Archive | March 2012

After The Snow by SD Crockett Review

“I’m gonna sit here in my place on the hill behind the house. Waiting. And watching.

Ain’t nothing moving down there.

The valley look pretty bare in the snow. Just the house grey and lonely down by the river all frozen. I got to think what I’m gonna do now that everyone gone.

But I got my dog head on.

The dog gonna tell me what to do. The dog gonna help me.

The house look proper empty – don’t it dog?

You just sit quiet in these rocks Willo.”

Set in the haunting and barren landscape of a new ice age, AFTER THE SNOW is the story of fifteen-year-old Willo, a ‘straggler’ kid who loses his family in the opening pages. Completely alone, he is immediately flung into an icy journey of survival, adventure, friendship and self-discovery – with only the dog spirit inside his head to guide him.

I was intrigued by this novel. I read the reviews and they were so split. I decided I had to read it, because I had to know more about it.

The MC, Willo has a weird language and way of thinking (narrating) that put a lot of people off. I can see why, the first few chapters were a bit of a struggle, but once I got used to it (maybe 3 chapters max), I completely forgot about it, and the story took me along.

The thing that kept me going for the first few chapters was the wonder of how he was going to survive on his own, in this new (old to him, it had been there his whole life) ice age. As things started happening I was more and more gripped by the things happening to him. It’s got a great, proper feel good ending too.

When I heard about it, I couldn’t decide if I could put it on my list for the Mystery & Suspense Reading Challenge. I kept that in mind the whole time I was reading it. I decided I could, because there was the mystery of how/why/where his family disappeared, but then I remembered the word SUSPENSE too, there was a lot of that.

I’d really recommend this novel, although not to everyone. If you’re looking for a nice, easy read, this isn’t for you, it is hard going to start with, but the work pays off, and it’s a really enjoyable book.

Something’s Better Than Nothing

Hi! I’m still alive. I don’t even want to look at the date of my last blog, it will be way too depressing. From my visitor stats (which go up massively when I blog) I can tell it’s not been for a while. A long while. Sorry!

Shall I throw out the old excuses? I’ve been so busy at work, it’s causing me to be so tired, I’m reading too much I don’t have time for blogging… Oops, how did that get in there? That’s not a good excuse. It’s an excuse, but it’s a terrible one. I shouldn’t be reading instead of blogging -or writing for that matter.

I’ve always got that old ‘to be a good writer you have to read a lot’ old nugget, but I seem to remember I used that in my last blog (wow, I can remember things really long ago!).

If I’m truthful, at the moment, blogging and writing aren’t really even in my mind. I hardly ever think about doing either. It’s bad. The good thing is though, that when I thought about writing on Sunday, I actually did some. Only 250 words, but everything large starts with something small.

My new job is taking up a whole load of my day, and if I’m honest night. I’m working way more than 7 hours a day, even if sometimes it’s just through my lunch break (I took a whole hour yesterday, I think that’s the 3rd time since I’ve been in this role – 6 weeks). Last night I was here until 7. That’s unusual, but I often do an hour more at the end of the day. I check my emails so much too, almost first thing, just before bed. It’s crazy!

I keep telling myself that this is just the ‘setting up’ and ‘getting used to’ the job. I hope it is. The Building Manager I work with (that’s my role) leaves at 5 nearly everyday, so it is possible (of course she comes in much earlier than my 9.30!).

Anyway. I will get into a better habit of things soon. Until I do, I’m not going to make any elaborate promises of writing every day, blogging all the time, and reading less. Reading is probably good for me because it’s relaxing me. I won’t make these promises because I think it’s pretty obvious to everyone that I won’t keep them! I will at some point get back on the writing and blogging train (I have a novel to finish after all), lets just hope it’s sooner, rather than later!

Ooh, before I go, I should probably mention the books I’ve read recently(if I can remember them): Before I Go To Sleep by SJ Watson – read it for my  book club and totally loved it, couldn’t get enough of it, brilliant. Although scared me a little. Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Green – I don’t know why this appealed to me (Cecelia Ahern If You Could See Me Now anyone?) but it did, and I’m so glad it did. I couldn’t put it down. And I’m totally adding it to my list for Mystery & Suspense Reading Challenge.

Well… I’m Enjoying Reading

I am enjoying reading. That’s important to be a good writer you have to be a reader. Of course to be a good writer, you have to be writing too…

This happens every year since I started doing NaNo (3 years ago). I’ll write ferociously for the 30 days, I’ll get the 50,000 words done, and then a couple of weeks later I’ll stop writing. I’ll try to motivate myself and I will, but only in dribs and drabs. Eventually, in the summer I’ll start writing properly, then in October I’ll realise NaNo is just a month away and I’ll increase what I’m writing.

Every year that happens. It was slightly different after this NaNo, in that I carried on writing in December, and January. At least I’m getting better. We’re now halfway through March (if anyone knows how that’s possible, please let me know), and less than 2 weeks away from the end of this ROW80 round, and I’ve pretty much done nothing for 6 weeks.

I have my excuses, but they are just that – excuses. Yes, I’ve started a new job that’s taking up a lot more time, and brain power than the old one, so I am exhausted, but the same happened last year. And the one before.

It seems I can’t write without a deadline – and a self-imposed one isn’t good enough. Even having a ROW80 goal doesn’t seem to push me, maybe because I’m not losing if I I fail, I’m just a failer!

I said this before and a couple of people questioned why MY goals weren’t important enough to push me. I don’t know. I just don’t.

my boyfriend’s being really good at the moment – he keeps trying to make me write (well, keeps mentioning I should be), but I always seem to come up with some reason not to.

Just after my last post, I decided I was going to take some time off my novel, and just do random writing. That worked – on that day. I read something in my writing course that said it’s good to write short stories while you’re writing your novel – it helps you feel like you’re achieving something (by writing THE END – something you’re not going to do on the novel for a while). It’s a good idea, but I didn’t stick to it.

I’ve just remembered that Novelicious are running a novel competition. The deadline is 3rd April, so that’s something for me to aim for – an actual goal. I need to edit the first 3000 words of the novel. Fine. Maybe everything else will come back after I do that!

Like I said in the title, I’m really enjoying reading at the moment. I’m reading Before I Fall Asleep by SJ Watson for my Book Club. I’m totally loving it. I seem to really love novels that have ‘before’ in the title  – Before I Fall (Lauren Oliver) and Me Before You (Jojo Moyes) were both really really good books. I also seem to be really interested in memory in novels – The Memory Collector (Meg Gardiner) was brilliant, and also in films – Memento (I guess 50 First Dates too, but I’m talking more serious stuff). I’ve really enjoyed everything listed above. No idea why, seems to be something I’m in to!

My other goals are eating well, and exercising.

Exercising isn’t going TOO badly. I’m walking to and from the tube to work – that’s 40 minutes walking a day! Today I’ve got my gym kit, so hopefully I’ll go there after work!

This week I’ve started Slimming World again. So far days 1 and 2 have been a joke, but day 3 seems to be going well. I’d like to make it the first of going brilliantly!

I hope everyone else is doing better with their goals than me!

Me Before You by @JojoMoyes – Review

Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.

What Lou doesn’t know is she’s about to lose her job or that knowing what’s coming is what keeps her sane.

Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he’s going to put a stop to that.

What Will doesn’t know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they’re going to change the other for all time.

You know sometimes when you’re reading a novel, you kind of have it on your mind all the time, and then when you finish it you want to shout about it and tell the world about it? Yeah, that about this.

I don’t know what first attracted me to this novel – whether it was the cover (which I love) or the synopsis on the back, or if it was indeed the title (I can’t help thinking it is, Me Before You is so simple, but says so much, and kind of makes my heart want to burst with possibilities of what’s inside), but for as long as I’ve known about it, I’ve wanted to read it.

It did not disappoint.

The prologue shows Will before his accident, a guy whose idea of a fun holiday is ‘trekking up mountains, or hanging off ravines.’ It’s great for setting the scene of who he is.

Lou jumps off the page in the first chapter as this larger than life person, who’s maybe slightly crazy, knowing how many steps there are, and with a crazy dress sense. Her family certainly think it, but before long I was totally in love with her (in the way you are with a totally awesome MC).

Their journeys together through the book are full of laughs, embarrassments, and tears. I too laughed, cringed and cried.

From about halfway through, I worried about how the ending was going to go, would it be (in my opinion) the right, or the wrong one? A bad ending can wreck a book (or movie*) for me. I was so happy when what I thought would be right, was. Without possibly knowing my opinion that can’t give anything away I hope!

*Remember Sliding Doors. I loved it, but the wrong ‘Helen’ died. It took away, just a little bit of my love for the film.

I honestly cannot recommend this enough. I’ve read so many good books this year, even though it’s only the 2nd week in February (when this review was written), I can’t believe how many good books I’ve read. This, is definitely the best.

I’d never read a Jojo Moyes novel before, despite having seen her at an author event a few years ago and wanting to. If this is anything like her older novels, I’m going to have a great time catching up on them. All nine (I think) of them!

 

Still Here, Just Not Doing Much

I am still alive, I promise. I’m just not blogging, or checking-in for ROW80, or actually writing, or keeping up with any of my goals. Why? Well I’m not really sure. I’ve got some excuses though – whether they are actually excuses, or real reasons why not, I have no idea.

I started my new job 3 ½ weeks ago. My old job was very, very easy. I could pretty much do it with my eyes closed. This job is different. I have responsibility, I have lots and lots to learn, a ton of different people to meet (and remember) and more work than I can handle.

I’m loving it, but it’s exhausting me. For the first time in maybe a year, I’ve been (sometimes) buying ready meals because I just haven’t always had the energy to cook when I get in. Also, obviously not had the energy to go to the gym. What is good, is that getting the bus to and from the tube to work is pointless – the traffic across Blackfriars Bridge is so bad, that it’s as quick to walk. That means I’m walking 40 minutes a day. Not including walking between my buildings or when I go to head office. Not bad.

Of course there’s this other little excuse, and I don’t know if that had happened because I’m so tired, or if I’ve let the tiredness be the excuse – I’ve really got into Heros. Yeah, that TV series that started years ago, yeah, I know like EVERYONE watched it back then, but I didn’t. I didn’t care. Boyfriend made me watch it a few times while we had dinner (classy us – we don’t have a kitchen or dining table!). I didn’t care much for the first few episodes, but then I really got into it. Really.

We’ve reached the end of the first series (boyfriend has the first 3 series on DVD), so I’m finally able to do something, other than watch it, and think about it for most of my other waking moments (other than when I was working!).

I’m sure I have more excuses, but I can’t think of them right now. Do you want to know what I have done? Not much granted, but every little helps.

On Saturday, I did half an hour work on my writing course. Who even knew I was doing a writing course? I can’t remember when the last time I did anything for it was, but I’m going to put a guess out there at over a year. A year. How mental is that?!

What prompted it? My Mum restarting hers. Originally, back in the 1990s, my mum started doing a writing course. She got a little stumped at the first assignment, and it stayed there. But it put an idea in my head. 4 years ago, I turned that idea into practice, and started doing the same writing course as she had. I got a lot further than she did – maybe assignment 4 or 5 (out of 20), but then I got distracted with NaNo and actually writing novels, and so I let it slip. Suddenly a year (plus) had gone by without doing any.

My mum recently decided to carry on with the course. Or restart it. Her talking about it, and getting excited about it made me think about mine, so much that I got it out at the weekend. I know 30 minutes isn’t a lot (especially as I’ve not done any since), but it’s a start. And to be honest, right now 10 minutes would be better than nothing, so 30 is pretty damn good.

I’m on the writing a novel chapter. I’ve read it all before (over a year ago), but think it’s pretty good and important so am reading again (I need to have read it to do the assignment). The assignment a the end of this chapter, or section, is writing a fully plan for a novel. I’ve decided that, although I’ve written a lot of The Man of My Dreams, I’m going to take a step back, pretend I haven’t, and write the plan for the assignment. Woop!

I also  something really useful from what I read on Saturday. It recommends that while you’re writing your novel, you SHOULD take breaks and write smaller things – short stories. It says that because writing a novel is so hard and long that it can start to get you down. Writing short stories can keep your mind fresh, and give you confidence that you can finish something etc etc.

Whenever I’m in ‘novel writing’ mode, that’s all I write. I don’t let myself write stories, or anything other than blogs and the novel. Right now I’ve been writing TMOMD since November 1st and I’m still ¾ of the way through it. That wouldn’t be so bad if I hadn’t have done NaNo and written 50k in November – it means I’ve done about 23k in 3 months. Bad! Right now I’m feeling a little downhearted about it. It just seems to be going on and on (originally I planned it to be 70k, I’m 3 over that and have a LOT left to write).

I’m going to follow the advice and do some short writing things. Maybe not stories, maybe just bits and pieces from random word generators (which is how I got into writing short stories). Hopefully it will a) get me back into writing and b) get me feeling fresh about TMOMD again, and make me want to go back and finish it.

I’m not going to say anything about my goals. They’re there. I’ll try, but I sometimes wonder if trying too hard makes me stay away from them – weird I know, but then I’ve never professed to be anything but!!!