Books

recountings: hook, captain of respawning

*** Avast ye! LOTS OF MANDATORY PIRATE TALK. There be slight spoilers ahead. Arrgh***

As time as gone by, I’ve found my feelings about the book become more ‘meh-ish’. One of the plot lines left me feeling vaguely disappointed – as if someone had promised me a huge heaping of ice cream and I’d been given a block of cheese instead.

Now I like cheese (Not blue cheese. Blue cheese is evil), but when you’re anticipating ice cream … it isn’t quite the same thing.

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THE PLOT

I’ve always liked Peter Pan because there’s something swashbuckling about him, and also he wears the Lincoln green of Robin Hood. So there’s that. However, what if Peter Pan was the villain? What if Captain Hook has been cursed to play the villain in an eternal, pointless war for a group of malicious little boys?

HOOKED ON RESPAWNING

(did you see what I did there? *wink wink wink*)

Hook cannot die. Well, he can. But he can’t die die. (There is a difference.) Like a video game character, he respawns. He has been slain by Peter Pan and his lovely group of boys countless times. I liked this (I assure you, I am no sadist.) It makes for a truly interesting character; a character who has died over and over, who knows the part he has to play, who has the lines all rehearsed, and who is utterly sick and Very Done with it all.

No one has ever cried for me before, not the Wendys, nor generations of Lost Boys, nor any of the children to whom the story is so often told.

They always cheer when Hook dies.

THE PAN IS A PAIN

Peter Pan is evil. There. I said it. And Peter Pan does not receive the comeuppance I wanted for him. In fact, his actions – thoughtless and lacking in knowledge of this is bad don’t do it – are hideous. It’s the very lack of awareness of the wrongness of his actions that is so chilling.

And he doesn’t get what’s coming to him. It’s sort of brushed off. This did not please me. I was the opposite of pleased.

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HOOK, STUCK IN A GROOVE

Hook has been stuck in Neverland for two centuries – he’s tried everything in an attempt to leave, with no success. But oh wait, he hasn’t. It takes the arrival of Stella Parrish (GASP SHE IS A WOMAN GROWN!!!) to send events into a new direction. What I couldn’t understand was this: if you have two hundred years to think of plots and plans to leave SURELY YOU WOULD HAVE THOUGHT OF NEW AND VARIED PLOTS!!

Now granted, if it was me stuck in Neverland (PLEASE NO) for centuries, yes – this would be a likely scenario. My brother says (to paraphrase) that I’m not lacking in intelligence – it’s just that I don’t use it. The obvious questions are never obvious to me. I have ‘The Blindingly Obvious Blinders’ on. It’s tragic.

But this is Captain James Benjamin Hook who actually is a pirate. Who has sailed the world. Surely, surely he would not have such blinders on. Surely he would ask more questions and not just settle into a groove that is LITERALLY KILLING HIM.

But he isn’t, and he is.

And this frustrates me.

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TO SUM UP BADLY

In short, Alias Hook is a new, extremely intriguing take on the world of Peter Pan. Jensen has woven a terrible mythos into Neverland, and formed Captain Hook into a character you can truly sympathise with.

The book is definitely not Young Adult – there is language (well, of course there is. But y’know what I mean) and the Fairy Revels are … ah-hem … are not Young Adult. At all.

I liked the ending and the idea of Hook having to play the part of a villain. However, I found Neverland to be claustrophobic (as I’m sure Hook did) and Peter Pan should have been flayed alive by malicious pineapples probably.

Thank you and goodnight.

Books, Life

the bookworm’s guide to reading on a budget

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I’m currently Saving Money For The Greater Good Of My Future. It’s a trial, but I’m just about bearing it. Here’s how …

The Open Library

for those who like to enjoy the wonder of the library from the comfort of their home (AKA those who avoid other humans at all costs)

You have to sign up for this website, but once you’ve done it – huzzah! You’ve entered a secret cult of booklovers and teadrinkers just accessed a library with zonks worth of books that are yours to read FOR FREE!

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Project Gutenberg

for those who do not wish to sign up for anything. and like older books. you rebels you.

I’ve spent countless hours using this website. In fact, I read the great majority of G.A Henty’s books on Project Gutenberg and I regret nothing; for now I, too, can write a tale of an honest looking youth – not handsome, mind – around the age of fifteen who is VERY VERY COURAGEOUS! and has MUCH PLUCK! (not the kind of pluck one would do on a chicken’s feathers) and lives an exciting life interspersed with a droning, monotonous voice that says Lord So and So moved his armies to such and such a place in the year something or other.

(If you have ever read a Henty, you will appreciate the very great wit which I have just employed. Probably.)

I also read The Rose-Garden Husband, discovered what a love triangle was (SPOILERS: the heroine chose Bill. Or was his name Bob?), and found Sir Walter Scott’s The Bride of the Lammermoor to be disgustingly miserable.

Also – it’s been over eight years and I still can’t spell Gutenberg correctly. I add an extra ‘u’.

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LibriVox

for those who cannot afford Audible. and don’t mind listening to strangers talking. for hours.

LibriVox is the spoken form of Project Gutenburg Gutenberg. Some of them are awfully good. I once tried to persuade my brothers that The Scarlet Pimpernel was a magnificent book of magnificent proportions.

It is, and it was, but I didn’t realise that a) Marguerite had so. many. emotions and b) the emotions took up such a great deal of space. I had to reassure my poor brothers that the really AMAZING AND AWESOME PART was coming up soon. It did not, in fact, come up soon. It was at the end of the book. They were not overly impressed.

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The Library. Your Local Library.

for those who are willing to leave the shelter of their homes in search of books. introverts around the world salute you.

I have nine books out right now. Nine. One of which is the hefty five book trilogy of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams. Do you know how much money that would have cost me to purchase? A fortune. A massive fortune.

Do you know how much money I spent? Nothing. NOTHING.

I ordered a book in the other day – instead of buying the ebook version for £4.74, I spent 45p ordering it. FORTY-FIVE PENCE.

It is a universal truth that libraries make you feel good about yourself. They are peaceful places – unless there is a mother and child group in the children’s section. In which case you will be serenaded by the sweet, sweet sounds of The Wheels On The Bus (Go ‘Round and ‘Round). 

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Since making the agonising decision to save money on books (it is painful, I can assure you) no less than THREE books have been published by authors I quite enjoy. But if one must have principles, one should probably stick to them. I am using three libraries – my personal one (if I can call my kindle collection, and bookshelves that), my local one, and the online version.

It can be done, my friends. It can be done.

happy reading!

Life

mucking around on boats

I’m on holiday at the moment. After much agonising, I decided which books to take with me (a new-ish release, something of Heyer, and Mere Christianity) and which to leave behind (three other books. It hurt my soul).

At 1:32 in the morning, I jammed some clothes, a handful of odd socks and whatever miscellaneous I could find into a bag. I had priorities. My clothes were not priorities.

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One does not think one’s best in the wee hours of the morning. In fact, a life rule of mine is: never think deep thoughts beyond 12:00 at night. I end up coming to the most depressing conclusions and become the single most gloomy hedgehog in the history of ever.

Consequently, as it was late and I’ve established that I don’t think well late at night (I can write, but I cannot think. It is most odd), I forgot to pack certain things.

Things I Tragically Forgot To Take With Me:

  • A blanket. I really could have done with one. (This is England. There is chill.)
  • Aristotle, my bunny. (One always should bring their bunny with them. The fact that I’ve never done it before is beside the point.)
  • Something pretty to put in my cabin.
  • A book by Georgette Heyer; I’m reading a book about her work, but I should have KNOWN this would make me want to read one of her books.

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My ambition this holiday is to finish A Crown of Wishes, Georgette Heyer’s Regency World, write a short story and go back to editing Insalted (I brought the manuscript with me. It is heavy. Very heavy.) If my ambition is as lofty as Everest, the reality will probably be as high as a molehill.

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Georgette Heyer’s Regency World is proving to be extremely interesting. For one who thought factual books weren’t her cup of tea, I actually quite enjoy them.

Why I Enjoy Factual Books:

  • They give the illusion that my brain cells are growing in intelligence
  • They intrigue me
  • I can now quote accurate facts. You can’t really say ‘oh, did you know that Lady Jane was actually a shapeshifter? And she survived and had a lovely life with her true love who was a shapeshifting horse?’ because you will receive Odd Looks and people will (for some reason) disagree with you mightily.
  • An example of what I’m learning: the Regency period is considered to be from 1780 to 1830. Oh, I’m going to be quoting that one. If I can remember it.

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happy reading!

OH AND DID YOU KNOW THAT THE REGENCY PERIOD WAS FROM 1730 TO 18SOMETHING?!!!

Books, Life

two lessons learned in april

I was going to do a sort of april round-up/what I did/how I’ve yet to conquer the world post (WHY IS THIS YET TO HAPPEN? Oh. Wait. I’ve got to do something for it? Pfft. Nah. Forget that) but … the best laid plans and all that sort of thing.

Instead, here are two lessons I have learned recently. The world is ever my classroom (or something like that …)

1 // pirates are not my cup of tea

I suppose it’s because there’s only so much adventure you can have when stuck on a boat in a massive stretch of ocean. (And yes, some may vehemently disagree as to the truth of this statement. But I digress.)

Whilst I loved The Lies of Locke Lamora* (I’m actually pronouncing the title correctly nowadays. Clue: it isn’t The Lies of Loch Lomand) I didn’t enjoy its sequel Red Seas Under Red Skies quite as much.

Why?

  • The heist made me feel as though Lynch was going to give me the most marvelous white chocolate cake in the history of ever … but then he didn’t. Instead, he gave me some horrendous milk chocolate sponge abomination.

(Thanks, Scott Lynch. Thanks a lot.)

  • High seas. Ship speak. Me … nope. Look, my Uncle once quizzed me about which side was port and I thought deeply and carefully about the alcoholic substance known as port and why you’d pass it around the table and whether there was a tradition about passing the glass around- I don’t do ship speak. (Port is on the left, I think. Or the right. One or the other. I can never remember.)
  • Once again, I can’t get the title right. So far, I’ve called it Red Skies Under Red Sails, Red Seas Under Red Sails, and Red Sails Under Red Skies. It’s confusing.

But those are mere quibbles. I am still enamoured with the character of Locke. Enough to risk the next novel. Maybe.

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2 // i enjoyed a ya novel

I’m shocked. SHOCKED! I tell you. However, I bought Shatter Me because I suspected it was terribly melodramatic. (I was feeling in the need of something terribly melodramatic.)

And it is.

Ohhhhh it is.

It is the most delicious, melodramatic piece of purple prose I have ever – EVER – been fortunate enough to read, and I’ve read fanfiction. (And written it but *cough* that’s beside the point.)

It’s well done purple prose. It’s creative purple prose. It’s unique purple prose. It’s beautiful purple prose. But it is the purplest prose to have ever posed as prose.

I let myself be gleeful, and I let myself read it. I didn’t take it very seriously, for I’m an old codger and can be as sympathetic as a very sympathetic brick.

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There are issues. I would like to point out to Juliette that not everything is solved, or resolved with tulips. And by tulips, I mean chew lips. (I’m sorry. That was funnier in my head.)

At one point, I looked at myself in the mirror (as all humans have fled my presence, I am left with the companionship of the mirror. It’s okay. I find it to be a very reflective companion) and said:

This is rubbish. I LOVE IT.

Shockingly enough, the mirror did not respond.

*The Lies of Locke Lamora is an adult fantasy novel about thieves. Ergo, there is quite a bit of crass language (thieves do not, as a rule, speak Queen’s English), plenty of guts and gore, and the occasional unsavoury situation. Ye have been warned.
On Writing

the writing stag

This tag is actually called ‘The Writer’s Tag’ but someone mentioned how much it looks like ‘The Writer Stag’ and this amuses me greatly. Thanks to Mirriam for tagging everybody, and so therefore tagging me.

"As the deer panteth for the water, so my soul longeth after thee."    As The Deer: Hymn:
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WHAT GENRES, STYLES, AND TOPICS DO YOU WRITE ABOUT?

Genre: Fantasy – because you can borrow from all of history and throw in a dragon and it will be legit. I love history, but fantasy is unrestricted – if I want to mesh a Viking and Mongol culture together … I can. AND NO ONE CAN TELL ME NAY!!!

Styles: I do write some serious content, but humour always creeps through. I love funny things, and sometimes I find myself writing a line with true glee. Or struggling to get a joke that is HILARIOUS!!!! in my head onto paper. That’s less fun.

Topics: Oh – everything. I try to put themes and topics into my stories but my characters always refuse to participate. They see right through my puny attempts and go on tangents about wanting to be a medicine woman or something.

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN WRITING?

Years. Years and years. I completed my first novel in 2014, but I have piles and piles of unfinished and finished short stories banging about from the time I thought revision was spelled with an ‘h’. (Dude. Think about it. It still makes sense.) I won first prize for gore once. I was bemused. Did no one else write realistically?

WHY DO YOU WRITE?

Because I love stories. Because that love bubbles over until I have to write something down. Sometimes the magic happens – my fingers fly over the keyboard and the characters talk and events unfold seamlessly onto the page. But that doesn’t happen often; I have to work for it – but the stories …

I write because I love them.

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WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO WRITE?

Much to my annoyance, at night. When everything is quite and all is dark (‘… silllllleeeeennnt niiiiiggghhhhttt ….’) and my mine is emptied of stresses and there is nothing but the words and I. You have no idea how much I resent this flaw of mine; I’d much rather write easily in the morning.

PARTS OF WRITING YOU LOVE VS PARTS YOU HATE?

What I love? Finishing. There is nothing quite like the feeling of knowing the story is finished; you’ve told it. It’s done. The end. It’s beautiful. A moment to be savoured.

What I hate? The bringing myself to sit and write. My mind leaps like an antsy frog on coals and has this kind of conversation:

ME: Little grey cells, shall we write?

BRAIN: Cool. Cool, cool, cool. Good idea. BUT WAIT YOU HAVE TO VACUUM BEFORE YOU DO THIS.

ME: … but … what?

BRAIN: CLEAN! DUST! WASH! ORGANISE YOUR BOOKSHELF! WASH YOUR CAR! ONLY THEN CAN YOUR WORDS FLOW. ONNNLLLY THEN!!

Me: Okay. That sounds like a good plan.

(spoiler: it’s never a good plan)

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HOW DO YOU OVERCOME WRITERS BLOCK?

Nowadays? I exhaust my procrastination muscles, and then do a surprise leap into a Word Document. Takes time, but works like a charm. Sometimes. So a faulty charm, basically.

ARE YOU WORKING ON SOMETHING AT THE MOMENT?

Yes. Insalted is on draft 2.5 and The Mediocre Title That I Need To Change is ticking along alright. I’ve really let my creativity run wild on that one – there’s a crime lord dragon and the heroine’s kidnapping a husband.

Everyday activities, really.

WRITING GOALS THIS YEAR?

  • Finish editing Sandwiches
  • Prepare Insalted for querying. But finish it first. (That’s rather important, I hear.)
  • Finish the 1st draft of The Mediocre Title That I need To Change

right. so i’d better get going to that, then