Netgalley, review

Pan’s Labyrinth by Guillermo Del Toro & Cornelia Funke

I had a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for a review. I couldn’t resist, it’d been a while since I’d seen the film which I loved so I couldn’t remember the entire plot. With the names: Guillermo Del Toro and Cornelia Funke on the cover, it’s a promise of something wonderful. (Inkheart books by Cornelia Funke are wonderful and of course Guillermo Del Toro is an amazing director, one of my favourites).

Synopsis from Netgalley:

“You shouldn’t come in here. You could get lost. It has happened before. I’ll tell you the story one day, if you want to hear it.

In fairy tales, there are men and there are wolves, there are beasts and dead parents, there are girls and forests.

Ofelia knows all this, like any young woman with a head full of stories. And she sees right away what the Capitán is, in his immaculate uniform, boots and gloves, smiling: a wolf.

But nothing can prepare her for the fevered reality of the Capitán’s eerie house, in the midst of a dense forest which conceals many things: half-remembered stories of lost babies; renegade resistance fighters hiding from the army; a labyrinth; beasts and fairies.

There is no one to keep Ofelia safe as the labyrinth beckons her into her own story, where the monstrous and the human are inextricable, where myths pulse with living blood …”

My thoughts

When I started reading this book reality fell away, I was right there with Orfelia standing at the beginning of the labyrinth. I could see her world so clearly and found myself following her. She had to perform tasks reminicent of myths but far creepier.

There’s dark fairy tales throughout the novel, explaining backstory and adding depth and atmosphere to the story. But this is no Disney story with a happily ever after, this is more like a Grimm fairy tale or some sort of creepy fable. Reading these fairy stories was a surreal experience for me, I could hear a voice in my head telling me these weird but wonderful stories.

The character of Vidal is a horrific psychopath and one of the many well wrought terrifying characters in this book, though not the scariest!

I can’t fault this amazing, wonderfully dark and perfect book.It’s an engaging fantastical story and the words of the ending recall childhood memories of reading lovely fantasy books. Nostalgic but also beautifully dark. If you like horror and dark tales you’ll love this.

If you’ve seen the film: the plot is the same but there is more depth to the book and after watching the film again I think both are perfect!

 

writing

In Progress

I had an idea a while ago which turned into a short piece of fiction. It was only an idea and it was very short. Just a free write really. A few times I’ve thought that maybe it’s flash fiction and that it could be submitted somewhere, I kept telling myself that it wasn’t a complete story and it wasn’t good enough.

But recently I’ve been reading it again and that’s what I’ve been working on. I’ve been rereading it and tweaking it, setting it aside and rereading it again. I’ve struggled to think of a title and have changed it. I think it’s almost there, I hope it is as I’ll finally be able to submit a piece which has been my goal for a very long time.

My problem is always the edit, when I write something I never know where it’s going so when I’m rewriting I’m really unearthing the story and trying to piece it together. I’m deciding then what the story is about. Sometimes I might have an idea and a story but mostly I’m just pantsing. That’s just how my brain works.

Also sometimes when I’m editing I struggle and can lose interest in the story, I guess I lose faith. But I’ve learnt something working on this story. I’ve kept chipping away at it  and it’s come to the point where I’m enjoying the story. It’s evolved into something beyond the original idea and I like it!

Being such a short story it has been less daunting. But getting this far has given me confidence, I’m thinking: hey if I can get to this point in this story where I’m enjoying it, where I want to send it out, maybe I can with my other stories. It’s just working on them and getting to that point. 🙂 I can be slow on the uptake.

I’ve read so many how-to books and articles, blog posts and watch videos but I really learn more from sitting down and getting the work done! Here’s somethings I’ve learnt:

Tips

  • Know your process. There’s so many how-to guides and advice out there and I’ve read them but I feel that I’ve learnt a lot from just figuring out my process. Figure out how you work and don’t let any ‘advice’ steer you in the wrong direction. By all means take it on board but know what will help you, try it out, and know what won’t.
  • Print it out.  When you look at your story in a different format you notice errors etc that you wouldn’t otherwise. When I read over a hard copy of my story I noticed that I’d repeated words and I hadn’t spotted this when I was reading the story on my laptop.
  • Record yourself reading your story aloud. I think I got this advice from Editing The RedPen way by Anne Rainbow. It’s common advice and great advice to read your story aloud, it helps you to see errors. I read mine aloud and I can hear if the story is flowing or stalling.
  • Something I need to remember to do: Check the submission guidelines to make sure that your story is set in the right format and is the right word count.
  • They say that you could get someone else to read over your work. I was tempted to do this before I submit it but when I get critiques it  stalls me. I keep seeing all the negative but often helpful thoughts and I can’t see how to fix it. When I wrote Georges’ Bridge- my short story that won a competition- I didn’t have anyone else read it, I just worked on it and worked on it until I felt I’d done enough for it to be sent. It worked so maybe, just maybe it will work again.

 

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Coming to a finish line with this story has given me the confidence boast to stick with my other stories and that’s exactly what I’m going to do now. This is one of those moments where I feel great about my writing and I know this is what I want to do with my life.

Anyway, share your tips and writing progress in the comments. I’ll leave you with two more tips:

Never throw anything away. You never know what might turn out to be gold dust later on, whether it’s something you rework until it’s a complete story. Or maybe you might use it for another story or project.

Never give up! Writing takes work and it can be a hard. It’s just you trying to write the amazing scenes in your head onto paper. If you keep trying, keep learning and practicing then you’ll get there. Even when you’re having a bad writing day or you’re not in the right mindset, think of what you have achieved (no matter how small: you sat down and tried to work on a story. You wrote a paragraph) and let that fuel you to keep going.

Happy Writing 🙂

Netgalley, review

The Girl At The Window By Rowan Coleman

I recieved this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I love reading books that dip from past to present to solve mysteries and the synopsis caught my attention. Especially the “centuries-old house on the Yorkshire moors” which had a gothic vibe.

Synopsis from Netgalley:

Ponden Hall is a centuries-old house on the Yorkshire moors, a magical place full of stories. It’s also where Trudy Heaton grew up. And where she ran away from…

Now, after the devastating loss of her husband, she is returning home with her young son, Will, who refuses to believe his father is dead.

While Trudy tries to do her best for her son, she must also attempt to build bridges with her eccentric mother. And then there is the Hall itself: fallen into disrepair but generations of lives and loves still echo in its shadows, sometimes even reaching out to the present…”

My thoughts

In the first few chapters we’re introduced to Trudy and her son Will.  Trudy takes her son back to her childhood home to heal after the loss of her husband. Will keeps saying that his father isn’t dead. And they didn’t find a body.

I loved this book.When I started reading I didn’t want to stop. Straight away I liked and cared about Trudy and her son and I loved Ponden Hall. The house had a gothic presence but it wasn’t a malignant one, at least not to the Heaton’s who had lived there for generations. I couldn’t stop reading to follow Trudy’s search as she unravelled the mystery of Agnes who many years ago lived in Ponden Hall. 

I loved that Emily Bronte visited there in the past and the box bed in one of the rooms was the inspiration for Cathy’s in Wuthering Heights. I’m a lover of classic books and of course Wuthering Heights and this book feels like a homage to the Brontes and especially Wuthering Heights. The story is not the same but it has a similar gothic atmosphere. I feel like this book was written especially for me and for readers like me.

If you love gothic, literary fiction with a historical mystery like I do this book is perfect. I only regret reading it so quickly because it was so good. I wish I could’ve savoured it, but it was hard to stop reading. 

I don’t think the synopsis does this book justice and I don’t know if I can express how much I enjoyed it.

Have I found another favourite author?

 

review

Skin by Ilka Tampke SPOILERS

This book has been on my tbr for a while, it’s brilliant to have one less book on my tbr. This was the third book I read as part of my Summer Reading Challenge.

My Thoughts

I was hooked by the mystery surrounding Ailia, she was abandoned as a baby and not knowing her mother she was born without ‘Skin’ and treated differently by the community. The era the book is set in, Celtic Britain, was also what drew me in, it reminded me a bit of The Mists Of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley (lots of similarities! a lovely book I haven’t read in ages but want to again). I enjoyed the atmosphere of the book, until there was a ritual involving human sacrifice. Reading that I was ready to quit reading but continued anyway.

Once I got passed that point I became hooked again and couldn’t stop reading. There was always something happening, the plot moved on seamlessly and I was never bored. It seemed a perfect story that drew me in.

Until the end. The end was so disapointing,  I don’t know whether the end was to prove some point about trying and failing, SPOILER, Ailia fails. The end made it all pointless: there was no point to her journey as she didn’t accomplish anything for the greater good, only for herself. At the end of this type of book, you expect a high point, a success. Even a small one.

If felt like it was left open for a sequel, which I will not be reading, and maybe that was the point. Maybe the point was that the Romans win. I don’t know. You could say it’s realistic, I guess. But I didn’t like it, and felt like I’d wasted my time reading this book to have such a dissatifying ending. She could’ve had one win.

SPOILER She’s given this sword, if you kill with it then you can’t use it for any other purpose. She needs this sword to pierce a veil and save someone but she kills with it to save another. And she told her tribe a lie because she couldn’t see the future, if she hadn’t maybe they would’n’t have all been killed!

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I’d love to know what others have thought of this book?

I know this is the second negative review… Don’t worry it’s looking up. I’m reading a wonderful book at the moment. It’s utterly perfect. One of those books that make me an instant fan of the author.

Watch this space. 🙂

Books

First Time Reading: Graphic Novels

I’ve got some reviews to come but this happened:

It all started when I wanted to read the Sandman books by Neil Gaiman, but I haven’t read graphics novels before to know if I liked them.

Well, I did read a hardback compilation of Beano when I was a child and enjoyed it enough to read it over and over.

My first point of call was to see if my local library had it, this ended as it often does: they have lost it! I ordered it back in May (or maybe April) and when I went there last month to ask about it they told me it was lost. I didn’t hear anything back. So maybe  it’s easier to buy myself a copy ….

I could’ve gone to the library that stocks the graphic novels and try one of those first. But then I realised Prime Reading has them on there, and opted for the quicker option (it was evening the library was closed in my defence) so why not see if there’s anything there. Just to try out a comic and see if I’d enjoy them before I bought Sandman….

Image result for american vampire

Not sure if I should count this in my Summer Reading Challenge.

I can’t resist a vampire story. I had to figure out how to read it using the Kindle app on my phone. And sometimes I read the speech bubbles in the wrong order :/ After a while once I’d got used to the different format,  I was hooked to the story.

I found it awkward to follow sometimes, I don’t think I was concentrating properly, tired reading isn’t a good thing.

The only downside to the Kindle app (I’m hoping it’s not graphic novels in general) is the writing is so small and my eyes were straining.

So after realising I do like graphic novels I decided to buy Sandman:

IMG_20190708_175722121.jpg

Can’t really resist. I still think I prefer a novel, but I’ve only read the first few pages concentrating on  a book I’m already reading instead that I can’t wait to review.

It’s good to read something different now and again. And it’s Neil Gaiman! Wonder if the library has the rest….. I’m looking forward to going back to my favourite library I just need to widdle down that tbr. It will be done.

Do you read graphic novels?

review

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Magician’s Nephew

The Magician’s Nephew was the second book in my Summer of Reading Challenge (3 books read so far). I’m way behind in my reviews/blog posts at the moment. Hopefully I’ll catch up.

I was offered the opportunity to read this book in exchange for review from the online shop Books 2 Doors.   I’ve never read the Narnia books before so this was  a good opportunity for me to finally read them.

Image result for the magician's nephew

My Thoughts

The fantasy world of The Magician’s Nephew was interesting and compelling. But I didn’t realise that it was a prequel and I was starting to wonder if the story had a point. The pace was good and I was riveted but I was left feeling a little bit disapointed.

This book is considered a classic but some of it’s ideas are not very original and copy from christian tales which was disapointing in a fantasy story. The mention of “Sons of Adam and Eve,”  and the bit with the apple trees. I thought a popular fantasy author like C.S Lewis would’ve had more imagination than that.

I didn’t like the view point because the narrator/author kept talking to the reader and it was distracting. Other things can be blamed on the era: the evil character, cheesey and cliched. Also the stereotypical way Polly was treated.

I also didn’t like how everything in Narnia just appeared out of thin air, it was boring. Our world evolved and it’s more interesting to see how life has evolved to suit it’s living conditions and to see traces of prehistory like dinosaurs. Narnia just appeared. 

It’s a shame to write a negative review of a classic. I do wonder if children may enjoy this book, it’s different reading this type of book as an adult. I did enjoy parts of this story and was riveted but a lot left me disapointed.

I am going to read the next book The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe at some point, after I’ve recovered from this one, just in the hope that it will improve. I wish I’d started with that book as I didn’t really see the point of this one.

Have you read this book or the other Narnia books? What did you think?

About Books 2 Doors

Books 2 Doors sells mainly children’s books at low prices, although there’s a few adult books in the mix including: Thomas Harris, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, The All Souls Trilogy, (my favourite trilogy). And some non-fiction.

When I ordered my books, The Chronicles Of Narnia and The Percy Jackson they arrived very quickly.

“Here at Books2Door, we want to encourage a love of reading in all children. That’s why we have been offering exceptional books at affordable prices since 2004.
We select books that we know your children will fall in love with, from treasured classics to the latest must-have series. With our extensive range of authors and genres, there is something for every child, from reluctant readers to eager bookworms. 
Our service doesn’t stop there: our friendly team are on hand to ensure that your shopping experience with us is enjoyable and hassle-free. You can be sure that your books will arrive on time and in great condition.
We look forward to being a part of your next story.
Books2Door”