Friday, 29 October 2010

Book Review: Dead In The Family by Charlaine Harris

Dead in the Family (Sookie Stackhouse, #10)Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I hadn't "heard" great reviews about this book, but I still thought it was up there with the others.  Okay maybe not one of her best (Dead To The World will always be my favourite!) but I was glad to be back inside Sookie's head.

Maybe this is more a three and half stars than four - still an enjoyable read.

There's sort of sub-plots intertwined with one another, in Harris' usual way.

In this book we are told how Bill was made.  I'm currently watching the first season of Trueblood (as I hadn't seen it) and it covered a flash back of how Bill was made by Lorena in one of the episodes.  At the time I couldn't remember if Harris had 'told' us this, but obviously not.  I liked the maker/writer of Trueblood's idea, (it showed Bill in a very good light and a tragedy of how his life was taken from him) and that it is different to the 'author's' way (which also shows how tragic it is for Bill really and Lorena being rather twisted).  So although the writer's of Trueblood got it wrong from the books, they were also right about it too. 

I'm seeing some differences with the series, yet I can see why they've done it (to fill it out - basically the first season is book 1, episode ten giving a hint of some of book two me thinks! - but I'm loving the series just as much as the books.  I can see why some differences may occur also, if some of her books weren't published before Trueblood was launched.

And I'm still a fan of Bill, though he doesn't feature much really in this book.  Maybe seeing him as his true gentleman self in season 1 keeps me in his corner.  And though I LOVE Eric, I didn't find him so mesmerising in this book.  Maybe because Sookie and Eric are an item (which kinda feels weird - she's Bill's girl!) there's less 'chase' and so the romance has dulled a little.

There maybe wasn't enough of Sam either in this book - if I'm to pick holes.

But I still want to know when book 11 will be on the shelves?  

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Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Writing Magazine May Have Given Me The Answer

Assignment 6.  The bane of my life.  

Actually, all of my non-fiction assignments have felt like that.  I suppose it's a mixture of knowing I have two articles to write, and working out what to write that I believe will be of interest.

Well, I may have found the answer today.  While my delightful little cherubs (yeah, right) were at 'Sticky Fingers' I was swimming 42 lengths in the pool, then heading up to the cafĂ© for a cappuccino - because I don't stay in the pool for 2 hours, I'd look like a prune - and trust me, I feel like jelly even now.

I took my Writing Magazine with me - it's the only magazine I read cover to cover  - and I read an article about writing 'think pieces' while supping my coffee.  A way to express your views, opinions, in a humorous fashion.  They need be no more than 350 words, maximum 750.  I won't bore you with the details, but the article gave great advice and even suggested magazines that take these types of articles, two of which I have purchased, so I can do my research.

But gosh... I'm always thinking of things that either bug, annoy me or I feel passionate about.  This just seems perfect. 

I think what I find hardest about these assignments is the research - sitting down and reading magazines!  It's not something I've really ever done, because 1) I couldn't afford them and 2) I'd rather be reading a good book.  So I find it hard to make the time to do this part of my coursework.  Like I said, the only one I truly make time for is Writing Magazine (which is worth the investment if anyone else is thinking about subscribing to this magazine).

The expense of buying all this 'research' will be justified if, hopefully, one day, I get something published and of course, paid for.  But I do not regret subscribing to Writing Magazine (and Writer's News, though I do tend to fail to read that one).

Anyway, feeling inspired today... roll on 7pm, once the kids are in bed and I can crack on with some writing!

In Other News: I'm going to give my friend Lisa a plug.  She's just started her own blog... and for some strange, peculiar reason, I was her inspiration (which I'm totally flattered by).  Writing is another thing I've become so passionate about, so let's all welcome Lisa into the fun world of writing.  Because once you start, you just can't stop...  

Friday, 22 October 2010

Should They Stay Or Should They Go?

I'm on book 36 of my 40 to read for the year - if I read more it's a plus!  I will set myself that same goal with the aim to beat this years total (so I won't go too mad trying to get over 40 books read!).  However, my bookshelf is crammed, and if I am to buy new books, I just don't have a place for them.  So, do I get rid of some of the books that I've read on there, or do they stay?

This is not my bookshelf - obviously!
I usually like to keep books that I've read, and I am not going to part with my J K Rowling (the boys can read those) my The Hobbit/Lord of The Rings (and those), or Anne Rice, or Charlaine Harris.  And obviously Hubby has his favourites too - Patricia Cornwell will stay.

But what about some of the other books that I've read once, and aren't really likely to pick up again?  Should I 'recycle'* them?  (*Carboot or charity shop).

Now that I am on Goodreads, I register every book I read - so it's not like I'll forget.  But I have this thing about keeping books once read.  Maybe it's to do with parting with cash for them!?

I do part with my Mills and Boon once read - except Liz Fielding. I'm keeping those!

I have the Twilight series on my bookshelf.  They look nice - I like the covers, but I actually found them rather annoying.  The first three are better, and not a bad read, though they do get predictable but Bella still annoys the crap out of me.  However, Breaking Dawn was the last straw for me in that series.  If Stephenie Meyer writes another book, I won't be bothered about reading it.  I am not likely to read these again, unlike my Anne Rice and Charlaine Harris.

As a writer, I keep thinking, should I keep them, will they be of use?  What if I want to look up how someone did something?  But the whole thing about reading lots of books is to expand my brain, vocabulary and learning better ways of writing.  It should sink in, shouldn't it?  Even subconsciously, maybe?

I just want to make space for the new books, though I have told myself that I should go to the library once I've got through my 'to-read' pile that is on the shelf.  Things like some of the classics I'd like to try, and Sherlock Holmes (want to read those since seeing the film with Robert Downy Jr).  It's far too expensive for an unpaid writer to keep buying books.

So, do you keep some books?  Do you pass on some once they're read?  Which ones do you keep?

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Am I Mad?

Last year I was thinking about helping out occassionally in the class room, but because I had Kieran at home I just couldn't do it, not without really planning ahead and getting him babysat.  He's now at preschool every day for three hours, and although I can quite easily fill that time doing stuff, especially writing related, I would like to help out at the school. 

Or at least give it a try - I might hate it yet!

I've even said I'd like to help out at Kieran's preschool every now and then - yes, I am mad!  I was supposed to do that with Ben, too - I had all these good intentions, but never got there because again, I had Kieran to look after. 

I barely have enough time to do the housework, fret about all the writing related things I should be doing, plus fitting in my runs.  But they are only small once... and you'll be surprised how much preschools and schools really do like and appreciate extra help. 

So, I've had to fill out a CRB form and once that's done I'll be able to go into Ben's classroom and help with the reading.  The receptionist was really helpful and said that as long as I can do once every three months, they'd be grateful.  It only needs to be an hour of my time, too.  I can do that!  I was worried that they'd want me in every week or something, committing more regularly, and I'm not sure I can (or want to) commit to more until maybe Kieran was in school too.   And I don't want to stress myself out worrying that I have so much to do (especially writing wise) that I'm a wreck. 

I really enjoyed helping at the school fair, and I was put on the craft table!  Luckily, it wasn't too difficult - making badges and Halloween window decorations.

I was thinking this might be a good way to see if I like working with small children, I could consider becoming a Teaching Assistant and get paid!  It's another idea I've had (racking my brains on how to make money), although I want to obviously pursue my writing career, I need money like now - I need a part time job to work around my children.  I'm utterly fed up working at the shop for various reasons that I won't go into, though if you know me, you know why.   I love the people I work with, but the weekends, and the politics are just driving me mad.  I think I mostly get fed up being treated like an idiot.  (She works in shop she obviously has no brains!)  And wondered if a Teaching Assistant might be something to look into.

On the writing side, what better inspiration than four to six-year old children? 

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Book Review: A Summer Affair by Elin Hilderbrand

A Summer AffairA Summer Affair by Elin Hilderbrand

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I like the author's writing style actually, and how the beginning thoughts, came relevant at the end, full circle.  Clever in that way.  You found yourself in the heads of a few characters, but mainly it is Claire.

Easy read, with a happy-ish ending actually.  I did find myself wondering would she run off with Lock or not...  I don't think I can give it more than three stars, because there is nothing exceptional about this book, but it's not a bad read.

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35 books down for the year - only five more to go! 

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Have You Ever Seen A Bike Riding Pirate?

Today, was my weekend off at work, so I was able to help out at the school autumn fair, and Kieran got his face painted.

Pirate Kieran

And then, hubby took them on a bike ride... Have you ever seen a pirate ride a bike?

Cutest thing ever - my favourite picture of today!

This is Ben... he's far more sensible to have his face painted.


It was cold when that sun went in, but lovely and warm when out - a proper autumn day.  

It's nice having the weekends off, I just wish it was a permanent thing, rather than alternate weekends.   This is what I am striving for.  Eventually, I hope, I can be paid for my writing, enough that I can get all my weekends free again.

Friday, 15 October 2010

It's Been A Week...

... since I blogged!  This week I've felt under the weather, so have not been able to go running.  And also it being my birthday the other day, and so eating lots of cake, I've probably put loads of weight back on. 

But I'm still feeling crap with this cold, so Monday hopefully I'll be back to the grindstone of running - you shouldn't run on a sore throat, you know?

I have been thinking about The Wedding Favour and it will probably get a slight name change.  Depending on the word length, I am going to extend it past the wedding, get them back at work and missing each other like crazy, then I'm thinking, bit of a role reversal, I'm going to get Adam to ask Sophie to attend a meeting with him - where they need to stay over night!  And this might be the moment when they realise that they should be together blah, blah, blah...

Having the sick bug has meant that I have not been very motivational towards my coursework, but I did manage to punch out a short story of around 1600 words.  I wrote it in first person (which I get nervous about) which is actually rather fun. (If anyone would like to proof read it...?)  It's about jealousy, so her head gets a bit twisted as she watches her so-called friend flirt with a guy she really likes - I can't help it, everything I write turns to romance!

I have a feeling a short romance story that I wrote hasn't made it anywhere, (would have been told by now) so now wondering if I should put it forward to the Brighton short story competition that Sue Moorcroft 'advertised' on her blog.

But I have two short stories now that I need to find something else to do with.  I could post them here, but then that makes them null and void for any other competition, so I'll hang on to them for a bit, give them a tweak etc. 

Well... today's blog has been a bit of ramble.  Sorry about that.  But well, wanted you to know I am alive and kicking, if albeit full of snot!

It's Friday night, hence the weekend, so going to see if I can get some more of my book read and watch a couple of episodes of True Blood.  Just loving the sexual tension between Sookie and Bill at the moment... sometimes that's more fun than the actual 'doing it' bit.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Technically I'm Doing Some Research

Just reading a woman's magazine and now know why I usually don't bother. 

'Twenty of the best look younger tips' is the article I started reading -( because three years off the big Four O I'm a bit vain about these things )- as I'm supposed to be getting article idea inspirations!  

Tip 7 'To avoid permanent "sleep lines", opt for slippery silk or satin pillowcases and sleep on your back as much as possible.'

My Osteopath would have a fit if he read that!

Not about the silk/satin pillows, obviously! 

Do you remember in May when I was having my bad back problems?  I went to see my favourite Osteopath, and the one thing I have got into a habit with, because of my RSI is sleeping on my back.  I found that my shoulders would relax, and so would my arms.  However, he said, that it puts a lot of pressure on the bottom of your spin (even if you have a memory foam mattress like mine) and it is best to sleep on your side with a pillow between your knees.

And that's where my problem was... the bottom of my spin, the curve in my back. 

I started doing as he suggested, sleeping on my side more, and my back got a lot better quickly! 

So yes, if you want to look younger but have a knackered back - carry on as you are and follow tip 7!  Your bent over double in agony but your face looks nice.

Can't women grow old gracefully any more?

Shouldn't magazines check some of this advice out before issuing it out?

I'm torn between writing to them and telling them what I think but as I'm supposed to be researching magazines, to write articles (part of assignment 6 and now realising I have little inspiration), and the magazine might actually be a good one to get short stories published, if not articles, I think I better not.

So I thought I'd ramble here!  

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Am I Doing Enough?

It's been a funny day today.  At about 11.30am I was thinking - or worrying - whether I should be doing something, and what I should be doing and if I'd forgotten to do something, and what was I going to do in my three hours, writing wise...?

You know that feeling that you've got to do something, but you don't know what it is? 

It was no busier than normal when you have a husband, two kids, and don't forget the cat (she needs feeding too!) in the equation.  It started with the usual run to school, then came  back and I did some housework  Actually liked entering my house and smelling the bathroom cleaner - how sad is that? 

Once I had the little man (I'm not a man, I'm a boy, mummy!) off to preschool, I got a whole three hours to myself.  I'd arranged with a friend to meet at Puxton Park - we both have membership so it means we can kill an hour after school and all it costs us is a coffee - because we have to have coffee!

I think that weight on mind thing was that I was worrying about tea, because I was going straight out after school.  So I got that prepared and out of the way.  We had stuffed marrow, Tana Ramsay style and I really liked it. Hubby grumbled but it's kinda tough or go hungry, I'm not cooking anything else, and we had marrow in our veggie box, so we're using it!  While preparing the dinner, (mince simmering and the marrows sliced and ready in greased oven dish)  I was taking photos, because I read an article about food writing in Writing Magazine... (Might be something I can use for an assignment).

Anyway, in my three hours, I did manage to do one of the exercises in the Kate Walker's 12 Point Guide To Writing Romance, as I thought it my help with my hero in The Wedding Favour.  Then, I sat and read half of my next module for my Writer's Bureau coursework.  

It's amazing how those three hours fly.

Picked up kids and off we zoomed to Puxton, only to read a text message once I was there (always doing that), that my friend didn't feel well, so wouldn't be coming.  Good job I'd taken my Writing Magazine!  November's issue has already arrived and I haven't finished the last one - so I had an hour there, (call it writing related, too) finishing off October issue.

So now I'm off to read a chapter of my book, A Summer Affair by Elin Hilderbrand, (which is writing related as you need to read plenty), then finish my coursework reading, then if I have time to spare will try and do some writing of some sort. 

Am I doing enough?  I really want this.  I really want to be a writer, and get published, but I still have to contend with the daily tasks of the house and kids - which don't get me wrong, I really don't mind!  Maybe that's what my 'weight' was today, this worry that I'm not doing enough.

Friday, 1 October 2010

Book Review: Winning A Groom In 10 Dates by Cara Colter

Winning a Groom in 10 Dates (Harlequin Romance #4182)Winning a Groom in 10 Dates by Cara Colter

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm so torn as to whether to give this four stars or five.  This is Mills and Boon, it's not deep, and soul searching; it's brain candy.  A feel good romance at it's best.

Part of me wanted this book to be Heat/Modern Romance, and see some of the sexual tension lead to the bedroom, (because Brandon is just so damn sexy!) but a part of me just loved the sensual tenderness and the frustrations of fancying the pants off someone that these books provoke. 

This story, is very similar to something I am writing, and a premise that I love to read, so maybe it won't be for everyone and I'm biased. 

But it's the 'lets pretend we're dating to let your old boyfriend know you're over him' premise.

To be honest the title is misleading... it's not so much about the ten dates, (in fact theres not a mention of how many dates) but how sexy, lonely, Brand, comes to the rescue of his five-year younger neighbour, who was once a dorky, ugly duckling twelve-year old before he left home, and now has turned into a beautiful swan.

He used to protect her like an older brother, while she idolised him, and coming home, he's found he hasn't lost that need to protect her, keep her safe. 

I don't want to say too much.  But I loved the Hero... macho, strong, sexy, military type and down right devilish and charming.  Sophie was endearing, and funny.  I worried initially she was a bit too close to pathetic, but she redeemed herself nicely - and I loved her 'voice'.

Very slight spoiler but I've got to share this!  Chapter 3 had me laughing so much.  Sophie's Grandma is German, and would speak very embarrassing stuff to Sophie, (look how sexy his lips are etc.) and Brand decided it would be fun not to let them know he was fluent in German.  Brilliant.  That chapter made me not want to put this book down!

This is a fun, but emotional book.  It made me laugh and cry.

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