YA Shot Tour: Maggie Harcourt
Today is my stop on the YA Shot Tour and I am here today with a brilliant guest post from Maggie Harcourt about her bookish inspirations!
by Maggie Harcourt
They say inspiration can come from anywhere, don’t they? And that’s largely true: you can find it in supermarkets, on trains, on your bedroom ceiling sometime around 3am when you’re having trouble sleeping and it’s the least convenient time imaginable to start Having An Idea… but every once in a while, it’s easier to pin down the thread of an idea. Every once in a while, it’s a book (or a film, or a television show) that starts you asking: “What if…?”
So here’s a couple of mine…
The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
I don’t remember the first time I read about the Musketeers, although I have a feeling it was probably filtered through Dogtanian & the Muskehounds (because 1980s). What I do remember is that I really, really wanted to be one of them: getting into daring swordfights with the Cardinal’s Guards, carrying out extravagantly risky secret missions… and all with my best friends by my side. Because it wasn’t the swashbuckling or the intrigues (political or romantic) that really caught my imagination: it was the friendships. Athos, Porthos and Aramis. The three inseparables; the three Musketeers. All for one, and one for all. So important is their relationship that the story is even named after them; there’s not even a mention of d’Artagnan – the actual protagonist – in the title…
To let you in on a little secret, I never got Doctor Who when I was growing up. It didn’t help that I largely grew up in the gap when it wasn’t a thing: I think I vaguely remember a handful of Sylvester McCoy’s episodes as the Seventh Doctor, and I definitely remember sitting down to watch Paul McCann’s feature-length outing as the Eighth (even if I don’t actually recall any of what happened in it…). But ‘new’ Who? That is very, very much a thing. I love the Doctor. I love that he can change who he is without ever quite changing it. I love that he calls himself ‘Doctor’ and that he believes in trying to solve things by being clever; fixing them instead of breaking them further like any other hero might do. I love that however angry and frustrated he might get (especially when it comes to humans), he still keeps coming back to try and make things better. Plus, you know, aliens and the TARDIS and jokes.
This is one of those “I really ought to read the book but I’m just going to sit here and cradle the film to me, gently weeping,” sort of choices… because there is no way – no way – that I can watch this film without dissolving into an ugly-crying, snivelling puddle. I don’t even know why: I spend half of it shouting at Allie and Noah’s choices, and the other half sighing wistfully at it. I’m not saying I particularly endorse the whole “I’m going to hang off the bottom of this Ferris wheel cab until that beautiful girl agrees to go out with me, possibly suggesting I’m a tad unhinged…” episode, but if you can make it to the end of the story without even a single tear, you might be a bit broken. Also, that kiss in the rain? Wow.
Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell – Susanna Clarke
I find it very difficult talking about this book (or the recent – brilliant – television adaptation of it) without… well, to put it bluntly, “going on a bit”. I wholeheartedly love this book. I love it – even the footnotes. Yep. (And, as I realised when I re-read it last year, if you want to find the rest of the women in the story, that’s where you look for them. Rather wittily, Clarke is making a pointed comment about the fact you’ll find many of history’s strong and powerful women hidden in the footnotes of the past.) I adore its layers: the alternate history, the scope and the prickliness of the characters… and the magic. I’m definitely a fan of the magic.
But what’s fascinating is that it has a lot in common with some of my favourite contemporary YA stories: if you strip it back to its absolute core, you can read it as Jonathan Strange’s coming-of-age story (which, while he feels a bit old to be a YA protagonist to our eyes, given the historical setting and his social class it sort of works). He’s dealing with authority, finding his own place in the world, falling in love, finding out who his true friends are… finding himself. And if he happens to encounter a shed-load of fairies and the Duke of Wellington while he’s at it, well, so much the better.
The thing that made me fall for it, irredeemably and head-over-heels, though, is that it’s also about books. Not just magic and power, but books and knowledge and what they mean – and what people will do to control them.
(By the way, if you can’t face the size of the novel – or the footnotes – do track down that recent BBC adaptation. It’s as perfect an adaptation as you’ll ever find of anything, both true to the spirit of the book and entirely its own thing.)
What are you bookish inspirations?
Today I am here with a review of Trolley Bags for you all! I recently got sent this product for review and I am so glad I asked to review them because I have fallen in love with them!
In this new world of plastic bags being 5p, I’ve been on a search to find some good sturdy grocery shopping bags that aren’t going to break when they’re full of heavy items, that are easy to carry and that don’t gather too much dust and dirt at the bottom of them. You know… I’m not really asking for too much, am I?
Over the years I have generally been using the supermarket’s own bags but as above, I often find that eventually they break or are too difficult to carry or they get full of dirt and grime and I don’t want to reuse them anyway.
So I am overjoyed with these new Trolley Bags. They have a mesh bottom so the dirt and grime disappears – or at least, I haven’t seen any yet! Plus they have strong but short handles so us short people aren’t dragging the shopping on the floor AND they can carry lots of heavy items too. I also love that they range in size as I often get more of one type of food than another anyway.
Of course, the reason for the range in size is also because that way they fit in the trolley better!
The idea is that you do all of your shopping with the bags hanging neatly on the back of the trolley and then you open the bags into the trolley at the end and pack your shopping away easily.
However. I am quite fortunate to live near a Tesco which allows me to Scan as I shop. So being able to have the bags perfectly organised in the trolley from the very beginning has been life changing! Normally the bags fall over each other and I struggle to get them to fit around everything but these just make it feel like you’re shopping normally but at the end of it, everything is neatly packed away.
Literally, a dream come true when it comes to shopping.
So, I would definitely highly recommend these bags if you want to make your shopping that little bit easier!
I was sent these bags for review. I was not compensated nor was I required to write a positive review.
Dust by Mark Thompson
I’m here today on the Dust blog tour and I am here to tell you all about this book!
About the Book
Set in small-town New Jersey in the 1960s, against the backdrop of the Vietnam war, Dust follows the boys through the dry heat of a formative summer. They face religious piety and its murderous consequences, alcohol, girls, sex, loss, tragedy and ultimately the tiny things that combine to make life what it is for the two friends – a great adventure.
But it’s a road trip through the heart of southern America with J.J.’s father that truly reveals a darker side to life – the two halves of a divided nation, where wealth, poverty and racial bigotry collide. This beautifully written debut novel would not be out of place alongside the work of Steinbeck and Philipp Meyer’s American Rust.
At turns funny, and at others heart-achingly sad, their story unfolds around the honest and frequently irreverent observations of two young people trying to grow up fast in a world that is at times confusing, and at others seen with a clarity only the young may possess.
About the Author
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What I Couldn’t Tell You by Faye Bird
Today is my spot on the What I Couldn’t Tell You blog tour and I am here today to tell you my five favourite things about the book.
*Please note* I organised this blog tour but all my opinions on the book are still honest and my own.
First, here’s some information about the book!
Laura was head over heels in love with Joe. But now Laura lies in a coma and Joe has gone missing. Was he the one who attacked her?
Laura’s sister Tessie is selectively mute. She can’t talk but she can listen. And as people tell her their secrets, she thinks she’s getting close to understanding what happened on that fateful night.
Five Favourite Things About What I Couldn’t Tell You
One of the things that really drew me into this story was our main protagonist, Tessie. As she has selective mutism, you really get a feel for her story as she struggles with words and times when she wants to speak but is effectively too afraid too. She is actually an incredibly strong character and I thought she was absolutely brilliant to read about. There were things she did that did make me want to shake her but at the same time, I understood her fears and her pain and just wanted to help make her feel okay about life. Faye Bird has done a brilliant job of creating such a powerful and vibrant character.
Getting parents and family central to a plot in YA can be difficult but in What I Couldn’t Tell You, it surrounds the family unit as the main plot involves Tessie’s sister. I like that the main focus of the book was on family and family relationships, especially when we all deal with our grief in different ways. I thought it was wonderful how it showed that a family can be strong and weak all at the same time and how in times of crisis and happiness, families can often come together in ways that are completely unexpected. I thought it was a wonderful representation of a dysfunctional but functional family.
Another aspect of this book that I loved was how diverse this book was. As well as having a main character with Selective Mutism – and not making this the main focal point of the book! – There was also a character with Depression and the book also covered anxiety and bullying as well. It was brilliant to see all of this included, especially as it is incredibly important to talk about mental health and bullying with teenagers. Definitely made me love this book all the more for the sensitive way it was all talked about too.
As soon as I started reading this book, I had difficulty putting it back down again. And when it was down, I was continuously thinking about it. Not even just the plot and how it kept moving forward and where it was going, but also about what it must be like to not be able to speak when you want to. I loved that Faye Bird really draws you into the story and keeps you turning the page with her addictive writing as you live vicariously through Tessie as she tries to work out what to do to help Laura. It helped to make the book so much more intense and interesting.
When it comes to reading, the ending of a book is generally important and it can certainly make or break a book for me. With thriller titles, the ending is, essentially, even more important. The wrong conclusion, or the wrong scenario could become catastrophic. Fortunately, What I Couldn’t Tell You has a very powerful ending which I really loved. I admitedly did see it coming but it was also shocking in how it was revealed. It definitely brought all of the tension into one place and really brought the reader to their knees. I thought it was wonderfully done, helping to make my overall enjoyment of the book that much higher. This is a truly brilliant book.
About the Author
Faye writes fiction for young adults. Before becoming a writer she worked as a literary agent representing screenwriters in film and TV. She studied Philosophy and Literature at Warwick University, but has otherwise always lived in London, and still does now. Her second novel, What I Couldn’t Tell You, will be published on 1 May 2016.
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The Power of Physio
Today I want to talk to you all about my recent physio sessions, and the ones I had two years ago too, and how they’ve actually really helped me, sometimes in ways I didn’t really expect.
Two Years Ago
So, I don’t remember if I was open about this two years ago but I had physio in the summer after my 6 mile run for the Sports Relief charity. Halfway through, or maybe two thirds of the way through my run my hip gave the sharpest pain I have ever experienced, or remember experiencing. Determined not to give up, I just slowed my pace to walk and then at the end, quite literally ran through the pain. But then that pain did not go away. I ended up at the doctors, getting x-rays and all sorts at the hospital before finally being referred to the physio department.
This was the first time I had ever had physio and I was, rightfully, nervous. I had no idea what to expect and I had no idea how quickly the exercises I had to do would start working. All I knew was that I wanted the pain to go away and I really, really wanted to be able to run again. So I went and fortunately I had a really nice physiotherapist who was really lovely. She talked me through my fears, talked me through the exercises and I just felt very confident about it all.
Naturally I went home and made sure to do the exercises I was given daily and could feel my muscles growing stronger. The therapist put the pain down to my muscles not being strong enough to sustain my joint while I was running, which is fair as I was just doing cardio and not muscle exercises. Within weeks my muscles were a lot stronger and I was able to go back running again too. I left the physio department feeling stronger and confident in my ability to look after myself.
I’m still not one hundred percent sure what’s going on with me. The doctors are fairly clueless as all my blood results have come back negative and so by medical standards, I should be an incredibly healthy individual but I’m not. So, as a final straw, I was sent to physio to see if they could help with the fact that my muscles continuously feel tired and exhausted as though they are simply done with carrying my body around – even my wrists and fingers are starting to get agitated with me!
I felt less nervous but still pretty nervous about this round of physio but unfortunately when I met my physiotherapy I did not feel comfortable. The therapist has an aura about her that I really struggle around. She makes me feel very small and very stupid and I just feel incredibly uncomfortable in her presence. It’s made me really not want to go to my physio sessions which is incredibly unfortunate.
This physiotherapist is concerned that my core muscles are non-existent. That because of this, it’s been putting a strain on my entire body and is the reason that I’m not in the best shape at the moment. And thus we have been working together through a series of exercises to strengthen my muscles and get them to help me feel stronger again. It’s taking longer than last time, which is probably due to being in a much worse position but I also know I am much better than I was back in January of this year.
As I spend more hours with this physiotherapist, I am becoming more comfortable around her as a person but I don’t think I’ll ever feel truly comfortable and I think that this is a very worrying factor as I feel it’s important to connect with the person who is helping me get back on my feet. So I hope that I can continue to push passed the weird atmosphere I feel around her and finally feel less awkward about going to physio.
That being said, the one thing I am so glad about is that the exercises are helping. I feel stronger and I know I feel a lot better after doing the exercises too. It has given me that tiny inkling of hope that I might, one day, be able to face the pavement again and not worry about damaging my body in the future.
Have you ever had physio? How did it work for you?
Good Girl Bad Girl by Ann Girdharry
I’m here today on the Good Girl Bad Girl blog tour with a wonderful guest post from Ann Girdharry about her inspiration for the book!
I’ve already started reading this book and I am very much addicted to it. It’s full of intricate details as well as mystery and intrigue. I have to know how it is all going to come together!
So without further ado, here’s some info on the book.
About the Book
Kal is convinced her investigative journalist mother must have been working on a controversial, and top level, news story, it is the only explanation for her sudden and suspicious disappearance. Although mistrustful of the police, Kal allows Detective Inspector Spinks, the officer assigned to her mother’s case, to accompany her when she visits her grandmother to break the news. What they don’t expect is to uncover a file of shocking research cataloguing the deviant activities of seven members of London’s political and business elite. Back on the streets of London, the survival instincts and specialist expertise she learned from her late father, kick into overdrive, as Kal resolves to not only find her mother but continue her work and unveil the conspiracy hidden amongst those in power.
Inspiration behind Good Girl Bad Girl
By Ann Girdharry
I love to write mystery and psychological suspense. I like to take the reader on a journey where they can see the darker sides of human nature, and I like them to experience that darker side in a place that they didn’t expect to see it – like next door, or, better still, right on their doorstep. Once, when my very best friend told me she had to stop reading one of my stories because she found it ‘too frightening’, I took it as a great compliment.
My starting point for Good Girl Bad Girl was the idea of Kal and her family. More specifically, I wanted to create a situation where Kal would be faced with impossible choices – saving her mother or saving a child. Then, if she avenges those she loves does that make Kal evil? Which line will she take when she is absolutely pushed over her limits?
You see, I’ve worked in some extreme situations – for instance with survivors of rape, or victims of racial attacks and I’ve studied psychology and I’ve reflected on all the nasty ways that the mind can turn. As well as all the inspiring ways. So that means I can create situations where characters can be made to face their darker sides. I think it’s the darker side within each of us that really scares us. It’s easy, or certainly easier, to create a villain who has a dark side. What’s even better is to create a main character who is haunted by the possibility of her own darker side.
That was the key inspiration for this story.
So then we have Kal’s father. Since he died some time ago, we only see his influence working its way in the story through Kal. David Khan shaped her. He made her who she is. She fears that he made her everything that she is and Kal’s father had a secretive side. A dark side. How dark, we shall find out in the story and we shall see also the triangle that is formed of Kal, Alesha and David Khan because what we don’t know, and what Kal is tormented by, is the possibility of a connection between her mother’s disappearance and David Khan’s secret life. That part of the story will take us into the place that Kal doesn’t want to go, but, she must go there.
I think that the layers of a story are really important too. So, in this book friendship plays a key role. Family plays a key role too – the good, the bad and the inherited parts we can do nothing about. Fate plays a part. The past is important. Personal values and ethics have a leading role.
People often like to know if characters are based on anyone in particular. For me, none of my characters are based on just one person. Rather, they are an amalgamation of traits and looks and temperaments and thinking that come from many different people I’ve encountered or known in my life.
It’s true that when you’re writing about them, characters take on a life of their own, so that perhaps a thought you had about them at the beginning will no longer suit them by the end of the book because they’ve taken on their own personality by then. This happened for me with Kal and Marty, and, more surprisingly, with Sarah – she turned out much more assertive than I had initially imagined her to be, but it was really right for her!
Stereotypes were also a source of inspiration for me, or rather, the overturning of stereotypes. In particular, I’m talking about stereotypes in relation to women and those about ethnic groups. LeeMing himself alludes to this when he decides to pose as the pizza delivery boy and when he talks about Marty’s take on the Triad. We hear Kal’s thoughts about her ability to pass under the radar due to her ethnicity and we hear her grandmother’s comments about life as an immigrant and how she’s been treated during her life in England.
My imagination has always been my
worst enemy friend, and all the elements I’ve talked about here were thrown into the pot to cook up Good Girl Bad Girl.
About the Author
Born and educated in the UK, Ann Girdharry is a trained psychotherapist and has worked as a manager in the not-for-profit sector for many years for agencies working with: carers, vulnerable older people and those with dementia, survivors of abuse, and victims of racism and racial attacks. Today she lives in Montpellier, France with her husband and two children. As well as her passion for writing, Ann enjoys gardening and is a member of her local roller blading club. Ann has previously published a series of short stories called Tales of the Unexpected (2015-2016). Her debut novel, and the first in the Kal Medi series, Good Girl Bad Girl by Ann Girdharry (published by CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing 23rd August 2016 RRP £8.99 paperback, £3.99 ebook) is available to purchase from online retailers including amazon.co.uk and to order from all good bookstores.
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The Regulars by Georgia Clark
Today is my stop on The Regulars blog tour and today I have for you an interview with the lovely Georgia Clark.
First though, here’s some information on the book.
About the Book
Until they come across Pretty, a magic tincture that makes them, well …gorgeous. Like, supermodelgorgeous. With a single drop, each young woman gets the gift of jaw-dropping beauty for one week, presenting them with unimaginable opportunities to make their biggest fantasies come true.
But there’s a dark side to Pretty, too, and as the gloss fades for these modern-day Cinderellas, there’s just one question left: What would you sacrifice to be Pretty?
Interview with Georgia Clark
The premise of your book sounds really interesting, where did the idea come from?
The wild wanderings of my brain. The idea of three young women taking a potion that turned them Pretty came to my while I was watching The West Wing. Seriously.
What would you sacrifice to be pretty?
My first instinct is: not much. I’m happy with who I am. But when I think about it, I do sacrifice quite a lot to adhere to beauty standards: I sacrifice money when I by products, I sacrifice comfort when I get a wax, I sacrifice time when I put on make-up. Even though I consider myself pretty low maintenance, like most women, I do sacrifice a lot for beauty.
How has it felt to become a published author?
Amazing! This is my third novel but my first BIG novel: one where I think my friends are actually excited to read it, and it’s not just people I know tweeting me about it. It’s very legitimizing and thrilling. I feel so lucky.
When it comes to writing, do you plan or do you just go where the “pen” takes you?
I plan. Big on planning. Love an outline as much as I love a to-do list. For me, I save myself time if I know where the story is going, so I can iron out any structural problems early on. I love the brainstorming and outlining part because it’s freeing and fun, then when I start drafting, I feel like I’m in better hands (my own, just more capable and forward-thinking). That’s not to say crazy things don’t happen when I’m drafting… Characters tend to have a mind of their own…
Are any of the characters based on someone you know?
Yes: one is based on an old roommate, and the others are amalgamations of people I’ve been close to. I really wanted to characters to not only be funny, but feel very real. It’s my hope they’re familiar and relatable, as well as entertaining.
What is your favourite thing about New York?
So many! I love the energy; the ‘anything can happen’ vibe. I love the four seasons (well, two: insanely hot and insanely cold) — they define the year and give the city depth and personality. I love the food, the streets, I love being in the center of things. I felt at home here immediately. It was love at first sight.
How long did it take you to write The Regulars?
About 2 years to write and then after we sold it, another 1.5 years to edit and publish.
Where is your favourite place to write?
Either from my home office, where I am right now, or the New York Writers Room, a members’ only space for professional writers. Sometimes I’m cheeky and work from bed, but only if I had a big night the night before!
What is your favourite beverage to drink while writing?
Tea in the winter and iced coffee in the summer.
How would you describe your book in a tweet? (140 characters!)
Funny, feminist, contemporary fiction about three young women who get the chance to turn pretty… like, super f*cking hot. Would you?
About the Author
Georgia Clark is an author, screenwriter and journalist who is widely published in women’s and lifestyle magazines, and writes for TV. She is enthusiastically vegetarian, proudly queer, definitely a city-dweller, a long-time lover and supporter of the arts and an advocate for the empowerment of young women.
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Making Arrangements by Ferris Robinson
Today I am here to celebrate the release day of the paperback for Making Arrangements by Ferris Robinson! To celebrate I have for you an excerpt of the book and a giveaway too!
Before we get to that though, here’s some info on the book!
About the Book
Devoted to him, she reels from the loss, focusing on her precious granddaughter but struggling with her bossy only child, Teddy, and his aloof girlfriend, Sarah.
With her historical family estate in jeopardy, Lang realizes her husband wasn’t as perfect as she thought.
The secret he carried to his grave can ruin her life.
If she lets it.
Teddy sat hunched over the kitchen counter with Sarah and Katie D. on either side of him. Sarah leaned into him, her cloud of pale hair floating out over the back of Teddy’s brown sweater, hovering with static electricity. Lang watched the three of them for a moment from the doorway. She could hear murmurs of their sentences: Katie D.’s singsong voice, Teddy’s hoarse rumble, apologizing for something, and Sarah speaking so tenderly her voice didn’t sound human.
Lang closed her eyes, holding on to the doorjamb for balance, and felt Sarah’s words like they were something physical, covering her softly. Gently.
“Mom!” Teddy said, scraping the chair away from the counter. She jerked to attention.
He looked like he hadn’t slept in days; the collar of his button-down shirt was uncharacteristically wrinkled, and his azure eyes were flat.
“Oh! I didn’t hear you!” A. J. said, appearing suddenly from the hall bathroom. She looked Lang up and down, grimacing. “You still got that rubber band around your wrist.” Lang pulled the frayed cuff down to her knuckles, holding the soft fabric in her fists.
A. J. looked like a different person except for her crumpled tennis clothes. Her hair was styled and her eyes were bright and her skin was dewy. She looked like she’d found a day spa in the hall bathroom. Lang sniffed the air, detecting vanilla and deodorant.
“I smell something,” Katie D. said.
“Halston,” A. J. said, flapping her hands in circles about her neck in an effort to spread the heavy perfume around the room. Katie D. crinkled up her nose.
Lang ran her fingers under her own eyes, trying to remember the last time she’d looked in a mirror. She should have put on some makeup after her shower. Concealer under her eyes at least. She reached her hands out toward her son, then curled them into useless fists as she shook her head slowly.
Teddy wrapped his arms around her, and she felt her boy sink into her, collapsing for a second. His breath caught, and his chest shuddered against her shoulder.
“Shhh,” she said. “Don’t cry.” She felt him stiffen before he stepped away.
“How you holding up?” Teddy asked brusquely. “Who would have thought, huh? Sorry, bad joke. Dad would have laughed, though.”
Lang squeezed the edges of her mouth up into a semblance of a smile. No one would have ever thought Jack would be dead instead of her. Hilarious.
About the Author
The author of several cookbooks, including “Never Trust a Hungry Cook,” which she wrote in college and the “Gorgeless Gourmet’s Cookbook,” Ferris was featured on the cover of Women’s World magazine. Promoting her super-easy but healthy recipes, she made numerous television appearances and sold 10,000 copies of the Gorgeless Gourmet’s Cookbook, pre-Internet. Paid subscribers from every state in the U.S. received her newsletter featuring “practically fat-free recipes for super-busy people.”
Her book “Dogs and Love – Sixteen Stories of Fidelity” has 94 reviews on Amazon, and her other books include “Authentic Log Homes.” “Making Arrangements” is her first novel.
Title: Huntsman: Winter’s War
Director: Cedric Nicolas-Troyan
Production Company: Universal Pictures
Main Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Jessica Chastain, Charlize Theron & Emily Blunt
Release Date: 15th August 2016
Format: DVD & Blu-Ray
Source:: Review Copy
Add It: IMDB, Amazon UK, Rakuten.co.uk
Freya the Ice Queen (Emily Blunt) brings her sister Ravenna (Charlize Theron) back to life, and the powerful evil siblings plan to conquer the Enchanted Forest. Only the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) and his secret lover Sara (Jessica Chastain) can stop them in this sequel continuing the inventive twist on the Snow White fable.
When I first watched this film in the cinema, I was a bit unsure what to expect. Having seen Snow White and the Huntsman previously, I knew that it would be a magnificent film but there were parts of that film that film that I disliked. Fortunately, this film was a lot better and I ended up liking it a lot. So when I was given the chance to receive the DVD and review it early, I jumped on the chance. Watching the film for a second time just made me realise how much I really enjoyed this film and I am certain that I will continue to watch this film over and over again. The exact thing you want when purchasing a DVD or Blu-Ray!
I’ve always been enamoured with the Snow White story and I love that in this film they dive deeper into the background of the story. This is different to the normal story that we all know and love. This is the prequel story, how the Huntsman became the Huntsman. It was thrilling, addictive and intense. I thought it was full of brilliant twists and turns and I found myself riveted in my seat both times that I watched the film. My favourite characters of the film, aside from the Huntsman himself, were the dwarves. They were the perfect characters to bring comic relief to such a dark film and I just thought they were absolutely brilliant.
The one thing about this film that cannot be missed out of this review is the stunning cinematography. This film is absolutely beautiful. Every colour has been carefully planned and plotted to bring out the right essence of this film. From the cold, snowy scenery to the vibrant colours of the forest. It has all made this film a masterpiece to watch. It made the atmosphere just right and just makes me want to re-watch it over and over again to witness the beauty all over again. It is absolutely stunning and I am in awe of everyone who worked on this film to make it what it is.
Overall this film is a spectacular movie that will keep you entertained from start to finish. It is interesting and fascinating and you will become engrossed in the storyline as the film progresses. It is full of charming characters that you can’t help but love and villains that you will want to destroy. It’s storytelling and filmmaking at its finest and it is easily re-watchable too. I absolutely adored this film and I know that I will be re-watching it myself too. This film is intense, emotional, and has comic relief moments too. The perfect film to watch with the family. So, if you haven’t yet seen this yet, I highly recommend you go out and buy it tomorrow!
** I received this copy in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated nor was I required to write a positive review. **
Ghost Target by Will Jordan
I’m here today on the Ghost Target blog tour and I’m here to introduce you all to Will Jordan as he talks about his Bookish Inspirations!
First though, here’s some information on the book!
Ryan Drake, once a decorated field operative, is now wanted for treason. On the run from the CIA’s corrupt Deputy Director Marcus Cain, he has spent the past six months in a remote French safehouse. Drake’s former life seems to be behind him, but the uneasy peace is shattered when Cain moves against him with startling force.
Meanwhile, the war in Afghanistan is faltering in the wake of a devastating suicide attack. Cain though has a plan to find and destroy al-Qaeda’s top commanders. And nobody will stand in his way.
Backed into a corner, Drake turns to the deadly but unpredictable Anya – once Cain’s most promising agent, now his most bitter enemy. With tensions running high and their uneasy alliance threatening to tear itself apart, Drake’s hastily assembled team travels to Pakistan to intercept Cain.
With the fate of the War on Terror hanging in the balance, loyalties are tested and scores settled, as Drake embarks on the fight of his life. Only one side will survive…
By Will Jordan
That being said, I have and sometimes still do use other books to inspire me, to motivate me, or just to give me a different way of looking at things, so hopefully the list below reflects that blend of old and new.
1. The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean Auel)
Having stumbled on it twenty years ago by pure fluke, Auel’s Earth’s Children series will always have a special place in my heart, because it’s basically the reason I got into writing in the first place, and it all began with Clan of the Cave Bear. Set during the last ice age at the dawn of human history, the book follows Ayla, a young girl who loses her family in an earthquake and is taken in by a clan of Neandertals. Forced to adapt to a shockingly different way of life, and to survive against the vindictive future leader of the group, it’s impossible not to root for her. The book makes no effort to romanticise that era, depicting life as hard, dangerous and unforgiving, which makes Ayla’s story all the more remarkable. I learned a great deal about character building from this book; so much so that one of my own characters in the Drake series is actually a tip of the hat to Auel’s classic protagonist.
2. Conrad’s War (Andrew Davies)
One of the earliest books I remember reading independently, Conrad’s War is told from the point of view of a young man growing up in the 1960′s who fantasises about WW2. Gradually his fantasies begin to seep into the real world, taking on a life of their own. Accompanied by his hapless dad, Conrad experiences everything from piloting a defective aircraft during a bombing raid, to an escape from a POW camp, to a desperate race for the French coast. It’s told with a wonderful sense of dry humour, particularly his relationship with his blundering father, but the most arresting moments are the serious ones, like when Conrad encounters a decrepit ambulance loaded with casualties and begins to realise war isn’t the glorious adventure he imagined.
3. A Thousand Splendid Suns (Khaled Hosseini)
If ever I learned a lesson from a book, it was this – it doesn’t matter what the situation is, how mundane or simple it might seem; if you care about the characters involved, then it becomes the most important thing in all the world. I learned that lesson from A Thousand Splendid Suns; the story of two women living through two turbulent decades of Afghan history, and their increasingly desperate attempts to escape their abusive husband. An absolutely gripping look at the enduring power of friendship, hope and sacrifice.
Taking my cues from this book, I’ve made a point of crafting compelling, relatable characters that my readers can genuinely empathise with and become attached to. That way they can be even more shocked as I start killing them off!
4. The Road (Cormack McCarthy)
As bleak and uncompromising as it is heartening and uplifting, The Road depicts the struggle of a father to survive and protect his son from the dangers of a post-apocalyptic world. More importantly, the book examines what it truly means to be human, and how far one can go in order to stay alive. The book’s central message took on new meaning for me when I became a father myself.
5. Any Clive Cussler book!
Well it doesn’t all have to be bleak and grim! Even a writer needs a bit of escapism from time to time, and truly there’s nothing better for me than to take off on another adventure with Cussler’s unflappable hero Dirk Pitt. Globe-trotting escapades, beautiful and exotic locations, over the top villains and ancient mysteries combine into a perfect blend of action and intrigue. Even if we work in somewhat different genres, I can’t help but add a pinch of Cussler’s style every once in a while, particularly by having Drake and company travel to far flung countries for their next mission.
I make a point of taking a Cussler book with me every time I go away on holiday. I dread the day when I finish them all!
6. My own online writing
It may sound self indulgent, but stick with me. Writing is like a snapshot of your life at a particular place and time, way more personal than a photograph because the words were crafted and developed entirely by you. For me there’s no easier way to evoke memories of a certain time in my life than to read something I wrote back then, and fortunately there’s a pretty big repository of my old work lurking out there in cyberspace to this day. And no, I’m not telling you where it is!
But it’s rather satisfying to be able to bring back some of the characters I created back then and work them into my present day Drake novels.
7. The Lord of the Rings (JRR Tolkien)
Really doesn’t need an introduction, does it? Lord of the Rings is one of those books that simply is. Grand and sweeping in its scope, rich in its detail and backstory, yet somehow able to marry this to the most intimate and poignant character moments, it’s simply a masterclass in storytelling. It helped introduce me to fantasy as a genre, and actually taught me some important lessons about developing large scale, epic storylines across multiple volumes. Again, lessons I’ve been able to apply readily to the Ryan Drake series.
8. The Book Thief (Markus Zusak)
The only book to ever make me cry. The story of an orphaned girl struggling to survive in wartime Nazi Germany, told with remarkable sensitivity and poignancy from the point of view of Death himself. The bleak setting only serves to highlight the tremendous humanity and warmth of the book’s characters, particularly the main character’s adopted father. The ending, when it comes, still gives me chills whenever I think about it.
9. Nineteen Eighty Four (George Orwell)
Never have I read a book so wonderfully open to interpretation. In a world where the very fabric of reality can be twisted and distorted by the sinister Party, there’s no way to truly be sure of anything the book throws at you. With a protagonist who is neither heroic nor noble, but utterly frail and human, this book still manages to evoke the same feelings of creeping dread and paranoia with every read.
Big Brother is watching.
10. The Inheritors (William Golding)
A novel I was introduced to back in high school, and one that has stayed with me ever since. Haunting and dreamlike in its telling, but brutal and savage in its concept, it depicts the last days of a group of Neandertals as they encounter and are ultimately destroyed by the newer and more advanced invading species – humans. The air of sadness and melancholy that permeates the book is almost palpable, and even if you know the fate that awaits the main characters, you can’t help but hope they’ll somehow make it through.
Anyone who’s read my latest novel Ghost Target can no doubt sympathise!
Will Jordan was born in Fife. Whilst completing his degree in IT he worked as an extra in television and feature films. Cast in several action films, he was put through military boot camp and weapons training in preparation. He used this experience as the basis for his first thriller, Redemption and followed up with visits to weapon ranges in America and Eastern Europe, as well as research trips to Washington DC, London and New York. He has also interviewed British armed forces who had served tours in Afghanistan Ghost Target is his sixth book in the Ryan Drake series.