The sound of a good book

Four years ago, I wrote a blog post about the smell of a good book. Today, I am going to talk about a different sense: the sound of a good book. I am speaking of audiobooks, that alternative to the traditional method of reading which can prove to be just as good a way of experiencing a book and, if I dare say it, sometimes better!

I first started considering reading via the audiobook format when Continue reading

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I devoured this book – but did I actually like it?

Regular readers of this blog will know that I’m a historical fiction nut – anything set more recently than seventy years ago just doesn’t hold as much of an attraction for me. So it may come as a surprise that I’ve actually read a book that was written, published and set in the current decade. This constitutes a radical departure from my normal reading material but it was gifted to me during the summer and, after stalling on another book, I decided to give it a go.

It’s called Conversations With Friends by Irish author Sally Rooney and it makes for great book review content because I have so many mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, I found myself racing through it at a speed quite unlike my usual relaxed tempo. On the other hand, I kept asking myself throughout whether Continue reading

What’s in a word?

Being a writer, I have an innate fascination with language and how words are used. Being a writer of historical fiction, this fascination extends to how the usage of words can change over time. As I write and edit my novels, I am constantly looking up words to make sure that they were in use during the time period in which my books are set (the 1800s). This has led me to make some interesting discoveries along the way!

I refer to various websites when researching word usage and the origins of different phrases, but my main source is Continue reading

They say a change is as good as a rest – but a rest does the job too

Back in April, I wrote a post about not breaking the chain, which involved making sure I did at least one writing-related task every single day. Having started the chain on the 3rd of January this year, I am pleased to announce that I kept it going for 185 days straight. Despite the best of intentions, however, I knew that I would have to break the chain eventually and ended up doing so on the 7th of July.

But I broke it in spectacular fashion and have in fact taken almost a month off from writing…! This was in order to Continue reading

The preferences of a writer’s palate: fancy meal or messy takeaway?

What do you like to see when you open a menu? Perhaps you are attracted to a dish that is described in elaborate language, seasoned with exotic terminology, and served like art on a plate. Or maybe you prefer a more humble bill of fare and don’t mind how sloppy it looks so long as it tastes delicious.

This is sometimes how I view reading books. I would put literary classics in the fancy meal category and more lighthearted material in the messy takeaway category. Both can appeal for different reasons but, like the food they represent, both offer Continue reading

This book really makes me want to become an editor

I’ve read a book that has left me itching to attack it with a red pen, so much so that I’m going to dissect it here and say what I would have done if I had been the book’s editor. This is not to say that I thought the book was all bad – in fact, I really liked its premise and judged it to have a lot of potential. It was the execution of the story and the writing that left me disappointed. So, rather than looking at this as a criticism of what the book was, I’d rather view it as a lament for what it could have been.

Alert No.1: In writing this post, I do not claim to be better than professional editors working in the industry. This is my subjective opinion which stemmed from my reading experience of the book in question.

Alert No.2: To speak about the book’s strengths and shortcomings, I will be revealing much of the storyline. Therefore don’t read on if you’d like to avoid spoilers!

So what’s the book? It’s called So Much Owed by Jean Grainger, a work of historical fiction set in Ireland and Continue reading

The undisputed queen of the genre

I am speaking, of course, of Georgette Heyer and the genre she essentially invented: historical romance. This corner of the book market tends to be flooded with titles, some good and some of rather more questionable quality, but a Georgette Heyer book is always a highly reliable choice. I find her to be the literary equivalent of comfort food, and turn to her whenever I want a nice love story.

I have written about her before but I’ve read two more of her books over the last few months and wanted to reiterate my admiration. I’m just so impressed by how well she immerses a reader in the settings and social interactions of the 19th century. One of my Continue reading

Don’t break the chain: a writer’s mantra

No, this isn’t about spam mail claiming you will have seven years’ bad luck unless you forward it to 100 other people. It’s about motivation, consistency and – after a while – pure obstinacy!

I came across the notion of ‘Don’t break the chain’ in a recent blog post by crime author Catherine Ryan Howard. Always generous with advice, Catherine offered up some productivity tips and one of them was to not break the chain. She recommended putting Continue reading

Giving up on a book – when do you make that call?

Up until very recently, I was a firm believer that you should always power through a book to the end, regardless of its appeal, length or quality. This principle was motivated by a number of factors, including:

  • a simple desire to find out what happens
  • a respect for the time and effort the author has put into producing the work
  • a sense of completion at the end that aligns with my inbuilt impulse to neatly box away everything in life

Unfortunately, I have encountered a book which has forced me to abandon this enduring cornerstone of my existence.

Prior to Continue reading