Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Book review - About Last Night by Adele Parks

From the back cover:


For thirty years, best friends Steph and Pip have been through thick and thin. Selfless and trusting, there's nothing they would not do for one another. Until a few simple words change everything.

'I need you to say that I was with you.'

Steph, eternally solid and dependable, is begging her friend to lie to the police as she's desperately trying to conceal not one but two scandalous secrets to protect her family. Pip, self-consigned to the role of scatty hot-head, is overwhelmed; she's normally the one asking for help in a crisis.

Steph's perfect life will be torn apart unless Pip agrees to this lie. But lying will jeopardise everything Pip's recently achieved after years of struggle. It's a big ask.


The question 'what would I do?' ran through my head constantly as I read this book and even after finishing it I am still not sure what I would do. I found it hard to put it down especially towards the end when the emotions were running high. The story feels a very honest portrayal of many women's friendships covering the love, resentment, obligations and care many relationships involve. What I enjoy about Adele Parks' books is that she doesn't shy away from these more ugly sides to us humans. Who can honestly say they have never resented a friend, been jealous or felt obliged? Because these ugly but real emotions are dealt with often I find some of the characters difficult to like but that makes it all the more real for me. To be annoyed by someone in a book is a wonderful thing to me!

About halfway through the book I decided it would be my April review. From that point on I kept half a mind on why I was enjoying it and what I felt was working so well and I think part of the answer is the detail. Each character has clear characteristics that are sewn in amongst the plot. It makes them more human and allows you to know the characters and visualise them clearly in your head.

An example I like of this involves Steph's father on page 354:

'He never came downstairs without showering and dressing first, not even on Christmas 
morning. Steph had never seen him in his pyjamas, except once when he was bed-
bound with a particularly vicious bout of flu. His rule was that once up, you should get 
dressed, open the curtains and, ideally, go for a walk; he believed each day should be 
greeted with some enthusiasm.'

All these little details and anecdotes make for well-rounded characters and it hit me smack between the eyes that I don't know my characters as well as this and I am nearing the end of my WIP. This is something I really need to work on and I knew it but I was ignoring it. It is all a learning curve though so I am not going to worry! I will save that until the editing stage.

Since publishing her first book in 2000 Adele Parks has published a book a year, how inspiring is that? To me that is the dream. To be focused enough to produce interesting, heartfelt stories year after year. I am so excited that her next book (according to the Bonus Material at the end of this book) is set in Dartmouth, the town in which I live! I cannot wait to see what she makes of this beautiful place.

If you like novels that focus on relationships of all kinds and have challenging and interesting characters you should really check out any of Adele Parks' books. Each one I have read I have enjoyed and they make me think long after I have finished them. 

A link to her website can be found here.

ROW80 Check-in 25th April 2012

Well I haven't an awful lot to check in about today as this time last week I had just come down with a horrible bug that wiped me out for a good three or four days. All my best laid plans and motivations went out the window and I spent all my time in bed dozing and watching television. I didn't feel up to reading. Now you know how bad it was! Not only was I poorly but my laptop has been all kinds of crazy and I just finished a two hour restore which fingers crossed has solved the problem!

So my lovely goals haven't happened. They were:
1) By end of the round have a finished first draft of my WIP. 
2) Test mile - 250 words a day. (1,750 words in a week)
3) Read two books a week for 100+ reading challenge. 
4) Review one book a month. 
5) Exercise twice a week.  

So none of these happened but it is ok because I was poorly and was experiencing technical difficulties. I have just finished a book though so have read 30 books so far this year!!! I did write a book review last week before everything hit the fan so will publish that after this check-in so I guess I can tick that one off. See, all is not lost!!! It is of Adele Park's latest book 'About Last Night' so check it out.

I hope to be back on the wagon tomorrow atleast with my test mile and hopefully will join in with some sprints. Onwards and upwards!

Sunday, 15 April 2012

ROW80 Check-in 15th April 2012

Week two complete and all weekly goals met! Hooray!

Recap of my goals.
1) By end of the round have a finished first draft of my WIP. 
2) Test mile - 250 words a day. (1,750 words in a week)
3) Read two books a week for 100+ reading challenge. 
4) Review one book a month. 
5) Exercise twice a week.   

Here is how my week since Wednesday has gone.

260 words written
One hour Aqua Aerobics

286 words written

274 words written
10 minutes frantic hoovering (not counting as an exercise but a mini exercise!)

266 words written
15 minutes walk (half uphill!)

So goals 2 and 5 ticked off. I have read more than two books this week which is great and I have loved having lots of reading time. I think I am still a couple of books behind where I should be at this point in the year in relation to the 100 book challenge but there is still lots of this year left!
I have decided I am going to review the book I am currently reading - About Last Night by Adele Parks. I am near the end so if I push on I could get this done this week or if not next weekend. I am really enjoying it and am looking forward to seeing how it pans out but I won't say any more now and will keep it for the review!

I feel I am closing in on the end of the WIP which is exciting but terrifying at the same time! I have been writing in a notepad with a pen rather than typing for the last few weeks. I'm not sure why, it just felt right so this will all have to be typed up at some point. The nagging doubts are settling in about whether any of it is any good at all but I am pushing the self-doubt to one side and just ploughing on. I will be back at work tomorrow so my routine will change but hopefully I will be able to join in with some #row80 sprints!

I hope everyone has had a good week :)

Thursday, 12 April 2012

The Sunshine Award and The 7 Facts Tag

As I mentioned yesterday the lovely Shah passed me the Sunshine Award. It is such a happy, positive sounding award. So after I answer the required questions I will tag ten bloggers who make me smile and definitely brighten my days! I am going to kill two birds with one stone so the people I tag for the Sunshine Award are also the people I am tagging in the '7 Facts Tag' that Juliana tagged me in. I don't want anyone to feel pressured to answer all the questions but I also am trying to make it manageable for myself!!

First, the Sunshine Award questions. For such simple questions I was amazed at how hard to answer I found many of them but I tried my best!

1) Favourite colour? - Maybe a nice antique rose pink.

2) Favourite animal? - I like dogs (and am scared of cats!) but if we are going outside of the house I often think I would like a chimpanzee :)

3) Favourite number? - For some reason the number ten came to mind.I'm not sure if it is a favourite but that is what my gut reaction was.

4) Favourite non-alcoholic drink? - Coke. I try to drink diet but I just prefer the 'full fat' version. I like it at room temperature rather than chilled and prefer it without ice and lemon.

5) Facebook or Twitter? Tricky, tricky! Facebook is how I keep up with all my school/university friends who are now all over the place but nothing beats twitter for getting to know people and for lovely links to blogs. I also follow several of my writing heroes which I love. Can I have a bit of both?!

6) My passion? Again gut instinct is my friends and family. I am passionate about my job (teaching Nursery children) but friends and family sprung to mind.

7) Getting or giving presents? I am not going to lie, I love getting presents! I do think though, when you have found something you know someone is going to LOVE then it is so exciting to give it to them. Sometimes I find it hard to keep things a secret before the actual giving but I try hard ;)

8) Favourite pattern? I love love love Cath Kidston. She does lovely floral prints and I covet most of the things she sells. Lovely.

9) Favourite day of the week? I think Saturday. It is a non-work day and seems full of possibilities. You get a lie in and you know you might get one the next day too. Saturday is a fun day.

10) Favourite flower? I like sweet peas. I often say if I get married I would have them but they don't last long once cut but they are pretty and they smell divine.

So, now to pick ten lovely people who make me smile. I hope you all get time to answer the questions but if not I just want to tag you anyway! Please do check them out if you get the chance!

1) Newtowritinggirl
2) Nicole Basaraba
3) Lauren Garafalo
4) Nadja Notariani
5) Lena Corazon
6) Marie Andrews
7) Kat Morrisey
8) Juliana Haygert
9) Gene Lempp
10) Claudia Lefeve

Now onto 'The 7 Facts Tag'. Juliana wrote 7 facts about her 'writing life' so I am going to do the same. Some of these lots of you will already know :)

1) I am anonymous in the writing world much to the amusement of some of my ROW80 friends (Lauren and Juliana I am looking at you!). No-one knows what I look like or even my full name. I can't really explain why I am still in the writing closet but I don't feel ready to be 'out there'. It might be a confidence thing but I think a large part is as a teacher I am constantly in the 'public eye' and I like to be able to say what I think and feel without worrying about how I appear.

2) Only one person in my 'real' life knows I am writing a chick-lit book. She too is writing a chick-lit book so of course I can confide in her and it is lovely the support she gives me. I haven't told anyone else because like having a 'secret' hobby and I am waiting until I have actually finished something!

3) I took part in NaNoWriMo last November and won! I wrote a murder mystery book set in Devon before World War II. It remains unedited in a folder on my laptop and I am not sure if I will ever edit it or do anything with it.

4) NaNo helped me through a tricky break-up. I was all set to write chick-lit but I couldn't write about love but I found I could write about murder! It gave me structure, purpose and a lovely community of online writing friends. I nearly met real writers in my local area but the times of meetings never worked for me.

5) I am hopeless at backing up my work. Appalling. And since my laptop has recently packed up I am glad I have a clever brother-in-law who got my files backed up for me. Not that he knows what is in those files....!

6) I got scarily addicted to biscuits when I was writing during NaNo to the point that my laptop keys crunched with all the crumbs scattered around. I couldn't write without biscuits and coffee and it wasn't a god habit. I am now trying hard to not buy them because then I can't eat them. I still drink the coffee though.

7) I cannot write in silence. I tend to put something on the telly that I have seen many times (Harry Potter always works well) and that way I get background noise but I don't get distracted. I sometimes write to Beyonce when I need energy and I once sobbed along to Adele when writing a break-up scene. I think I need to investigate some soundtracks/classical music without words as they can be so emotive.

So there you have it, lots of information all about ME!!!! I hope you are still awake and you go and check out those lovely people tagged above when you get a chance if you don't know them already. They will put the kettle on and make you feel very welcome.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

ROW80 Check-in 11th April 2012

I am once again writing the check-in the night before it is due as tomorrow is another busy day and I might not get to it. Organised and in control! Fingers crossed I remember to post it in the morning.

Recap of my goals.
1) By end of the round have a finished first draft of my WIP. 
2) Test mile - 250 words a day. (1,750 words in a week)
3) Read two books a week for 100+ reading challenge. 
4) Review one book a month. 
5) Exercise twice a week.  

Writing this week has gone well.

Monday  - 299 words
Tuesday - 553 words (to count as Wednesday words too).

So writing wise I am on track. My manageable test mile is still working it's magic. I am edging closer to the end of my WIP and I wrote a horrible fight scene earlier that was hard but quite satisfying!!! 

I finished reading my 26th and 27th books of the year so am making up some reading ground but exercise has not been easy due to the Easter weekend meaning the pool was closed on Monday. I am going to Aqua Aerobics on Thursday though and maybe a walk would be a good option this week.

So slow but steady progress.

I had two lovely pieces of writing related news this week. The lovely Shah passed me the Sunshine Award which I will pass on to fellow bloggers asap and there are some questions I need to answer. I was also tagged by Juliana in 'The 7 facts tag' which requires me to reveal 7 factors about myself and then tag fellow writers. I am going to follow her lead and reveal 7 writing related facts. I plan to post about both these things on Thursday so please drop back and have a look :)

I hope everyone is having a great, productive week!

Sunday, 8 April 2012

ROW80 Check-in 8th April 2012

Slowly but surely I am getting there. Small steps seem to be getting me somewhere!

Recap of my goals.
1) By end of the round have a finished first draft of my WIP. 
2) Test mile - 250 words a day. (1,750 words in a week)
3) Read two books a week for 100+ reading challenge. 
4) Review one book a month. 
5) Exercise twice a week. 

Obviously goal 1 is a long term goal but I am several steps closer to finishing my WIP. Similar for goal 4 as I am not sure if I am going to review the book I am currently reading or not but this will happen in the next few weeks.

So, weekly goals.

Goal 2 - Tuesday = 509 words, Wednesday = 258 words, Thursday = 283 words, Friday = 272 words and today 504 words as I know I will have limited time to write tomorrow if any time at all. So test mile is done and dusted and I have written 1, 826 words this week. Big smile and contented sigh. 

Goal 3 - One book read, read half of the second one and I guess technically I have until the end of Sunday for this one! I doubt I will get it finished but I am enjoying the book and that is what counts.

Goal 5 (the one I dread) - I have been to Aqua Aerobics twice this week so this one gets a big fat tick! This is so much easier as I am not at work and at my parents as there is no aqua aerobics classes in my town so I will have to have a think about how I am going to meet this goal when I am back to work.

It feels so good to be getting somewhere with my writing and my exercise even though they are baby steps. I am feeling more organised which always helps e.g. I realised I am out all day Sunday at a Family Easter get together so I wrote double on Saturday. By realising this and actually being in control gives me a lovely satisfied feeling. Fingers crossed week two is as successful as week one! I hope everyone else has found their goals are working for them. Week two, here we go!!

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

ROW80 Check-in 4th April 2012

Now I know we are only on day three but so far this round, so good!!!

Quick recap of goals:
1) By end of the round have a finished first draft of my WIP.
2) Test mile - 250 words a day.
3) Read two books a week for 100+ reading challenge.
4) Review one book a month.
5) Exercise twice a week.

After posting goals on Monday I went to Aqua Aerobics so one exercise is ticked off! Then my day got ridiculously busy in good fun ways but it meant I didn't write, on day one!!! Now I meant to write my usual disclaimer when I posted my goals that if I miss one day I will try and make it up. Yes I want 250 words a day but if not as long as I get the equivalent in a week, so 1,750 words a week then I am happy. Amazing how that 250 words mounts up to a good word count in a week!! Granted that is like a good NaNo day!

So Tuesday saw me write 509 words so I am back on track. I also finished a book so that is one book read this week. Today I have written 258 words so that is ticked off.

So simple but effective is working so far for me! I hope everyone is having a great first week :)

Monday, 2 April 2012

ROW80 Round 2 Goals!! 2nd April 2012

Simple but effective.  This my friends is my new motto.

Round One of ROW80 was quite a roller coaster for me due to personal and professional situations and stresses. Let's face it though, when do we not have personal and professional stresses?! I know at times something has to give but I feel like last round I would get myself sorted, appear for two days at a writing sprint and then something else would happen and off I would go again. I am not going to beat myself up about it, at times I needed space and time and I feel all the more focused for it now. I hope!

So from here on in I am going to keep it simple but effective.

Unlike previous rounds I have taken part in, this time I am setting a big ass goal. By the end of this round, come rain or shine, I will have a finished first draft of my WIP. There, I said it. I think I am close to the end and there is no real reason I couldn't finish it if I actually you know, write.

So, goals are:

1) By end of the round have a finished first draft of my WIP.

2) Test mile - 250 words a day.
If this goes well I might consider upping the goal to 500 words but for now 250 words seem like a    challenge.

3) Read two books a week for 100+ reading challenge.
 By my reckoning I should be reading books 27 and 28 this week but I am actually on 24 so I have some ground to make up here. I am on holiday from school for two weeks though so lots of lovely reading time.

4) Review one book a month.
Amongst all the chaos I still managed to post my March review of the Hunger Games which you can read here.

5) Exercise twice a week.
As many of you know exercise and myself have a love hate relationship. Actually it is more of a hate hate relationship. I am adding this in because I know if I am accountable to you guys I get things done and I know I feel better and write better when my body is feeling healthier. This is the goal I am most anxious about.

So there we have it, five goals many of which are being recycled and reworked. I have high hopes for this round so let's get started!!!!