Writing From A Prompt #1

Here goes, my first of what is hopefully many attempts at Writing From A Prompt. Below is the picture used for this activity and beneath that will be the short pieces of writing that I have come up with from the picture.

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This first two pieces were written (by me) whilst we were running a “Tell me a Story” piece in the Facebook group I am a part of (Book Club)

There is a house in New Orleans, They call the rising sun. This isn’t it. This is a dump. What once belonged to Klaus and the Mikaelson’s was now a shadow of its former self. The great war of 2015, that broke out between the werewolves and the vampires had resulted in every Mikaelson property in the quarter being ravaged. The vampires had finally teamed up with the witches and brought hell to the town. Klaus and Elijah made it out alive and back to Mystic Falls. Just in time to see Matt Donovan and his team of hunters reigning power over the vampires situated there.

Wandering through the front door, Alice shook her head. Whoever lived here had not taken very good care of it. Why she had chosen to buy a house in wonderland she’d never be absolutely certain. Maybe it was the nostalgia from her childhood visits or the fact that she couldn’t wait to move out of her parents house. Either way, this was her new home. Yes, it needed some love and care but with the help of her Wonderland friends and her husband, The Knave, it would soon be perfect.

You may notice, that both of these were generated from a fan fiction point of view. One being a popular TV show and the other a much loved classic story.

The following short piece was written (yes, still by me) right now. As I compiled this post I wanted to add something new to the picture, I tried to come up with an original idea.

Mary was 11 when her parents announced they were getting a divorce. She wasn’t told any real details about what had happened, although she could tell that her mum must have done something to upset her dad. The only reason Mary knew this was because her dad packed all her mum’s belongings and through them out onto the street the day after she had been told of the divorce.
A few days after the suitcase saga, Mary’s dad called her downstairs to announce that they were selling the house and had to move. Mary was not happy. “Why are we the ones that have to move?”
“Because I can’t afford the mortgage on this house on my own, Mary.” Dad replied sadly
“I hate mum. I hate that you made her leave. I hate that we have to sell this house” Shouted Mary.
“I’m sorry Mary, things will work out. I have found a house that I can afford, would you like to come and have a look later today?”
With a huge sigh, Mary resentfully nodded her head. Maybe things will be ok, it might be a really nice house in a nice area.
Later that day, Mary and her dad got into the car. They had been driving for a while, Mary sat staring out of the window as the skies turned darker and the houses around them started to change into trees. The further they drove the denser the trees got. “Oh great!” Mary thought “We’re moving to middle of nowhere.”
After about three hours the trees started to clear. Slowly, but surely Mary began to see houses. Just a few at first, but each couple of minutes more houses came into view. These weren’t any old houses, they were brand spanking new. Big houses. The sort of houses that the rich and famous usually live in. Feeling a bit better about the moving situation Mary started daydreaming about their house. How big it would be, how many rooms, the size of the garden and all the new people she would meet.
As more and more houses came into view, her dad turned around and said “Keep looking to the left Mary. Our house is coming up in about five minutes.” So Mary did as she was advised. When the car rolled to a stop outside a large set of electronic gates Mary smiled. Even the grey skies couldn’t dampen her quickly changing mood. Her dad got out of the car, Mary followed suit. He went and punched in a code to the gate’s security system. “This place is swanky” Mary said with a happy smile.
“I know” Dad replied “Just wait until you see inside. It’s practically untouched so we can decorate and accessorise exactly how we wish.”
Mary squealed with excitement, she had already started dreaming up ideas for colours and things she wanted in her room. Mary couldn’t remember the last time she had felt like this about anything.
“Come on Mary! Let’s go in” Her dad shouted from outside the front door. He was unlocking the door.
Mary quickly ran up to the front door where he was waiting before he pushed it open. Opening onto a big entrance hall, dad looked at Mary with excitement in his eyes. Mary took a few steps forward so she could see the room and her heart sank. It wasn’t just a blank sheet, it was a dilapidated old house.

Thank you for reading. I hope you liked my short stories. Please feel free to leave me any comments.

Review: The Baker Street Four, Vol. 1

The Baker Street Four, Vol. 1
The Baker Street Four, Vol. 1 by Olivier Legrand

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Baker Street Irregulars are back in The Baker Street Four.

The illustrations in this graphic novel are fantastic. The artist manages to encapsulate Victorian England perfectly with the styling of the buildings and backdrops right through to the colours used to set off the tone. It is absolutely perfect as far as the art work goes.

As for the story, I love all things Sherlock Holmes and am quite familiar with the BSIs from when they have helped him out in the past. In this book, the four (three kids and a cat) launch their own investigation when the love interest of one of the gang is abducted – amongst other things.
All in all this was cute and well thought out book, the stories were good and kept me interested to the end.


Copy received via Netgalley

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Review: Joyride, Volume 1

Joyride, Volume 1
Joyride, Volume 1 by Jackson Lanzing

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Uma is fed up of Earth. As the tag line goes Earth Sucks. Uma and an (unlikely) band of misfits (That’s the best way I can think of to describe them) end up seeking adventures into the great unknown.

My thoughts on the story: This story wasn’t for me. It was a bit too much science fiction in one sitting. I requested this as I was drawn to the cover (but more about that a bit later). I am open to try anything at least once and I DO like Sci-Fi, but sometimes it can feel a little over bearing, which this one did to me. The more I read, the more I began to feel at home with the genre but it took me far too long to actually start to feel comfortable. I do think that the concept was brilliantly executed and the way that the author managed to develop the characters from being ones that I struggled with at the beginning to actually starting to like towards the end (I have a feeling that when I get around to reading the next volume it could grow on me a little bit more).

Now, the AMAZING illustrations were what really kept me sailing through this book. Each page was fantastic and I got excited to turn over EVERY SINGLE TIME. The colours matched with the story perfectly – lots of reds, blues, purples, pinks and yellows. It was the yellows that did it. Yellow and purple (which is basically a mix of different amounts of reds and blues) is one of my favourite colour combinations when doing my little (ahem) adult colouring hobby and the way that the yellow set off the pages, along with the odd random pinks mixed in, made these absolutely perfect.

I really enjoyed this book.

Copy received from Netgalley

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Review: Hockey Karma

Hockey Karma
Hockey Karma by Howard Shapiro

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you’ve seen my recent reviews then you’ll know I read two other books by this author over the past few days. This one is the third in the Forever Friends trilogy. I read them out of sync as I started with number two but it hasn’t caused too much of an issue with the “flow” of the story as I have read them quite close together.

One thing I have noticed but not mentioned previously is that the author, Howard Shapiro, recommends music to listen to based on the story lines within each chapter. Usually two or three songs are listed as an accompaniment. I like this as it makes me feel like 1) the author actually reads and thinks about the stories from our perspective and 2) that the author knows his work and what sort of things would go well with it. This is a very positive experience.

So, book three picks up a few years after book two (quite a lot of years actually). The main characters are all still there (but a fair bit older, as you would expect) and we see the reintroduction of characters from book one plus some new characters. Tom and Jake are still friends, Jake finally appears to have or at least be on the road to sorting himself out. We follow the friends as they continue in their chosen lives.

I really enjoyed this third instalment and it is not often I come across a trilogy or series where I rate every single book at least 4 stars, there’s generally a dip someone along the line or a certain part I wasn’t keen on but not with the FF trilogy. I only wish it wasn’t a trilogy, but a series and that we had some more books, maybe in-between the ones published to show more of their lives but that isn’t really a big issue and didn’t affect my feelings towards this book.

The only reason I didn’t give this one a 5 star rating is because it has a much higher hockey presence (and while that should be expected in a book called Hockey Karma), I’m not a sports kinda person so those pages that were specifically to the game just kind of went over my head.

Copy received from Animal Media/Mr H Shapiro via Netgalley

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Guest Review: MisterBabamook talks about J.M. Sullivan’s book “Alice: The Wanderland Chronicles”

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Firstly, I feel the need to point out that, regarding reading, Alice: The Wanderland Chronicles came to my attention at a somewhat tough time. Suffering a massive, and wildly disappointing reading slump that lasted weeks, I was jaded. Of the last five books that I have read, three were okay at best and two I just couldn’t complete. So, the stakes were high for me personally. It was also only a few weeks back that I had been searching for some kind of dark, original take on fairy-tale stories; a genre that I find highly interesting. However, my search was less than satisfying, and nothing quite hit the mark.

So, along came Alice: The Wanderland Chronicles, the debut novel from J. M. Sullivan. On first reading of the blurb, I must admit that it caught my attention, and it had been recommended to me on several occasions. However, I was still slightly dubious, partly because of my disappointed reading mood, and because of the zombie aspect of the book. It’s not that I don’t like the zombie genre (although I’m not its greatest fan), but over the recent years this whole zombie explosion has gone insane and I had lost nearly all my enthusiasm regarding it. There’s only so many ways you can tell a zombie story before you’re just reading or watching the same old thing, right? Still, Lewis Carrol’s classic creation mixed with some post-apocalyptic world? I was curious. Although, since Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith was such a disaster, there was certainly the potential for this to be awfully disappointing.

That being said…

I could not have been more wrong. What Sullivan has created, is an absolute masterclass in genre blending, that hits every mark possible, without either the slightest hint of a misstep. I can’t imagine that there are many people that do not know the story of Alice in Wonderland (shame on you if you don’t), and this is blatantly obvious in Sullivan’s fantastic writing, that she, too, is certainly no stranger to it. Let me say though, Alice: The Wanderland Chronicles is not just another classic tale rehashed, with some zombie mayhem thrown in for good measure and a cheap sale. No, no, no. This book has an utterly unique and captivating life of its own, created by a wonderfully visionary storyteller.

In Alice, we follow the titular character as she makes her way through a post-apocalyptic zombie (here called ‘Momeraths’, which is the most inventive name for the un-dead that I have come across yet) world, in search for a cure for her sister Dinah, who has contracted the Momerath Virus. Along the way, she meets a wide range of marvellous characters. I don’t want to say too much about any of these, as I really want you to discover them for yourselves, but I will say that each one of them is written and developed to absolute perfection.

So, how do you blend the classic tale of Alice with the insanity of flesh-eating zombies, and make it work? Well, before I had the pleasure of reading this book I would have not thought it possible. Certainly not to any level where it would be an inspiring or memorable novel. And, that is where Alice: The Wanderland Chronicles shines brightly. The basics of its success comes down to intelligent writing by the author. And there is no doubting its intelligence and creativity. It truly is a well thought out and brilliantly executed piece of work, the likes of which have not kept me so engrossed for a very long time. J. M. Sullivan has written a beautifully flowing story that doesn’t miss a beat. Although it is faithful to the blueprints of the original story, it is not pinned down to it, and most definitely not a cheap rehash. There are many great nods to the characters and story that have inspired it in the form of characters and many other aspects (again, that you must discover and enjoy for yourself), but overall, and undeniably, it is its own monster (and a deliciously spectacular one at that) that has been written with great care, thought and imagination that is individual to the author herself.

From the opening paragraph, to the very last page, Alice is consistently engaging and there is no let-up or decline in the quality of the storytelling. It’s fair to say that there is obviously an aspect of horror. I don’t particularly like using that word as it conjures up images that can just go crazy in your mind, but it’s difficult not to use it when you’re talking about zombies. It’s not like they go around handing out flowers to passers-by. They’re zombies. They eat people. However, this aspect is fairly light (although this depends on your own perception of horror), whilst still being as graphic as it needs to be within the context of the story. What really amazed me is that despite the horrifying world in which it is set, Sullivan still had the genius of writing to keep it feeling magical all the way through. The tone of its source material never got lost amongst the darkness. Again, that comes down to the ridiculously clever writing on behalf of J. M. Sullivan.

Overall, despite its obvious inspired blueprints, Alice: The Wanderland Chronicles is a story like no other and something of which is incomparable to anything else. The journey you take along with Alice and all the brilliantly crafted characters, is one that will have you entirely gripped, as though you are living it too. The world created is palpable and every character created is absolutely fantastic. I keep mentioning the source material, and I kind of irk myself by doing that, because Alice: The Wanderland Chronicles is a breathtakingly unique novel in its own right, and I think J. M. Sullivan deserves that recognition for creating something that I guarantee you, you will not have read before. Beyond my expectations and to my surprise, Alice: The Wanderland Chronicles takes its rightful place as one of my all-time favourite novels. I cannot wait to see what comes next. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.