Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Dusty Pages Review: The October Man

A brand-new stand-alone novella in the Rivers of London series!
Tobias Winter has been assigned to the Abteilung KDA - the Department for Complex and Unspecific Matters. 
Despite the intriguing department name, as Winter explains, dealing with the strange and the supernatural is 'actually 90 percent paperwork'. But this is a story about the other 10 percent of the job: the life-threatening danger part. 
This is a tale about the Queen of the Harvest, the October Man, and the little-known time the vineyard around Trier started to eat people.... 
Winter may be P. C. Peter Grant's German counterpart, but surviving this investigation is entirely down to him....
(Audiobook)

I initially thought when I selected this book that it was the next installment in the Peter Grant series only to find that it wasn't following him at all but a counterpart agent from Germany. Once I got over that disappointment and put it aside, I really got into the story, which had a lot of the same elements as the River of London stories - marginally I imagine because it was set in the same world - and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

One of the first clues that it was not the same as before was the fact that the narrator changed. This is no read by Kobna Holdbrook-Smith but by a gentleman called Sam Peter-Jackson who inflects a distinctly German accented English to tell the story about an unusual possibly magical death in Trier, Germany.

Tobias Winter gets partnered up with Vanessa Sommer (Sommer and Winter...hehe) and together they go about dealing with a mysterious malignancy, a new born river goddess, and a connection deep into the past. I very much enjoyed the interaction between the two main character and the story in general was completely inline with the other River of London books.

There is one character, Tobias top boss, his version of Nightingale, whom descriptions of which make me think of a much taller Edna Mode.

The only trouble I had with the audio was there were several parts where German words were used in quick succession and I got a little lost because I don't speak much German. I think this is an element of the story which might have been a little easier to follow in text. However, that said I do hope that there will be more from these characters at some point as long as it doesn't mean an end to Peter Grant's story.

I still give it





Monday, 24 June 2019

Upcycling

I didn't know much about upcycling to begin with. I'd seen this woman on the television who would take things that people were dropping off at the tip and turning into something else. I was amazed that not only did she take this piece of junk that the owner didn't want, she would then sell it and give the original owner the profit.

Now, I recently cleared out my wardrobe and I had this box of old t-shirts. The images on them I still loved and were still in good quality but I couldn't wear them to work and they were just sitting in the back gathering dust or love.

I decided to start upcycling them. But what to make them into. I ended up on YouTube where I saw a video of a woman showing you how to make them into attractive cushions or cushion covers - so that's what I did.

Below are two squishy cushions I made. These are cushions that are filled with stuffing and completely sealed so that they unfortunately cannot be washed.

After I made these, and felt more comfortable with my sewing machine (a new purchase for me) I started to give a go at creating slip on covers. Below are two that I have made so far - again from upcycled t-shirts but these can be taken off the cushion insert inside and washed if they get dirty.


The second one here I will be offering up for sale once I have re-worked my facebook page for sales. Of course, I only have a limited supply of these t-shirts to upcycle and each one will be unique as some of the designs on them are no longer sold on the website from which I bought the original top. I started looking at making cushions from material - I have a large box of some quite random pieces but I recently made a baby blanket for a friend and have several Harry Potter themed pieces remaining in order to make this cushion below.



This one will not be for sale, as I made it for myself but I have a couple of other pieces like this, so I will be able to make at least two more which I can sell and hope that I will find some interest in them. I think I might have found a side business to help fund my writing projects.

Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Dusty Pages Review: The Restaurant of Love Regained


Returning home from work, Rinko is shocked to find that her flat is totally empty. Gone are her TV set, fridge and furniture, gone are all her kitchen tools, including the old Meiji mortar she has inherited from her grandmother and the Le Creuset casserole she has bought with her first salary. Gone, above all, is her Indian boyfriend, the maitre d' of the restaurant next door to the one she works in. She has no choice but to go back to her native village and her mother, on which she turned her back ten years ago as a fifteen-year-old girl. There she decides to open a very special restaurant, one that serves food for only one couple every day, according to their personal tastes and wishes. A concubine rediscovers her love for life, a girl is able to conquer the heart of her lover, a surly man is transformed into a loveable gentleman - all this happens at the Katatsumuri, the magic restaurant whose delicate food can heal any heartache and help its customers find love again.
I've read several books in the same sort of field of this, English translations of Japanese novels and most of the time they are enjoyable if a little odd. I found this one a little different from that.

It starts off good with a little mystery, coming home to find her boyfriend and all her stuff gone. Now, my first hope was that she would go to the police and track the no good thief down but in typical Japanese, too polite to bother anyone, she returns to her small rural village to her mothers house to start a new.

So then I started to hope that it was going to be the sort of story where she was reunited with the boy she had admired in high school or something and together they build a restaurant and both find a second chance at love. No. She runs the eatery out of the back of her mothers property, takes care of a pig named Hermes, shaves off most of her hair (this was the weirdest thing to me) and all the interesting stuff seems to happen to her customers.

There was a lot of talk about cooking which was to be expected from a book with the word restaurant in the title, but her details about how she prepared each dish was so extensive I imagined I could probably cook it from her instructions alone. There was also a description towards the end of the slaughter and dissection of an animal and what she made with each part that went on for several pages and I had to flip past it because it made me feel a little ill.

I also don't know how to describe the ending - though the eating of  a pigeon is involved - its not exactly happy and it feels cut off, almost like things might continue afterwards. I mean she probably lives on after the story and all that, but you feel left adrift as if saying "was that it."

I give it



Monday, 17 June 2019

Meet A Writer Monday Presents...

...Chris Morton



1. Tell me about your book, Adventures in Sci-fi, and where you got your inspiration for it?

It’s a book of ten science fiction stories. They’re all quite dark and different, eclectic and in a number of genres within that genre. It’s true sci-fi (in my opinion!) because they’re atmospheric and gritty, what real sci-fi is all about. Think Blade Runner and Alien mixed with Bradbury-inspired tales of human spirit; psychological Philip K. Dick with a touch of Asimov.

Quite a lot of it was written in a secluded alleyway late at night on a laptop or notebook, listening to songs by the Fall, Joy Division and that sort of dark, arty music.

2. Did you learn anything from writing this book? If so what was it?


I learnt that when approaching sci-fi it’s good to begin with what you want to say, emotionally, then set it in a sci-fi world. It gives the stories some depth and power.

3. Have you ever been pulled over by a cop?

No. I have a vague memory of being on a hill talking to two police officers and giving them a fake name. It was dark, they had yellow jackets and we were in the middle of the countryside. I have no idea what any of us were doing there, but they were both very nice.

4. What is the longest you’ve gone without writing?

I gave up writing when I had my twin daughters. My wife was heavily pregnant and I decided it was time to stop for a while. Then the babies came and ‘boom!’ Finally caught up on sleep a couple of years later. It’s good to take a break though, I can recommend it. You come back more experienced yet refreshed and ready to take a new approach to your style.

5. You’ve just been kidnapped and the people from the last TV Show/Movie you watched have to save you. Who is it?

I got asked this question a couple of years ago and my answer was The Penguins of Madagascar. At that time I was watching nothing but kids TV. I found everything else depressing. Sitting here now, the last program I watched was … wait, it was Oggy and the Cockroaches. More kids TV! I think the penguins would do a better job of rescuing me, although that white cat from Oggy and the Cockroaches would probably organise a decent search party.

6. If you could live in a book, TV show or Movie, what would it be?

Star Trek from the nineties. TNG or DS9. Such a relaxing world to take yourself to.

7. What genre do you write in and what draws you into this genre?

I used to write slacker-lit, but everyone kept thinking my stories were true. So I switched to sci-fi and all sorts of possibilities suddenly opened up. There was more plot, more going on.

I have a strange relationship with sci-fi. I’ve always loved the genre but could only name a handful of sci-fi books that I actually like, and the same goes for films. It’s often a case of the covers showing more promise than the stories/films themselves. The idea of it. The sci-fi world in my head is very visual, inspired by movie posters and book covers.

8. Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages a day?

Most of the time, yes. Anything from a hundred to five hundred words a day is doable.

9. Do you let a book stew – leave it for a month and then come back to it to edit?

I try, but usually give up waiting after a couple of day’s break.

10. What part of your writing time do you dedicate to marketing your book?

Not enough. In the last three years I’ve written four sci-fi novellas, this book of short stories and a sci-fi novel. I didn’t stop to promote or even to get published. I just self-published and went on to writing the next one. It’s only now that I’m giving over some time for this. Suddenly I have a lot of work out there that needs promoting.

11. Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?

I usually invent a character, then write down a list of people I know who could play that character. I have an audition, looking at the names, crossing people off the list, then finally cast one of them in the role. A good actor will add something from him/herself to the part and it works in this way too. I can mentally picture the character I’ve created and add habits and eccentricities that come from the real person who is playing them. If you try this, then it can be interesting to not typecast the people you know. For example, get someone you don’t particularly like to play the hero rather than the villain. It can give a character depth.

12. Is there anything I’ve left out that you’d like to talk about?

Just good luck to other writers out there like me. If you’ve just started, then keep at it. The more you write, the better you get.

______________________________________


From a dark future metropolis to a two man mission to Mercury; an astronomer’s search for immortality, the invention of Mecha droids and the battle of Grewalda. A stranger who hears UFOs and a young girl agreeing to become a test subject for nanobots – tales of human spirit, inevitable fate and loss that will take you to the extremes of space and time, yet are grounded firmly in the grit of true experience.
BUY

About Chris

Chris Morton's debut novel, English Slacker, was short-listed for a Guardian award in 2011. His short stories, Hungry and Homeless and The Note were both nominated for Authortrek's international awards, and his horror short, Another Ghostly Figure was published in 2012 as part of the charity anthology, Fear. He is the editor of the 2013 chick-lit novel, How Do You Spell Love? and of the comedy, The Night Shift. In 2017, Morton entered a new genre with the release of the slacker-lit/sci-fi crossover novella, The Caravan and the time travelling Paradox series. He followed this with the short story collection Adventures in Sci-fi and the science fiction novel Hard-boiled Wonderland, both released in 2019.

Find Chris at his blog 

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

TBR Six month review 2019



I started off the year promising myself that I would start making my way through the huge pile of books that are lying around my house waiting for me to jump into them. I also tried to put myself on a complete book buying ban - then amended that to exclude audiobook and continuations in series :( I know, I know, but I just can't help myself. Anyway. Here is how the list is now shaping up.


Recent Editions in Green


Red Riding Hood – Blakely-Cartwright & Johnson
The Scorch Trials
The Death Cure
The Kill Order
The Fever Code – James Dashner
Dead Ringer – Mary Burton
Sleeping Giants
Waking Gods –Sylvain Neuvel
The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (Audio Book) – Douglas Adams
The Red Pyramid
The Throne of Fire
The Serpents Shadow
The Lost Hero
The Son of Neptune
The Mark of Athena
The House of Hades
The Blood of Olympus
The Sword of Summer
The Hammer of Thor – Rick Riordan
Once Upon a Dream
Part of Your World– Liz Braswell
Reflection – Elizabeth Lim
Mirror, Mirror – Jen Calonita
Mother Knows Best
The Weird Sisters – Serena Valentino
Dead Ice
Crimson Death
Serpentine – Laurell K Hamilton
Slated
Fractured
Shattered – Teri Terry
Death of a Cosy Writer
Death of a Lit Chick
Death at the Alma Mater – C. M. Malliet
The Sin Eaters Daughter – Melinda Salisbury
Grave Sight
Grave Surprise
An Ice Cold Grave
Grave Secret – Charlaine Harris
The Host
The Chemist – Stephanie Meyer
Shadow on the Sun
The Bright and Morning Star – Rosemary Harris
Little Boy Blue
Hide & Seek
Love Me Not
Down to the Woods – M J Arlidge
The Cinderella Murder
The Sleeping Beauty Killer – Mary Higgins Clark & Alafair Burke
On the Street Where you Live
Moonlight Becomes you – Mary Higgins Clark
Son of a Witch – Gregory Maguire
Two Evils
Cold Kill
Nothing Stays Buried – P J Tracy
Horns – Joe Hill
Time Stoppers – Carrie Jones (Audio Book)
Fragile Things – Neil Gaiman
The Hunger Games Trilogy – Suzanne Collins
Inkheart
Inkspell
Inkdeath – Cornelia Funke
The Witch House – Cecilia Rees
Until I Die
Die for Me – Amy Plum
Underworld
Abandon – Meg Cabot
Everneath – Brodi Ashton
The Hobbit – J RR Tolkien
The Other Alice – Michelle Harrison
Heart of the Dragon
Jewel of Atlantis
The Nymph King
The Vampires Bride – Gena Showalter
Twice the Growl – Milly Taiden
Shadow – Robin McKinley
Paper Towns
Finding Alaska – John Green
Big Vamp on Campus
Accidental Sire (Audio Book) – Molly Harper
The Whispering Skull
The Hollow Boy
The Creeping Shadow
The Empty Grave – Jonathan Stroud
The Cowboy who caught her eye – Lauri Robinson
To Sin with a Viking – Michelle Willingham
Bought for Revenge – Sarah Mallory
The Black Sheep Returns – Elizabeth Beacon
Smoke River Bride – Lynna Banning
A Risk Worth Taking (Audio Book) – Laura Landon
The Dark is Rising Sequence – Susan Cooper
The House of Many Ways – Diana Wynne Jones
The Battle for Gullywith – Susan Hill
The Ruby in the Smoke (re-read)
The Shadow in the North
The Tiger in the Well
The Tin Princess – Philip Pullman
First Among Sequels
One of our Thursdays is Missing
The Woman who Died A Lot – Jasper Fforde
Cadfael Series (23 books in all) – Ellis Peters
The Woman in Black
Dolly
Printer’s Devil Court  – Susan Hill
The Sleeping Doll
The Skin Collector – Jeffrey Deaver
Art in the Blood – Bonnie McBird
To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
Brother Grimm – Craig Russell
Interview with the Vampire – Anne Rice
Blood Price
Blood Debt
Blood Pact
Blood Lines
Blood Trail – Tanya Huff
Lady Midnight
Lord of Shadows
The Queen of Air and Darkness – Cassandra Clare
I am Number Four
The Power of Six
The Rise of Nine
The Fall of Five
The Revenge of Seven
The Fate of Ten – Pitacus Lore
The Lie Tree – Francis Harding
The Restaurant of Love Regained – Ito Ogawa
Two Years, Eight Months and Twenty Eight Nights – Salman Rushdie
The Map of Days  – Ransom Riggs
Dark Horse
The Alibi Man – Tami Hoag
The Third Victim – Lisa Gardner
The Tales of Beadle the Bard
Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them – J K Rowling
The Island at the End of Everything – Kiran Millwood Hargrave
Fade to Black
Malevolent Dead
Blood Moon – Heather Kuehl                 
Obsession – Amanda Robson
He said/She said – Erin Kelly
Sleepers Castle – Barbara Erskine
A Stranger in the House – Shari Lapena
Two Can Keep a Secret - Karen M McManus
One Little Mistake – Emma Curtis
The Keeper – Alastair Gunn
Darker – E. L. James
I Am Missing – Tim Weaver
The Silkworm
The Career of Evil
Lethal White – Robert Galbraith
Th1rt3en – Steve Cavanagh
Why Mummy Swears  – Gill Sims
Taylor & Rose Spies in St Petersburg – Katherine Woodvine
The Forgotten Book (Audio Book) – Mechthild Glaser
A Discovery of Witches
Shadow of Night
Book of Life – Deborah Harkness
The Land of Stories (6 Book collection) – Chris Colfer
The Darkest Minds
Never Fade
In the Afterlight
The Darkest Legacy – Alexandra Bracken
The October Man – Ben Aaronovitch
A Series of Unfortunate Events (1-13) - Lemony Snickett
The Last Chance Hotel – Ricki Thornton

Reviews will resume next week - which book will I choose...