Archive | December 2010

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffeneger Book Review

I’d been wanting to read this book since… well since I finished The Time Traveller’s Wife. TTTW is probably my favourite EVER book, so having read that, I knew I had to read any other books that Niffeneger wrote. Then towards the end of November I found it in a book market (there’s one every weekend on the South Bank of the River Thames – nice) for a sillyly cheap price – looking almost new. Well, what could I do.

I wasn’t too sure about using it for the Thriller & Suspense Reading Challenge, but someone else had, and if it’s good enough for her, it’s good enough for me – and reading this took me to 11 out of the 12 books I needed for the year, so it totally worked for me!

When Elspeth Noblin dies she leaves her beautiful flat overlooking Highgate Cemetery to her twin nieces, Julia and Valentina Poole, on the condition that their mother is never allowed to cross the threshhold. But until the solicitors’ letter falls through the door of their suburban American home, neither Julia nor Valentina knew their aunt existed. The twins feel that in London their own lives can finally begin but have no idea that they have been summoned into a tangle of fraying lives, from the obsessive-compulsive crossword setter who lives above them to their aunt’s mysterious and elusive lover, who lives below them and works in the cemetery itself.

As the twins unravel the secrets of their aunt, who doesn’t seem quite ready to leave her flat, even after death, Niffenegger weaves a delicious and deadly ghost story about love, loss and identity.

Honestly, the book doesn’t compare to The Time Traveller’s Wife – but that’s not to say it’s not good – it’s just not awesome. I did really enjoy it, but what I found was I didn’t like some characters – in fact I disliked more characters than I liked. But, I really liked some characters.

The story grabbed me almost from the beginning with the mystery behind Elspeth and her sister’s estrangement, then carried dragging me in with the tangled lives of the other characters.

I guess you’d have to say this is a ghost story, and there’s definitely a little fantasy mixed in there, but there’s also love, romance, friendship, family and more. Enough to have me glued to it. I was disappointed in the ending, it’s hard to say why without giving too much away, but the positions people finished in felt wrong, especially when the one I didn’t like did well and the one I loved didn’t do.

Regardless, it was a great book, and I’d recommend it to anyone that likes a little mystery, a little romance, some family stuff… anything like that. I really can’t wait for her next book…

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Dying to Write by Judith Cutler – Review

Many years ago, my Mum was a member of a writing group in a small city outside Birmingham. One day, an author came to talk to her group, and signed books after the talk. That author was Judith Cutler. I have to be honest I’d not heard of her (she’s from and sets her novels in Birmingham) but after Googling her, I found she’s actually published A LOT of books.

The two that my mum got ‘Dying to write’ and ‘Dying on Principle’ are from a ‘Dying to…’ series. Originally this put me off reading them because they’re not the first ones in the series. I like to read books in series order, but was so attracted by the title of this one ‘Dying to Write’ that I had to dive in. And I’m pretty please I did.

You totally didn’t have to have read the first book to be able to read this one, although I do think it would probably be an advantage – there were lots of references to previous things, but not that detracted from the story.

Sophie Rivers is attending a writing course when a fellow student is found dead. Although glamorous Nyree hadn’t done a lot to endear herself to Sophie, nevertheless she didn’t deserve to meet such a squalid end.

A course tutor then goes missing and it is clear that one of Sophie’s fellow students is responsible…

I did really enjoy this – Sophie’s voice is great, and although she’s not always 100% nice, I did warm to her. As the book went on, I thought I knew who the murderer was, and was a little disappointed about who I thought it was, but then, I was quite delighted when it turned out I was wrong.

The only thing I didn’t like about it was the ending. I felt it was left to quickly that there should have been more explanation for what happened. Having said that though, I’m eager to read the other book I’ve got ‘Dying on Principle’ and am definitely going to get hold of the first one in the series ‘Dying in Principle’. It’s also quite nice to read about Birmingham, which I know quite well as I grew up near there, it’s not often you read about it in novels.

Belated Happy Christmas

Well that’s Christmas 2010 done. Well, actually it isn’t. There’s still five hours of Boxing Day left and I’ve still got another 2 days off work. As far as I’m concerned until I go back to work on Wednesday, it’s still Christmas.

Plus tomorrow I’m visiting the other half’s family, which is part of Christmas.

What would be nice, was if I could also do some writing… Lets look at the excuses I can come up with to NOT write though…

Well, I’m in the process of moving. That’s going to take a while. I’ve technically already moved ME and the important things I need, but it’s the everything else I need to move now. Which could take a while. Plus there’s all the getting sorted in a new place. And the stress that I’m only going to be living there for 6 – 8 weeks before doing it all over again (wall to bash my head against anyone?) 

I’m still ill. Last weekend a cough/cold developed and it’s firmly attached itself to me. A couple of times in the last week I’ve thought writing would be cool, but then I’ve realised how ill I felt and climbed further under the duvet. Yes, I fully admit I am a bad bad person at being ill. I have man flu. But at least I’m not ill all that much. I’d probably have no friends, and be single!

I got some books for Christmas, but cooking and household books. Nothing fiction-y. Although I have a suspicion, I may be getting a couple of novels from the other half (I hope anyway). I’ve not done much reading this month. Well, I’ve read two books, but then I got ill. Maybe I could squeeze another one out before the end of the year. Depending on what I get tomorrow (from the other half).

I need to do another post on my huge fail of the Thriller & Suspense Reading Challenge. I need a few more days to build myself up for that one – it’s just too depressing right now though – I hate failing. 😦

What I’m really happy with though, and I’ll do a full post on this before the year is out, is how many books I’ve read this year. Last year I read 17 and hardly enjoyed any. This year, I’m read many many more (I don’t know the exact number) and I’m well happy with it.

How was your Christmas or if not Christmas, your holiday? Hope lots of you got lots of writing done 😉

A Not So Bloggy December

I don’t really have tha much to say, but I’ll try.

I’m slowly making my way through December. It’s not really containing writing, or blogging, but luckily for me, it’s containing lots of reading. I’m trying desperately to catch up with the Thriller & suspense Reading challenge. I need to read… Uh… I’ve not checked… But I think 4 books then review 6. But like I said haven’t checked. *sigh*. Maybe I should give up and start again next year? Yeah right! If I can write 50,ooo words in 30 days. I’m damn sure I can read 12 books in a year. Well maybe.

I’ve not done any writing for a while either. I hate it, but at the same time, after NaNo, I guess I deserve a little break. And with all the Christmas drink s and stuff going on… If I’m going to let myself off of anything… it really should be this. I’ll try harder as the month goes on. And into January. And especially when my story is published on a website…

How December is Going

I’ve just done something kind of crazy. Good crazy though. Very unexpected crazy. But I’m glad crazy. Am I driving YOU crazy yet?

I’ve just written 250 words of The Dating Project! How good is that? It’s only the 8th too. That means I only left it for a week after NaNo before I wrote more – so much better than I thought I would do.

Not that I think this is it. This isn’t the start of me writing all the time away from NaNo or NovelPI, but it’s a start. And that makes me happy. The scene is also one where the MC is drunk, and I’ve had a couple of glasses of wine, so it probably worked pretty well, haha.

So, how’s December going for me then? Well, I’m reading. I’m about ¼ of the way into my second novel this month. It’s so nice letting myself read. During NaNo, I don’t let myself read, as that takes up time and that’s time where I should be writing. But now we’re over it, I’m well back on the reading train.

The first novel I read was Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffeneger. Having read The Time Traveller’s Wife a few years ago, I have been eagerly awaiting reading this one, and on the whole it didn’t disappoint. I did really enjoy it. I loved some of the charachers, didn’t so much others, sympathised and stuff. In fact I’d say I really enjoyed it until the end, when  I was left slightly disappointed. SEMI SPOILER ALERT: I just felt like it was left wrong. Yeah Valentina was happy, but she shouldn’t have been where she was and Elsbeth, she shouldn’t have been where she was. I was just a bit disappointed it ended there. But then I also felt that about Sliding Doors (the movie) and I still loved it, so maybe the ending isn’t that important. I just almost feel a little cheated. It’s like it ended, but it shouldn’t have gone that way. Maybe if you’ve read it you feel the same? Let me know if you do – I’ve not read any reviews of spoken to anyone that has read it, so I have no idea if I’m all alone in this judgement, or people think the same.

I’m now reading Dying to Write by Judith Cutler. Judith Cutler, as far as I’m aware isn’t that big a name in writing, but she’s from around Birmingham (where I grew up) and she once visited my Mum’s writing group (back in the day when Mum was part of a writing group – guess where I got my passion for writing from?). Mum bought that book and Dying on Principle by her and got them signed by her – one to me and one to my brother. Now, I’m sure it was the luck of the draw who go t which one signed to who, but I can’t help feeling a little bitter that the one signed to him is Dying to Write, but I’m the writer. Not fair eh?

But I am (for the most part) over it. And the book, well it’s pretty good. I only picked it up originally because it’s a thriller (see the Thriller & Suspense Reading Challenge mention coming up?), and it’s got writing in the title. Perfect eh! But it’s really good. The main character, Sophie, is pretty cool and I feel like I can identify with her (especially her writer’s block!). But, this is the third Dying… novel in the series, and I really feel like I should have read the other two first. I think you don’t need to, but every now and then I feel like I’m missing out on something. But it’s good enough that I know I’ll be going back and reading the other two at some point. And definitely seeing if she’s written any more.

Totally, totally off the writing subject, but hey it’s my blog, I can go off subject if I want – especially if it’s to brag. I joined slimming world three weeks ago. The first week I lost 3 ½ lb. The next week 2lb. This week, I don’t think I’m going to have lost any because I’ve eaten like a pig today, but still – 5 1/5 lb in three weeks – how good is that!!!!!

Finally, please keep an eye out for more blogs and Tweets – very shortly I’ll be telling you about my FIRST PUBLISHED STORY!!!!

December Plan Making

My Mum asked my yesterday if I felt relieved that NaNo was over. My answer? No! No because I know the story isn’t finished yet. And no because now I don’t have NaNo to kick my butt, I have no idea if I’m going to finish the novel or not. Sucky eh?

No, I need to be more positive. I will finish the novel. The fact that I have done no writing in December means nothing. It’s not even the end of the second day yet!

I’m just about to go to the TGIOP. Any guesses what that is?? It’s the NaNoWriMo Thank God It’s Over Party. Woop! I’m actually really tired so half don’t want to go, but I’ve had such a blast meeting new people over the last month, that I’m going to force myself. And I know I’ll be happy I went once I get there. I just hope I’ll still be happy about it tomorrow when I’m suffering from a hangover!!!

As this blog is titled, Plan Making, I really should make some plans for December. Ok, how about this:

  • Finish reading 12 books for the Thriller & Suspense Reading Challenge
  • Finish Reviewing 12 books for the Thriller & Suspense Reading Challenge
  • Finish reading Her Fearful Symmetry
  • Participate in Fiction Friday 4 times
  • Participate in Rowan Coleman’s Status Short Story Competition
  • Write another 5,000 words for The Dating Project.

I think I can happily focus mainly on reading this month. I really want to complete the T&SRC, and I’m already really into HFS. I hardly read anything in October and nothing in November, so I’m happy with that to even the months out. The Dating Project can stay in my life, but just take a little step back for a while.

I’ve got a day off tomorrow – yay. I’ve not decided what I’ll do, but I imagine reading, reading, reading maybe with a little writing sprinkled in too!