Category Archives: Reviews

Books I have read, and movies I have watched and what I thought about them.

LiveJournal account

I now have a livejournal.com account called TardyCreative

I have decided for more insight into my personal life that a livejournal account may be more appropriate than posting too much personal stuff on this blog.

See you there!

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injury

this post is slowly written by my left hand. I have injured my right hand quite badly that all computer work and any kind of movement with my usual right hand is extremely painful, I do not know how long this will last. So, I expect to be inactive on this blog for at least a month.

Sorry everyone xx

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World War Z – book review

I finished reading World War Z on Wednesday by Max Brooks and I have to say that it was incredibly thought provoking and the best example of world building I have come across in a long time!

There were things in this novel that I would never ever have dreamed of thinking as possibilities in a zombie infested world that I found very clever.  You understand that zombies are considered undead or dead people reanimated but do you really understand what that would really mean if it were real?

Think about it, what could the dead do that we could not if they happened to have become ravenously hungry reanimated autopilot predators?

Terrifying things actually!

They could survive climates and places that we as living breathing human beings would struggle with!

The story is absolutely amazing and without giving you too many spoilers I can’t really say much more than this… if you want a horror in a dystopian world and you want to be taught near perfect world building and keeping things real, then this is a must read, whether you like zombies or not!

This is how world building is done folks!

Happy reading!

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Stephen King’s Dark Tower Multiverse?

I am planning a long reading project specifically focusing on Stephen King’s Dark Tower series; however, there is more to the Dark Tower series than meets the eye, so it seems.

When it comes to Stephen King I am a slow reader, because I find his books very long most of the time, it takes me an average of 3 to 6 weeks to finish a King novel, yet here I am, planning to read approximately 19, could be more!

Because I know my attention span is almost non-existent in almost every context of my life, I know that this reading project will probably span over 5yrs for me – that is realistic, because knowing me, as I do, I know that I will not just focus 100% on these books, there will be other books thrown into it as well as I have a heavy penchant for non-fiction and anthologies and my goodreads current reading list has 13 books in it, some are non-fiction reference books I started two years ago.

There is a YouTube video I watched the other day which tells you in order to better understand the Dark Tower series you should really do further reading between books of the series to understand the novel more; why?  Because a lot of the characters and things within the Dark Tower books can be found in other non-Dark Tower books by Stephen King.  What I find strange is in my opinion this is not a comprehensive list, because according to the YouTuber they mention that “The Shining” is mentioned in these books as well as Carrie White, yet these books are not part of the list he gave.

Here is the video if you are interested… https://youtu.be/4pmxpfPfzOw

Now before I jump in and read his recommended list I will be researching other people’s suggestions as well before making my decision where I will start.  No doubts at the end of this project I will have created my own list of recommendations because personally I think I know Stephen King novels like the back of my hand, I have been watching most of his movies and reading his stuff since I was 8yrs old, I have just got slow with reading altogether since 2006.

Also I was extremely hasty in 2009 when I wanted to run away from my parents’ house, I gave away half of my unread Stephen King collection to charity, because I was downsizing to the point I could take almost everything with me if needed.  However, I never had to do that and if I had known that before I gave away the 200 books I had from other people as well, I would never have truly given them up willingly and the DVDs too for that matter!

This memory makes me extremely sad because I had almost completed the collection for the Green Mile at the time too!

Anyway the above list was shown as this, to be read in this order;

  1. Salem’s Lot (seen the movie)
  2. The Stand (owned read to page 40 on average before weirdly getting the flu, this happened on 4 separate occasions I read the book – spooky!)
  3. Dark Tower – gunslinger (owned never read)
  4. Dark Tower – Drawing of the 3 (owned never read)
  5. Eyes of the dragon
  6. The Talisman
  7. Black House
  8. Everything’s eventual (not the title story yet but everything else)
  9. Dark Tower Wastelands
  10. The Dark Tower Wizard of Glass (owned never read)
  11. Insomnia (owned never read)
  12. Bag of bones
  13. Dark Tower wind through the keyhole
  14. Dark Tower the wolves of calla
  15. Dark Tower song of Susannah
  16. Everything’s eventual (the title story)
  17. Hearts in Atlantis (the 1st story)
  18. I.t (owned, read halfway before mastoid surgery made me forger to finish it, seen the movie too)
  19. Dark Tower

As you can see there are at least three books missing from this list if we were to include other mentioned characters from the Dark Tower.  There is no recommendation to read Carrie, The Shining or Doctor Sleep.  So those who are not au fait with Stephen King but want to read this epic fantasy series, really would not get the idea behind the mention of “The Shining” or Carrie White, how much more has this YouTuber left out I wonder?

So until I have watched a few more videos and viewed a few more blogs based on other reader recommendations, I will have to keep this project on hold, because I don’t like to miss a trick wherever possible and no, I don’t like spoilers!

Happy Reading!

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Nox Arcana Art Influence

Another task I am setting for myself this week is to try and find as much art from the Nox Arcana albums I can throughout the internet and perhaps put it in Pinterest, because a lot of the songs and art of Nox Arcana inspire me a lot!

I saw two pictures quick-fire today and they melded together in my mind, I made a crap picture myself based on those images and a story is forming in my head.  I really don’t need new story ideas, but the artwork was beautiful, not mine, theirs. 

They have influenced a lot of my stuff, particularly the dark fantasy and horror stuff.

Also to do the artist of these pictures justice, I really need to find out who they are, that’s one thing I haven’t got around to doing yet. Shame on me, really! I think it’s Joseph Vargo, but I don’t really know.

Happy reading

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March reading pile

Mother Tongue by Bill Bryson – as I didn’t finish reading this last month!

Entangled by Merlin Sheldrake – for the same reason as above!

Little Book of Wonder by Bernadette Russell – again for the same reason as the above!

The Spooks Apprentice (book 1) By Joseph DeLaney

World War Z by Max Brooks

The Library of The Dead by T.L Huchu

I am trying to read more fiction than I am known for; because I tend towards non-fiction more than fiction.  I am trying to broaden my horizons.

Since becoming ill I have become a very slow reader; but I am blessed with bouts of OK days and therefore my reading can speed up again to how I used to be.  This happened around January, but health has meant that I have slowed painfully down again.  It is frustrating because I get a sense of achievement for every book I persevere with and read to the end and I feel great about it when it’s finished!  But instead of finishing more than one book per week, when I am ill, I am lucky to finish one book a fortnight!

Will the above list be shown again for April’s list?  Probably, because my glands are getting swollen again and that usually means six weeks of health hell!

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The Gnome Mobile By Walt Disney

The following review contains spoilers.

The gnome mobile

I loved this ever since I was tiny – I don’t know how old I was when I first watched this movie but I do know that it was before I was five years old and I watched it a lot!

The gnome mobile is unfortunately one of the Disney movies I talk about a lot to people who ask me about my favourite Disney movies and I get the response of “never heard of it”.  I am always stunned but I shouldn’t be surprised anymore, but I am every time I get that response!  Why?  Because it’s super magical that’s why!

If you are like most people I have told about Gnome Mobile then allow me to enlighten you to what the movie is about! 

The movie is based on a lumber tycoon of Irish descent harvesting wood from an (unbeknownst to him) special magical woodland where a community of gnomes live; Because of the deforestation the gnomes are developing a disease called “fading” which is killing the community off and the whole race is in dire straits and at risk of extinction. 

So Jasper (a young gnome man) and his grandfather (Knobby) set out to track down the man responsible for cutting down the forest that is their home!  Knobby has caught the disease “fading” and his last and dying wish is to see that his grandson Jasper marries a nice young gnome girl before he dies, so he is sure his line continues!

The storyline is much more than this and there are many funny twists and turns in the movie; my favourite scene is the scene near the end where Jasper is presented with several eligible and beautiful gnome young ladies to choose from – but it is not as simple as that, because as per the tradition of gnome culture, the marriage is determined by what happens during a special kind of sporting event that helps determine who Jasper is fated to marry.  Jasper has to run away and find the one he wants and hopes that she can pin him down without being wrestled off him for a count so that they can marry; but there are many other gnome girls all fighting for the handsome catch which is Jasper and Jasper has to literally run for his life to get the shy Violet he wants! 

It’s very beautiful and I love stories where they show massive ecological concern and so forth, especially with magical twists like this one.

The tycoon as it happens learns what he is doing and turns the forest into a reservation.  Sorry for the spoiler, but he is encouraged to do so by his grandchildren who had befriended the gnomes at a picnic.

This is a very inspiring movie and I have always loved it, as a child I watched this more than once a week and it was my biggest pacifier.  Unfortunately when I was around eight years old, my mother gave this movie to a childminder of mine so I could watch it during the day when I was with her and the childminder kept it as payment after an argument they had where my mother fired her.

My parents never could find this movie again throughout my whole childhood, so I was absolutely thrilled when I moved in with Paul in 2009 to find it as a DVD on amazon and yes!  I bought it!

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Just couldn’t read more…

Because I found a certain sentence indigestible in one of my previous reading books, I had to stop reading it.  So, I added another to the reading pile and I hope that it will be finished by the 1st march too – the newly added book is called “The library of the dead” by T.L Huchu.

The book was “The Prophets”.  I was finding the book very enjoyable and had rated it 4 stars until I read just one simple sentence which I felt did nothing for the book or the writer other than causing racial provocation.

The whole book is racially provocative anyway, because the subject of slavery can’t get any more provocative than that, but in my mind – there is a fine line between what is acceptable to write and what is acceptable to keep to yourself.

Coming from an ancestry where my many times great grandmother was a slave in Boston USA, I can appreciate books like these, but I cannot endorse something which could talk of revenge killing an innocent baby – that is just not on.

My ancestor was raped by her master’s son and her daughter was raised by her white grandfather and educated, both he and she had problems within both communities, especially when my great great grandmother was being educated as a governess – nobody wanted a “mulatto” for a governess in Boston in the early 1800s.   So rejected by the American community my great great grandma moved to Gibraltar and a couple of years later met an English sailor who took her to London to be his wife, she had to live a life of pretence in London, pretending to be of Spanish descent just to fit in with the locals and they bought it. 

I just can’t visualise these people in my ancestry who could bring themselves to sneak murdering a white baby in cold blood, just because of their situation.  I just can’t.

This little rant of mine will probably fall on deaf ears because as the years has gone by the family have got whiter and whiter and I am white, but I have black slave ancestry too and that is something that some people don’t realise – they don’t realise that some white people have black ancestry too and quite recent!

The book definitely touched a nerve and I know it really should, because slavery is just horrible, it is more than that, it is utterly disgusting!  But still, there are some things that should be said and other things best unsaid to prevent further racial division in the world!

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Top 10 children’s books that influenced me

Top 10 children’s books that influenced my writing and why

Dragon’s dinner by Susannah Corbett

This is a hilarious book I read at least once a month to myself, I know it’s a young child’s picture book, but I adore it!

It is written in rhyme and there is a comedy element on every page, not to mention great illustration too!  I have a love for dragons that almost rivals my love for vampires; this is seen in the novels I write.  In fact, I have nearly finished a dragon novel to the extent that I may be considering sending it off to an agent in 2022.  At the moment I have approximately three more chapters to write of it again, this is the eighth draft, but then I will store it away for a couple of months and look again with fresh eyes and see if it needs a ninth draft – but I doubt it at the moment.

A strange thing for me is that writing the story initially can take just under a month for me to do, but editing and redoing drafts can take me three months, because I find that a boring process, I hate redoing stuff!  I am trying to learn to love doing that.

My dragon novel is potentially YA or adult fantasy, not sure yet, it is definitely bigger than this picture book and does have a lot of comedy elements to it.

Horton hears a who by Dr Seuss

I love most books by Dr Seuss and this is my favourite.  I like books where something unbelievable is eventually proven to the other characters of the book and that is something that is seen in a handful of my own works.  Once again there is a comedy element to the book.

I think I love this story a lot because when I was a child I used to blow bubbles and imagine that every bubble was a planet full of life, like Earth only different with unique creatures on each planet and that the time scale was epically fast.  I never read Horton Hears A Who until I had my son Henry and bought the book for him when he was 2yrs old – so the book resonated with me a lot.

James and the giant peach by Roald Dahl

There would be more than just one book by Roald Dahl on this list, but I wanted to be as broad as possible in my listings; it was difficult trying to narrow down which book to choose for this list by this specific author; I chose the one that I felt was the most unique and the one that literally got my heart pumping with excitement as I read it.

There were so many wonderful things in this book, talking, friendly insects, a comedy element, drama, horror, lots and lots of excellent scenery I just adored it.  I loved the parts where the peach acted like a hot air balloon and was flying above the world.  It is this scene which has influenced me the greatest, because I am working on a fantasy series based on a hot air balloon traveller which is aimed for a YA audience potentially.

Harry Potter and chamber of secrets by J.K Rowling

Much like most people nowadays, it is hard to think of fantasy and children’s books without thinking about Harry Potter, it is a great series and narrowing down to a specific book was very difficult, but this is my favourite because of the living trees and the giant spiders.  Also I found this the funniest of the lot.  I like depictions of forests particularly with living trees mentioned occasionally, such can be found in many books, Lord of the Rings and The Wizard of Oz to name but two.  I have to admit, even I have written a scene with forest spiders in one of my novels, not to copy, but because it just felt so right and almost expected in a manner; in fact it is a scene in my main dragon novel.

Engelbert Sneem and his dream vacuum machine by Daniel Postgate

This had me riveted from the offset, it is amazing.  I love books where you get to dance around in someone else’s dreams and things like this, BFG and a couple of other stories had dreams in them too.  I love writing about dream worlds within my stories from time to time, but they do seem to be more horror based than my usual comedy fantasy.

Heidi by Johanna Spyri

I have loved reading Heidi ever since I was a child and I must admit not only reading it, but also love watching all the movies that come out based on this story too!  Heidi has influenced my imagination a lot over the years.  I love goats and mountain sceneries and books with snow, books that star strong minded children who seem to act as blessings to the adults of their world.  I love miracle stories too and little Clara certainly had a miracle happen to her!

Quite a few of my books do seem to be rather Germanic, Norse or Slavic based, unintentionally, I haven’t really understood why.  I have strong warrior figures in my novels and the landscapes usually end up sounding like Scandinavia, Germany, Austria, the Alps and sometimes even the Carpathians.  I have never travelled outside of the UK; it would be lovely to do so at some point and visit some of those places that influence me and my writing.

Diary of a wimpy vampire by Tim Collins

It is such a funny book and the fact it contains vampires is another reason why I love this book so much; also this book made my son into a reader, because before he saw me reading this book to myself and laughing my head off at it at every page turn, he absolutely hated reading!  But now I have to say, he tries to read a whole large novel once every month.

My vampires have some comedy interjected into the pages from time to time, but it is not deliberately set out to be a comedy series – I just can’t help myself.

Mr Stink by David Walliams

I like books where children change the minds of the adults around them as I have mentioned before and this book does that.  I love books which show the best qualities of humanity, generosity etc.  I also love stories that are riches to rags and back again to riches, I have loved themes like this since I was a kid.  I loved movies such as “The Jerk” with Steven Martin and “Life Stinks” with Mel Brookes amongst others and yes, it is a theme I would like to write someday too.  Once again, there is comedy here.

I will say, that as a child I read a lot, but it was mostly non-fiction and that a majority of the fantasy and stuff I indulged in were movies, I watched a movie every day, without fail, sometimes three times a day, because I was home educated and work fast in my studies and had a lot of spare time to myself, cooped up indoors all day long.  My father had a massive VHS collection over eight hundred which had two or three movies on each he recorded off the TV, so there were always a lot of things to watch!

The tin can band by Margaret Mahy

I love all the poems and songs in this book.  I love the artwork and everything about the book.  The art inspires my art a lot and the poetry knows how to touch several nerves too.  I love the concept of dancing in the shadows and having night time, shadow acrobats dancing around you, causing you to hallucinate and see things that aren’t quite what they seem when the lights are out. 

The poems contain witches and various other creatures, some with comedic ideas and others more serious in tone, such as deforestation and a lovely concept on death too.

I love authors that have a knack in making death less scary and more beautiful or at least more fun.

Wolf by Gillian Cross

I like books about the homeless and hippies and that sort of thing, this book contains squatters and a little girl who tries to live with her mother under extraordinary circumstances.  The child is rather independent and I just love the book, but I can’t say it has influenced anything in particular though.

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Top 10 fantasy books

Top 10 Fantasy Books that I enjoyed and that influenced me the greatest are;

Alice’s adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

I have always been a big fan of the inane and very abstract.  To me this novel is enchanting to the most profound sense of the word.  I love how it shows us that entertainment and our imaginations do not have to make sense in order to inspire us to do great things and beauty and fantasy doesn’t have to have a defined set of rules. 

This book makes me feel liberated as a creator and much of what I write reflects just how much Carroll has influenced me as a whole, it shows you how to think outside of the box; which is a wonder really, because I have never really been considered by people who know me as someone who thinks outside of the box, regardless how innovative they also say I am! 

The wizard of Oz by Frank L Baum

Very similar to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, this novel and the entire fourteen book series has also expressed to me how fantasy and the imagination comes with no rules, that in the throes of your own mind you can do anything – because only you are god to the worlds you are imagining, the only rules that exist are the ones you determine! 

You decided what makes sense or not in your world, but you have to make sense in those worlds and not have contradicting ideas that make the world come across as unbelievable.  It can be as silly as you want it to be, but there must be some kind of order and to me this novel and the previous one I mentioned does that excellently!

Gregor the overlander by Suzanne Collins

Comedy is a big part of my fantasy writing and to me there is a lot of that in this book as well as cute little moments and emotional rollercoasters galore!

This books shows that even the most disgusting things in life can be somewhat endearing if you choose to switch the way you think.  I mean I would never have felt compassion, sympathy and a sense of love for a cockroach for example, but this novel debunked that! 

The Hogfather by Terry Pratchett

Once again the comedy aspect is here and that I absolutely love – also it shows that every world needs to have traditions and stories within stories and a sense of belonging and festivities.  I love how there is a familiarity to our reality reflected within this book, our Christmas and their Hogswatch and I try to do this in most of my novels.  Each world has a different ideology, customs and holidays and I think this is the biggest thing I love about story writing!  I love creating absolutely new customs and cultures!  Especially when I have conflicting cultures in the stories, each trying to explain the reason behind the things that they do to each other.

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

I love this book because it makes you as a writer think about consequences of the things you choose to do to your characters and it forces you think about being consistent in your actions which precede the characters problem because of it.  It makes for good reading because there is a problem the character wants to resolve – a disability if you like, to overcome.  Also, once again, there is a comedy element to the novel and there are strong female characters, something which is rare in fantasy I have noticed.

Troll Fell by Katherine Languish

I love place descriptions and descriptions of movement, this book does that well.  I love the landscape and flow of the novel and I love the traditional sense of fantasy too – the old style fantasy, based on old folklore.  This novel has Vikings as well as house elves (nisse) and trolls.  I love Scandinavian folklore a lot and that can be reflected in some of the stuff I write, even if the location is not recognisable as Nordic. 

Smoke and mirrors By Neil Gaiman

There are many little gems in this book, lots of lovely prose and I do love novels that have a prose like feel to it; most people find prose hard to digest, but I love it.  I think there is a huge snobbery against prose and I find that hard to understand.  I love “descriptive dribble” as some people call it and I often find it offensive listening to people who put down prose like works. 

A major part of my lack of writing in recent years is due to the snobbery from my readers who dislike the prose that often gets interjected into my stories.  I am not overly descriptive, but I do borderline poetic.

According to my previous beta readers, my work is too old fashioned – it is at best Edwardian in style but, usually Victorian and I have to bring myself more up to date; that is the usual complaint I have ever had as well as having too much of a broadsheet vocabulary.  They felt that my readers would be a niche and narrow in margin purely because a vast majority of readers have more of a tabloid vocabulary and I feel that is actually insulting to readers of the world!  I did allow these comments to dictate my style a lot for a while and it started to kill me as a creator somewhat. 

I love how Neil Gaiman seems to be older than he is in some of the works in this book, some of the stories look as though it has been around since Queen Victoria and I love that about him and this book!  A lot of my stories are based in the Victorian era which is one of the reasons why I could never understand the problem my beta readers had with it – am I to have modern day urban language at a 1850s lord of the manor’s dinner party?  My work is certainly not contemporary usually. 

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

I love the rawness of the novel.  I love how the horrific realities of life are imbedded within its pages; the girl doesn’t merely hunt the deer but straddles it and slices it to a perfect death for her and her fox’s food in the winter time.  Some might say that is overly descriptive and disturbing but life is disturbing anyway, so why shield from it?  It is good writing! 

I have been described by a home school tutor as being a very gory writer so perhaps I share in Ivey’s violent descriptions of life and the world?  Perhaps when I eventually approach the publishing agencies they may want to censor a lot of what I write, but I have seen many books which go beyond what even I think is acceptable, so they might leave me alone on that matter? 

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

I can’t talk about this book to many people as they often reject it as being too awful and the subject matter really is!  However, they often overlook the beautiful prose and philosophy that is hidden in the pages which makes it an absolutely delightful read for me!   I love the aspect of the afterlife and how emotionally connected this novel gets to become with its readers.  It makes you feel what the characters feel. 

It is very intense and I can understand why many people cannot tolerate that, but if you can push through the horror of this book and concentrate on Susie’s afterlife you will find that it is incredibly lovely, it is incredibly beautiful the things she does in the “before heaven” as I call it.  I love the pages where the author gets lost within Susie’s playtime in the afterlife, that is my favourite, despite how weird and distasteful I found a couple of the subjects, such as experiencing a kiss whilst possessing her sisters body, that was too strange for me. 

I write a lot of books about the afterlife and ghosts, as well as vampires. 

The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien

I find it a fun all-rounder – there are comedy elements and basically a little bit of everything from above in the novel too, as well as being a traditional and classic version of epic fantasy.  I love the mix of creatures in this novel and there be dragons too, I love dragons, one of my top five favourite creatures to write about!

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