Netgalley, review

When All Is Said by Anne Griffin

I requested this book on impulse from Netgalley, I actually forgot I’d requested it at the end of last year- it was a crazy time! And I was getting emails reminding me about it, that’s never happened before. The idea and the cover caught my attention, it’s evocative and made me wonder what it was all about. I shouldn’t have waited so long to read it…

This book is due to be released on January 24th

Description from Netgalley:

Five toasts. Five people. One lifetime.

I’m here to remember – all that I have been and all that I will never be again.

At the bar of a grand hotel in a small Irish town sits 84-year-old Maurice Hannigan. He’s alone, as usual – though tonight is anything but. Pull up a stool and charge your glass, because Maurice is finally ready to tell his story.

Over the course of this evening, he will raise five toasts to the five people who have meant the most to him. Through these stories – of unspoken joy and regret, a secret tragedy kept hidden, a fierce love that never found its voice – the life of one man will be powerfully and poignantly laid bare.

Heart-breaking and heart-warming all at once, the voice of Maurice Hannigan will stay with you long after all is said.

My thoughts

All Is Said is a story about an Irish man called Maurice. It’s told in his own words in the form of a long letter to his son. It doesn’t read like a letter though. His tale weaves in and out of the past as he makes his toasts to the five important people. My thoughts in reading these stories where there’s a transition in viewpoint or time frame is sometimes: when will this get to the point? But I was drawn into Maurice’s story and quickly came to like this honest man who doesn’t hold back. I was riveted, eager to find out where this would all lead and why he was telling his story right now? The reasons are slowly unravelled in the end.

I really loved this novel, I loved the characters and the way that the story was told. It’s as though you’re sitting down listening to a real person tell you their life story, something that I’ve always enjoyed. (I don’t know if many people sit around and tell each other their life stories anymore.) This novel is never slow and there are no boring bits. 

This is a sweet, sad and very human story. I would recommend it to anyone. It feels so real. It’s so perfect. 

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writing

Writing Progress

person typing on typewriter
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

My goal for this year is to finish the first daft of my novel. I finally started working on this last week you can see my blog post about it here.

To reach my goal I’ve been reading over the pages and pages of handwritten and typed up scenes I wrote last year (and maybe the year before I forget) I’ve made notes on the narrative and wrote down thoughts or problems that need fixing. It’s all so disorganized that I was reading scenes from later on in the story when the beginning was not done. I knew it was messy but I didn’t really realise how much story is actually missing!

It wasn’t easy as I’ve been having a week where I really can’t sleep. And the first day I started working on it this week I was struggling. I took a break after half an hour but really could not get motivated when I continued after that break.

It didn’t help that I thought that I had a lot of missing scenes and that they might be in a blue notebook which I searched for but couldn’t find. It could still be in a moving box but I don’t know.

I was feeling daunted about continuing yesterday, I couldn’t do anything due to work but the idea of it…

But then today I was fine. I read over the loose pages in my novel file. Making a note of good scenes, ok scenes and scenes I liked but need tweaking. I am happy with my progress but there is more to read over. More loose pages and on Scrivener. I did find one or two scenes I’d thought were lost but I’m still wondering if there’s more in that notebook!

Thinking of how much there is to do and trying to remember what I’ve read over is daunting. It’s best not to look at it as a whole but think what the next job is, do that and then focus on the next one. 

My next task is to continue reading the rest. Once I’ve finished reading I’m going to write a plan. And find that notebook, which involves an epic (it seems) organising task. (Did I mention my lack of sleep this week?)

I wrote a new scene today 😀 and I’ve had ideas and thoughts that will help my plan. So I’m happy with my progress this week.

I’ve been putting stickers on my calendar to mark the days I’ve worked on my writing. I thought I’d use cookies but today I put a cake on there. I felt I deserved it, it’s a little childish but looking at stickers on my calendar makes me feel good about what I’ve done so far. Which really helps when I’m feeling otherwise.

Let me know about your writing progress, goals and successes in the comments. Catch- up soon. 🙂

review

The Labyrinth of Spirits by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

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(Not sure how to do accent over letters in the post title, apologies 😦 )

I love Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s books. I love the world of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. I was so excited when I found out about this one. I requested it on Netgalley straight away. But then I seen that Waterstones were selling signed copies 🙂 So I had to get one!

I’ve had this copy since November and I finished it the beginning of this month. Partly because it’s such a massive tome (I love big books) but also because I wanted to savour it. Netgalley must get tired of waiting for reviews from me (I’m not sure they are waiting really). It’s signed! It’s a gorgeous book with red pages and where the book is divided into parts there are pictures:

 

My thoughts

I always enjoy books by this author. This was no exception. The Labyrinth of Spirits starts in the first person viewpoint of our old friend Daniel who featured in the other books. His story continues but we also learn Alicia’s story and there are many stories woven into this book, so many threads of pasts and people come together, like many links on the spider’s web that make up one amazing story. We are back with our old friends from the previous books and the stories told in them are elaborated and concluded in this huge novel.

So how can I put into words how wonderful this book is?

It’s violent, beautiful, dark, intense, scary. There was a character who chilled me! As only real people and not fantastical monsters can! I  wonder how much of this is based on fact, the truth is always a lot more scarier than the fiction.

Reading this book you feel as though you are actually there, it’s a immense sense of place. The style is mesmerising, riveting and the writing is poetic:

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The best way to describe how beautiful the writing is would be to use a quote from this book:

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This is true of this book and is how I felt reading it.

 

I love it! It’s made me want to reread all the other books in the series. You don’t really need to read these books in any particular order,  (had a perfect quote from the author about that I since can’t find!) But this might suffice:

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I hope that this I’ve managed to explain my feelings about this book. I urge you to read it. Or maybe start with something smaller and try one of Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s other books, you can find more about them here.

This is one of those books that I wanted to write down so many quotes,(I really need to start doing that.) in my laziness I took pictures instead:

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A quote for writers
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About destiny/life

What more can I say? Have you read any books by this author? If you’ve written a review please leave your link in the comments below, share your favourite quotes.

Thanks for stopping by 🙂

 

writing

Update: 2019 Goals. My Writing Goals

I’ve found a new goal for 2019! I keep saying I want to listen to music more, I finally got around to buying a new album I meant to buy last year (Seether: Poison The Parish) and a new mp3 speaker so that’s a new goal. Listen to music more, maybe buy more music too (a ‘new’ Bowie album 🙂 )

I’m reading Catcher In The Rye this year, I mentioned it on readitswapit book forum where I often join in with a classic a month and the person organising that has added it as a book choice for March! Great!

So I’ve been thinking about how I can meet my writing goal to finish my novel. First I need to read over the thousands of words I’ve already written, most is already typed up into Scrivener but I write by hand and sometimes on my typewriter and then use my laptop (I like writing by hand but then typing it up takes ages and I didn’t finish! But I love writing in Scrivener as it’s great for random ideas and scenes and more organised than on paper).

If you make a goal you start by breaking it down into smaller goals. So I think my first goal will be to read over the first few pages, nothing strict just  easing into it. Then I’ll try to read more of it in the next sitting. (In theory).

The problems that will arise are:

  • I might hate what I’ve written and get discouraged
  • I’ll end up making copious amounts of notes which will be helpful but slow my reading down
  • How long will it take to read through it anyway?

But I have to read through it so I can end it. So I can figure out what’s going on as I didn’t have a plan and it’s a mess. A mess!!!! 

Small steps, small goals: READ THE FIRST FEW PAGES. GO BACK AND KEEP READING. 

Solutions:

  • Small steps. Read it over. Bit by bit.
  • The notes will help the story and maybe reading it will help me think of more ideas
  • I will finish it even if it’s terrible!
  • Find quotes to help me keep going, a survival kit would be an idea but that will just result in procrastinating.

I have no idea how long this will take so there’s no deadline. I’m hoping that I’ll just be happy with the progress I’ll be making rather than beating myself up with no finished product which is what I usually do.

I could take little breaks from it and even work on short stories at some point but only when I’m happy with my progress.

I want to get to the end of this year and finally feel like I’ve done something, that I’ve finished the first draft. I say every year I’m going to be a more productive writer and read books and make goals.

But this year: one writing goal. No books, no miracle cures (I did start that podcast not sure what to do about that at this point continue or quit, I hate quitting) or long to-do lists or goals.

I’ll let you know how it goes 🙂

*************************************************************************************

Ok so since writing this I’ve started reading my WIP. It is a mess because I’m a pantser it’s just flitting from one scene to the next. Some scenes are ok but there doesn’t seem to be a direction.

Any advice on how to fix this appreciated :/

My writing itself I’m liking (needs lots of tweaks but it’s ok) but the story needs work. I have conflict and setting the scene in the beginning but I’m not really sure how to improve it. Also at the moment my brain is tired from reading and staring at a screen 🙂

I really wish I’d planned this as I went, it’s a lot like a NaNoWriMo novel bits of scenes and ideas because I was free writing.

I’m wondering if after I’ve read over it I should make a plan and start fixing these problems maybe that would be better? Or should I just finish it and then work on that on the rewriting stage but if I do that I’m concerned I’ll compromise on quality.

I knew this was going to be a lot of work and my plan is still to read over it and make sense of the story and make notes as I go. Maybe then I’ll have a better idea of what to do.

How can you make a story that hasn’t got a plan, a pantser’s story, into one with more of a direction/structure?

I started off thinking the writing isn’t as bad as I thought. Then I realised how directionless is it 😦 And the negative trumps the positive. I’ll keep going.

I’ll keep you updated…. I have a review on it’s way very soon.. 🙂

review

Amy Cole is Zen as F*ck by Elizabeth McGivern

Amy Cole is Zen as F*ck (Amy Cole, #2)

This is the second Amy Cole book and I’ve been looking forward to reading it ever since I finished the first one, you can find my review for Amy Cole Has Lost Her Mind here. 

I had a copy of this ebook for review from the author, because I was part of the blog tour for the first.

Synopsis from GoodReads:

“It’s been almost two years since Amy Cole walked through the door of her therapist’s office and now she’s ready to emerge as the sane, zen-like woman she has always wanted to be. Unfortunately for Amy, life has the nasty habit of not playing along.

There’s no time for a quiet life with a business to run, family life to balance and a newly-single best friend to keep an eye on.From getting embroiled in a feud with a maniacal diet guru, making sure Elle isn’t murdered by strangers from the internet and dealing with the mother-in-law from hell, mayhem always seems to find a way into Amy’s life.

Elle De Bruyn is on the cusp of finalising her divorce and is ready to jump, head-first, into dating once again. She soon learns that finding love in the 21st century is a tricky business. She lives in hope that somewhere in between the liars, cheats and unsolicited dick pics there’s still a chance for one more great love affair.

With life in a constant state of chaos, it doesn’t take long for Amy to realise that therapy was the easy part and now it’s time for the real work to begin.

Is sanity really all it’s cracked up to be?”

My thoughts

I loved reading about Amy and her escapades in the first book and couldn’t wait to get my hands on this book. She still manages to get herself into some scrapes and every time she tries to get things on the right track things tend to go wrong… but hey that’s life!

The messes she gets herself into! Only Amy Cole could manage it! She’s so funny. 

This book made me burst out laughing a few times. But it’s also a book about love, friendship and has some serious issues like Amy’s mental health.  I like how even though there are serious issues in the book it’s still lighthearted.

It’s a riveting read. Reading this book is like catching up with old friends, I love the characters and can’t wait to read the next book to find out what Amy and her friends will get up to next. The next book is called Amy Cole Has It All Figured Out and is due to be released this year.

If you want something lighthearted with realistic characters this book is for you 🙂

 

About the author

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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

 

Uncategorized

New Year Thoughts

Every year at this time I think about my goals for the next. They’re usually the same. I’ll say I’m going to write more and finish my novel and then later on I’ll be wanting to lose weight.

(I lost a lot of weight a few years ago but it’s too easy to fall back into bad habits and put it back on.)

I sign up to do 30 days of yoga and book challenges. But find it difficult for one reason or another to keep it going.

I never know whether these goals are attainable, unrealistic or just wishful thinking. I don’t want to make life a chore of to-do lists and must-do wishlists anymore. I don’t want to sign up to things and then fail at completing them. Maybe I need to stop planning and doing all these things, don’t commit just do when I can.

I never know how people do things everyday without running around crazy and feeling exhausted at the end of it.

These are things I want to do all the time: yoga, reading, blogging and writing.

I started following a writing podcast called couch to 80k bootcamp but struggled to find the time in the third week to carry on. But because I’ve started I’ll feel like a failure if I don’t continue. I also was thinking of signing up for an indie book challenge.

This is what I know I want to do in 2019:

  • Read books that I’ve been meaning to read for a while, specifically Catcher in the rye.
  • Cook more: or rather cook new recipes like Corned beef pie I’ve been meaning to make for ages.
  • Finish the first draft of my novel.

I’m avoiding Netgalley and finishing the reviews I’ve already committed to doing and then I’m going to read whatever I fancy. I’ve got so many books I want to read and I don’t want reading to be a chore.

So I’ve decided, with the exception of books I’ve already committed to review, I am not planning to review new books for the beginning of 2019.

I will make a fresh start and start reading over my novel. It will also give me a chance to read books on my shelf and I will be reviewing these. I have a few reviews to write for January.

I want to review books for people and I’d love to grow this blog but I think I’m trying to do too much.

I don’t want a crazy list of goals and resolutions I just want to focus on what’s important and let everything else hopefully fall into place.

What I’ve been doing in the past hasn’t worked so it’s time for a change. I’m not sure if it’s me trying to do it all or my lack of routine.

So there’s just the one serious goal really and the others are for fun. I’ll keep blogging.

Thanks for reading this. It may be a bit haphazard :/

Let me know your resolutions. Your goals or maybe you don’t have any and your happy tell us in the comments.

Thanks for stopping by. Happy new year! All the best

Uncategorized

My Christmas Reads

 

Well, I’m hopeless at taking photos. But these are the two books I picked to read for Christmas.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens is a reread, I love reading this book at this time of year. I also love The Muppets Christmas Carol movie and watch it every Christmas Eve. This book is a quick read perfect for this busy time of year. I’m almost finished. I love the story of Scrooge learning the true meaning of Christmas. I love Dicken’s style for this story.

There’s something about this time of year that I just love to read classic books and cosy ghost stories which has been the influence for the books I’ve picked this year.

Ghosts of Christmas Past is a mix of classic and modern tales of ghosts and horrors. Perfect if you don’t have much time to read. I’m enjoying this, I have eight stories left to read, I skipped two I wasn’t enjoying but I might go back to them. I can’t wait to read the one by Neil Gaiman.

I’ve been struggling to finish my Goodreads challenge so I haven’t picked full length novels to read since I’m already still reading two other books! I have been having trouble sleeping lately and wanted to read another book to complete my challenge, so I found a video reading of How The Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr Seuss it was a read along video, I wouldn’t have got hold of the book quick enough and the ebook was only suitable for tablets. So that has been an extra Christmas read and a bonus for my reading challenge.

Tell me what you’re reading. I’d love some ideas for next year. I recommend Christmas at Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan as a fun Christmas read.

Merry Christmas! And Happy New Year!

I look forward to reading more amazing books in future, carving more time for my blog and other writing projects.

Also I plan to read more indie books and might be joining a new challenge from the people at Ninja Book Box…. More about that and all of this very soon.

All the best 🙂