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29 Sep 2012

Weekly Inspirations

Bit of a depressing theme this week but the papers are always full of these stories.  The world is shown to be scary at times.  People warn you about talking to strangers and be careful of them on nights out.  But then I've seen articles of deaths and they're nothing to do with meeting the wrong person.  The attacker/murderer ends up being someone you know.  A relative, a boyfriend, a girlfriend, a best friend.

So for this week:

EastEnders actress’s brother admits killing her and dumping her headless body in a canal

The brother of the former EastEnders actress found dead in a canal has admitted he killed her, the Old Bailey heard today.

Tony McCluskie, 35, now faces a trial to determine whether Gemma McCluskie's death was murder or manslaughter, a judge said.

Miss McCluskie vanished in March after attending the £650million opening of the new Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, east London.

Mother murdered boyfriend by stabbing him 90 times with a pair of scissors before killing herself

A mother-of-one stabbed her long-term boyfriend 90 times before taking her own life by slitting her throat, an inquest has heard.

Mum-of-one Karen Climpson, 46, attacked her partner Mark Chandler, 42, after she 'completely lost her mind' in an 'unexplained frenzy'.

The tragic pair, who had been together for 18 years, lay dead for several days until concerned relatives forced their way into their home to discover the pair’s blood-covered bodies in January this year.

Former boxer, 68, jailed for life for murdering his great-nephew, 20, who 'didn't show enough respect' at country house family party

A former boxer who stabbed his great-nephew in the neck with a wine glass because he didn't 'respect his elders' has been found guilty of murder.

Raymond Dupree, 68, was today told he could die in prison after he was jailed for life for the murder of 20-year-old Ryan King.

Mr King was stabbed at a party on a sprawling rural estate after Dupree said other young revellers were not 'showing enough respect'.

Family of Tia Sharp were 'reported' to social services THREE times in the last four years
Police referred the family of murdered school girl Tia Sharp to Social services on three separate occasions - but the local authority took no action.

A Serious Case Review has been launched to find out if Merton Social Services, should have made more efforts to protect 12-year-old Tia.

In both 2008 and 2011 officers contacted social services to raise concerns about Tia's welfare after allegations of drug abuse and domestic violence were made against the family.

Social Services were also contacted a third time in 2010 after Tia's mother Natalie gave birth to Tia's brother.

26 Sep 2012

RTW - Best Book of September

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.
This Week's Topic is: What was the best book you read in September?

Firstly, can I just say what the hell happened to September? Most of these months have been over quickly but September has definitely flown by the quickest!
Again it's been another slow reading month for me.  I've been getting in some reading whenever I can but real life is really pushing to be first priority at the moment.  The new school year has started up again and these past few weeks of getting the new pupils in and settled has been tiring as I get back into routines and early mornings.  I've had more driving lessons with plenty of homework and revision to do for my theory and I'm slowly getting prepared for applying to a PGCE course in two weeks.  It's been absolutely mad.  I've got a tons of blogging posts planned for Halloween next month but after that I might chill out a bit and lessen the amount of time I blog for a bit at the beginning of November so I can catch up on driving, writing, and reading. :)
The two books I read in September were:
City of Glass by Cassandra Clare
Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
I have only a few more pages to go but without a doubt my favourite book has been:
Anna Dressed in Blood
I'll be reviewing it for my special Halloween book reviews but for now I'll just say that I absolutely LOVE this book! Finally, I'm getting some decent horror! Kendare Blake is my new horror hero.
The book is chilling.  The ghosts alone are creepy and would actually have me terrified.  They're born out of tragic deaths and stay in this loop, harming and even murdering people who are alive because they continue to re-enact their deaths and I don't think they can even control their murderous rampages.  It's both tragic and threatening. 
I also quite liked it because in a way this book reminds me a little of Supernatural which I am absolutely in love with.  Cas is a ghost hunter who travels around USA and Canada with his mum and cat, following ghost cases.  Very Sam and Dean Winchester.
A perfect book for the upcoming spooky month! I'm hoping to finish it tonight and I have the sequel too, ready to read. So looking forward to Girl of Nightmares.
What's your best book of September? :)

25 Sep 2012

TTT - Top Ten Series That I Haven't Finished

For this week's Top Ten Tuesday we've been asked to list:
The Top Ten Book Series That I Haven't Finished
1) Harry Potter (JK Rowling)
I know, I know, how could I? I do like the series in some ways.  I think the world is fantastic and creative and JK Rowling knew where she wanted to go in the series.  I can't stand when writers don't plan ahead and just make stuff up on the spot and JK Rowling has proved that she thought an awful lot about what was going to happen and how the little things were going to be an important aspect to the finale.  I enjoy the films even though the acting can be terrible.  But one thing that put me off the series was the writing.  JK Rowling is a great storyteller but she's not my favourite writer and as the books went along and became longer the more waffle I felt I had to trudge through at times and by the seventh book I felt incredibly lazy and wanted to wait for the films. 
I feel like I should have a go.  Even though I'm not the biggest or greatest fan that was still my childhood in the end and I grew up alongside the characters.  It was the end of an era when the series finished and I'd like to give the Deathly Hallows a go at some point.
2) The Mortal Instruments (Cassandra Clare)
I've made it to as far as book 3 and I'm questioning whether to continue or not.  I read books 1 and 2 back to back a few years ago and stopped because I really had issues with it.  But with the film starting to develop and the series continuing I wanted to give it another shot.  City of Glass wasn't the best read of 2012 and I'm undecided about continuing.  But for now The Mortal Instruments remains unfinished.
3) A Series of Unfortunate Events ( Lemony Snicket)
I loved this series when I was in my teens and even enjoyed the film adaptation.  But I stopped and I don't know why.  I think other books came out that I was desperate to read and focused more on them so A Series of Unfortunate Events was put to the back.  Must finish it in the future.


4) The Demonata (Darren Shan)
Again, how could I? Darren Shan became my hero when he worked on The Saga of Darren Shan.  But I think I had high expectations after TSODS and so when I came to read The Demonata it didn't feel the same and I wasn't as hooked as I was with his first series so when the new books started coming out I didn't pick them up.  Shame on me.
5) Vampirates (Justin Somper)
I think discontinuing this series was probably due to the fact that I was getting older.  The main characters were 14 and I was slowly moving away from that age.  Characters that young didn't interest me anymore so I stepped aside.  Do I have any interest in reading them again? Probably not.  I felt too old for 14 year characters when I was 17 so at 23 I'll really feel too old for them now.
6) Twilight (Stephenie Meyer)
I actually did get as far as Breaking Dawn.  But I think the minute Bella found out she was having freaky spawn and Jacob imprinted on it I had to chuck it because I felt my brain was dribbling out of my ears.  The first three books were terrible IMO.  I didn't like them and I wasn't part of the target audience but Breaking Dawn seriously had me ranting and raving like something demented.  I just couldn't take it so I didn't finish the book and made sure it was well away from me.  Would I try again? Dear God, no.  It's not for an old fashioned vampire fan like me.  I just like them mean, evil, and creepy.
7) The Vampire Diaries (LJ Smith)
Technically I did finish the series.  When it was just four.  But since broody vampires  have been in demand and TVD became a TV series more have been written.  Judging from the plots and where the story is going it's starting to sound a bit ridiculous to me and Elena is becoming way too much of a special snowflake.  TVD wasn't my favourite series from LJ Smith.  She isn't the best but I did enjoy reading The Forbidden Game.  However I don't think I'd enjoy where TVD is going as a book series.  I'll leave it at four.
8) The Chronicles of Narnia (CS Lewis)
I've only read The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.  You have no idea how ashamed I feel but trust me that will change in the future.  I will read the whole series.
9) Discworld (Terry Pratchett)
There are so many Discworld books that I have yet to read and hopefully lots more in the future.  So I can take my time with this series.  But I will have them on my TBR list because I enjoy them so much.  No-one else has me in giggles so much.
10) Wicked Lovely (Melissa Marr)
I only read the first book but it wasn't enough to interest me.  Nice little romantic twist in the end but Wicked Lovely wasn't a series that I wanted to continue.

24 Sep 2012

Book Review: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of very curious photographs. Fiction is based on real black and white photographs. The death of grandfather Abe sends sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, and explores abandoned bedrooms and hallways. The children may still live.

I have to admit Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children was a bit more sci-fi/fantastical than horror, which was what I expected.  So I think the blurb and the book cover is a little misleading but then I'm quite bad for seeing children and immediately thinking creepy.

But still, I liked it. Especially the photographs. I loved being able to see these peculiar children Jacob was meeting. It added to the strange atmosphere of the book overall and they were nice little additions to what I was reading. It made everything come to life for me, like it could actually be real.

The monsters lurking around were terrifying enough to give me nightmares so there was a little bit of horror in the novel. They were absolutely disgusting and monstrous that I would have locked myself up in my room if I was in that house and the threat was close by. I wouldn't have wanted to face it. The wights, although more human-like, were by far the most threatening. To mingle in society and be anyone was a scary thought. They could be your neighbour, a shop assistant, teacher. They have eyes everywhere and you wouldn't know. I did see part of the twist coming with the wights but not all of it so there can be a few surprises with this book. 

But overall I think I did expect the book to be a bit creepier and fall into the horror genre. The children aren't what they seem in the photographs. Excluding their powers they're actually quite normal and fun loving children. And I thought there would be something sinister about the house. But then, now knowing they aren't a threat and getting to know them more in the novel I actually found that these children actually make an interesting bunch of characters and a great, close team. I'm looking forward to their journeys in the sequel.  Although I don't think I'm looking forward to seeing where Jacob and Emma's relationship go.  That had me cringing at times and was very much an ick factor for me.

I will advise anyone who would like to purchase this book not to upload onto Kindle.  I'd try and get the printed copy if you can.  Now I'm completely in love with my Kindle and have found it so useful but for Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children the photographs aren't the best quality as an e-book and I felt like I lost out on seeing some amazing pictures. 

It's not horror but I still enjoyed it.  The novel is quite fantastical which luckily I like so I wasn't entirely disappointed by the misleading blurb and cover. 

19 Sep 2012

RTW - Cry Werewolf

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.
This Week's Topic is:
In honor of this month's Bookmobile book, Marissa Meyer's CINDER, name a fable or story you'd like to see a retelling of. If you're feeling creative, come up with a premise of your own!
I wanted to be a bit creative this week.  I couldn't resist when I saw that this week's topic was on retellings so I gathered up my courage and just sat down and wrote a retelling.  It's short and only a first draft but it's just a bit of fun and the story came to me straight away, begging to be written.  If this was a project I was serious about I would have honestly worked harder on and developed more. But I still hope you enjoy my short retelling of The Boy Who Cried Wolf with a little supernatural horror twist to it.
Cry Werewolf
When the Wolf Moon rises and darkness creeps across the North York Moors they start to howl.  In Hocklington men slowly sneak out, peering out around the village around them.  Guns in hand.  Silver knives in the other.  They step out into the darkness, briefly acknowledging each other and pausing at those howls echoing around. 
Their partners are quick to lock the doors behind them.  Curtains are drawn. Windows sealed shut.  No-one peeks out and children are taken to the safety of their room, ready to be tucked in by their mothers and together they say their prayers.
They always say their prayers.
Except one boy.
Oliver sat with a frown on his face, looking down over the rails to the bed below him.  His mother and younger brother were kneeling down with their elbows resting on the bed.  Their chins gently touching their clasped hands and he could hear them whispering away.  Softly and slowly together.
Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night, may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright,” Oliver said and Michael glanced up.  His little brother’s eyes widened.  Oliver grinned.
“There’s no use praying for your soul.  If a werewolf gets you, you’re damned.”
His mother glared up at him. “Oliver!
Her eldest son shrugged. “It’s only a joke.  Werewolves aren’t real, Michael.”
“You’ve heard those howls for twelve years.  There is something out there,” his mother said.
“Free, wild wolves perhaps but not actual werewolves.  Everyone from this village is here and human.  No-one has ever been attacked.  Nobody has even seen one.”
“The wolfsbane around the village protects us.”
“You’re all ridiculous,” Oliver grumbled and lay down.  He stared up at the ceiling, listening to his mother and brother finish their prayers and then whispering ‘goodnight’ to each other.
“Goodnight, Oliver,” his mother said.
Oliver turned over. “Night.”
He heard her footsteps tapping against the wooden floorboards as she walked out and the light in the room suddenly disappeared.  Michael squeaked in the bed below and Oliver sighed.
“Michael it’s okay.  We have to keep lights off.  It doesn’t bring attention to the village,” their mother explained.
“This whole village is frightened of something that doesn’t exist,” Oliver said.
“Goodnight, Oliver.” And his mother closed the door.
Idiots, Oliver thought and peeked through the curtains, looking out into the village.  All the men for the first watch were wandering around, keeping their guns close to their chest.  Silver glinted from their knife sheaths.
He had lived with this sort of behaviour for twelve years now.  And while everyone else had respect and worry for these “brave” guards Oliver would laugh his arse off.  They were fools, believing and hunting for something that has never set foot in the village or near the village for twelve years.  Outsiders made fun of Hocklington and he did not blame them. 
He wanted to make fun of them as well.
Oliver sat up and listened in the darkness.  Below he could hear Michael’s little snores.  He could hear laughter and voices coming from his mother’s room.  The television was on already.  Oliver threw the duvet off and slowly climbed down the ladder, taking one step at a time.  His foot touched the cold floorboards and he tiptoed through the darkness, arms stretched out in front as his eyes adjusted to the lack of light.  Near the doorway he bent down, patting his hand around on the floor until he touched smooth rubber.  He sat on the floor as he slipped on his wellies and took his dressing gown down from the coat peg next to the door.
The corridor was just as dark when Oliver peeked out.  His mother’s door was closed and he heard a muffled theme tune for some programme.  Good, the television was still on and he crept down the stairs.
One of the advantages of being small and skinny for his age was that the cat flap was a brilliant means of escape.  He wriggled through it, hands touching icy ground and he stood up shivering at the sudden change of temperature and rubbed his hands together.  He breathed out through his mouth, watching how white his breath was and how it disappeared into the air.
He trod through the snow, going around to the gate and opening it up.  He looked out for any of the guards and the street in front of him was empty.  Smiling he walked out and quietly closed the gate.  He stomped through the snow, going down the alley right next to his house.  The street behind was also empty and Oliver could see all the footsteps in the snow, all going towards the moors at the end of this street.  He headed that way, biting down on his lip.  That didn’t stop that giggling and he covered his mouth.
He could see all the men in the distance, wandering and keeping their eyes peeled.  A howl echoed through the village and the guards jumped at the noise, tensing their shoulders and freezing on the spot.  Oliver snorted.  How stupid were they?
Also, how gullible would they be?
Oliver hid in a neighbour's garden, tucking himself into the corner of the high fence and he took a deep breath.
He ducked down, staying still as possible as he heard the men shout.
“Someone in the village!”
“One’s got in!”
“A child! It was a child shouting!”
Oliver snickered as footsteps ran past him.  His snickering was stopped short when a shadow lurked over him and he glanced up to see a scowling, wide eyed woman.  His mother’s friend, Mrs Faring.
“Oh no,” he groaned.
“Oliver Ritchings.  You silly, silly boy!”
She grabbed his dressing gown, pulling him up and he muttered under his breath.
I’m in so much trouble, he thought and was marched into the street.
Oliver groaned and turned his head. “Hi, dad.”
“Oh tell me you didn’t…” his father groaned.
“I’m afraid your boy has cried wolf and messed with all of you,” Mrs Faring snapped.  For a woman who looked younger than her thirty three year she had the stern glare of a Victorian headmistress and she glared down at Oliver with her lips pursed.
“Do you know how serious our situation is?” his father said, advancing forward. “Oliver, look at me when I talk to you.”
Oliver glanced up into his father’s wide, angry eyes and he saw the guards around them, muttering and shaking their heads.  He wished the ground below him would turn into a hole that he could sink into and stay buried underneath, away from the mix of disappointed and furious faces of the villagers.
“You’ve never taken these werewolves seriously,” his father continued.
“What werewolves, dad? I’ve never seen them.”
“They’re out there.  There have been sightings.”
“Not while I’ve been alive.”
“I want you home right now.  Go home and go straight to bed.  I’ll have a word with you in the morning.”
“Dad –.”
“No.  Go home.”
Mrs Faring let go of him and he kept his head down.  Slowly the men began to walk back to the moors where the wolfsbane lay and made a protective circle around the village.  Oliver’s father turned away, not even looking back once and nothing had stung so much than seeing his own dad unable to look at him any longer.  It felt like being punched in the heart and he trudged through the snow, back towards his house.
While the men had been surrounding Oliver Mrs Garth at the end of the street was shaking her head as she shuffled away to the moors, digging her walking stick into the snow.  She moved further down the field where the back of the houses on King Edward Road overlooked the moors in the horizon.  She bent down and looked into the distance.  Yellow eyes gleamed back at her and she smiled.
“I’m afraid there’s a boy who doesn’t believe in you,” she muttered and started pulling up the wolfsbane, leaving a large gap in the circle and the beasts inched forward, snarling.  She put a finger to her lips.
“Ssh, my darlings,” she said. “Quietly. We’ve been so good at avoiding capture so far.”
One came forward, towering over her on its long back legs.  It stood straight like a human and huffed.  Mrs Garth smiled.
“Naughty children ought to be punished,” she said and walked away.  The werewolf past through the circle, safe from any wolfsbane touching its skin and having its poison seep straight through.
Mrs Garth was wandering back to her house as the men returned to their posts.
“Mrs Garth, are you joining us in keeping watch?” Oliver’s father grinned.
She chuckled and waved a hand. “I’d do a rubbish job with this cataract of mine. I’d see a werewolf when it’s actually a tree.”
Mr Kuang near them laughed and reached out for her. “In you go, love.  It’s cold and dangerous out here.”
“I fancied having a look,” she smiled sweetly, tottering past. “Nothing there. Don’t be too angry at the boy, Patrick, I know I’ve only been here twelve years too but I’ve never seen anything.  He just doesn’t understand if he hasn’t seen any of the beasts he’s been raised to fear.”
Mr Ritchings nodded quietly and watched her go back inside.  She smiled again at the men as she closed the door.  The sweetness disappeared as soon as the door closed and the candles that were placed on each step of the staircase lit up.  The smile widened, baring yellow teeth and her eyes gleamed.  A small chuckle escaped her throat.
“I haven’t recruited a new pet for quite a while now,” she said to herself and made her way upstairs.  Her beautiful beast would be quick to find that child and the ritual needed to be started straight away.
In the streets Oliver kicked snow out of his way as he made his way home.  He had just entered the alley way when he heard the growl close by and he froze.  He turned behind him and saw the tall, lanky figure standing under the street light.  He frowned at first, not quick to make it out.  But he saw the claws.  He saw all the hair.  The beast stood straight like a human and his face was distorted and twisted.  A human shape but beastly features.  Sharp teeth, glowing yellow eyes.  It snarled at him and darted towards him, fast and silent.  Oliver screamed and started running down the alley.
Teeth clamped onto his ankle and he fell face down into the snow.  He cried out, weeping.
Mr Ritchings turned back when he heard the screams and everyone around him just stood there, glancing at each other.
“He hasn’t learned anything,” Mr Ritchings sighed and shook his head. “Ignore him.  We have a duty and we can’t keep falling for my son’s tricks.  I’ll talk to him in the morning.”
The wolf dragged Oliver back into the street, turning away from the men at the moors and darted towards Rigton Avenue.  It held Oliver in its hairy arms as it ran through the gardens and leaping over fences until it reached the gap in the wolfsbane circle.
Daaaaaaad!” Oliver screamed but his cry was hidden by the howling.  The werewolf threw him down into the snow and dragged him away from the village.  Under the Wolf Moon the pain was quick to start in Oliver’s body.  Bones started snapping by themselves and he screamed as they cracked and lengthened.  The werewolves surrounded him, howling in glee as the young boy twitched and shook. 
Soon his scream was just another howl in the distance.
In her home Mrs Garth sat in her rocking chair, staring out of her window and into the moors with a pleased smirk on her face.
And at the edge of the village Mr Ritchings was still fuming over his son’s dangerous lies.

18 Sep 2012

TTT - People I'd Love to Meet

Ten probably isn't enough for this week's Top Ten Tuesday.  This week The Broke and The Bookish want to know:
Top Ten Bookish People You Want To Meet (Authors, Bloggers, etc.)
In the blogging community I'd love to meet all my blogging friends (Cole, Emma, LauraElodie, Colin, Juliana, Jaime, etc). Who I have great discussions with on books, writing, advice and gave me some fantastic insight into my query on WriteOnCon this August.  And just with these awesome people I've probably got a list of more than ten there. 
For authors:
1) Stephen King
Who doesn't want to meet the King of Horror? If I needed to turn to anyone on writing horror and advice on the genre Stephen King would be the guy I'd go to. 
2) Darren Shan
I'd love to meet Darren Shan purely because he got me into writing horror in my teens.  He's my horror idol and published an amazing series (The Sage of Darren Shan) that furthered my interest in vampires and brought a lot of gruesome entertainment into my life.
3) Veronica Roth
This year I've never fangirled as much.  First The Hunger Games which I adored but was disappointed by after the final book.  And then I finally picked up Divergent and Insurgent and I went insane over it.  I absolutely loved it.  I haven't loved anything like this since I first watched The Lost Boys and I devoured Divergent and Insurgent back to back in the space of a week.  And I squeed when I heard a date for the film had been set.  I plan on re-reading both in time for the third book to come out.
4) Bram Stoker
Now I know this will never happen but if time travel was finally made possible I'd be in there travelling back to the 1800s and tracking Stoker down.  Anyone who wants to write about vampires HAS to read Dracula
5) Terry Pratchett
Idol to anyone who wants to write fantasy, especially fantasy with a comical side to it.  I love parodies and Terry Pratchett has me giggling away when I read his books but also has me fascinated by how he takes folklores to create his own twist to well-known mythical creatures and supernatural species like fairies, witches, vampires etc.
6) Neil Gaiman
Even though I wasn't a fan of Stardust I loved The Graveyard Book and his Doctor Who episode.  I plan on reading more of his work in the future and he's another author I'd turn to and talk fantasy/sci-fi writing with.
7) Kendare Blake
I'm over half way in pages in with Anna Dressed in Blood but I'm absolutely loving it.  Finally! Some good, creepy YA Horror and I'd love to meet Kendare Blake just to bow down and say 'thank you' for putting some horror on the YA shelves.  This is the sort of thing we need a lot more of.
8) R.L Stine
I had such a huge Goosebumps collection when I was younger and I owned a few Fear Street books as well.  While Darren Shan ruled my teenage years, Stine ruled my childhood and I would devour a new Goosebumps book each week while watching the television series practically on repeat. 
9) Joss Whedon
I know he's not a book author exactly but Joss Whedon has become an idol of mine.  I love his writing and his work.  Buffy, Dr Horrible, Firely, Serenity, Avengers Assemble, The Cabin in the Woods... all brilliant and he's a very bloodthirsty writer.  No character is safe from him and he's prepared to torture, damage, and destroy.  One of his recent films The Cabin in the Woods was pure genius and a great, fresh (and slightly satirical) take on the horror genre.
10) Tim Burton
Yep, I'm also a Tim Burton fan.  Not so much his take on other people's work but I love it when it's entirely his creation (The Nightmare Before Christmas, Edward Scissorhands).  I love the atmosphere of his films.  So creepy and eccentric. 

17 Sep 2012

What's On Your Desk?

I read a few beauty and fashion blogs and now and again they'll have a tag post called 'What's In Your Bag?' and they basically just show what they include, any new or updated make-up etc.  So it gave me the idea of making a 'What's on Your Desk' post for writers. =D

This is currently my corner in the living room:

Right next to my desk all the CDs are stored here and on the bottom shelves I have my research and creative writing books, in good reach for when I'm writing and need to quickly grab a book to double check information.

Most of them are all paranormal/supernatural books.  All about myths and legends.  Lots of folklore. 

 If I could get away with it and had a bigger place I'd probably end up with a library of these books.  I love them and always go rummaging in the mind, body, and spirit section at Waterstones even when I know I should be good and stop adding to the collection.

Underneath my desk I have a TBR shelf where I keep all the books that I haven't and plan on reading, separate from the ones I have read.  Those shelves are pretty much used to cram storage boxes and folders that have tons of junk in and a lot of writing and notes I saved from my creative writing classes at uni.  That small purple box on the left bottom shelf is used as storage for newspaper clippings.

The dining table next to my desk is currently being used to store all my notebooks, all squeezed into a couple of purple magazine holders.  On the actual desk I try to keep it as organised and bare as possible so I have room to scatter all my notes on top of it when I'm writing.  Also so the cat has space to lounge and doesn't spend his time trying to knock off every little thing that I keep on it:


My printer, small storage box for staplers, post it notes, paper clips etc and a lava lamp behind it.  Also tissues because I always either have a cold, hayfever, or a bit of dust is irritating me. *le sigh*

Some writer friends on top of the CD/book shelf:

And a little board to pin stuff on.  Right now it's in much need of updating.  But I keep a variety of things on there.  I usually have a to-do list and some writing quotes to keep me inspired and then a bunch of random things I want to keep safe/don't know where to put it. 

So what's on your writer's desk? And if you don't have one do you have a place where you set up everything? :)

15 Sep 2012

Weekly Inspirations

Strictly Come Dancing is back on TV and I'm in the dancing mood. :) I've had the finale to Dirty Dancing and Strictly Ballroom on repeat, dancing in my seat to Footloose, and getting ready for all the amazing dances we'll be seeing. 

University dance troop criticised over 'mad' straightjacket performance

A university dance team has come under fire after performing dressed as 'mad people' in straight jackets and wacky hair.

Dancers from Robert Morris University dance team wore wild hair, dark eye make-up and chef coats made to look like straitjackets for a competition in Minnesota last month.
Advocates say such negative depictions contribute to the stigma felt by many who deal with mental disorders and might prevent some from seeking help.

Tap dance champion, 21, recovers from brain tumour operation which doctors said would leave her unable to dance
A dancer who was told she may never walk again after being diagnosed with a rare malignant brain tumour, is now planning to strap on her tap dancing shoes.
Stephanie Still, 21, has made remarkable progress, after undergoing a gruelling 10-hour operation and is now planning to dance at a charity fundraising event.
Ms Still reached the semi-finals of Sky’s Got To Dance with her dance group Tap Attack last February.
But she was diagnosed with a rare malignant brain tumour last May.
A grade three ependymoma, it measured four and a half centimetres across and was removed in a 10 and a half hour operation days later.
Six-year-old girl who was told she would never walk fulfils dance dream after pioneering surgery

A little girl who doctors said would never walk has defied medics by taking up dancing lessons.

All her young life, six-year-old Sophie Nugent has wanted nothing more than to dance like her idols JLS and Rihanna.

But while the other children around her spent their afternoons learning moves in the dance studio, she was told she would spend most of her life in a wheelchair.
Now, a year after undergoing a groundbreaking £40,000 medical procedure in the US, little Sophie, from, Angmering, West Sussex is strutting her stuff in her brand new blue leotard.

Dance Moms hits a new low: Girls as young as EIGHT wear nude bikinis and dance burlesque routines in front of their mothers

Lifetime's Dance Moms has hit new lows by asking its child contestants - the youngest of whom is just eight-years-old - to dress in nude bikinis and perform a burlesque routine on stage.
The raunchy dance moves are usually the domain of striptease experts, the X-rated acts brimming with nudity, nipple tassels and sexually explicit poses.
But a clip from this week's show sees dance teacher Abby Lee Miller dressing the children in tan bikinis to give the audience the impression of full nudity, before asking them to act as if a man 'cant' afford' them.

14 Sep 2012

Review: The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor

I may be over-reviewing this month so I can get up-to-date with what I've read on my TBR list and start the horror reviews for October. =D Today:

You know the myth... A little girl named Alice tumbled down a rabbit hole and proceeded to have a charming adventure in the delightful, made-up world of Wonderland...

Now discover the truth... Wonderland Exists!

Alyss Heart, heir to the Wonderland throne, was forced to flee through the Pool of Tears after a bloody palace coup staged by the murderous Redd. Lost and alone in Victorian London, Alyss is befriended by an aspiring author to whom she tells the violent, heartbreaking story of her young life only to see it published as the nonsensical Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Alyss had trusted Lewis Carroll to tell the truth so that someone, somewhere would find her and bring her home. But Carroll had gotten it all wrong. He even misspelled her name! If not for royal bodyguard Hatter Madigan's nonstop search to locate the lost princess, Alyss may have become just another society woman sipping tea in a too-tight corset instead of returning to Wonderland to fight Redd for her rightful place as the Queen of Hearts.

Meet the heroic, passionate, monstrous, vengeful denizens of this parallel world as they battle each other with AD-52's and orb generators, navigate the Crystal Continuum, bet on jabberwock fights and travel across the Chessboard Desert.

Where do I start with the praise? I devoured this book and I knew I would just based on the idea.  Wonderland is real and Alice has to return to a place she convinced herself was false? Awesomeness! I'm a sucker for retellings and putting a spin on classic stories.

The concept of Wonderland is unique yet it's also familiar, which I appreciated because it didn't seem like it was moving away from what I see as Wonderland.  Beddor is giving the impression that Wonderland is actually real and while he tries to separate what we know about the characters and the world from Carroll's book, he still gives them the nonsensical traits that we have come to know and love about the world. Wonderland is still ridiculous at times and I like that Beddor didn't diverge completely from the world Carroll created.

The world-building is vivid with it's darkest parts and powers.  Imagination is just as important and powerful in Wonderland which I was quite amused at since it took a lot of imagination for Beddor and Carroll to create these tales.  As a writer I enjoyed this power and loved how Beddor explored what it can do and how deadly it can be.  In the world itself there is the dazzling city of Wondertropolis but there is also the Jaberwock infested Volcanic Plains and the Valley of the Mushrooms where the caterpillars live. Ha! I loved that.  The questionable drug references are still a huge part of Wonderland. =D Imagination has it's white magic and black magic.  It's both a fantastical and deadly place.

Each character is fascinating and bizarre. The Mad Hatter becomes Hatter Madigan, a fierce soldier whose hat can be the most deadliest weapon. He's not as loony as The Mad Hatter but there are times when he does seem a little unstable.  Definitely not as eccentric as Carroll's character. 

Alyss (AKA Alice) is still just as curious and odd with her ponderings and perception of things. Her imagination still plays a key role in everything around her, being a powerful ability in Wonderland.  I loved her as a heroine.  There's lots to learn as a future queen but mentally she's strong.  Just like the young girl in Carroll's books she's articulate and free-thinking who is determined to hold on to Wonderland and her memories even if she's almost giving up on getting back home.  She's always her own person, even when she decides to give up and blend into society.  She's lost her Wonderland but she hasn't lost her intelligence and mind.

My favourite little twist was the characters of Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum becoming General Doppelganger.  A character who can split into Generals Doppel and Ganger. I loved seeing how Beddor created his own idea of the characters to show how Carroll may have drawn inspiration for the ones in his book.  Clever and familiar.

It's a fantastic read so if you find it, grab it!

13 Sep 2012

Book Review: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

My name is Katniss Everdeen. Why am I not dead? I should be dead.

Katniss Everdeen, girl on fire, has survived, even though her home has been destroyed. Gale has escaped. Katniss's family is safe. Peeta has been captured by the Capitol. District 13 really does exist. There are rebels. There are new leaders. A revolution is unfolding.

It is by design that Katniss was rescued from the arena in the cruel and haunting Quarter Quell, and it is by design that she has long been part of the revolution without knowing it. District 13 has come out of the shadows and is plotting to overthrow the Capitol. Everyone, it seems, has had a hand in the carefully laid plains--except Katniss.

The success of the rebellion hinges on Katniss's willingness to be a pawn, to accept responsibility for countless lives, and to change the course of the future of Panem. To do this, she must put aside her feelings of anger and distrust. She must become the rebels' Mockingjay--no matter what the personal cost.

Coming into this series late I was prepared for disappointment.  It was hard not too.  A lot of people were and I see why.  As the end to a trilogy it isn't exactly strong and I found it lacking in a lot of places.  Everyone had a role now, even little Primrose, and I was excited to read on.  How will everyone pull their weight and take part in a rebellion that was no doubt going to make history.  With President Snow having so much power and fear over everyone how could they usurp him? I actually liked the use of media coverage by the rebellion side.  It's been a huge theme throughout the books and it fitted in well.  This is a whole country who have lived their lives around televised games.  Katniss started to make people think (although unintentionally) through her actions in the Hunger Games and now she's been used to make people think further about their situation. 

But I was quite disappointed with the ending and overall events of the book. It seemed like there was a war going on but it's in the background while Katniss just wanders around aimlessly, waiting for her next appearance on television to keep everyone motivated and inspired. Katniss is not someone they're actually willing to use in battle so she continues to be a pawn for the people who actually did want to start a rebellion. While I do understand why they kept her as a face I think that someone else should have stepped in.  Katniss isn't a leader. We know that and she knows that so I do think her role in the war was over after Catching Fire. Keep her as a symbol yes but show us some action now. I would have liked to see someone really take charge and show us more of the grisly events in war. Katniss is just a seventeen year old girl who couldn't handle it. I did like that because it felt realistic but didn't make for a great narrator. I felt that it made the book miss out on so much and maybe first person wasn't the best POV to go for in this trilogy.  In fact, Gale had become the most interesting character IMO.  The way the Hunger Games have made him feel all his life had evolved to a much darker Gale in Mockingjay.  Even though he's never had to take part it's interesting to see just how much it's affected him as a member of the audience.  He's scarred and he finally has the opportunity to help bring down the President's rule. 

It's not until the last part of the book that we actually see some action and glimpse into this war that's been going on. Before that, most of the book is Katniss just wandering around, in her own head and changing from Gale to Peeta continuously.  I found it dull and wished there was more to see and read.  And when Katniss is finally in action it's not long until we get an irritating fade-to-black scene and BAM! it's all over.  There were quite a few fade-to-blacks which I'm really not a fan of, especially when it happens frequently in the same book.  That's just lazy writing IMO.

But I honestly enjoyed this series even though I wouldn't count Mockingjay as a favourite read.  I'm excited for Catching Fire and Mockingjay (part 1 and 2 apparently) to come out in the cinema and I will definitely go see the films.  There are flaws but there's still so much for Collins to learn and improve on still.  I can't lie and say I wasn't hooked because I was.  I devoured all three book and I know I'll be reading any future works from the author.  Whatever else she brings out next I'd like to read it.


12 Sep 2012

RTW - Word, Yo

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.
This Week's Topic is:
What word processing program do you use to write you manuscript, and can you share one handy trick you've learnt in that program that has helped you while you write?
I'm not that technology savvy when it comes to word processing documents.  I've only ever used word for writing everything and that doesn't really come with fancy tricks.  It's pretty basic which is really what I need when it comes to writing. I always think it'll give me extra room if I had a word processor that came with fancy sections where I could file everything into so I'm willing to try out any recommendations. :)
But I'm the kind of writer who likes to be able to see my notes at any time.  And due to that I go old-fashioned in my note planning and drafting:
So educate me! Any word processing programmes you recommend? :)

11 Sep 2012

TTT - Books for Thought

For this week's Top Ten Tuesday we've been asked:

Top Ten Books That Make You Think
About the world, people, life etc.  Well, I've read tons of books that have made me think.  Usually it's sci-fi, fantasy, and horror that gets me thinking so most of the books on my list are from those genres.
So here are ten books that have got me thinking about their messages...
1) The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins)
Could reality TV ever go this far? If you look at what we show now it's already on the verge of brutal.  Take I'm A Celebrity.  You have these celebrities shoved right in the middle of an Australian jungle and given tasks to do like eating insects and having huge spiders and snakes thrown onto you.  There's Big Brother who purposely take the most mentally unstable people who contrast against each other and stick them in a house and complete isolate them from the rest of the world.  They snap.  It always happens and it doesn't do anything for their state of mind.
Reality TV isn't as extreme as The Hunger Games but it's still pretty awful and screws around with people's mental state of mind.
2) The Duff (Kody Keplinger)
This book is actually good for those with insecurities and jealousy to actually take a step back and really think of the people around them.  What issues do your peers have? When you think no-one will understand how you feel about your appearance everyone can actually sympathise.  Body issues or relationship issues aren't these occurrences rare that target one person a year group.  Everyone has their problems and while that probably won't make your dilemmas go away at least you know you're not alone in feeling bad about yourself.
3) The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight (Jennifer E. Smith)
While I wasn't a big fan of the book it did get me thinking about this 'love at first sight' thing.  Is it possible? It's tricky. Is it really possible to click with someone and when you do click, how quickly do your feelings evolve? And what if you do only have a short amount of time together? Again, how quickly would your feelings grow and develop?
4) The Island of Dr Moreau (H.G. Wells)
Victorian Gothic is probably one of the most thought provoking genres of all times.  All this science, technology and possibilities.  What could we actually have the power to do?
Could we actually have the power to create new species? To merge a human and animal together? Someday will a scientist actually go this far in an obsession to test our limits and discover what is possible with scientific advances?
5) Carrie (Stephen King)
How badly is the bullying affecting that shy, quiet boy or girl? What is it doing them mentally? In today's society, we have children who are suffering for no reason and how many of those children have anger and hate increasingly building up towards those who treat them unfairly? It only takes one more bullying antic for them to snap and do something about it. 
6) The Future of Us (Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler)
Again, not a book that really hooked me in but the concept is interesting.  Could it be good or bad to know so much about your own future.  What if is everything you expected and you take it for granted? Or what if it isn't and you start obsessing about changing it and making it right? Or what if you found out about a friend's fate? Would you try to stop it?
7) Trick or Treat (Richie Tankersley Cusick )
I'll try and avoid spoilers but the general concept is love and obsession.  How easy is it to go too far and be warped by your own love for someone?
8) Dracula (Bram Stoker)
At the time of Dracula the Victorian era was slowly becoming more and more scientifically advanced.  People were starting to see things through scientific logic and reason, forgetting old superstitious fears.  So the question is: how logical have we become today with even more advanced technology in society? What demons and threats have we forgotten about?
9) Twilight (Stephenie Meyer)
Now whether you love it or hate it Twilight unintentionally made people think about unhealthy relationships.  Stephenie Meyer wanted to write a love story but the tables turned and a lot of people saw obsession and unhealthy relationships.  The romance between Bella Swan and Edward Cullen wasn't exactly seen the same in everyone's eyes and a lot of people had issues.  It made people think about instalove and question just how unhealthy consuming love can be. 
10) Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (Lewis Carroll)
In the nonsensical world of Wonderland lies a message all children will love.  How ridiculous can adults be? How insane are their rules and expectations? Tim Burton's film explored Alice's views further, finding certain fashions and standards ridiculous.  It's a nice little story that encourages you to think and not to be afraid to challenge authority and social conformities if you feel it's not the sanest of ways.