Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Book Review - "Room" by Emma Donoghue

Oh my word. What an amazing book. When people say "I couldn't put it down" - I LITERALLY could not put it down. I was supposed to be writing on Sunday but instead I downed tools and listened to this audio book from lunch time until I finished it at 11.30pm that night. 

Initially, I had resisted reading this book. When it first came out a couple of years ago and was a massive hit, I read the blurb and thought 'oh dear, that sounds really depressing, I'm not sure I could handle that'. I knew it was about a woman locked in a room with her son and I worried that the book would feel really claustrophobic and horrible. 

However, after huge recommendations from my sister, and the fact that the book popped up in audible's daily deal, I thought I'd give it a go. 

At first, I found it a little hard to get used to the boy's voice as narration, but by the end of the book, I thought he was a complete dote and I loved listening to his voice. Also, I think that the fact that the book is told from his childlike narration makes this book bearable. If told from the mother's perspective, I think it would have been too heart-breaking. But instead, viewing the room through the boy's eyes, we see that what would normally be oppressive and claustrophobic is narrated through his simplistic and child-like eyes. 

This is a book that lived in my head even when I wasn't listening to it. I began to think about real-life cases - Josef Fritzl and the terrible tragedy that his daughter Elizabeth endured. Emma Donoghue dramatises this scenario and makes us comprehend the deep deep trauma that this tale involves. It also made me think of the Stockholm Syndrome, where the boy has actually become climatised to his environment.
Interesting too, that the boy's way of coping with the pain was to count. Counting his teeth. Counting the number of times the bed creaks. His OCD as a coping mechanism to deal with emotional pain. 

Whilst this all sounds heavy and hard-going, there is also the incredible and bond and love between the mother and boy. There is his complete reliance and trust in her. And there is bravery and courage amidst desperate struggle. 

I am looking forward to watching the film version as I hear from reviews that it has stayed very true to the book.

Sunday, 2 October 2016

We have a Winner!

We have a winner! Please watch video to see the draw! 

Thank you so much everyone for taking part! There were loads of entries! Stay tuned, I'm sure I will have another giveaway soon! 

Happy Sunday everyone and hope you all have a gorgeously lazy day x x 

Friday, 30 September 2016


Hi guys!

Because it's Friday and I'm in a good mood, I thought I'd do a lil' giveaway!

I'm giving a paperback copy of my novel "How to Look Like You" AND a Next Voucher for £20 to one lucky winner!

All you have to do is like and share my post! I'll put all the names into a hat and pick a winner next week.

Look forward to seeing who wins!

Rose x x

ps. Don't forget to head down to the Black Box next Friday 7th October to see my play "HOME WORK". Doors open at 12.15pm. Play begins at 12.30pm - finishes at 1.30pm.

Tickets not necessary - just pay £3 on the door.

This is a DOUBLE BILL - there will be my play for half an hour and a play called LONG GONE by Matt Faris for half an hour. Hope to see you there!

Sunday, 11 September 2016

A Book Review & chat about my current novel

The Versions of Us ~ by Laura Barnett

Think back to a time when you met someone you love. 

Imagine if something slightly different happened that night. You caught a later train or you decided not to go out that night.

“The Versions of Us” is a book about those moments of fate, when life could go in a completely different direction. It has a “Sliding Doors” feel to it.

There are three different versions of the love story between Jim and Eva:
1. Jim and Eva met, fell in love and got married
2. Jim and Eva met and fell in love but Eva married David
3. Jim and Eva got together but Eva went back to David

I found this book very confusing at first – I had no idea what was going on. Part of the problem was that I was listening to it on audio. If I was reading it on paperback, I would have been able to flick back and forth through the chapters get a clear indication of the version headings.

However, once I got to grips with the three versions, this proved to be a very interesting read.

My third novel

I am currently writing my third novel at the moment. Whilst there aren’t different ‘versions’ in the story, the novel does jump back and forward between ‘now’ and ‘then’.

In the ‘now’ chapters, we see how the character’s past (‘then’) experiences are affecting her present. I hope I have created this in a clear-cut way. I much prefer books that are easy to follow!

Thanks for reading and see you next time!

Rose x 

Sunday, 4 September 2016

A Book, A TV series and a Short Play

Sex sells. Apparently. Which is why I want to talk about sex in my blog today. Or rather – Escorts.

Belle du Jour – My review on a book about the life of an escort.

The Secret Diary of a Call Girl – My review of the TV series which has been adapted from the book Belle du Jour

My short play – entitled HOME WORK – which is about a girl working from home as an escort.

The Secret Diary of a Call Gir

I have watched this entire series on box set several times and loved it. I found it hilarious and I think Billie Piper is a fantastic actress.

I have only got around to reading the book Belle du Jour recently. I wanted to see how it compared with the TV series.

I was interested to discover that the book is really very different from the TV series. I recognised very few scenes from the book and the character of Ben did not exist in the book.

The book is a series of blog posts, which, though funny in their own right, did not provide the same continuity as the TV series, nor the chemistry between Belle and Ben.

The reason I discuss the book and TV series is because the theme is similar to the short play I have written.

HOME WORK is a mix between The Secret Diary of a Call Girl and Pretty Woman. It is about a girl who works from home as an escort.

I have had one play put on by the Black Box before and it’s interesting to see how the Director adapts it and how the actors bring their energy to the script. I am looking forward to seeing how this play will be performed.

I hope you can make it down to see it. Date to be confirmed but it will be between October – December and will likely be a Friday lunchtime.

Thanks for reading!

Rose x x 

Monday, 22 August 2016

5 fab books to cosy up with

This year I am doing the Goodreads Challenge. My challenge is to read 100 books in the year. So far, I have read 70 books and am ahead of target! 

I thought I’d take the opportunity to share with you my 5 favourite reads out of the 70.

1. Me Before You – by Jojo Moyes

I was gutted when this book was finished. I loved reading it so much, I didn’t want the book to end. And yet I was desperate to find out what happened. I loved the chemistry between Lou and Will. I really wanted Lou to win her secret challenge. It was interesting that, in trying to change Will, actually it was Lou who needed the real changes in her life. I liked the twist that the author put on it. 

I especially enjoyed the chapter written from the point of view of Will’s mother. That piece gave me goose-bumps. Moyes has highlighted a very controversial subject (which I won’t disclose for spoiler reasons) - one that has been on the news a lot – and shown this argument from every viewpoint – in a very emotional and powerful way. 

It is a very sad and heart-wrenching book. One that makes me think; one cannot judge, unless one has been in that person’s shoes. 

2. The Lemon Grove – by Helen Walsh

Goodness me, this book was a bit scandalicious! 

It's about a woman who goes on holiday with her husband, her step-daughter, and her step-daughter's boyfriend. The woman then starts secretly having an affair with her step-daughter's 17 year old boyfriend! 

I am not normally a fan of ‘affair’ stories but this book was exceptionally well written. The description of the scenery, the detail - it was so beautifully portrayed. And I don't think we're expected to like the characters - I think we're just supposed to be quietly horrified, as though watching through fingers - scared to see what's going to happen next, yet dying to find out what's going to happen. 

I did have to suspend disbelief however about the sexual prowess of a 17 year old guy - I fail to believe that he could have been that experienced at that age. 
A great read, really glad I chanced upon this book. It reminds me a little of 'Bonjour Tristesse' because of the awkward relationship between the daughter and step-mother.

3. The Girl on the Train - by Paula Hawkins

Wow. What a fabulous book. I wish I was able to give 6 stars out of 5. Fantastic narrative voice. Chilling, intense, intimate. This is an account of an active alcoholic - deeply entrenched in her loneliness, regret and confusion. 

I listened to this on audio and I loved the three voices. I especially loved the voice of Megan. It's hard to believe this is a debut novel. Gripping and thrilling. This is the first book in a long while where, the minute I heard 'the end', I pressed 'play again' to listen to it a second time.

4. Getting Rid of Matthew - by Jane Fallon 

Hilarious book. It amazes me how the author can make the main 
character so likable when clearly she's one of the most selfish characters I've ever read about. But it's hilarious none the less. The scrapes that she gets herself into, the lies that she tells, the web of deceit that she casts herself in - all this is clearly unrealistic and unbelievable, yet it works. A very funny tale indeed.

5. Dying to be Thin – by Nikki Graham

A gripping, honest and fascinating story of one girl's struggle with anorexia. 

I had heard that Nikki suffered from anorexia - but I really did not know the extent of how much she had suffered. Not until I read this book, that is.

I remember Nikki from Big Brother of course - the tiny little blonde girl with the massive screams and horrendous temper tantrums. But this book showed a completely different side to her. I am not normally a fan of ‘celeb true story’ books – but this one was an exception. 

Through this book, I heard a completely different voice - soft, honest, brutally honest, to the point of self-deprecating on many occasions. She really left no stone unturned. She was an extremely sick girl and she shared it all with us, the reader. 

As I say, I knew she had suffered from anorexia, but I did not know that her anorexia began at the age of seven, and that she spent practically her entire childhood in and out of hospitals and institutions (from the age of 8 until the age of 16). She even spent an entire 3 years residing in Great Ormond Street Hospital. Three years! And after the 3 years, the Head Consultant dealing with Eating Disorders at Great Ormond said to Nikki's parents - "Nikki is not the worst patient I have seen suffering from anorexia - she is BY FAR the worst patient". He told her parents that there was simply nothing more that the hospital could do for her. 

She had point blank refused any help whatsoever. Refusing to eat anything. Having those vicious temper tantrums we watched on BB. She had to be "tubed" in the end - a tube up her nose to feed her because she wouldn't let food enter her mouth. And then, she kept pulling the tubes out of her nose! A point in the book where I was literally cringing and finding it so hard to read because it sounded so painful. Then, when she had pulled out 6 tubes in a row, they had to give her a permanent tube - a gastronomy - a tube constantly inserted into her stomach. And even then, she tried to poke it out and pull the stitches off! She really was a very, very sick girl. 

The thing that I found upsetting about the story (and this in no way is a reflection of the book) - is the fact that the treatment sounded so dated. Why all this force-feeding? Why not get to the root of the cause? Surely eating disorders are more about the mind than the physical? Surely it's more about emotions/ thoughts/ coping skills than the actual food? Yet all these hospitals seemed to do was force feed her until she put on weight, discharge her, she'd lose the weight again, and then she was readmitted again. A vicious cycle. 

It seemed that Nikki really poured her heart and soul into this book - it's a long intriguing read and she really does give a very detailed account of what happened to her. At times I wanted to hug her like a little sister and protect her. At other times I was shocked at the way she treated her mother - throwing her plates of food at the wall. It made me think about how this is a family disease and I wondered how much the family can enable the sufferer? I'm pretty sure if I threw a plate at the wall, my mum and dad would not have stood for it! In saying that, I'm not blaming her mum - I just think her mum sounded so out of her depth and unable to cope. She really did sound like such a sweetheart. 

It was really interesting to hear all about the Big Brother stuff and I think that the TV show meant much more to Nikki in terms of her self-esteem than any fame or money. 

It has really made me sympathise with Nikki. I'm sure that anorexia is never something that really goes away. But I hope that she is managing to keep it at bay.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Sitting down to Write - Overcoming the hurdles 

I took a (long) break from writing. I am now writing again and currently working on novel # 3. Interestingly, I see that all the old hurdles are creeping up again. You know - the crippling fear, the self-doubt, the usual. Thankfully, because of writing books 1 & 2, I have a bit of experience in dealing with those hurdles. I know when they arise and I know how to deal with them. 

When I mention to friends/acquaintances that I have written books, they often say, "Oh! I'd love to write a book too. But I wouldn't know where to start..." The truth is, if I can do it, anyone again. Here are the hurdles I have come across and here are my tips for dealing with them. 

Problem #1 - The Fear 

This is what happens before you even think about sitting down with a pen and paper to write. The Fear Happens. 

The Fear says "Ha! You! You think you can write?! ha ha ha ha *snort* No. You can't write! Where would you even start! There's no way you could write an entire novel! Don't be so ridiculous. Forget that notion immediately and just content yourself."

Tip #1 - Just Ignore The Fear 

The Fear is a voice that will pop up occasionally. It is just a thought and it is not fact. Ignore it. Carry on. 

Problem #2 - Procrastination 

When you actually do sit down at your first writing session, procrastination sets in. Suddenly this seems like a great time to pull out a compact mirror and start studying your teeth. God, they really could do with a floss, couldn't they? *sets off to bathroom to get some floss* Or your nails- they could do with some clear varnish. Anything to actually avoid starting. 

Tip #2 - Just Do It 

Put your phone on silent and in the other side of the room out of eyesight. Just start. Start writing and ignore the 'Fear' which will jump up and down and say 'this is crap'. Tell the fear that 'this is just a first draft'. 'It doesn't have to be perfect'. 'I can go back and fix it'. That gives you the freedom to relax and write anything. Write badly. Write freely. Just write. Get it on the page. Sometimes something miraculous happens. Sometimes a phrase will come out of 'nowhere' or a sentence will flow out of your pen and you'll think 'Cool! Where did that come from?!" And you'll be pleased with yourself. 

Either way, by the time you get to the end of your writing session, it will be more words written that if you listened to the Fear. It's a start. 

Problem #3 - Thinking Stuff Up 

But how do I think stuff up? Where do I start?

Tip #3 - Get stuff down 

The trick is not to 'think stuff up' - the trick is to 'get stuff down'. 

When I write, I like to pretend I'm sitting in the audience in a theatre. The red curtain has been pulled back, the actors are on stage performing. My job is to record what's happening. 

It sounds like a bit of cliche but your characters will start to tell you what they're doing. It might take a few chapters to get into the flow but once you start, they'll make sure to tell you how they will react to situations!

Think of a theme you'd like to work with in your novel. 
Think of characters that could highlight that theme.
Think of the conflict in the beginning, think of the resolution at the end, and think of the twists and turns in the middle. 
You have the bones.
Ignore the fear and just do it!