Books

Book Haul

The day I was waiting for finally arrived…. I went to Waterstones. I do have book shops close to me, two branches of The Works and a WHSmith but they don’t have as much as Waterstones, it’s not the same!

I’ve been wanting to go for a while but time, too many books and buying a lot of things for my new house stopped me. Nothing was going to stop me this week! I had a week off with my boyfriend, busy week, (hence this is the first post) we got some house stuff done.

I think I spent ages in Waterstones, my boyfriend isn’t a reader and he was waiting for me, whoops.

As usual I completely forgot what books I wanted and ended up going on my GoodReads to remind me. Deciding was hard and there’s a book I didn’t get that I want to buy Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson.

So without further ado, here’s what I bought:

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A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E.Schwab

I just heard about this author, I see her tweets often but got properly introduced to her books thanks to one of Tim Clare’s podcasts, where he interviewed the author. Her books sounded great and I had to buy one. Recently I’ve been feeling the need to read more fantasy and this sounded amazing:

“Most people only know one London; but what if there were several? Kell is one of the last Travelers – magicians with a rare ability to travel between parallel Londons. There’s Grey London, dirty and crowded and without magic, home to the mad king George III. There’s Red London, where life and magic are revered. Then, White London, ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. But once upon a time, there was Black London…” (blurb from Waterstones website)

I did have a dilemna, they never put the numbers of the series on the books! But a quick internet search helped me to find this one. I can’t wait to read this, I’m going to bump it up my to-be-read stack/list.

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The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell

I seen this on Netgalley but had so many books to read and review etc that I didn’t request it. I picked this up in the shop and didn’t want to let it go. It’s my type of book a gothic novel, dark and creepy.

“Newly married, newly widowed Elsie is sent to see out her pregnancy at her late husband’s crumbling country estate, The Bridge.

With her new servants resentful and the local villagers actively hostile, Elsie only has her husband’s awkward cousin for company. Or so she thinks.

For inside her new home lies a locked room, and beyond that door lies a two-hundred-year-old diary and a deeply unsettling painted wooden figure – a Silent Companion – that bears a striking resemblance to Elsie herself…” (Blurb from Waterstones website)

I think this is going to have to be bumped up too. It was part of buy one get one half price deal and that’s where I struggled to decide what to get. I can’t resist a deal so I bought:

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Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

I’ve read a few books by Neil Gaiman and loved them. I’d hoped to buy a Neil Gaiman novel that day and they had a few but I just couldn’t decide from the other ones on the shelf. I’m interested in mythology and don’t know enough about Norse and I’d heard a lot about this book so this was perfect. Neil Gaiman writes amazing books, original and riveting.

 

“”As I retold these myths, I tried to imagine myself a long time ago, in the lands where these stories were first told, during the long winter nights perhaps, under the glow of the northern lights or sitting outside in the small hours, awake in the unending daylight of midsummer.” – Neil Gaiman

Gather round, this is where the stories are born. This is where the world was made.

Picture it: about you, mile upon mile of sparkling, moonlit rock and snow. Above, the flickering magic of the aurora borealis, an electric-blue contrast to the warm fire where the storyteller weaves his words. He talks of playful, careless, wrathful gods, stories of immortal forces battling under freezing, star-filled skies.

The great Norse myths are woven into the fabric of our storytelling – from TolkienAlan Garner and Rosemary Sutcliff to Game of Thrones and Marvel Comics. They are also an inspiration for Neil Gaiman’s own award-bedecked, bestselling fiction.

Now our greatest living fantasist reaches back through time to the original source stories in a thrilling and vivid rendition of the great Norse tales.”

I’ll have to read Good Omen’s before I read this though.

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I have so many books to read, I have about 5 on Netgalley and others to review. I think I need to be more organised. I bought those books then had an email from the library, I’d forgotten I’d orderd a book there:

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Paint Me A Picture by Patsy Collins

“Mavis Forthright carefully rehearses her jump from Portsmouth’s Round Tower. She’s existed for over five decades. Lived hardly at all. Will end her misery with a few second’s fall into the cold sea. Except she’s not quite ready to die. A half day’s delay to try a bacon sandwich from the cafe won’t matter. Mother’s no longer there to disapprove.

She delays another day to lend Janice a book. Then a week to use her new paints. A month. Until the end of term. Mavis makes new plans; to create paintings full of emotion, to live, perhaps even make friends.

As if to balance her survival a number of people connected to Mavis die. At first that doesn’t matter. They’re people she dislikes. Mavis continues painting, tending her garden, feeding the birds and keeping her home properly clean, without additional concern. Then people who’ve been kind to Mavis are killed or injured. That shouldn’t happen.

Why are people dying? Is it because of charming Norman who’s back from her past, or is that strange boy Jake her mistaken guardian angel? Perhaps Mavis herself is to blame. She must learn the truth, stop the deaths and protect those she’s learned to care about before she can enjoy the new life she’s making for herself.” (blurb from Amazon)

I read an extract from this book in one of Patsy’s short story collections and it grabbed me.  I follow her on twitter and sometimes join a #writingchat I’ve reviewed her collections on here (without her knowing beforehand): Just A Job, Not A Drop To Drink

So, now I just need a month off work to read all my books. If only.

*

Besides going to Waterstones I went into HMV too, it was great to go to an actual shop (as opposed to buying online) and buy some new CDs:

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All the CD shops (and dvd shops) closed down by me and I realised how much I’d missed them recently.

I’m been a Bowie fan since my teens, he was on Friday Night With Jonathan Ross (when it was still on the BBC) promoting his ‘Reality’ album and I was hooked. I knew Bowie from Labyrinth of course but I’d never really listened to his music before.

I have a few more recent albums and ‘best ofs’ but I thought I’d start buying some more. I did originally have a cassette tape of Low but I’ve not idea where it’s gone and you can’t put that on an mp3 player.

Have you read any of these books? Which Neil Gaiman book should I read after Good Omens? 

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writing

Writing Progress

man wearing black and white stripe shirt looking at white printer papers on the wall
Photo by Startup Stock Photos on Pexels.com

The Goal: To finish my first draft 

So far: I’ve read over my novel and found problems. I’ve gone back to my notes and worked out a plot using sticky notes. 

 

Last Week I didn’t make much progress at all. I was tired, headachey etc and then worked for 5 days when I really wanted to get to work on my novel. Was too tired after work to do it.

It’s great my novel is starting to feel like my real job and my actual pays-the-bills-job feels like it’s a side gig. Complete role reversal. 

Tuesday I finally got to it. After putting my scenes up on a board I realised I don’t have many scenes with one of my main characters :/ This is one way that having a board with all your scenes on it, notecards or sticky notes really helps. I also realised I don’t have much going on in the middle and end, although I kinda knew that anyway,

My solution to this was to go back and look at my character notes. I know my characters, apperance can be hazy and I’m hopeless with names. But I know them. Although I wanted to spend more time figuring out what this main character wanted. I was focused on my villian and my protagonist and this one got a bit lost.

I had to think what does he want? What is he going to be doing in the beginning of this story before his other scenes? And thinking about who he is, was and is going to be. Then that gave me some ideas for scenes that I can add to my plot and move the story along.

I am constantly thinking of all these questions to do with my novel. And I get ideas for different things when I’m working on something else. And they all end up being a scene, or a moment in the story.

What’s next?

All this working on character and plot seems to take forever and I’m starting to worry about how good my novel is going to be style/writing wise. I want to get it all done so I can get to the writing of it but I don’t want to write blindly, I’m going to keep chipping away at the problems and eventually I’ll get to a point where I know all I need to and can continue with the actual writing.

Small Steps. Small Steps.

I’ve been finding these videos helpful from Jenna Moreci the one on plotting and characters helped me a lot.

If you blog about your writing, share your posts below. I like to read writing blogs and chat about writing.

Cover Reveal

Flower Power Trip by James J.Cudney

Flower-Power-Trip-Promo-HardbackThank you to: @jamescudney4 @Shalini_G26 for this opportunity to be involved with the reveal for this new book, available on Amazon. Here’s the synopsis:

At a masquerade ball to raise money for renovations to Memorial Library, Kellan finds a dead body dressed in a Dr. Evil costume.
Did one of Maggie’s sisters kill the annoying guest who’d been staying at the Roarke and Daughters Inn, or does the victim have a closer connection to someone else at Braxton College?
As Kellan helps school president Ursula bury a secret from her past and discover the identity of her stalker, he unexpectedly encounters a missing member of his family. Everything seems to trace back to the Stoddards: a new family who recently moved in.
Between the murder, a special flower exhibit and strange postcards arriving each week, Kellan can’t decide which mystery in his life should take priority. But unfortunately, the biggest one of all has yet to be exposed – and when it is, Kellan won’t know what hit him.

My thoughts

Who doesn’t love a good mystery? This book sounds intriguing. The reviews on Amazon are great and you can get the other books at very good prices too.

About the author

James is my given name; most call me Jay. I grew up on Long Island and currently live in New York City, but I’ve traveled all across the US (and various parts of the world). After college, I spent 15 years working in technology and business operations in the sports, entertainment and media industries. Although I enjoyed my job, I left in 2016 to focus on my passion: telling stories and connecting people through words. My debut novel is ‘Watching Glass Shatter,’ a contemporary fiction family drama with elements of mystery, suspense, humor and romance. To see samples or receive news from my current and upcoming books, please subscribe with your email address at my website: https://jamesjcudney.com

To look at this book and others by James J Cudney visit this Amazon link (no affiliation).

This was organised with Digital Reads Blog Tours:

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review

All Rivers Run Free by Natasha Carthew

Front Cover

 

This book was part of a pamper package that I won from A Cornish Geek last year.

Blurb from Quercus Books

“A woman on the edge of the sea finds a girl on the edge of life. 

Brittle but not yet broken, Ia Pendilly ekes out a fierce life in a caravan on the coast of Cornwall. In years of living with Bran – her embattled, battering cousin and common law husband – she’s never yet had her own baby. So when she discovers the waif washed up on the shore, Ia takes the risk and rescues her. And the girl, in turn, will rescue something in Ia – “

My thoughts

All Rivers Run Free intrigued me from the start, I loved the idea and the setting. Who doesn’t love Cornwall? When I started to read it I realised it’s actually a dystopian story; a distant future where civilisation has changed. But it’s not about the world ending and how people are going to survive. It’s a story about one person-Ia. I liked Ia and became drawn into her world and her story.

This is a book that you won’t be able to put down. The style is unusual, long sentences with few commars but it’s poetic, it mesmerises you and perfectly captures Ia’s thought patterns and state of  mind. It just works wonderfully.

The author, Natasha Carthew, runs Wild Words workshops and this book really does capture the essence of the natural world and the character is completely in tune with nature herself.

It’s one of those books that I really love but find it hard to put into words how great it is.

I’ve just realised this author has a few books out and I am going to have to read more 🙂

 

 

Month In Review

Books I read in January.

I’ve read some good books this month and there’s so many I want to read next. These are the books I read in January, click on the title’s to go to my review.

When All Is Said

When All Is Said And Done by Anne Griffin

I got this book from Netgalley to review. I really enjoyed it, a lovely character who tells us his life story.

Help Me: One Woman’s Quest to Find Out if Self-Help Really Can Change Your Life

Help Me! One Woman’s Quest To Find Out If Self-Help Really Can Change Your Life by Marianne Power

This was an ebook I bought on Amazon, it felt like reading a romantic-comedy, I enjoyed. If you think you need to read a self-help book read this.

The Memoirs Of Sherlock Holmes

I got this book for free from a website called Project Gutenberg, they offer all their books free, it’s legal as they’re all out of copyright. I got back into Sherlock Holmes this year when I finally continued with the series Sherlock. Sherlock Holmes is an intriguing character, this book is a series of short stories. I’m not sure on the timeline but I enjoyed reading them.

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All Rivers Run Free by Natasha Carthew 

I won a self-care/pamper package from a blogger A Cornish Geek  and this book was included. I loved this book. I still haven’t finished the review. It reminded me a little bit of The Road but it’s more poetic, lovelier, and just brilliant.

84K by Claire North

I bought this from The Works for £2. I started reading it and couldn’t stop. I was trying not to buy any books but this one grabbed me. I couldn’t leave without it. It’s a dystopian novel set in this world where a company owns everything, it’s horrible. It  was riveting, intense and sad. Most of the time I sat there with a look of shock on my face. I haven’t written a review yet, I don’t know if I will yet. It will not do the book justice and might just be one word: SPEECHLESS!

I also started reading this book from the library:

It’s a lovely light hearted read after 84K which I think I need.

What’s next?

  • I’ve got a review of ‘All Rivers Run Free’ to write
  • Another book to read and review
  • An ebook from an author to start reading and review
  • I have so many books I want to read from my own bookshelf
  • And there’s still two books on Netgalley I need to read and review

I think that’s me remembering everything. I read quite a bit in January, but I didn’t work much, cut backs. I enjoyed all the books I read this month and only have two outstanding from this month to finish.

How did your January go? Have you read any of these books?

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Help Me: One Women’s Quest To See If Self-Help Really Can Change Her Life by Marianne Power

 

Help Me!: One Woman's Quest to Find Out if Self-Help Really Can Change Her Life

I liked the idea of Help Me! I think I read it out of curiosity, I’ve read afew books that would be considered self-help, and I wanted to know about The Secret in particular and wondered if self help books really to work. It was only 99p on Kindle so I thought why not give it a try, I like reading books about people who do something to change their lives.

Description from GoodReads:

“Marianne Power was stuck in a rut. Then one day she wondered: could self-help books help her find the elusive perfect life?

She decided to test one book a month for a year, following their advice to the letter. What would happen if she followed the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People? Really felt The Power of Now? Could she unearth The Secret to making her dreams come true?

What begins as a clever experiment becomes an achingly poignant story. Because self-help can change your life – but not necessarily for the better . . .

Help Me! is an irresistibly funny and incredibly moving book about a wild and ultimately redemptive journey that will resonate with anyone who’s ever dreamed of finding happiness.”

My thoughts about self-help books (I promise there’s a review next)

I’ve read self-help books and you know I hate them. There are some don’t get me wrong that are good, if it helps you overcome anxiety or ease deblitating panic attacks them I’m all for it. But you can get stuck reading them and hoping that they will provide the answer to your problems. They might do but we are all different and what helps one person might not necessarily help another.

I don’t have anything against books about mindfulness and CBT but I hate it when they offer a miracle, a secret that can change your life.

The Secret? You write yourself a cheque that the universe will cash for you, and believe that you will get what you want, for example you believe you will find a £10 note and you will find it. And The Secret says not to worry about how, but I do. Someone had to lose that money, how do you know that by wishing for all this stuff that someone else will lose? Of course this isn’t about that but I hate it when they make outlandish claims. And will all this stuff you wish for really make you happy?

It annoys me that so many books are out there and so many people are making money selling something that says it helps, they are preying on venerable people. People like you and me that just feel lost and need somewhere to turn, something to help us.

“..self-help is a business – a big one. And it’s selling the same thing that clothes companies, food companies and booze companies are: happiness.”

“I worried about how much money vulnerable people were spending on these cards and books and how much they handed over responsibility for their lives to something that might not exist. Was this any different to the Church selling pardons and telling people they could buy their way into heaven?”

My thoughts about the book

Despite having friends and a good job Marianne isn’t happy with her life, she is searching for something, she needs to do something to change it. She starts reading a self-help book a month to see if they actually could change her life. And what a journey it is. Each chapter breaks down the contents of the book and Marianne tells us what she does to follow each one.

This book feels like a rom-com sometimes, escecially with some of the things Marianne does following the guidelines in the self-help books that she reads, life modelling for example.

There was one point I thought: you have a great job and family and friends, why do you feel like you need to change your life? And as soon as I thought this Marianne said the same thing. And how dare I think that! I believe that it’s not what we have or don’t have that makes us happy but how we think and feel. And Marianne didn’t feel happy.

 

Marianne felt like a friend and by the end of the book I could’ve cried out for joy when she has a realisation.

“But I see now that perfection does not exist and happiness comes not from getting what you think you want but from opening your eyes and recognizing that you have everything you could possibly need right now.”

This book reiterated what I think about self help. I think that they can help but you can read too much of it and if it still isn’t helping it’s time to stop. Do we need a book to help us?

“dawned on me that maybe this is why self-help books often don’t help in the long term. We think we want to change but we don’t really. We keep going back to our old ways, our old selves, our old stories because it’s too scary not to.”

 

‘Why on earth do you need someone to tell you how to live your life?’ she barked, slugging back warm white wine. ‘Can’t you figure out how to do it yourself?’

I enjoyed this book as a story and also in a way as a self-help book. I related to most of Marianne’s thoughts and problems. Marianne is right we are all running through life chasing things forgetting that we are all after the same thing. Sometimes just knowing that we are all thinking and feeling the same or similar can help.

I think in the end we need to figure out what’s right for us, read something that resonants or make a change that helps. I didn’t think I needed to read a self-help book, I’m doing ok, but there’s some great lessons to be learnt in this book. 

If you’re thinking of reading a self help book don’t. Read this instead. Or at least first 🙂 

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Writing Progress

Thursday’s Progress

I try to not overdo it and take a break when I start to get disheartened, but at the same time then feel like I’m not doing enough.

I read over a few more pages today and then looked over my notes. I don’t feel like I’m getting anywhere, the notes I made seem fruitless. There’s so many loose threads and plot points I need to write into this novel that it seems a huge undertaking.

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Photo by Suliman Sallehi on Pexels.com

I have to read over a few scenes that’s on Scrivener and as long as that’s it, I don’t have any hiding anywhere, I can start making sense of it all by making a plan. As always I think I should’ve started putting the scenes in order and making a rough list of scenes when I started, my notes do say what’s going on though but it doesn’t seem enough.

Plan done, I need to research too and make important decisions regarding which way the story is going and characters. It’s easy to have this huge story and world in your head but trying to commit it to paper is hard.

I’m still keeping on with it. I won’t give up. But I am not going to lie and say it’s not a struggle.


After writing this I thought to myself I haven’t done enough and read over the scenes in Scrivener. That lead to me do a mind map of one of my plot points/themes. I still wish I’d kept a list of scenes and the daunting task is that I need to do this.

TIP: WRITE A LIST OF SCENES OR PUT EACH SCENE ON A STICKING NOTE AS YOU’VE WRITTEN IT.

Tempted to keep on going today but I am torn between overdoing it and continuing.

I am going to mind map my plot ideas too. I need more scenes, more character work and a plot.

Work continues

Friday

I tried hunting for videos and podcasts to help me with the outlining stage. The creative part of my brain is not working today. I ended up writing out all my scenes, well I am concerned I missed some. I’m learning, I should’ve done this when I was reading over my work.

TIP: WRITE DOWN SCENES THEN YOU HAVE AN OUTLINE 🙂

I tried putting them on sticky notes, then I put them on the corkboard on Scrivener, then I just wrote them down on cards.

And that small job took hours as you find your notes don’t stick or you try to remember if you have indeed forgotten to add scenes. But I have an idea of what’s going on.

There’s so much to get your head around and sometimes you’re not in the right mindset to sort it. Now I don’t really know what my next step is.

I’m stopping to hunt for my lost notebook, hoping music will make that job more bearable. I moved in September but things are still a mess and in boxes.

Thanks for reading. I doing this to be accountable and just in case someone wants to know the crazy journey of finishing a novel. Finishing? Finishing?