HIATUS

Hello!

Thank you for visiting my blog. You may have noticed that not much has been going on around here lately.

I’ve decided that I’m having an official hiatus on the blog for the time being. I want to concentrate on my book writing, which means dedicating as much writing time as possible to my fiction. I love the blog, but it eats in to that time, and I want to use what time and brainpower I have to further my publishing endeavours.

If you’re interested in my books, you can find more information here. If you have anything you’d like to contact me about, my contact information is in the About page. I won’t be accepting reviews or guest posts, but I’m still around if you want to say hello.

I don’t know how long this hiatus will be – perhaps a few months, perhaps indefinite. It will depend on where the publishing takes me. But for now, there won’t be anything posting here for at least a few months.

Thank you for all the visits/comments/guest posts over the years – maybe see you again soon!

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Review: Seven Ways We Lie by Riley Redgate

seven ways we lieTitle: Seven Ways We Lie

Author: Riley Redgate

Series: N/A

Genre: YA Contemporary

Received for review from Audible

Summary (from Goodreads)

Paloma High School is ordinary by anyone’s standards. It’s got the same cliques, the same prejudices, the same suspect cafeteria food. And like every high school, every student has something to hide—whether it’s Kat, the thespian who conceals her trust issues onstage; or Valentine, the neurotic genius who’s planted the seed of a school scandal.

When that scandal bubbles over, and rumors of a teacher-student affair surface, everyone starts hunting for someone to blame. For the unlikely allies at the heart of it all, the collision of their seven ordinary-seeming lives results in extraordinary change.

Review

When I saw that this had seven point of view characters, I was a little dubious. Seven? And it’s an average length YA book, not a massive epic fantasy. Any concerns were quickly assuaged, though, as within the first couple of hours of the audiobook, it was clear that each of the characters was well defined, with a unique voice, and even without the multiple narrators there wouldn’t have been any chance of confusing them.

What Seven Ways We Lie is, is being sixteen/seventeen in a nutshell. I’m British, so I didn’t go to an American high school, but clearly the experiences are very similar, because I recognised so many things from my own life in the trials and tribulations of the characters. The story explores that difficult, transitory period where you are sort of an adult, but also sort of still a kid (as much as any sixteen/seventeen year old would not like to be labeled as such). The ‘romance with a teacher’ plot line epitomises this struggle, and while the story line sounds like it’s going to be sensationalised and preachy – by the emotive nature of the issue – it’s actually handled in a sensitive, morally grey way that further demonstrates what a minefield growing up can be, without lambasting any character in particular.

The character Olivia also provides the opportunity to explore some feminist ideas about female sex and sexuality. At times, I think Olivia came across as a little too mature for a girl her age, but on the other hand, she’d been a mother figure within her family for several years, so it’s not unbelievable that she has a very adult outlook. And as a voice of reason against slut-shaming and misogynistic ideals held by a lot of teenage boys, and perpetuated by society, she’s an important character for young girls. Again, the issues aren’t presented in a way that’s strongly leaning towards one view or another – it’s not a call for promiscuity or abstinence, rather a presentation that either is a valid choice as long as you are making that choice and are happy with it.

In fact, I think that’s my favourite thing about this book – the non-judgemental exploration of teenage lives. Being teenaged is difficult enough, without being told you’re doing it wrong all the time. Even with a character who smokes a lot of weed – something I personally disagree with, though each to their own – I found myself sympathising with his choices, even as I was thinking that, by my moral compass, they weren’t the right choice.

Seven Ways We Lie perfectly encapsulates what it is to be almost grown up. From sexuality, to self esteem and body image, it presents teenage issues in a non-judgemental way, instead exploring what impact they have on characters that are so realistic, you’ll feel like you’ve met them before. Excellent narration from all cast members just made this an even more enjoyable experience. Perfect.

Rating: 5/5

The Pros And Cons Of Reading Formats

the pros and cons of reading formats

The whole ‘to eRead or not to eRead’ debate has raged long now. Kindles and Nooks and other tablets don’t seem to be the downfall of the traditional publishing industry and the printed word as some people predicted, but they aren’t a passing fad either.

I will consume books in any way I’m able to, but I’m yet to decide if I have a favourite method for reading. It seems to me that each of the different ways you can receive the written word has its benefits and downsides.

The Printed Book

Pros

Aesthetically pleasing. New book smell. Old book smell. The ability to easily skip back to sections of the book you enjoyed and read them over and over. Sneaking glimpses ahead in the story (ssh, I know it’s naughty). Easy to share with friends. Easy to pass on for someone else to love via charity shops, book sales etc. Less nervous about reading in the bath. Not intrusive.

Cons

Take up a lot of space. Potentially more expensive than eBooks, depending on where you buy. Sneaking glimpses ahead (Yes, I spoil myself a lot and wish I could have the temptation taken away from me.)

The eBook

Pros

Thousands of books in less than the space of one book. Anonymity of reading – no blushing over your naughty books when reading in public, if you care about that sort of thing. Cheaper books (usually). Access to massive library of books wherever you have internet connection. Not intrusive. Accessibility – you can make the text much bigger for ease of reading.

Cons

Less investment – less costly, so less determined to read contents of Kindle than actual book shelves. Easy to forget what’s on there. Not always easy to navigate, depending on what tablet you have. Certain tablets have internet distractions. Can’t easily share with family and friends. Dependent on access to charger. Can’t read in the bath without mild terror.

The Audiobook

Pros

Read on the go. Enjoy performance by talented reader. Multitask while reading. Don’t take up physical space.

Cons

Massively more expensive than reading physical or e- books, even if you get audible subscription. Intrusive – can’t listen while someone else is watching telly without earphones. Easy to get distracted while you’re listening and miss something.

On Balance…

To me, the pros for physical books are massive – in some ways outweighing the cons. The ability to share a book you’ve loved is one of the most exciting and precious things. I love passing books on to friends and family and saying ‘You have GOT to read this.’ It’s very annoying to say ‘I read this most amazing book’ and then not be able to hand that person a copy when they get excited about it, because you read it in eBook, or listened to an audio version.

Still, the convenience of e- and audio books is a massive thing. Audiobook Pros are looking a bit thin on the ground there, but that multitasking thing is huge. I listen to books on the commute, when I’m at work, when I’m doing the dishes. All times I couldn’t otherwise be consuming a story. And that saves me time to read other stuff when I have got the chance to sit down for five minutes.

I think I’ll always read a mix. And when we develop the ability to beam books straight into our minds, I’ll probably do that too. Wherever the writing and reading industry goes, I will follow.

How do you prefer to ‘read’ your books?

Interview With Guy Portman

Featured Author Kenley Davidson

Today featured author Guy is back on the blog. I’ve been asking him some question about his writing.

Welcome to the blog! Tell us a little about yourself

I am an author who lives in London. My interests include blogging and reading. If I were asked to describe myself I in a few words I would say that I am an introverted creature with a sardonic sense of humour.

The central characters of Symbiosis, Talulah and Taliah, are identical twins. What drew you to write about twins?

I can’t remember the first time it occurred to me that identical twins would make interesting protagonists for a book, but it was a long time ago, quite possibly in childhood. The more I read and researched identical twins, the more compelled I became to write a book with twin protagonists. Eventually I reached the point that I could resist no more.

How much research did you have to do into the medical conditions, treatments etc.?

Symbiosis entailed a lot of research particularly with regards to the medical conditions and treatments. Fortunately there is lots of information out there. Psychiatry is an interesting field so it never felt like work.

I really liked how there was a hint of something supernatural about the twins. It’s an enduring concept that twins, particularly identical twins, have some sort of connection above and beyond regular human connection. Was this something that interested you in particular?

Yes, most definitely. I have always been intrigued by the idea that twins, particularly identical twins, have a telepathic bond. Years ago, before I started writing, I remember watching the Bryan twins (most successful doubles tennis players ever). Their remarkable synergy on the court and mirrored actions both fascinated and disturbed me. It appeared that an almost supernatural bond connected the 2 of them. Perhaps this subconsciously sowed the seed for Symbiosis. At any rate, I am always excited on the rare occasion that I get to meet identical twins.

One thing I did find a little tricky was the twins’ cryptophasia (for readers, cryptophasia is a language that twins speak that only the two of them can understand). I got the sense at times that there was a structure and meaning behind the words, rather than just nonsense words, and sometimes I almost thought I knew what they were saying. Can you talk about the cryptophasia a little?

Cryptophasias (secret languages) are common amongst identical twins though they tend to grow out of them as they get older. The structure of Talulah and Taliah’s language is typical of a cryptophasia with regards the syntax, most notably the word order, and the absence of tenses. Their mother’s Caribbean heritage also has an impact on the words they use. Talulah and Taliah’s cryptophasia has an inherent childlike quality, unaltered by the passage of time.

Did you have a favourite character? Charismatic anarchist Siegfried must have been fun to write!

I like the anarchist Siegfried too despite his irresponsible nature. Readers seem to appreciate him, which I am always pleased to hear. I don’t want to give too much of the story away, but let’s just say I also particularly liked one of the twins.

What great books have you read recently? Any authors you particularly admire?

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, Personal by Lee Child and The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. Currently I am reading Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, which I am enjoying. With regards authors I admire, there are loads, including Steinbeck and Easton Ellis (early stuff).

What is your writing process like?

I try to plan as much as possible before progressing with the actual writing. With regards writing habits, it is my custom to write wearing headphones (the kind people use for clay pigeon shooting). It blocks out the sounds of the city and allows me to concentrate. I am considering writing standing up like Vladimir Nabokov did, but first I need a desk that is the right height.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Above all enjoy it. That is the most important thing. Measures of success such as sales numbers and popularity are external pressures that can be detrimental to aspiring authors. And patience. All good things come to those who wait.

And finally, what’s next for Guy Portman?

At the moment I am working on a humorous snippet/short story compilation.

Reverse Bucket List

I stumbled across this idea on Pinterest (original post here on Boho Berry) and thought it was a fantastic way of reminding oneself of all the excellent things that happen. It’s easy to get bogged down in the bad, particularly in the middle of a soggy, cold January, so I thought I’d join in with the celebration of everything that’s already been and invite you to as well. I’d love to read your posts.

Reverse Bucket List

1. Got a first in my degree (2009)

Good lord, that feels like a long old time ago now. When I left home to go to University, I wasn’t in the best place. My parents had just divorced, we’d just moved out of our childhood home, and because at the time I was choosing my degree, everything was at the height of awful, I’d picked a place over a hundred miles away, only to pick up a boyfriend I was very fond of a few weeks later.

Despite all that, and a general level of social ineptitude that means I accidentally offend people more often than I befriend them, I went on to make a good success of Uni. I made some friends for life, had some fantastic experiences, and to top it off I achieved a first. Just. By about 0.4%, but who’s counting?

2. Moved in with boyfriend (around 2007)

As previously mentioned, my time at University was preceded by a period of instability. My family were moving into a new house that would never really be mine. I stayed there for all of four months in the end, I think. But, at around the same time, that boyfriend I was very fond of was in the process of moving out of his parents’ home. He got a cute little flat on a new housing estate that was perfect for first time buyers. I didn’t officially move in with him until after Uni, but it was a base for me during the holidays. It was nice to have a place to be alone with him, and made the experience of the long distance relationship more bearable.

3. bought first house together with boyfriend (2012)

Technically bought in December 2011, but not moved in to until February 2012. While we loved the flat, we outgrew it, and we were ready to move forwards in our lives together. While the house has had it’s problems – a few cowboys have done some building work in here before – we’ve made some good progress towards getting it how we want it. There’s still some way to go yet, but everything we do is one step closer to perfection.

4. Completed PGCE (2010)

While I can say with the clarity and honesty of hindsight that deciding to go into teaching wasn’t the best choice I ever made, I have no regrets in many ways. Doing the PGCE not only provided me with a masters level qualification, but it gave me an excellent tolerance for stress and hard work. I got my first serious job out of it, which came with a lot of bad, but gave me the experience I needed to launch a career in other things. Plus, I made a few more friends for life while training.

5. Left teaching (2014)

This was so terrifying at the time, but it was the best decision I ever made. I can’t imagine how I would be feeling if I was still trying to battle through teaching. It wasn’t the right job for me, and though there were parts of it I liked – mostly the academia – I just wasn’t well suited to other parts of the role (see above mention of social ineptitude). The period between leaving teaching and now, almost a year and a half later, has been a rough ride at times. I guess I thought not having to be a teacher would magically make me happy, but you don’t go through all that negativity and suddenly become happy overnight. I’ve had to work at it, and it has not been easy. But I go into this new year for the first time with nothing work-related that needs changing or adjusting in any way. And that is a wonderful feeling.

6. Ran a half marathon (2014)

Well, sort of stumbled a lot of it. But I did it. At a time when I was feeling depressed and confused, this challenge showed me what my body was capable of.

7. completed the tests to be a train driver

I didn’t get the job (horrendous sexist interview which I should have challenged and complained about, but wasn’t emotionally up to at the time) but going through the motions of applying for it, taking the tests and passing several stages before the interview was the first step on the road to believing that I was capable of doing something other than asking if you need any help with your packing. Failing at teaching had left me feeling incapable and incompetent. Taking these tests reminded me that I wasn’t.

8. Started my current job (2015)

January 5th, 2015. It’s been over a year and I can’t believe how quickly that’s gone. It wasn’t the train driver job, and I didn’t really know what it would entail, but within a couple of months I knew it was a brilliant job for me. It used skills I enjoyed using, didn’t leave me too exhausted to think at the end of each day, came with lots of fabulous colleagues who I really enjoy working with, and provides me with plenty of opportunities to feel like I’m doing something good – which was always my favourite part of teaching: making a real, tangible difference to the world.

9. Got engaged (2015)

That boyfriend I was very fond of stuck with me through a lot of stuff. And now he’s my fiancé.

10. completed my book series (2015)

I’m only going to do ten. I could go on – which is lovely! – but I’m sticking to the biggies. And this was a huge one. After dragging my feet with my writing during my teaching career, I’ve finally got some energy and drive to have a good go at this self publishing lark. My series of novellas has been completed, I’m part way through editing book one as we speak, and I feel like I finally have the tools and time I need to launch them into the wider world. So watch this space!

What things are on your Reverse bucket list? If you decide to do a post, leave me a link in the comments – i’d love to read them!

2015 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here's an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 9,600 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

5 Things I’m Looking Forwards To In September

September used to be a bit of a bummer month for me. It meant the start of a new school year, which meant back to work, adjusting back to the long hours and the routine. I was usually really tired, usually super busy. But this year, for the first time (last year I’d just started a new job) I’m just carrying on doing my usual stuff, which means September doesn’t have to be a write off. Here are five things I’m looking forwards to.

1. Welcome to Nightvale

Taylor, Mr T and I have tickets to go to the Welcome To Nightvale live tour in September at Birmingham. We love the show, and can’t wait to go see it live. I’ve no idea what to expect, but I’m looking forwards to it like crazy.

2. Starting my Wedding Scrapbook

I bought all the stuff, but I’ve been so busy and the study has been such a chaos, that I haven’t had a chance to sit down and start this. Soon, though, I’m hoping that some of the things I’ve put on eBay will sell, and therefore be posted and no longer in my way, and I’ll have a little more space. I’m slightly intimidated by the blank page, but I’ve got so many lovely things to use, I’ve just got to be brave and get started!

3. Trip to See Friends

Very early in September (like hopefully this coming weekend) I’m going for a girly catch up with some friends from my teacher training days. I can’t wait to see the girls – we’re always so crazy busy it’s difficult to find the time for a catch up. I’ve been saving my eBay proceeds and now I’m looking forwards to spending them on whatever we decide to do.

4. Routine

I know it’s boring, but I’m really looking forwards to doing a month of ‘normal’. I’ve no leave planned, so it will be four weeks of going to work every day and having that routine. With the exception of the weekend trip to see the girls, life will be normal. I really, really need a bit of normal, and I’m looking forwards to having time to get on with stuff like reading, writing, eating better and even housework.

5. Hearing About How the Family is Getting On

It’s going to be an important month for Mum and the rest of the family. The little two start their new school, Mum will be settling in to life in a new place, Taylor will be really settling in to London life and Charlie is off to Oxford. I think the Oxford thing is actually at the end of the month, or even the beginning of October, but she’ll have a lot of preparing and exciting things to be doing. It’s a period of big change, and I look forwards to hearing all about it.

Want to do your own ‘5 Things’ guest post? Message me on twitter @libertyfallsdwn or email me at libertfallsdown@hotmail.co.uk!