Thursday, 23 March 2017

Book Review - Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Book Review - Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
By Jonathan Safran Foer

'In a vase in a closet, a couple of years after his father died on 9/11, nine-year-old Oskar discovers a key...

The key belonged to his father, he's sure of that. But which of New York's 162 million locks does it open?

So begins a quest that takes Oskar - inventor, letter-writer and amateur detective - across New York's five boroughs and into the jumbled lives of friends, relatives and complete strangers. He gets heavy boots, he gives himself little bruises and he inches ever nearer to the hear of a family mystery that stretches back fifty years. But will it take him any closer to, or even further from, his lost father?'

I'd heard a lot of good things about this book before I finally picked it up to read. And I'd seen it in so many places, on so many friends and work colleagues book cases, that it had begun to seem like some kind of strange mystery book that I must be missing out on. 

Before you ask, I have not watched the film.

This is a very moving and powerful story of a young boy dealing with the loss of his father, but it is also a journey through the lives of his family, and the impact of terrible events on the lives of so many other people. It is honest, and explores these lasting effects throughout the characters lives.

The Writing - Jonathan has a very distinct writing style. He's fast paced, detailed, and interesting. There's a lot of dialogue in some parts, which is interesting because even then he's still found the right balance and it adds to the story. Parts of this book are incredibly wordy - but that reflects the characters and what's going on in their minds, you almost feel as you read it that they have literally opened some kind of tap from their mind straight to the page. His writing invokes emotional responses throughout the book that hold you to the characters. This book is engrossing, there were parts where I found myself reading faster and faster, unable to pull myself out and put it down. Jonathan has definitely found a way of gripping his readers and stopping them wanting to let go. 

The Plot - The plot for this book is fascinating. It's deep, multi-layered, and spans generations. And it has been weaved together beautifully. Because the story of Oskar is not just his story, it is a journey of discovery through the hidden past of his family, and the interweaving stories of these characters leaves you breathless and hungry for more. These stories are strange and intricate, they are stark, they tackle difficult subjects incredibly well, and they are personal. Here I think that Jonathan has created something original, something tied together by disaster, by love, and by sadness and the ability to move forwards and start anew even when you don't know how. In this book he takes us on a journey through the disasters that ravaged history, seen through the eyes of ordinary people, and the lasting effects they had, and still have, on so many people, in so many places. 

The Characters - The characters in this book are utterly unique, they are strange, and sometimes broken, but they are strong, and multi-faceted. They make real decisions and Jonathan gives you an incredible insight into the inner workings of their brains, as if they were as real as you or me. These characters have been places and seen things, they've lived, they've known hardship, and they've struggled through, one way or another. In many ways this books contains some of the richest and most diverse characters I've seen in a while, because this story is not just about the main characters. As Oskar makes his way through New York, on his quest to solve the mystery of the key, he encounters people of all shapes and sizes, and from all walks of life. He talks to these people, learns about them, hears their stories, and so you get a glimpse into all the worlds of all these people. In many ways I feel as if this book is a reflection on human life, in the way that it encompasses so many people, so many ideas and concepts, so many truths and realities, so many stories. 

I would recommend that you read this book. 
It is fascinating, heartbreaking, beautiful, and strong. Don't miss it. 

Rach x 

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Wordy Wednesday!


Vaunting

- Boastful
- Excessively praising something
- Marked by boastful pride


Vaunting comes originally from the Latin vanitare and vanus, meaning vain, and from the Middle French vanter, which means to boast. It is thought to have entered English in the late 1500's.

'Mark took an involuntary step back, cringing inwardly at Sarah's vaunting words as she flung them through the air and they bounced from the walls as if echoing and confirming themselves.' 


Can you use this word in a short piece of prose, flash fiction or poetry?
Comment it below and share the creativity!

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Writing Prompt!

This weeks writing prompt is... an abstract thought.


'The smell of the rain.'


Let the sentence flow through your mind and inspire your creativity, then put pen to paper and see what comes out!

Don't forget you can post your prompt response in the comments section below, or if you're really pleased with what you've done you can send it in as a submission to rachaelanna93@gmail.com.

Happy writing!


Rach x

Monday, 20 March 2017

Motivational Monday! Sheila Malady Short Story Competition



This week we're featuring the Sheila Malady Short Story Competition!

This competition is presented by Shakespeare on the River and is for short stories, of up to 2,000 words. This years theme is Light/Dark, which reflects the theme of the 2017 Shakespeare on the River Festival, Illuminate.

This competition is about both celebrating, and breathing new life into, the works of Shakespeare, by inviting writers to send in their own short creations.

The winner for this competition will be announced at the opening ceremony of the Stratford on Avon Shakespeare Festival on the 22nd of April 2017, and first prize will receive $300, two tickets to the community play performances, and a handcrafted timber quill.
There is also a local prize for one writer from Gippsland who will receive a Collins Bookstore Voucher and two tickets to the community play performances.
One young writer will also receive a Collins Bookstore Voucher and two tickets to the community play performances.

The entry for this competition is $5.

The closing date is Thursday the 23rd of March.

Please remember to check the website for formatting guidelines and more information, sadly many great stories, poems and literary works are disqualified in many competitions simply because the writer did not use the desired formatting, don't let your work be one them!

To read the rules, find out more, and to enter, please visit Sheila Malady Short Story Competition.

Happy Writing & Good Luck


Rach x

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Book Review - Full Dark, No Stars

Book Review - Full Dark, No Stars
By Stephen King


'What tips someone over the edge to commit a crime? 

For a Nebraska farmer, the turning point comes when his wife threatens to sell off the family homestead. 

A cosy mystery writer plots a savage revenge after a brutal encounter with a stranger. 

Harry Streeter gets the chance to cure himself from illness - if he agrees to impose misery on an old rival. 

And Darcy Anderson discovers a box containing her husband's dark and terrifying secrets - he's not just eh man who keeps his nails short and collects coins. And now he's heading home...'


As I am often wont to do, I borrowed this book from my mum - she has exceptionally good taste in books I must say, and borrowing hers is seeming to become a lifelong habit... which does serve to make my insistent reading  habit slightly kinder on the bank account, which is pretty useful.

Anyway, with this dark and exciting collection of short stories King has once again delivered absolutely fantastic, gripping, and moving, reading. These stories explore the darker side of the human psyche and look at just what it takes to push people into actions they never dreamed they'd take. These stories put their characters into shocking, and in cases disturbing, scenario's that force them to make choices we all hope we'll never have to make. Their choices shape the world around them and change the way they think and feel for the rest of their lives. 

The Writing - In this collection of short stories King's writing is as descriptive and immersive as we've all come to expect. Creating scenes, characters, and stories that seep into our minds and stay with us long after we've put the book down. I found myself hooked into each story, the words painting vivid scenes in my mind and allowing me feel the complex emotions of the characters, and in turn my own compassionate feelings towards them and their situations. King's writing is absorbing, pulling you into each story and keeping you hooked until you've reached it's end.

The Plot - As this is a collection of four short stories, plus a bonus story at the end, the plots are all different. However, each one is incredibly well thought out, delving into the human actions and reactions surrounding the scenario's presented, in a totally immersive fashion. Each story is almost instantly captivating, and each one leaves you pondering it for some time after, wondering what you would have done in that situation. While outrageous, most of these plots are potentially realistic and that is part of what makes them both fascinating and disturbing. These are all situations that could potentially occur in real life, that people may or may not have found themselves in in the past, or that could be waiting just around the corner of someone's future. And each one twists and turns and presents to you questions and choices that you hope you'll never have to face in real life.
For me, I think it was the last one, the bonus story at the end, that left me reeling the most.
If you do read this book make sure you read the Afterword at the end. In this King talks about both writing, and what lead him to coming up with the respective plots.

The Characters - We have all come to know and expect that King's characters will be living, breathing, people, walking and talking and acting and reacting just as you or I would. And the characters in these stories are no exception. They are truly and totally believable, so much so that you almost feel as if you might bump into them on the street, or they might live just down the road from you. These characters are like tiny people inserted into the pages of the stories, feeling, and being, and utterly convincing. Their 'realness' pushes you into feeling as they would feel, and into feeling compassion for them, into understanding the world from their point of view, seeing how they came to their decisions, looking at the world a little differently. Through their eyes we get a glimpse of the world as it may seem to someone else.


Read this book. But beware, you're in for a bit of a bumpy ride, these stories are gritty, real and absorbing, and they'll leave you questioning humanity for quite a little while after.


Rach x 

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Wordy Wednesday!


Cimmerian

- Dark and Gloomy
- Deep
- A mythological people living in perpetual gloom - Greek Mythology
- A historical nomadic people who overthrew the kingdom of Phrygia c676 bc


Cimmerian is an interesting word that seems to have developed from a range of different thing. It appears in the Greek Myth by Homer, Odyssey, as a name for a mythical people who lived in a city shrouded in mist and fog near the entrance to Hades.
It is then also used Historically as a name for a group of nomadic people who were driven from Southern Russian and later overthrew the kingdom of Phrygia (Turkey), whose King was Midas. The historical Cimmerian's are mentioned in several b.c texts, including that of the Greek Historian Herodotus in the 5th century b.c.
Today the word can be used in a mythological context, a historical context, or as a descriptive.
Cimmerian, which can also be spelled Kimmerian, comes from the Latin Cimerii, which in turn evolved from the Greek Kimmerioi. 


'She hesitated, her reluctance at entering the cimmerian caverns clear to the small group that waited anxiously behind her. She turned and offered her companions a last, frightened look, then stepped into the darkness and disappeared.' 


Can you use this word in a short piece of prose, flash fiction or poetry?
Comment it below and share the creativity!

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Writing Prompt!

This Tuesday's writing prompt is a first line. You can use it as the first line of a poem, a story, a piece of flash fiction, or whatever you want really! As long as it's used as the first line your piece can go on to be in any genre, style, theme, etc etc... You know the rules, we all play the game!
So without further ado, here's this week's prompt;


'Loneliness was not an unfamiliar term to Carrie, it was a word she had heard, and a word she had used, yet she realised that she had never truly understood it until this moment.'


Don't forget you can share you prompt response in the comments section below, and by doing so both entertain us all and offer more great inspiration for others! Or if you're particularly proud of what you've written feel free to send it in as a submission, just like Suzanne did a couple of weeks ago.


Happy Writing!


Rach x

Monday, 13 March 2017

Motivational Monday! Firstwriter International Short Story Contest


This week we're featuring the Firstwriter International Short Story Contest!

This contest is for short stories, on any theme and in any genre. The only restriction is that your story must be 3,000 words or under.

The winner for this competition will receive a £200 prize. There will also be ten special commendations.
All winners will be published in the Firstwriter magazine and will also receive a voucher.

The entry fee for one story is £6.50, for two is £11.50, for three is £15, or for four is £16.
You can enter online through the Firstwriter website, the link for which you can find below.

The closing date for this contest is the 1st of April 2017.

Please remember to check the website for formatting guidelines and more information, sadly many great stories, poems and literary works are disqualified in many competitions simply because the writer did not use the desired formatting, don't let your work be one them!

To read the rules, find out more and to enter, please visit Firstwriter Short Story Contest.

Happy Writing & Good Luck


Rach x

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Artel 20 - Firestone

When Millon finally came to, the sounds of the Giants fighting still filled the air around him, pulsing through him and ricocheting off the boulders surrounding him. He blinked and rubbed his head where he'd hit it as he'd fallen, then picked himself up and unsteadily brushed himself off. Artel was nowhere to be seen and for a terrifying moment Millon imagined that the Rock Giants had taken him, carted him off and stripped his flesh from his bones before grinding them into dust. Then he spotted a figure crouched in the gap between two boulders, intently watching the ongoing fight. Of course, how could he have expected anything else. He let out a sigh and crept unsteadily towards the darkened figure of his master.

Artel jumped and cursed loudly as Millon sidled up to his shoulder, causing the other man to frown and look away.
'Look, aren't they beautiful?'
Millon's mouth hung open.
'Beautiful? I'm not sure that's quite... '
'Sshh, you don't know what you're talking about. I mean look at them - they're the stuff of legends!'
'Yeah, and in the legends they usually eat everyone and grind their bones to dust, we're better off as far away as we can get.'
'Don't be so ridiculous! Think what we can learn from watching them, what we can record, what we can take home!'
There was a light in Artel's eye, a gleam that sent shivers of misgivings down Millon's spine.
'S-sir, I think we should leave, they haven't noticed us yet, and if we're quiet and we don't light a fire we can probably last till morning... th-then we can head back or, or carry on and get past them.'
Artel turned and fixed Millon with a look that made him go cold.
'You coward. We don't turn back. Our mission is to complete our quest, and right now we've been gifted an incredible opportunity, if I get so much as a hint of you jeopardising this I'll kill you myself.'
Millon's eyes widened as he stared at the grim set of Artel's face. He wasn't joking, not that Artel ever really joked, but this was serious, he meant every word. Suddenly he felt every bit the bumbling fool he had always been. Who had he been kidding back at the village, he wasn't useful, or brave, or interesting, or handsome. He had no skills, no backbone, no pride, and no point except to follow the orders given to him by the man in front of him. He should not, and could not, think for himself, and his life was expendable, his life had always been expendable. Who was he to think that he could dare to ask for anything more? He hung his head in shame and felt Artel's eyes leave his. Moments passed, unspoken words stretching out between them.
'See how they fight? That immense strength, it's like nothing I've ever seen before. And at first I thought they were simply throwing boulders at each other, and sometimes they are, but then I realised they're using weapons too.'
Millon looked up and peeked at the fighting Giants through the gap in the boulders, his eyes flicked across the scene in front of him. Five or six Giants were spread out across the scree, behind them the great mountain rose surely and steadily into the sky, it's rocky darkness lit by small fires dotted along it's surface. The whole scene looked like something out of a storybook his Gramm used to read to him when he was a child, and for a moment he remembered being perched on her knee, his pudgy fingers patting at the pages of the book she was reading, his imagination lost in the folds of her words.
He pushed the memory away and squinted through the darkness at the Giants, he had never heard of them using weapons. But as he looked closer he began to see that they carried some sort of short and stubby dark stone sword, more like a dagger really. He'd never seen anything like it.
'What is that?'
Artel look at him and raised an eyebrow, as if silently mocking his naivety.
'I believe, my dear companion, that it's Firestone.'
'Firestone?'
'Yes. I've never seen any, but the legends say it can only be found in the heart of a mountain, beneath the lair of a slumbering Dragon. It's supposedly formed from the residue left by a Dragon's fire, there's something in their breath, some chemical that normal fire doesn't have, and after the fire's gone it leaves this stuff behind it which then solidifies and becomes Firestone. It's supposed to be the strongest stone in the world.'
'It's just a legend though.'
'So were the Giants your looking at.'
'But if Firestone is real, then, that would mean that... '
'The legends surrounding Dragons go back thousands of years, and they aren't so much legends as very old testimonies. It's a widely held belief among the scholars back home that Dragons did exist thousands of years ago, but they died out as we rose to power. Following that logic there's no reason that Firestone shouldn't exist, it'll just be in a very limited supply.'
Millon frowned. 'Perhaps that's what we're supposed to find at the top of the mountain, Firestone that we can take home to build weapons and win the war?'
Artel raised another eyebrow. 'I don't intend on waiting until we get to the top of the mountain to get my hands on some of that.'
'You mean?'
A grin snaked it's way across the Knight's face.
'I mean we're gonna steal some from the Giants.'

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Book Review - The Word For World Is Forest

Book Review - The Word For World Is Forest
By Ursula K. Le Guin

'When the inhabitants of a peaceful world are conquered by the bloodthirsty yumens, they find themselves forced into servitude, at the mercy of their brutal masters. Eventually, desperation causes them to abandon their strictures against violence and rebel against their captors. But in doing so, they have endangered the very foundations of their society. For every blow against the invaders is a blow to the humanity of the Athsheans. And once the killing starts, there is no turning back.'

My mum lent me this book recently, telling me that it had been a compelling read and that it had reminded her a little of the film 'Avatar'. She was right, it certainly was a compelling read, and it did have certain similarities to the film, although in other ways it was entirely different. 
But most of all I think that this book is a very deep and fascinating portrayal of human nature, the rise of a chain reaction, and the theory of sustainable peace. 
Definitely a very interesting book well worth reading. 


The Writing - Ursula has a unique style of writing, and, having just come from reading a book by King, it took me a little while to get into it. However, once I'd got my head into it I found it to be concise and to the point, with not much room for fluff and descriptions that don't immediately add to the story. Her scenes are sharp and well defined, with enough to description to create a thorough image for the reader. The flow is both descriptive and fast, and once you get into it it'll keep you hooked. 
When writing dialogue I get the distinct feeling that Ursula becomes her characters, she has mastered each characters style of speaking and is both thorough and consistent in writing this. The one thing that I did find difficult about her writing was the lack of back story, this left you to figure out what things such as races, species or scenario's were, when they were mentioned as part of the story. In most cases this was fine, but in some I found myself frustrated that I did not have a clearer image or idea of the concept or character.

The Plot - The plot of this story is intriguing. Being a sci-fi novel the story is set in a future where humanity has grown, joined with other intergalactic races, and begun to colonise on other planets. The planet that the story is set on houses the Athsheans, nicknamed 'creechies', who are a native race of naturally peaceful humanoids that have been enslaved by the humans that arrive on their planet. This story is a fascinating portrayal of human nature and an exciting peak into a theoretical dark vs light scenario. Here in this book Ursula has posed huge questions, how much will it take to incite revolt in even the most peaceful of peoples, and following that, once an idea is both introduced and acted upon what lingering effect will it have on the population? 
This is a story about survival, it is a story about hope, it is a story that questions and a story that theorises. This book will make you think. 

The Characters - Ursula portrays her characters very well. They are full and rounded and contain all the good and bad bits found in real people. She has found a way to get inside her characters heads and reveal to her readers their inner thoughts, all the things that define their logic, reasoning and decisions, and most importantly, all the things that make them human. These characters are not good characters, and they are not bad characters, like the story itself the characters are a portrayal of human nature, a realistic imagining of a semi-predictable future based on what we know of human nature, and also on what we know of the conflicting ideas and actions of humans themselves. Ursula has captured the way that people in the real world think and act, and she has transferred that magnificently into her own characters, each one is utterly believable and plays a crucial part in the story. 

This is a great book, it's interesting, philosophic, and gripping, and it will leave your brain working over the questions is poses for weeks after you've finished reading it. 

I recommend it.

Rach x 

Wordy Wednesday!


This is a nice one for you today.

Peccadillo

- A minor fault or sin
- A slight offence
- A trifling fault

Peccadillo has a mixed original and variations of it can be found in both Spanish and Italian, however it is thought to have originated from the Latin Peccatum which meant fault, transgression or mistake. This word would have entered English in the late 1500's.

'He replayed the scene over and over in his mind, reliving her sharp tone and accusing voice. Her anger had been absolute, and her fury sharp, yet for the life of him he could barely understand why, it wasn't like he'd done much to annoy her, his mistake had only been a peccadillo after all.' 

Can you use this word in a short piece of prose, flash fiction or poetry?
Comment it below and share the creativity!

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Writing Prompt!

Today's writing prompt is a series of six words. Your task is to write a story, poem, or piece of flash fiction that includes all six of the given words. You can use them in any order and your piece can be in any genre.


'Coffee, Yellow, Paint, Wavering, Hollow, Sign'


Have fun!

And don't forget you can post your prompt response in the comments section below or send it in to me as a submission.


Happy Writing,


Rach x

Monday, 6 March 2017

Motivational Monday! The Henshaw Short Story Competition


This week we're featuring the Henshaw Short Story Competition!

This is a rolling quarterly competition for a short story of up to 2,000 words on any theme and in any genre.

The winner for this competition will receive a £100 prize, second place will receive £50, and third place will receive £25.
Each story entered will also receive a copy of the criteria that was used by the judges in their assessment of the stories.

The entry fee for this competition is a very affordable £5 and the closing date is the end of the month.
As this is a rolling quarterly competition it will be open again in June, so if you don't make this month's then you can always try again.

The winning stories will be published in Henshaw Press's 2017 anthology of short stories at the end of the year.

Please remember to check the website for formatting guidelines and more information, sadly many great stories, poems and literary works are disqualified in many competitions simply because the writer did not use the desired formatting, don't let your work be one them!

To read the rules, find out more and to enter, please visit The Henshaw Short Story Competition.

Happy Writing & Good Luck


Rach x

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Looking for a Writer!

I'm currently looking for a writer who's got information, advice, hints, tips, and experience, that they want to share with the writing community! 

I'd like to run a series of semi-regular articles on this website all about writing. The articles can cover any aspect of writing and/or publishing, as long as they're interesting, factually correct, and helpful for others. 

I'd like to publish these articles bi-weekly on a Thursday, so you'd have two weeks to draft, edit, and finalise your piece. I will of course go over it for a final check and edit before it is published. 

All articles will then be saved on the Hints, Tips and Writing Advice page where readers can access them at any time. 

I'm really excited to get another writer on board and I think it would be really good for the website to have a fresh voice!  

Unfortunately as I don't make any profit from this website I can't offer you any payment for your time or work. However I can offer you the chance to see your work published online under your own name and to be a part of a growing and enjoyable website. 

If you're interested in this position please send me an email at rachaelanna93@gmail.com.

Alternatively, if you fancy writing an article on writing or publishing for this website but you don't feel you want to commit long term please get in touch and send me an article for consideration. 


Rach x

Friday, 3 March 2017

Artel 19 - Men Among Giants

The mountains rose above them in the distance, dark and blue and towering. It was a familiar sight now, and one that was slowly growing increasingly frustrating. They had been travelling for weeks now, about three by Artel's count, yet they seemed no closer to the distant peaks than they had on the day they had left the village. They should have been there by now, or if not there then at least halfway there. Three weeks should have made at least a little bit of difference.
After a few days the barren scrub-land surrounding the village had given way to rolling green slopes dotted with trees and bushes and little pockets of woodland. It had been a welcome reprieve from the hot sun and the endless haze, and there had been plenty of wood to make fires at night and plenty of small animals to catch and eat. But soon enough the rolling green slopes had given way to a rocky scree that stretched away into the distance. The trees they came across now were few and far between, and the animals even more so. So ended their nights feasting on fresh meat by a warm fire. The rocks and boulders littered across the floor made it difficult for the horses, their hooves slipped on the stones and they slowed as they wobbled their way along, making one days ride become more akin to two. Artel's frustration grew. It wasn't the horses fault, he knew that, they simply weren't built for that environment, and he fought to hold it in. But their supplies were running low, food was scarce, and they hadn't seen any hint of running water for at least a week.
There had been no people either. He had expected to have come across another town or village by  now, but there had been no sign at all of human life. He had hoped they could have stopped off, had a night in a comfy bed, refilled their packs with fresh food and topped up their water - but that was not to be.

They had given up on the horses three days ago, when the rocks and boulders that littered the floor had become to many that the horses could barely keep their balance. It had been a tough decision, if the scree ended soon then the horses would be an advantage, but if it kept going all the way to the mountains then the creatures would only slow them down. He had thought about killing one, to add the meat to their dwindling supplies. It had been a good idea but one look at his companion reminded him that he'd be gutting it and cutting it up alone, and while fresh meat was a welcome idea he couldn't waste a day hacking up a horse. So he let them go and shouldered his pack and began the next part of the journey on foot.
Theoretically scree marked the feet of the mountains, so theoretically that meant they'd made it to the feet. But one look up at the dark peaks told him that the journey would continue for a lot longer yet.
On foot they were barely faster than the horses, and as the rocks and boulders that made up their surroundings grew larger and larger, the two men found it took longer and longer for them to climb over or around them.
It was hard work, a mixture of climbing and journeying, and when they made their small camps at night both men found that sleep came quickly and easily, their worn out bodies urging them to rest.

What are we going to do?
The thought had been nagging at Artel for the past week, though he had not shared it with his companion yet. In fact, since they had left the village he and Millon had shared barely a dozen words. He wasn't sure if Millon was angry with him for making him leave the village, or if was angry with himself for nearly giving up on his mission. Or perhaps it was that girl, Artel had seen him eyeing her. Well if that were the case then it was probably best Artel had taken him away, the girl was far too pretty to ever be interested in likes of poor, rotund, bumbling Millon. In reality, Artel had done his companion a favour, had saved him from the heartbreak and the pain of rejection that would surely have come if Millon had ever been brave enough to tell, or show, the girl how he felt. Not that Artel thought Millon was brave enough to make any sort of move, but you never knew what desperate people might do, and Millon was so terribly rubbish at anything that involved social interaction that Artel could easily imagine the poor man reaching a state of social desperation. He wondered briefly if Millon had ever even been with a woman. Then what sort of woman would want to lay with him. Then he shook his head, decided that Millon was most definitely still innocent in that regard, and pushed the thoughts from his mind.
But the question still remained, what were they going to do? They were running out of food and water, there was little in the way of animals or fruits to be found among the rocks, no running water, no villages, and the mountains looked no closer than they had on day one. The worry was increasing with each passing day, and the fear of desperation was growing. What would they do when they ran out, keep walking until they died among these rocks and their bodies became food for whatever scavengers might happen upon them. Perhaps their skeletons would be found one day by another traveller on his own mission to reach the mountain. Perhaps that man would die too, defeated by the rocks and the disgusting, endless, nothingness that seemed to pull at your very soul as if it were a creature sucking the life from your body.
Artel glanced at Millon. It was too late now, they couldn't turn back, they had to keep moving forwards, they had to continue the quest, no matter what the cost.

That night they silently set up camp in a small patch of space between two giant boulders. The rocks had grown larger and larger in size the further the men travelled, until they had become larger than the men themselves, and still larger and larger until they towered above them like miniature mountains. They made walking difficult and progress slow, but at night the pockets of space between them created perfect campsites.
The weary men did not talk as they set up their sleep sacks and began to set about making a small fire. They were late setting up that evening and the light was already beginning to fade, making it hard to see what they were doing. They had kept an eye out for sticks and other materials to burn as they had walked but the landscape held little but rocks and their collection was pitifully low. While Artel struggled to light the sorry collection of sticks and leaves Millon delved into his pack and pulled out their remaining rations. The sight made his heart sink. By his reckoning there was enough for another two days, maybe three if they were really sparing. They were going to die out here, between the rocks where no one would ever find them. He had followed the knight, his crazy master, on an insane and most likely pointless quest, leaving behind the only place he had ever called home, and now he was going to die out here. He was going to die and no one would ever know, or think to look, or even care. They might spare a thought towards Artel, but no one would worry about poor, stupid, bumbling Millon.
A spark caught and Artel's small pile went up in flames, crackling and spitting as the orange sparks devoured the dry leaves and thin twigs. It lasted all of about three minutes, then it ran out of fuel and died, the light slowly fading as the surrounding darkness closed in and swallowed it. For a while the two men sat in silence in the darkness, each eating is rations as slowly as possible, trying to make the last longer. The night pressed in, cold and dark and unforgiving.

Then the silence broke, with a roar and a crash and an mighty boom like a thunderclap coming from somewhere to their right that made the rocks around them shake and moan. In the distance lights sprung up, the flicker of many fires creating spots in the darkness. The two men sprung from their sleep sacks and crept around the side of the boulder they were sheltering behind. Artel's hand rested on the hilt of his sword, he was alert, alive, ready for action. He had been walking, travelling, journeying without incident for too long now. He was a night, he was a fighter, this is what he was born for. He was aware of Millon's unsteady breathing behind him as he crept out around the boulder and knew that the man was afraid, but that was not his concern. His concern was the fight, the excitement, the battle that he smelt on the air. He took another step, and another, knowing that surprise would put his opponent off balance and give him the upper hand. But as he crested the side of the boulder and his eyes drank in the sight before him Artel stopped dead, the colour draining from cheeks and all thoughts of battle fleeing from his mind.
In front of him the deserted scree was alive. The great boulders had come together, had woken and risen up in the forms of enormous giants who towered above the two tiny men and hurled boulders at each other, roaring and growling as they did so. Artel's brain stopped. Giants were creatures of legend. He heard a thump behind him and knew without having to look that Millon had lost consciousness, which was just as well, it kept him out of the way at least. He stared open mouthed at the huge creatures fighting before him. Around him the earth shook as they stamped and fell and hurled boulder after boulder. The night air full of the sounds of war, and Artel had not received training in Rock Giant combat.

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Book Review - Children of Time

Book Review - Children of Time 
By Adrian Tchaikovsky

'Who will inherit this new earth?
The last remnants of the human race left a dying Earth, desperate to find a new home among the stars. Following in the footsteps of their ancestors, they discover the greatest treasure of the past age - a world terraformed and prepared for human life. 
But all is not right in this new Eden. In the long years since the planet was abandoned, the work of its architects has borne disastrous fruit. The planet is not waiting for them, pristine and unoccupied. New masters have turned it from a refuge into mankind's worst nightmare.
Now, two civilisations are on a collision course, both testing the boundaries of what they will do to survive. As the fate of humanity hangs in the balance, who are the true heirs of this new Earth?'


I spotted this book while I was on a work outing. We'd nipped into Smith's and while my colleague went to get what she needed, I was, of course, irresistibly drawn to the fiction section, or more specifically, the sci-fi and fantasy section. I'm always on the look out for good, adult, sci-fi and fantasy books, and when I find one I like to shout about it. 
So I told myself I'd take a couple of minutes, just have a quick glance and not buy anything - I think I must have known I was lying to myself - and this book caught my eye. So I read the blurb, felt intrigued, and thought I'd give it a go. 

On the front of the cover Peter F.Hamilton says that this book is, 'really smart science fiction,' and he's right. This book blew me away, exploring ideas and concepts that were both absolutely fascinating and completely unique. I don't know where Adrian got his ideas from but they are fascinating and he wrote them expertly. If you are looking for something different, thought provoking, and that pushes boundaries, then I highly recommend you read this book.  

The Writing - This book has excellent flow and pace. The writing is descriptive, and versatile to suit the characters, but it is also captivating and moves forwards swiftly and surely so that as the reader you are pulled along with it. Dialogue is easy to follow and is used well to enhance the story, the same goes for internal character dialogue, which plays a big part in this book. The places and people described throughout the book are realistic and believable. The story is written in third person from several different perspectives and I think the shifts between characters is handled excellently.

The Plot - The plot of this book is brilliant. The story follows a well known basis - the last survivors of the human race are looking for a new home - but Adrian has taken this basis and built upon it in an entirely unique and exciting way. There are constant plot developments throughout the story that keep you working to try and figure out what will happen next, and twists and turns that both surprise and amaze you. This book keeps you guessing right up until the ending, which was not what I had thought it might be at all, but was wonderfully crafted and created a satisfying finish. 

The Characters - The characters in Children of Time are, different, to say the least. Without giving too much away - because I don't believe in spoilers - they are not your standard characters, and that makes the book even more special. I love stories where the characters are a bit out of the ordinary, and this book blows that out of the water with not just out of the ordinary, but downright unique characters that you find yourself rooting for in what becomes a complete conflict of interests. 
This book spans an incredible amount of time and as such many characters come and go, and yet Adrian has done a fantastic job of not just keeping you interested in them, but building on them with each new generation. There is a continuity and a flow to the characters presented throughout the book that is both real and raw, and utterly compelling. These characters are real, they are true, they are flawed and compulsive and beautifully thoughtful.


In a nutshell - read this book. 
I very much enjoyed it. 


Rach x 

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Wordy Wednesday!

Well we haven't had one of these in a while!


Here's a fun one for you this week;

Catawampus
(I'm actually not joking - this is a real word!)


- Askew, Awry
- Positioned Diagonally
- Diagonally, Obliquely (as an adverb)
-Fierce, Savage, Destructive

Catawampus is thought to have entered English sometime in the mid 1830's, and possibly from midland and southern United States interestingly enough - although where they got it from I have no idea!

'There wasn't much to see. An almost empty yard extended out from the dirty white walls of the house until it met with a run down wooden fence that hardly looked worthy of it's name. Halfway along and up the wall was a small window, it's frame sitting catawampus from the bricks surrounding it, that was it, if she could prize it open just a little further then that would be her way in.' 

Can you use this word in a short piece of prose, flash fiction or poetry?
Comment it below and share the creativity!