Writing challenge day 29 – the night of your 21st birthday 

I’ve become a little dissolutioned with this challenge it hasn’t turned out quite the way I thought it would and I’ve had to skip a few pointless ones like Wednesday’s day 28 – a phrase or word you say a lot. So this one is Thursday’s arriving late… 
The night of my 21st birthday was like most people’s: disappointing. I tried to organise something amazing like a night out in another town or a spa day or something but as always it was nigh on impossible to get plans to suit everyone. So instead we went to our local and got drunk and ended up in town dancing and drinking the night away. 
I don’t remember much of the night except that it was around the time I stopped wanting to be around my friend Ellie* because I was beginning to realise she had slightly psychotic tendencies and issues I couldn’t deal with. 
I was happy that about 4 of my friends actually turned up because as a rule most usually let you down. I remember my outfit and how much I loved it and thought I looked great at the time but cringe to look back on it now. Most of all though this post is in memory of my friend Laura who died 2 years later of a heart attack when she was only in her early 30s. This was the last night out I had with her. 
As I can’t remember much I’ll pop some pictures on instead. Back when I had black hair as well! 
Referring back to my photos I’ve just realised I’ve described my 22nd birthday! Stupid! Don’t want to waste the writing though so that was my 22nd, my 21st was different entirely! It started with a family meal  

  

there’s 21 year old me with my mum, grandma and little sister. 
Me and my other sister then went to Essex for the weekend to see JLS who were my favourite boy band at the time 

   
   So I never actually had a 21st birthday night out! 

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Book review – The Years of Loving You by Ella Harper 

  Picking up this book (or rather selecting it from my home page), the title ‘The Years Of Loving You’ gave it away that it was going to be a romance book (luckily one of my favourite genres). However it was not what I expected. This book centres around the two main characters Ed and Molly who met just before university. Despite having feelings for each other something always got in the way meaning they couldn’t be together. The story opens with Ed and Sam (Molly’s husband) chatting at Ed’s engagement party to the delectable Saskia. 
This novel is not like an ordinary romance novel. It juxtaposes between present day and the past exploring the relationships between many different characters but mainly focusing on the events which showed Ed and Molly how they felt about each other. As this goes on we find out that these are sort of extracts from the novel Ed is trying to write. The touch of something different though mainly comes through the authors delicate exploration of serious issues such as alcoholism and early onset Parkinson’s disease. 

It is a touching novel that really pulls at the heartstrings. It makes you feel irregardless of whether you are in a relationship or single that you want something just like Ed and Molly have. ‘Dirty romance’ maybe… 

I don’t really have any criticisms about the book other than that at points it seemed to overly use adjectives and adverbs but I think considering that one of the main characters was a prospective writer it was to be expected and it made it work. 

A very beautiful novel that makes you pause for thought and want to leave it a couple of days before you start something else. Not many novels manage that. 

It seems I’m finally… 

I don’t want to say it and jinx myself but lately I’ve been feeling suspiciously happy. Having left the job that was slowly destroying my life I have had 2 weeks at home catching up on uni work and tv and reading books. I’ve now got a new job with Sky which I start on Monday and I’m excited for this new chapter of my life to begin. 

Now that I’m not as stressed and upset due to work I’ve been able to rekindle my relationship with my boyfriend because I’m not snappy and taking things out on him. It’s made us a lot stronger and we’ve been able to remember why we’re so important to each other. 

I’m also now reviewing books regularly and have joined a local boom club which is something I missed going to since moving house. 

I’m laughing again. Tonight we’ve sat up while midnight watching old music videos and proper belly laughing which is something I’ve not done for a long time and I generally feel so much better for it. 

So I thought I’d share a happy post for once and spread the cheer I’m feeling at the moment! 🙂 

Book review – The Grownup by Gillian Flynn 

I hadn’t realised when I got incredibly excited at the prospect of a new Gillian Flynn book, that I had already read it as part of the anthology ‘Rogues’ edited by George RR Martin. Nevertheless I enjoyed it so much the first time I decided to read it again anyway! 
The Grownup focuses on the character of a young woman who is working as a physic even though she doesn’t really believe it. There is an immediate introduction of dark humour when she talks about her mother and about the reasons she’s been moved out to the front of the shop. Susan Burke is her client who asks for help when she admits she thinks her stepson is possessed and going to kill her and her son. Seeing an opportunity to make money the psychic agrees and goes each day to the house and pretends to exorcise it. What she finds there starts to creep her out just as much though. 

  The ambiguous ending serves well to keep you with unanswered questions ensuring that as with all of Flynn’s books you are thinking about it days and even weeks after you finish reading. 

The elements of supernatural along with Flynn’s well known psychological edge work well together and I found the ending quite surprising. 

Thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish, I can’t wait for her next book.  

 

Book review – Aspeans the Invasion by Roy Dias 

This book mostly appealed to me because I have a brother with Asperger’s syndrome. I have read The Curious Case of the Dog in the Nightime and House Rules by Jodi Picoult. Both these books affected me deeply and educated me on my brother’s condition. I was keen to see if this book did the same. 
When I requested this book for review I didn’t realise it was the second in a series although it was very easy to grasp the storyline immediately and I don’t think I necessarily needed to have read the first. 
The storyline is summed up pretty much in the first chapter. A human called George is trying to kidnap the two sons of the love of his life who married his ex-friend. We (the readers) are immediately filled in on the situation which is going on with the aliens who want to use the DNA of the two Asperger’s brothers to gain entry to earth and destroy it. It’s very fast past and action filled from the beginning with perhaps a slight leaning toward an immature writing style. For me there also seems to be a little too much emphasis put on the condition for example the way that everytime one of the brothers speaks ‘avoiding eye contact’ is tagged onto the end. 

 There seems to be a lot of immediate introduction without much explanation for a lot of things such as the ‘unique powers’. Maybe that’s due to me not reading the first book. There’s a lot of time that gets zipped away as well, they drive for four hours with nothing happening, they switch on the radio and after a couple of hours decide to get back on the road. I feel those parts could be filled with something more engaging for the reader. at times it felt almost like a paint by numbers of understanding Asperger’s syndrome ‘he knew how difficult it was for her to emotionally connect with someone and bring them into her comfort zone’. This just didn’t feel right for me. Although it’s correct information it again feels a little immature as if it’s forcing the reader to feel and see what the narrator wants rather than showing us in a different way. 
So overall what did I think to the book? 
In some ways I found it disappointing, it didn’t do for me what the other two did. It was quite monotonous and one dimensional with the characters doing this, then doing this, then doing that and then doing this. I couldn’t no matter how hard I tried connect with the characters or the story. Maybe I should have read the first book beforehand but according to most reviewers who loved the book this wasn’t necessary. Maybe it was written this way intentionally as a lot of People with Asperger’s do enjoy monotony and routine so that could explain the structure and it might just be me not connecting with it. 
I did like the general idea of people with Asperger’s having superpowers and being portrayed as heroes rather than just people with a ‘condition’. However I don’t think this book was for me. As far as I can see from other reviews it’s a bit of a marmite book you either love it or hate it and unfortunately for me it was the latter. 

  

Writing challenge day 27 – what you wore today 

It’s been a mixed bag… 

This morning when I got up I was supposed to be quitting smoking but found that today was not the day so I shoved a t-shirt and coat over my snowflake patterned pyjamas and off I went to the shop. 

Later this morning I had an interview so I changed into grey cigarette trousers from primark and a purple long sleeved t shirt from marks and Spencer’s. Black pumps finished it off with my usual navy and red check coat from next and my Scotty dog print scarf. 

Once home I changed back into snowflake pyjamas and my thick purple dressing gown and I’ve remained like that ever since! 

Book review – A Christmas Cracker by Trisha Ashley

Go on then… I’ll admit it… I’m a sucker for a romantic chic lit novel. It’s no fun being a serious reader all the time and studying books from the long eighteenth century for uni means I get enough of the serious stuff day to day. 

I’ll also admit I’d never read anything by Trisha Ashley before but I certainly will be reading books by her in future. 

A Christmas Cracker is centralised around the character Tabby a nice enough girl who has a bit of a bad time when she’s framed for fraud, her fiancé leaves her and sends her cat to a rescue centre. Things take a turn for the better though when she is rescued by a kindly Quaker woman who gives her a job revitalising the old cracker making factory left to her by her husband. The cute little cracker jokes at the beginning of each chapter are a great touch as well which give the Christmas feel more authenticity. 

What I love about books like this one are the wonderful happy endings. The idea that no matter what goes wrong things will turn out right in the end. I love their sense of romanticism and the wonderful ideas they give you about life in general. I love the warm fuzzy feeling I got inside when I’d finished this book and also the outside interest it gave me in further researching the Quakers; A religion I previously knew nothing about. 

I really liked the character of Tabby. With her sharp wit and sarcastic humour she was a very relatable character. I also loved the eccentric mill workers, grumpy Silas and ‘trouble at t’Mill’ Randall. Even the pets were great characters in their own right. There were sections to make you laugh out loud and parts that pulled at the heartstrings as well. 

The story didn’t just centre around the main romantic aspects either. Family history, village life, marketing, building a business, religion and true friendship were all part of it while sensitive subjects were brought in and dealt with in a respectful manner. 

The Christmas cheer it spread was perfect reading for this time of year as well. It’s left me with the feeling that I want to go and put my decorations up tomorrow and sip some mulled wine round a hot fire. A truly wonderful piece of Christmassy romantic fiction writing that gives you faith in humanity. 

  

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