Posted in Books, Recommendations, Uncategorized

Halloween Recommendations

As someone who gets scared very easily, it’s understandable that I’m not the biggest fan of  a holiday that celebrates the idea of being scared. However for 2016 I am embracing the holiday with some Halloween recommendations, some scary, most of them not, just for you.

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The Perfectionists and The Good Girls by Sara Shepard 🌟🌟🌟[3]

 

From the author that brought us the Pretty Little Liars series, comes this fun little duology, emphasis on fun. It’s a YA thriller, set around the murder of Nolan Kotchiss the most popular guy in school, and a conversation 6 girls had about killing him a few days before he is murdered. This really reminded me of I Know What You Did Last Summer style thing, where it’s almost too cliched to be scary. Definitely the highlight of this book is the characterisation of the main characters, and if you’ve read some of her other books you cans see him much she’s improved as a writer.

Dracula by Bram Stoker 🌟🌟🌟🌟[4]

I don’t need to recap the plot of this one, I mean it’s Dracula. But I will recommend this to anyone who loves vampires because it’s really interesting to see the best known vampire. The for of this novel is also quite interesting, made up of diary entries, letters, phonograph records and newspaper clippings which gives you a few different perspectives. It’s also surprisingly fast paced for something written in the 19th century.

Misery by Stephen King 🌟🌟[2]

I never thought a book could be scary, and then read Misery. This is the first and only Stephen King book I’ve read and when I think back now I can appreciate how excellent his writing was and I’m sure still is. This is the story of a famous writer who gets into a car accident and is ‘rescued’ by his biggest fan, who isn’t happy about the ending of his new book. There’s also a film adaptation of this, which I haven’t seen but looks just as terrifying. This is the reason I stay away from horror novels, because it showed me just how terrifying a book can be.

American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis 🌟[1]

This is another one that, on reflection should have had a 4 or 5 star rating but I was a bit young when i read it and didn’t really understand the point of the book. This is I guess a black comedy thriller that follows, from the 1st person, Patrick Bateman a business man in the 1980’s who likes to murder people. These were definitely some of the most graphic sections of murder I’ve read, and I’m not usually squeamish. This is a book that will definitely make you appreciate, or at least understand the difference between a good description and a vivid, I can legit see it in front of me, description. Even so, I really want to re-read American Psycho so I can, hopefully, fully appreciate the satirical tone, that just went over my head when I first read it.

You by Caroline Kepnes 🌟🌟🌟🌟[4]

Continuing in the vein of murders comes this 1st person story of a guy, Joe, who becomes obsessed with a girl he meets by chance in a bookshop. It’s also told almost to the object of his affections, so for instance it will say something like ‘The first time you came into the bookshop, I knew I loved you’. This one isn’t satirical, and the focus lies on the obsession and thought process of Joe, rather than the violence of his actions. Personally I prefer it to American Psycho but maybe the will change with a re-read. If you’re interested in the psychology of a murderer, if you enjoy Criminal Minds, I think you’ll really enjoy this. You, despite a 1st person narration keeps you guessing as to where Joe is going next because this guy doesn’t have the same thoughts as us, or at least me.

Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris 🌟🌟🌟🌟[4]

Welcome, welcome, welcome to my favourite series of vampire novels, and believe me I love a good vampire novel. This is a Urban Fantasy set in the town of Bon Temps, in Louisiana where vampires have ‘come out of the coffin’, which means they announce their existence a few years back just after Japanese Scientists created synthetic blood. We follow Sookie Stackhouse a waitress in this small southern town, who just so happens to be telepathic. I should probably point out that even though there are vampires, and obviously they do play a big part, the main driving plot is a spate of murders around Bon Temps. I can’t even tell you how much I love this series!

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟[5]

I’m hoping that you’ve already read some of Patrick Ness’ books, if not then here’s the perfect place to start. A Monster Calls is about a young boy named Connor who is visited my a monster one night. This monster begins to tell him stories and these stories resonate with things that are happening in real life. Beautifully lyrical, this is a book about dealing with problem you might be faced with, and I’m purposefully avoiding telling you something juts because I didn’t know about it when I read it. It’s probably not a spoiler but I think it’s best just to go into this pretty blind. Also, I would definitely recommend the hardback illustrated edition. It’s just as beautiful as the story itself. You may want to have some tissue to hand for this one.

Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Robert Lindsay 🌟🌟🌟🌟[4]

If you’ve seen the excellent TV show then you’ll already be familiar with the dark humour of this character. Our protagonist in this instance is Dexter Morgan, Miami based blood-splatter analyst by day and compulsive serial killer by night. Unlike some of the other serial killer books this is probably the most tame and generally enjoyable. Like the other two you’re in Dexter’s head but you’re not subject to anything to traumatising. He adheres to a strict code of conduct wherein he only kills other serial killers. I know, a serial killer with morals, who would though it? Dexter is the most comedic of the serial killers and I really like the way that the plot comes together not around serial killer-Dexter but around another serial killer than he is hunting. Making Miami after, one kill at a time.

Kiss the Girls by James Patterson 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟[5]

Definitely one of the more scary ones, this is the second book in the Alex Cross series, and my favourite out of the ones that I’ve read. Kiss the Girls follows a psychologist/detective Alex Cross as he tracks a new serial killer. Veering more to the darker side of serial killers this is the epitome of a good thriller where we have two killers at either end of the country (forgive me if my American geography is wrong) one abducting girls from campus’ and the other murdering people in their homes. But are they communicating or competing? It has been a while since I’ve read this, but I remember it cementing James Patterson as someone you could trust to deliver you a good story. I can also recommend the first one Along Came a Spider about the abduction of a senators daughter, but this is my favourite.

A Series of Unfortunate Evens by Lemony Snicket 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟[5]

This is one of my absolute favourite series’ and I still love reading them despite being technically children’s books. These 13 books chronicle the tragic tale of three orphans, Violet, Klaus and Sunny as they try to escape from a very greedy distant relative who is obsessed with steeling their fortune. Basically these books are a lot of fun and begins pretty short, being a children’s series which means that 13 books isn’t as daunting as you would think. But what makes these books even better is the author, Lemony snicker, who is part author, part narrator and just mysterious as hell. His distinctive writing style will have you gripped from The Bad Beginning to The End. Understandably these are probably the least Halloween-y books on my list, but they do have a very gothic style feel, leaving them suspended in time almost. If you’re a fan of mysteries, conspiracy theories, disguises, adventure and very fancy doilies, then you’ll love these.

Posted in Books, Review

Book Review: The Infernal Devices by Cassandra CLARE

“One must always be careful of books […] and what is inside them, for words have the power to change us” — Clockwork Angel

As I tend to read theses one after another, like a bag of sweets you can’t help but finished, I decided to review the series as a whole, spoiler free, of course. Enjoy!

The Infernal Devices is a trilogy of historical fantasy novels by Cassandra CLARE set in the world of the Shadowhunters, this time in 19th century London. In case your unfamiliar with the Shadow-world, the basic concept is that there are a are of warriors, very attractive warriors for the most part, who kill demons in order to protect mundanes muggles humans. Here our main protagonist is a young American called Tessa Grey, who discovers that she has some unusual powers and falls in with the Shadowhunters. Let me break it down for you.

infernal-devices
The new covers, and much prettier than the originals.

Book 1: Clockwork Angel [4 stars]

Book 2: Clockwork Prince [4 stars]

Book 3: Clockwork Princess [4 stars] (someone pass me the tissues)

Continue reading “Book Review: The Infernal Devices by Cassandra CLARE”

Posted in Books, Review

Book Review: Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows #2) by Leigh BARDUGO

If you don’t like the odds

Change the game.

I wasn’t actually going to write a review for Crooked Kingdom but I really haven’t seen much about it. So, I figured I would do my duty as a self-appointed Dregs spokesperson and write up my review. Go Dregs!

This is a sequel to Six of Crows, so bear in mind that there might be some hints, maybe even spoilers to the first book, but spoiler free for Crooked Kingdom.

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Would you look at this cover!

Where to begin? Well, Crooked Kingdom picks up right were Six of Crows left the Dregs in Ketterdam, and yes, Kaz is definitely wearing his scheming face right now.

Continue reading “Book Review: Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows #2) by Leigh BARDUGO”

Posted in writing

NaNoWriMo: Planning

Recently I found a video on YouTube of Brandon Sanderson, one of my favourite writers, teaching a class in writing fantasy and sci-fi and I thought I would tell you about how I go about writing. I should probably point out the fact that i am not a ‘writer’, I write in my spare time and I love it but I have never been published, so whatever I say here is just from my personal experience.

Are you a Planner or a Pants-er?

If you’ve done NaNoWriMo before, this is one of the questions that will pop up on your screen. Before I started I had no idea. My experience with writing began and ended with me imagining a scene, be it descriptive or dialogue driven, and I would mull it over in my mind before finally writing it down. When it came to NaNoWriMo I realised that because of the time constraints I definitely was a planner. Give me all the plans!

How do I go about planning a story?

There are hundreds of author quotes telling you, or giving you advice, on how to plan, but the best advice I’ve heard is Brandon Sanderson’s lecture. Basically what he presses upon his class is the fact that not only is every writer different but every project is different. For instance, I’m a planner, as I’ve already said, and while last years Chapter outlines were very detailed and long, this year they’re much shorter. I didn’t specifically intend for this to happen, it just did, but it feels right.

Another way I like to plan my story, that’s perhaps a little bit more out of the box is through Pinterest. I find it helpful to be able to go onto my board and remind myself of what I’m trying to present visually.

The last thing that I try to do is put together some sort of playlist on iTunes that I’ll be able to write to. In 2014 I was writing a noir-style mystery, and so I listened to Rat Pack music. Last year was the year for the gritty thriller, and I found a Femme Fatale playlist on Spotify. This year my genre is fantasy, so my playlist is going to consist of lyric-less movie scores, I haven’t decided what just yet.

And…

Go forth and write or begin to plan or maybe just think about it. The video I keep mentioning is HERE and it’s really helpful. Going forward I’d love to have some sort or writing group to work with, and I want to be much more vocal about NaNo both on the forums and away from the forums.

Do you like to write? Are you a planner or a pants-er?

Posted in Books, Review

Book Review:Never Always Sometimes by Adi ALSAID

I mentioned that I world post the review here, since I sort of avoided the subject in my wrap up and here it is.

*A.N If follow me on GoodReads you’ll notice that the review seems similar. That’s because it is. It’s the exact same review.*

This is a ***SPOILER FREE*** review of Never Always Sometimes which I gave 2 stars, out of a potential 5. Unfortunately I really didn’t enjoy this book, and I know exactly why so as much as I hate writing not so positive reviews, here goes nothing.

Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”                        ― Anton Chekhov

This isn’t a quote from this book, but it’s a quote I always think of when I’m writing and I’ve never quite understood what Chekhov meant until now. The gist of Never Always Sometimes is as follows, Julia and Dave are two indie kinds who are about to graduate high school when they find a list of things that they promised themselves they would never do. Unsurprisingly, they decide to complete everything on the list. Adi Alsaid was definitely a tell-er not a show-er. You expect a certain amount of exposition at the beginning of a book, especially when your two main characters are already best friends. However, to me this felt like 300 odd pages of Julia/dave felt this, did this, thought this. I’m not sure how well, I’m conveying this though writing, but maybe if you read this you’ll see where I’m coming from.

In case you haven’t picked up on this fact so far this is a Young Adult (YA) contemporary, a genre which I rarely expect much more than a quick, cute, read. Honestly, 95% I’m impressed by the depth or characterisation or plot, but that did not happen here. The plot was the most predictable plot I’ve read all year, and I feel like a terrible person admitting this. There were no surprises, and the lack of characterisation brought on by all the ‘telling’ meant that the book felt flat for me.

As I said before, I’m not a fan of negative reviews, but I think I’ve done my best to try to illustrate just why I, personally, didn’t enjoy this book. I know that there are plenty of people who really love it but unfortunately Never Always Sometimes just wasn’t my cup of tea.

Have you read Never Always Sometimes and what did you think? Have you ever come across an author who is definitely told you things instead of showing you?

Posted in writing

NaNoWriMo 2016

The leaves are beginning to fall, the air is crisp and there’s a a definite and suspicious lull before the storm, which can only mean one thing; It’s October, NaNoWriMo 2016 will soon be upon us, and I need to get planning!

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Admittedly, I’ll be attempting to write my novel on my laptop, not by hand

What is NaNoWriMo?

Well, I’m glad you asked. NaNoWriMo, or National Novel writing Month, is a challenge where you are supposed to write 50,000 words in the month of November, which is 1,667 words a day. The idea being that by the end of the month you’ll have the first draft, or maybe a partial first draft of your own novel. It’s a super fun thing to do, and not as hard as you might think, granted I’ve never actually finished.

My NaNoWriMo Experience.

So, as I said I’ve never actually completed the 50,000 word count, but I still had hell of a time trying. My first NaNoWriMo was during my first year of uni, in 2014, where I started on the first of November with nothing but a vague crime noir novel, most likely due to the fact that I was reading The Maltese Falcon at the time. I can’t quite remember what my final word count was, but I ended up spending more time planning that I did actually writing. I’d be very surprised if it even reached the 5,000 word mark.

Now, last year I didn’t intend to ever revisit the concept of NaNoWriMo, having come to the conclusion that it was not for me. Until, I got back to uni and found myself with a surprising amount of spare time during the month of October. I decided to start planning for NaNoWriMo using a story that I’d been toying around with for a good few years. Clearly I’d learnt the value of planning since the year before. Even though my story line was, and still is, very vague in places I finished my plan of 13 chapters in a week or two. Then I closed that document and did not look at it again until the first of November. What I didn’t want to happen was to get bored with my story or my characters. When it came to November I was flying though my novel. You already know that I didn’t reach 50,000 words by the end of the month, reaching around the 28,000 mark, but I realised that I didn’t actually care, because those were 28,000 words that I didn’t have the month before. My goal when I started was to do better than the year before and I succeeded by a mile.

What does this mean for me?

I do think that sitting down and forcing yourself to keep going with the same characters and the same storyline has made me a better, more determined written. Since last year anything that I do write tends to be much longer and word counts don’t faze me as much. I still think of one day in the middle of the month where I was ridiculously behind my daily targets but I just sat down, put Radio 4 on in the background and wrote 5,000 words in just one day. Since then I understand what chapter length really means, in terms of planning, the benefit of working with music and I’m much more confident in my own writing. Yeas, some parts are bad, but there are others that I’m really proud of. Above everything, I understand that a word count it not a restriction, but a goal, and that’s it’s okay to waste your words on something that might not seem all that important.

NaNoWriMo 2016

And here we are, ready to begin preparations for this year. I start with a vague idea, something I’ve played around with before and have a couple of little bits and pieces. My aim for October is to properly map out my story line and the way I do this is not very exciting. I’ll have a word document where I can write my story out in the most basic of ways, i.e. Scene opens in busy market place. X is walking along admiring the stalls, unaware that she is being followed by A. POV sticks with A as he follows her down the road… Sometimes when I start writing I won’t even refer back to these chapter outlines but it means that if I’m ever stuck for what can happen next I always have an idea. I also like to put together a board on Pinterest where I can fanciest my characters, or set the mood of the location, or keep track of quotes that encompass the feel I’m aiming for.  Is my goal 50,000 words? Of course! But, so long as I can beat my personal best it’ll be a great NaNoWriMo!

What about you, have you done NaNoWriMo before? Are you planning on trying this year? If you are, feel free to add me as a writing buddy, you can find me under Miss Wonderly.