Lego Librarian!

My Lego mini collection

My Lego mini collection

I Love lego and books so what better way to merge the two!

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In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters

This book is now one of my all time favourites and I will enjoy reading it over and over again for years to come.  It had everything a great story should have; young love, spiritualism, creepy photographs and fascinating characters.

It also taught me a lot about the Spanish flu influenza pandemic of 1918 that possibly killed 100 million people worldwide.  I didn’t know much about it as I presume it is largely overshadowed by World War 1 in history lessons but it was a fascinating insight as to what it must have been like living with such a deadly virus spreading amongst your family and neighbourhood.  The flu came as quickly as it went and there are so many theories as to what caused it.   Scary!

Favourite Quotes from In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters;

* ‘Footsteps woke me at sunrise.’

* ‘My aunt couldn’t afford electricity, so her face and flu mask glowed in the flickering light of a candle next to my bed.’

* ‘Lightening ignited the air, and I wanted its bolts to shock me out of my nightmare world and send me back into my old reality.’

* ‘That old bully Death breathed down my neck and nipped at my skin, warning, Don’t waste a spare second of time.

* ‘Don’t ever worry what the boys who don’t appreciate originality think of you.  They’re fools.’

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Alice Stickers!

My Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland decals arrived in the post today courtesy of Esty.  Now to decide what to do with them.  I am thinking of using them to decorate some bookends.

The pictures by Sir John Tenniel are classic and depict Lewis Carroll’s tale perfectly.  He drew over 90 illustrations for the Alice books!

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This House is Haunted by John Boyne – A Discussion!

20130807_165821This House is Haunted captivated me from the very first sentence:

‘I blame Charles Dickens for the death of my father.’

Who wouldn’t want to read on after that?

John Boyne tells his ghost story superbly.  He introduces the main character, Eliza Caine with enough background information to interest the reader but not bore them with unnecessary details.  Eliza’s father passes away and she is left alone in the world.  She leaves her position as a school teacher to begin afresh as a governess at Gaudlin Hall.

As soon as she reaches the platform near death experiences begin to follow her.  This is when the ghostly part of the story begins.  I do not want to spoil the plot for any future readers but I will say that there were some parts of the story that gave me chills, the reason behind the haunting is plausible and the ending was satisfyingly eerie.

I really enjoyed reading the book and have to say that it is one of the better ghost stories that have been released recently.

QUOTES:

‘the toes dancing beneath the sheets, a sensation of the most delightful pleasure, until a pair of hands grabbed both my ankles tightly…’

‘And I would never allow it to harm the children, although that did not seem to be its intention anyway.’

‘It did my soul some good to wander freely.’

Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion – A Discussion (May Contain Spoilers!)

20130728_150002I often struggle to decide what to do first; watch the movie or read the book.

For Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion I watched the movie before reading the book.  I really enjoyed the movie and thought that Nicholas Hoult portrayed the Zombie R character perfectly.

The movie did not spoil the story line when I finally got around to reading the book.  In fact it actually enhanced the reading experience as it allowed me to concentrate on reading the words which is what I am trying to do more of thanks to Francine Prose‘s ‘Reading like a writer (see blog entry).

There were differences between the book and the movie and most did not bother me.  However I did find that R having a wife and kids (in the book) slightly unnecessary to the overall plot.  It was an interesting idea though.

I found this book quite touching and beautiful which sounds strange given the fact that people’s brains and limbs were being eaten.  It was such an interesting take on the typical zombie genre and gave me hope that if we ever encounter a dreaded Zombie apocalypse we would get through it as a human race.

Marion has quite a skill in making the horrific seem more poetic and I am interested to read more of his work.  The New Hunger (the prequel to Warm Bodies) has been released as an ebook.  I am not accustomed to reading in this format but will have give it a go for curiosities sake.

Quotes

* ‘There is no ideal world for you to wait around for. The world is always just what it is now, and it’s up to you how you respond to it.’

* ‘What wonderful thing didn’t start out scary?’

* ‘I’m dead, but it’s not so bad.’

* ‘We will be the cure.  Because we want it.’

* ‘Laughter.  Another first for me.’

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Ghost Stories – That First Sentence

I am in the process of editing my ghost novel and was in need of some inspiration.  That very first line is particularly important as it sets the scene and mood of the entire story.

Here are some of my favourites;

* This House is Haunted by John Boyne (Book I am currently reading) – ‘I blame Charles Dickens for the death of my father.’

(Perhaps the most interesting start I have read in a while)

* Hell House by Richard Matheson‘It had been raining since five o’clock that morning.’

* The Ghost Writer by John Harwood ‘I first saw the photograph on a hot January afternoon in my mother’s bedroom.’

* The Séance by John Harwood – ‘If my sister Alma had lived, I should never have begun the séances.’

* The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson – ‘No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream.’

* The Turning by Francine Prose – ‘Dear Sophie, I’m afraid this is going to sound crazy.’

* Susan Hill

– The Man in the Picture: ‘The story was told to me by my old tutor, Theo Parmitter, as we sat beside the fire in his college rooms one bitterly cold January night.’

– Dolly: ‘An autumn night and the fens stretch for miles, open and still.’

The Small Hand: ‘It was a little before nine o’clock, the sun was setting into a bank of smoky violet cloud and I had lost my way.’

The Woman in Black: ‘It was nine thirty on Christmas Eve.’

* Charles Dickens

– A Christmas Carol: ‘Marley was dead, to begin with.’

The Haunted Man and the Ghost’s Bargain: ‘Everybody said so.’

English: Frontispiece of "The Haunted Man...

English: Frontispiece of “The Haunted Man” by Charles Dickens (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose – A Review

Reading Like a Writer

Reading Like a Writer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Reading Like a Writer‘ was one of the most helpful writing guides that I have read thus far.  It is by no means a simple how to guide on how to be a better writer.  Instead Francine Pose guides you through extracts of well written literature and cautions readers to slow down and pay attention to words.  She explains that a good writer makes sure that each and every word in the story has a purpose.

Although it is not an easy feat to attempt to write as well as the authors discussed in the book (even a bit daunting), Prose has inspired me to be a better writer and at the same time a better reader.

Notes & Quotes

* ‘You can assume that if a writer’s work has survived for centuries, there are reasons why this is so.’ – Prose highlights that reading or re-reading the classics is as beneficial as reading the modern novel.

* Skimming is not my friend.  Yes I have a lot of books to read in my life time but as Prose advises ‘Skimming just won’t suffice if we hope to extract one fraction of what a writer’s words can teach us about how to use the language’

* Telling Vs Showing – ‘don’t tell us a character is happy, show us.’  There are however still occasions when telling is far more effective and time saving.

* Paragraphs – ‘A new paragraph is a wonderful thing.  It lets you quietly change the rhythm, and it can be like a flash of lightening that shows the same landscape from a different aspect.’ – Babel

* Don’t leave out the details! – ‘Details are what persuade us that someone is telling the truth.’  We need to trust the writer is in control.