? Madame Fontaine, widow of an eminent chemist, has both the determination and the cunning to bring young Minna’s marriage plans to fruition, with dangerous consequences for anyone who dares to stand in her way. But has she met her match in Jack Straw, one-time inmate of Bedlam lunatic asylum? It will take a visit to the morgue to find out who triumphs—and who comes out alive. 

Reminiscent of Collins’s blockbusters The Woman in White and Armadale, this suspenseful case study in villainy is set against the financial world of 1820s Frankfurt and tells the story of two widows, one of them devoted to realizing her husband’s social reforms, the other equally devoted to the pursuit of her daughter’s happiness”

My thoughts

This book was compelling from the start: Wilkie Collins has a brilliant way of drawing you into the story, taking you to various places and introducing you to various characters, all adding to a suspenseful mystery that unfolds as the story progesses.

It’s unusual to read a classic book that features a character devoted to encouraging women to work during this time, but this one does.

I enjoyed reading about the character of Madame Fontaine and trying to figure out her mind. Wilkie Collins does not hold anything back, there are no loose ends and in doing so you get an accurate picture of the characters and an interesting read. Although there is so much going on and insight into various ideas: the treatment of the patients in the asylum, the idea of women working and the story of a couple in love with impediments to their marriage, it is a book that is always interesting and riveting.

There in one chilling well-wrought scene towards the end of the novel! I’d never heard about Wilkie Collins until recently but I’m going to be reading more soon.