A Creative Space | A Space to Create

I write this sitting at my desk, in much the same way Cassandra Mortmain didn't – she was sitting in the kitchen sink, although I doubt I needed to say that. The point is, we all have a creative space – so my desk is Cassandra's kitchen sink (hypothetically, anyway). Virginia Woolf famously wrote "A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction"; I mention this for two reasons: a) it mostly relates to this post, and b) you can see my typewriter in the corner of the photo, and Virginia was one of the names I considered for it. I went for Sylvia (as in Plath) in the end, but it was a tight call between the aforementioned names and Margaret (as in Atwood). I say all of this because it's currently 23:09 and I haven't drank nearly enough tea to have any clue what on earth I'm typing…

And yet, I shall continue.

A place to sit, and to think, and to accidentally spill pencil sharpenings across one too many times, is an ideal I romanticise a tad too much. But, earlier on, as I was sat at this very same desk, I couldn't help but think about how much this desk looks like my desk – if you catch my drift. Everything about this desk is so blissfully, perfectly, acutely, indefinitely personal (the tea-stained and somewhat lop-sided postcards, Sylvia the typewriter, the peeping cup of tea, the cactus, the stack of books, the other stack of books, the stuffed-full-of-books bag… etc).

Almost every creative thing I do is done at this desk. This is where I blog and write and draw and channel my inner Jo March (well, okay, maybe the last is kind of a 24-hour occurrence). And so, earlier today, when I sat down at this desk, I felt this euphoric sense of freedom; perhaps I didn't know what I'd end up doing (it was this post, in the end), but because I was sitting at the place where I create, it didn't matter all that much.

Do you have this one space that you do everything and anything creative at? I'd love to know! By the way, regular bookish content will resume shortly, I just haven't had an awful lot of time of late – hence the rambling. Sorry if these aren't your cup of tea!

DISCUSSION: Would You Rather Be a Novel or a Poem?

I'm not entirely sure where this question originated from, but I saw it earlier and it piqued my interest.  For me, the answer was immediate – I would rather be a poem.

Novels have this sense of completion I simply wouldn't want. A poem is, almost always, more ambiguous. Poetry is packed full of imagery, each word loaded, and placed for a reason. Some could say poetry's short and sweet – although, the 'sweet' aspect is definitely questionable, and so is 'short' in a lot of cases. So, frankly, I can't pinpoint exactly why I'd prefer to be a poem – is it the lyrical language? The time capsule-esque packaging of emotion? – but I can say it's what I'd definitely prefer to be. I love novels, clearly, and the pleasure I get from finishing a good book is immeasurable, yet the prospect of existing as a poem is… irresistible.

Besides, is there anything better than "'Hope' is the thing with feathers - / That perches in the soul - / And sings the tune without the words - / And never stops - at all -"?

I'm incredibly interested to hear your thoughts on this: would you rather be a novel or a poem? Currently, I'm reckoning the majority will go for poem. 

BOOK HAUL: Early October

Okay, I can assure you there is a legitimate, justifiable reason for The Mime Order being photographed next to a cactus… well, maybe I'm using the word justifiable loosely there, but still. If you already know, congrats (for following me on Twitter) and if not… well, you're probably sane for not paying attention to my nonsensical ramblings. But, nonetheless, here are the books I've received so far this month… 

In all honesty, I hadn't heard about this book before Random House got in touch with me about reviewing it. It was then I did a little research about the book, only to find out it sounds utterly perfect for me. Perhaps the most interesting aspect is that the narrator is only five – I've been meaning to read a book with a young narrator ever since Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. On top of this, it was longlisted for the Bailey's Women's Prize. 

Lips Touch by Laini Taylor
In case you didn't know, I'm a huge fan of Laini Taylor. Naturally, Hodder's offer to supply me with a copy of her Gothic short story collection was a no-brainer. With short stories titled "Goblin Fruit" and  "Spicy Little Curses", I can't wait to dive into it. Plus, it's Laini Taylor: gorgeous writing is almost certainly guaranteed. 

Rooms by Lauren Oliver
Hawwa is awesome. I've been eyeing Rooms by Lauren Oliver for a while, so, naturally, when it came in the post I may have squealed a tad. Oliver's adult novel – as far as I know – revolves around a house in which the lives of the living and the dead intersect. I don't know too much else, but from the reviews I've seen, it sounds great. 

The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon
Semi-related to the picture above, when I opened the parcel containing The Mime Order, I knocked over my cactus in excitement. It's safe to say I fell in love with The Bone Season. It was simply incredible. So, naturally, I've been anticipating the sequel ever since. (Edit: I just finished it. Woah. I think I'm temporarily lost for words. So good!).

The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkein
I'm not entirely certain whether I've mentioned this before, but I'm a huge Lord of the Rings fan. So, when my mum picked up this beautiful hardback copy of The Silmarillion at our local charity shop, I was more than a little excited. Needless to say I spent a little too long staring at the map in the back (!). I really like maps, okay. 

Have you read any of these books? Do you plan to? Please tell me! NOTE: I say this a lot, but I'm super sorry about the lack of posts. I'm struggling to keep up with schoolwork, let alone blogging too!   Hopefully, I'll be able to schedule a couple of months ahead in half term (unrealistic goal, per chance?) but, for the meantime, posting may be a bit less frequent. 

MINI REVIEWS: October 2014

Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas 
The title of this book is simply perfect. Fire burns and it consumes, and what is left is deadly; and, where we are now, the assassin and the traitor have been burnt away, and Celaena's true meaning remains. Yes, there are aspects of this book I didn't enjoy, yet I couldn't help but finish it smiling; for me, Heir of Fire represents everything this series is about.

Author: Sarah J. Maas | Publisher: Bloomsbury | Pages: 565 | Source: For Review |

Consumed by guilt and rage, Celaena can't bring herself to spill blood for the King of Adarlan. She must fight back...

The Immortal Queen will help her destroy the king - for a price. But as Celaena battles with her darkest memories and her heart breaks for a love that could never last, can she fulfil the bargain and head the almighty court of Terrasen? And who will stand with her?

MY THOUGHTS: Where, oh where, to begin? Heir of Fire brought new faces – some of which I welcomed, some of which I did not – but it also brought new plot lines and a new depth to the tale. Sarah J. Maas, who has became an even more accomplished writer throughout the series, has not held back in the latest instalment. Rowan and Manon were two characters I enjoyed immensely, not only for their individual merits, but because they opened the gate for intricate and fascinating relationships to form as well as sturdy plot lines. Whilst there were characters I didn't enjoy (especially the changes made to one character), the potential of these new introductions has certainly made me excited.

In short, the latest book in this trilogy is also the grittiest. Heir of Fire pushes further than all the previous books in the series: more characters, more plot lines, more settings… and yet Celaena remains the beating heart of the tale. And, like always, she's truly, truly magnificent.

MY FAVOURITE LINE: “She was the heir of ash and fire, and she would bow to no one.”

How does one begin to review a book like Cloud Atlas? Should I review each plot line individually? Or should I review the book as a web of plots? Should I comment on each character? Or the cast as a whole? I've spent the last few days pondering this. Yet Mitchell's masterpiece is remarkable to the extent reviewing the book is nearly impossible.

Author: David Mitchell | Publisher: Sceptre | Pages: 529 | Source: Borrowed |

The narrators hear their echoes in history and change their destinies in ways great and small, in a study of humanity's dangerous will to power. A reluctant voyager crosses the Pacific in 1850. A disinherited composer gatecrashes in between-wars Belgium. A vanity publisher flees gangland creditors. Others are a journalist in Governor Reagan’s California, and genetically-modified dinery server on death-row. Finally, a young Pacific Islander witnesses the nightfall of science and civilization.

MY THOUGHTS: Perhaps the best aspect of Cloud Atlas is that it shouldn't really work. Six strung out story lines that connect despite spanning centuries? Yep, it really shouldn't work as a whole. And yet it does; the narratives are sewn seamlessly together whilst still maintaing their own, individual emotional threads. Furthermore, Mitchell does this all through magnificent prose that does not falter. My only complaint? It wasn't until I was a 100 or so pages I realised all this – in my eyes, it gets off to a rocky start. But, from then onwards, it really does flourish into something breathtaking.

Both compelling and thought-provoking, and complete with a vivid, cinematic approach, Cloud Atlas is shamelessly captivating. A brilliant read for a rainy day.

MY FAVOURITE LINE: “My life amounts to no more than one drop in a limitless ocean. Yet what is any ocean, but a multitude of drops?”

The Accidental by Ali Smith 
I'm speaking honestly when I say The Accidental really isn't like any book I've encountered before. Ali Smith's style is unparalleled in the literary world. And, once you stop wondering whether this novel is a work of art or just incredibly pretentious, you can appreciate it for what it really is: a brilliant, brilliant tale.

Author: Ali Smith | Publisher: Anchor | Pages: 306 | Source: Bought | 

The Accidental is the dizzyingly entertaining, wickedly humorous story of a mysterious stranger whose sudden appearance during a family’s summer holiday transforms four variously unhappy people. Each of the Smarts–parents Eve and Michael, son Magnus, and the youngest, daughter Astrid–encounter Amber in his or her own solipsistic way, but somehow her presence allows them to se their lives (and their life together) in a new light. Smith’s exhilarating facility with language, her narrative freedom, and her chromatic wordplay propel the novel to its startling, wonderfully enigmatic conclusion.

MY THOUGHTS: The Accidental is not a welcoming read; it doesn't make it easy for the reader to enjoy it, at first. I even spent the first 50 pages wondering if it was going to pick up – yet, thankfully, it did.

Ali Smith is one of those authors who reminds me why I love words so much. Her clever combination of prose and snippets of poetry is stunning. She just does it so well. In all honesty, whilst I enjoyed the plot of The Accidental, anything could have been happened and Smith's writing style still would have had me hooked. This said, another brilliant aspect of The Accidental was in fact the characters; I adored all the engaging narratives – equipped with oddball thoughts and theories – as well as the fascinating relationships. Yes, The Accidental gets off to a rocky start, but from then onwards, it's fantastic.

MY FAVOURITE LINE: “Oh. To be filled with goodness then shattered by goodness, so beautifully mosaically fragmented by such shocking goodness.”

A Love Like Blood by Marcus Sedgwick 
When I heard Marcus Sedgwick was writing an adult's book, I was intrigued to say the least. He's an author who has followed me through my childhood, and yet, despite this change in age group, is as good as ever; A Love Like Blood is as dark and thrilling as any of his previous books. The only problem? I expected more.

Author: Marcus Sedgwick | Publisher: Hodder | Pages: 320 | Source: For Review | 

In 1944, just days after the liberation of Paris, Charles Jackson sees something horrific: a man, apparently drinking the blood of a murdered woman. Terrified, he does nothing, telling himself afterwards that worse things happen in wars.

Seven years later he returns to the city - and sees the same man dining in the company of a fascinating young woman. When they leave the restaurant, Charles decides to follow...

A Love Like Blood is a dark, compelling thriller about how a man's life can change in a moment; about where the desire for truth - and for revenge - can lead; about love and fear and hatred. And it is also about the question of blood.

MY THOUGHTS: In terms of pacing and tone, A Love Like Blood is faultless. Sedgwick can evoke such fear within the reader through a single sentence. This a real perch-on-the-edge-of-your-seat read, equipped with a dark streaks and a steady pace.

However, this said, if you want a character-driven novel, look away now. And, surprisingly, I say the same for if you're looking for a plot-driven novel. Both, are not on the agenda. With most of Sedgwick's books, the plot is the real driving force behind the novel, yet, within A Love Like Blood, Sedgwick's trademark cleverly-crafted storyline is nowhere to be seen. In short, this book is neither full to the brim with complex characters nor meticulously plotted, but it's the definition of a page turner – and if that's all you're looking for, you're gonna love this.

MY FAVOURITE LINE: 'I've chased him for over twenty years, and across countless miles, and though often I was running, there have been many times when I could do nothing but sit and wait. Now I am only desperate for it to be finished.'

Have you read any of them? What did you think? Are you planning to read any of them?


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