Books and Reading Thursday: Tackling The List!

I have been absolutely terrible at reading lately. There are no excuses for it really, though I have been spending nearly every minute of my time working on Diving in Deep, so it’s not just ‘cause I was being lazy 😀

The thing is, I love reading! So I really need to get back to it.

I still have a goal I want to reach this year, and I am determined to do it. Also I have a backlog of review requests I need to get through, as well as a whole load of books I am really looking forward to reading.

I said in a post early this year that I was going to organise my reading list, and I did the first 5 books and that was brilliant ‘cause I actually got through them.

And then I didn’t organise the rest and that’s when my reading tapered off.

So, guess what?

I’ve set out a bit more of my list in hopes I can start reading again.

1. Gotta Find a Home: Conversations with Street People by Dennis Cardiff (Book Review Request)
2. The Fifth Watcher: Worlds Apart Series – Book 1 by Melissa Barker-Simpson
3. The Diamond of Drury Lane by Julia Golding
4. Serenity: Those Left Behind
5. The Clique by Valerie Thomas (Book Review Request)
6. Seeking Solace by Callum McLaughlin
7. Frenchman’s Creek by Daphne Du Maurier
8. Grá mo Chroí: Love Stories from Irish Myth by Ali Isaac and Jane Dougherty
9. The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman
10. Chef d’Amour by Brenda Margriet (Book Review Request)

Yes, I have organised 10 books on the list this time, and I’m a slow reader so that should keep me going for a while.

Hope everyone else is having fun with their reading! 🙂

What are you currently reading? Any good book recommendations?

Progress Report:

Status of Diving in Deep: Finishing touches!

Books read towards challenge: 4/50
Currently reading: Gotta Find a Home: Conversations with Street People by Dennis Cardiff

Books and Reading Thursday: Books on my Bookshelf

(Books on my Bookshelf is not a review, just my personal thoughts, feelings, and memories on the books I own).

It’s been a while since I’ve done a Books on my Bookshelf post, so thought I’d do one today 🙂

This time’s book is Beyond the Deepwoods by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell.

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When I was much younger (pre-teens) I wasn’t a big reader. Though my mum would read tons of stuff to us, and I loved that, I never actively sought out to read books.

I don’t even know where this book came from 😀 Possibly someone bought it ’cause she thought it looked interesting for someone my age.

But I did pick it up one day when I was young and read it, and I am so glad I did! This is definitely one of those books that left an intense impression on me.

I think part of the reason I actually finished this book was due to the illustrations in it. Even when I was younger, I was a very visual person (why I enjoyed comics and those types of story formats more back then), so having the text accompanied by such stunning illustrations really helped pull me further into the story.

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This book made me cry (I was so upset at one point I had to put the book down and not pick it up for a couple of days! 😀 ), and it also scared the woozies out of me!

The most distinct memory I have of this book is reading it in bed late at night, and it was quite an intense scene where the main character, Twig, is running for his life from a monster. I was so into the story that when I turned over the page to read what happened, which was also accompanied by an image, I was so freaked out!

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I can look back on it as funny now, but at the time I was very scared.

But that is my main memory of this book, of it being one the first books that got me hooked on story telling and making my imagination really run wild!

Though I haven’t re-read it (no, of course it has nothing to do with the emotional turmoil it put me through…) it is one that sits on my bookshelf and won’t be going anywhere. If I have kids someday, then it will definitely one I will experience with them!

Random quote: ‘Massive shoulders, bulging biceps, tree-trunk legs… And her head! It was already immense when, suddenly, the hair- that wild shock of orange- cascaded down to the ground. The transformation was complete.’

Favourite thing about the book: I’m not sure I could pick one thing, but probably the main character; he was really one I could relate with it at that age.

Least favourite thing: The emotions it rips out of you!!! 😀

Something I took away from the book: That stories really can take you anywhere.

Do you remember a book from your childhood that made you feel so strongly? Have you ever been so into a book your emotions went everywhere the character’s did?

Progress Report: More on that on Saturday’s post.

One of those random thoughts…

No Romance Weekly today, unfortunately!

Instead, have a post on something I been thinking of a lot lately 😀

The other day I watched Divergent (and my excitement had nothing at all to do with the fact Jai Courtney was in it…), and I will admit now I haven’t read the books, but what I want to talk about I can guess is part of the books.

The movie was going ok, I got the jist of the world and things and then it came to the point where Tris had to choose which faction she was going to be in for the rest of her life.

She had five choices- Abnegation (Selflessness), Erudite (Intelligence), Amity (Peaceful), Candor (Honest), and Dauntless (Brave).

She was originally in Abnegation, but she changed. Can you guess which faction she chose?

You were most likely right- it was Dauntless.

And that was great and all, and I could see it coming from a mile off, but I couldn’t help but sit there and think, ‘Why couldn’t she have been the heroine and still have been in abnegation?

What was wrong with the character’s main trait being selflessness or kindness and not the ability to kick someone’s butt?

Is that what makes a strong character now? The ability to knock someone out? Would someone who didn’t have the ability to beat of attackers be considered weak?

Ok, Tris has different circumstances with her being divergent and all, so she is all of the traits, but the main trait that is still focused on is her bravery and fighting skills.

I understand action scenes make for more excitement, and I, myself, enjoy the fight scenes.

But if Tris had stayed in abnegation or switched to amity, would the book have been so popular?

Would a book with not only a female lead, but one whose favoured trait is something that doesn’t involve fighting, have gone down well?

I don’t know, but it certainly got me thinking.

A few books I’ve read even start off with the character having no abilities, and then they go through a training chapter, and develop these fighting skills and only then are they classed as a good, rounded character and able to continue the story.

I write fight scenes in quite a few of my books, but in my stories I enjoy having the plot resolved in some way other than violence, even if there is a big fight scene. It’s part of the reason I enjoy writing romance, because it can be the powerful connection between people that can overcome things, not necessarily the fact that my female character can right hook the bad guy into oblivion!

Still, I admit myself that I would second think making a character, especially a female one, who didn’t have the ability to defend herself for the fear of having readers think she was weak.

But to be fair, I wouldn’t have the faintest idea how to fight off an attacker, and I am not a fan of violence, yet anyone who has met me knows I certainly wouldn’t be called weak!

So, maybe it’s time to start thinking about that more? If we didn’t push the ability to kick butt as such a highly valued trait, and focused more on the nicer qualities, it might help people to see that violence isn’t always the answer and that being a nice person isn’t a weak thing?

Well, that post got a lot deeper than I meant it to 😀

Anyways, I’m not saying these awesome fighters aren’t great characters, because they’re brilliant! It was just a random thought I had 🙂

What do you think of this topic? Do you think characters could be written without the ability to fight and still be classed as a strong character?

Progress Report:

Status of sixth manuscript: Writing first draft.
Word count: 22,940 (+6094 since last check-in).

Books read towards challenge: 2/50
Currently reading: Thyme in a Flask by Glen Quarry

Grá mo Chroí: Love Stories from Irish Myth by Ali Isaac and Jane Dougherty

So today I am really excited to host a couple of fellow bloggers who have collaborated on a book!

These bloggers are the wonderful Ali Isaac, and the amazing Jane Dougherty!

Now, I have to say, when I saw this book was coming out I got very excited. I love Ali’s posts she does on the mythical, and I always adore Jane’s writing, so when I saw the announcement of this book, my reaction was:

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The book is called, Grá mo Chroí: Love Stories from Irish Myth.

And it comes with stunning cover art!

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It’s will be available at Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk in the release which is 11th February.

Normal price 99c/ 99p FREE Wed 11th Feb – Sun 15th Feb

When I offered to host the book on my blog (because again, am very excited to read it!), I was interested to know why they wrote it together.

Why did we write this book together?

Ali: We had already become friends through our blogs. I had this idea of re-telling stories from Irish mythology kicking around in my head for a long time, in fact, I had been incorporating some of them into my Conor Kelly books. It turned out that Jane, too, had already been re-writing her favorite myths. It just seemed natural that we would join forces and work on a compilation together. The first stories we worked on and subsequently revealed to each other just happened to be the most tragic ones, the love stories, perhaps because we connected in some way with the characters and what happened to them. We noticed the theme, and thought it would be fun to launch them for Valentine’s Day. That was in November, so we had to work fast… the Christmas and New Year celebrations held things up, but it’s amazing what you can achieve when you put your mind to it!

Jane: I started these retellings about a year ago with the story of Deirdre. It was cold, we had had a flurry of snow for about five minutes that had everybody gazing in wonder up at the sky, and the blackbirds were taken by surprise and fussed about in the trees. Something in the combination made me think of Deirdre and her feelings as a young girl kept in seclusion, just waiting to be married to an old king. One story led to another, and when Ali, at the end of last year suggested we have a go at rewriting some of these tragic stories, I knew I could do it. Tragic usually means love stories. Love stories means Valentine’s Day. Our collection had to be ready for February 14th. And it is!

Blurb

Long ago in a green island surrounded by protective mists, a people lived among the relics of a bygone age of which they knew nothing, not being archaeologists, but around whom they created a mythology. They were a volatile people, easily moved to love or war, and motivated by a strict sense of honour. They had women warriors and handsome lovers, wicked queens and cruel kings, precious heroines and flawed heroes. Magic was in the air, beneath the ground, and in the waves of the sea, and hyperbole was the stuff of stories. They were the Irish, and these are a few retellings of some of their beautiful stories.

Excerpt

From the Story of Baile and Aillinn

Bailé, the soft-spoken, left Emain Macha in the north to meet Aillinn, his betrothed. Rare was such a wedding host, and uncommonly joyful. For the king of Ulster’s only son and the daughter of the king of Leinster had made a love match. Even the sun shone bright on Bailé’s journey, the hounds danced and milled about the horses’ legs, fancy bridle bits sang silver songs in the wind, and the company was filled with joy.
Bailé left behind his own lands of Ulster, the blue lochs and gorse-yellow hills where the eagles cried. Before him, beyond the purple peaks of home, lay the low, wooded hills and the rich plains of Leinster. He saw his Aillinn in the contours of the hills, in the white plumage of the swans on the river. She was soft as new grass and spring foals, wild as the March wind, and generous as the blackbird singing to the world. His heart was full of joy that soon they would be wed and their union would bind together her rich beauty of soft hills and birdsong, and his wild majesty of the eagle and the red deer.

Introduction

Ali Isaac and Jane Dougherty are writers with a shared heritage. Ali has woven that heritage into the fabric of her stories about Conor Kelly and his adventures in the Otherworld. Jane consistently slips references to the old stories and the old heroes into all of her novels.

This collection of retellings of some of the great love stories from Irish mythology is our tribute to this culture which has so captivated us.
Love in the Iron Age, as you will see, did not have the benefit of Disney. The Ancient Irish had to contend with far more violence than modern lovers, and their ideas of what constituted happiness were not necessarily the same as ours. An Irish princess was not going to languish at the top of an ivory tower waiting for a knight in shining armour. She was much more likely to get on her horse and drag him out of his bed with a curse if he hung about too long.

But in many ways, love through the ages has not changed one iota. Grief, sorrow and passion are all there in spadesful.

If the only thing you know about Irish mythology is Saint Patrick, serpents, and Leprechauns, it’s about time you read this collection. If you like what you see, this could be the start of a life changing experience.

Links

Jane can be found on her blog, www.janedoughertywrites.com, on her FaceBook author page, or tweeting.
You can find out more about her on Goodreads, and all her books are available on Amazon.com, and Amazon.co.uk.

You will find Ali pottering about most days on her blog: www.aliisaacstoryteller.com, her Facebook author page, or tweeting.
Alternatively, you can email her at: ali@aliisaacstoryteller.com. Her books are available on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.

So why not check out not only this incredible book, but these amazing authors? 🙂

This book is definitely on my TBR list, and I will be doing a review for it after reading!

*This is a scheduled post and I will be back on Monday. Have a great weekend!* 🙂

Books and Reading Thursday: Books on my Bookshelf

(Books on my Bookshelf is not a review, just my personal thoughts, feelings, and memories on the books I own).

Another book for this series 😀

This week I have chosen, Magic Kingdom for Sale- Sold! By Terry Brooks.

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Nice chapter headings!

Nice chapter headings!

I actually didn’t realise this was the first book in a series until recently, so I might have to g check out the rest.

I got this book for free because someone I knew quite a few years ago was having a big turn out, and I saw this in his pile of ‘rubbish’ and it caught my interest.

Not only because the title looked great fun, but because of how well read it looked! I figured any book that looked like it had been opened over and over again had to be a good read.

So he let me have it, and it sat on my bookshelf for a couple of years longer until I finally got around to it.

One of my main memories of this book is that it was a major slog to get through the first few chapters. I mean, seriously a slog. It probably wasn’t like that for a lot of people, but I’m not very good with books that don’t start the story or action within a couple of chapters. I lose interest with all the scene setting and background setting.

I get that it has to be done sometimes, especially in series, but it didn’t help that the main character’s background that was being set up was really rather depressing!

But, I managed to churn my way through the chapters and I’m glad I stuck with it! It was a great read, and was packed with a great deal of fun as the cover and title hinted at.

I also have to say it’s one of those books that really inspired me to want to write my own books. I love those stories where someone goes from a hum-drum life and is thrown into a new world of adventure and excitement (that also might have something to do with all the fairytales my mum read me as a kid, it really spurred my imagination!).

Those books where an ordinary person is thrown into another world just is such a great parllel to readers.

You pick up a book and, as the reader, you’re like the character being thrown into this whole new world and story to enjoy. And sometimes it can be just as confusing, but also incredible!

But that’s what books do and why we read them, right? To let ourselves be taken somewhere else for a few hours, away from the hum-drum of everyday life.

So, yeah, it was a book that I definitely remember for the slow start, but also the incredible adventure that lay beyond it.

Random quote: “Ben grimaced. Wonderful. Just tap the red shoes together three times and repeat, ‘There’s no place like home.’ Off he would go, back to Kansas. Just wonderful.”

Favourite thing about the book: The story of the ordinary being thrown into the extraordinary. It was definitely one that got my imagination and creativeness pumping!

Least favourite thing: The incredibly slow start. My word. Ugh.

Something I took away from the book: That I shouldn’t be afraid to write the story I want to, even if it seems outlandish. You just got to write it!

Have you read any books with a slow start but a great story? Do you enjoy these kind of fish out of water tales?

Progress Report:

Status of sixth manuscript: A bit up in the air!
Word count: … Don’t ask.

Books read towards goal: 1/50
Currently reading: The Creative Writing Workbook by Matthew Branton.

Books and Reading Thursday: Books on my Bookshelf

(Books on my Bookshelf is not a review, just my personal thoughts, feelings, and memories on the books I own).

This week I thought I’d share a book I got for Christmas/Birthday!

Dragon Age: Library Edition (Includes The Silent Grove, Those Who Speak, and Until We Sleep).

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As you may have guessed by now (for anyone who’s followed my blog for a while), I have a thing for the Dragon Age series of games by Bioware. I won’t call it an obsession, mainly because it’s so far past that point by now…

Anyways, my best friend bought me this for Christmas/Birthday, and it was seriously a very happy surprise, especially as it arrived on the day I was getting my new PS4 and the game, so it was very well timed!

I remember I was really upset when the book was released earlier in 2014 as I couldn’t afford to buy it, so receiving it was more than a little exciting as you can imagine!

I read through this in an afternoon. I couldn’t put it down. Not only were the stories amazing, but the artwork was stunning, and I loved the artist and editors notes down the sides of the pages. Reading about their insights into how they set up the stories, or why they chose certain panels or dialogue really got me thinking about my own writing and how I set it out. I know it’s different formats, but it’s all about storytelling, right?

It’s going on my TBR list again, so as I can re-read it this year 😀

Stunning artwork!

Stunning artwork!

Artist and editor notes down the side were great insight!

Artist and editor notes down the side were great insight!

Random quote: ‘Long live the King! Long may he reign! And so forth. Pray to the Maker he doesn’t do something stupid…’

Favourite thing about the book: Apart from the fact it has returning characters from the games? 😀 It was laid out in a great, easy to read format, which kept me turning the pages.

Least favourite thing: Um, there is a moment that I thought was a bit out of character for one of the characters. But that’s pretty much it, I loved it all!

Something I took away from the book: The way the pages were laid out really got me thinking about the way I end chapters in my own books, and how to keep the reader turning the pages!

Have you read many graphic novels? Do you enjoy reading different types of storytelling?

Progress Report (I know, I forgot on Tuesday!)

Status of sixth manuscript: Writing first draft.
Daily word count: 913.

Books read towards goal: 1/50
Currently reading: The Creative Writing Workbook by Matthew Branton.

Books and Reading… Thursday?

Thursdays are my new day for my books and reading related posts, part of my new and improved blogging schedule 😀

But seeing as I am still trying to catch up and get myself back on track, I haven’t got a post from my Books on my Bookshelf series or even a review.

In the spirit of getting myself more organised, I am trying a different approach to reading this year.

Last year I forgot or missed so many books I wanted to read! This year, I am determined not to let that happen.

So, I have decided to make myself a reading list. It’s not just going to be a to-be-read (TBR) list, where I note down all the books I want to read, but I am actually going to list the books in the order I am going to read them.

It will also mean I can get more organised with reviewing books as well, but also not forget to enjoy books I want to re-read and new releases from author friends.

The books will be listed in a particular order too, to ensure I really don’t forget anything.

For example, every third book on my list will likely be a book for review.

And one of my goals for 2015 is to improve my writing, and part of this will be through writing craft books, especially ones with practical exercises. My best friend bought me a book like this for Christmas, which I am very excited about starting. So every fourth book in my list will be a writing craft book.

I am also planning on going back to choosing a random book from the local library. Before I go I will pick two numbers- One will be the shelf number, the other will be the book number (so if I pick 12 and 7, I will choose the 7th book along the 12th shelf). I’m hoping this will really help to broaden my reading, and also let me find new authors.

This year I will also be participating (or attempting) the 2015 Reading Challenge List. It looks like great fun, and again, will open me up to trying some really different types of reading. I’m not going to freak out too much if I can’t get all the goals done, but will be using it more as a guide.

I’m not giving myself too steep a goal, so my goal for this year is to read at least 50 books. A lot less than some people, but I’m not as fast a reader as some!

So, there you go, my plans for reading in 2015! 😀 It should be an exciting year for it. Also, if you haven’t already, why not follow my book and reading related Tumblr- turningthosepages?

What are your reading goals for this year? Are you participating in any reading challenges?