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The love of my life and I are getting married soon, so I thought I'd share some of the ways we've let our love of books light up...

Our Bookish Wedding: Books as Invitations!


The love of my life and I are getting married soon, so I thought I'd share some of the ways we've let our love of books light up our big day. I'll be making a few posts over the next couple of months, pretty much one for every good idea we have. Why keep them to ourselves, when fabulous Internet strangers could benefit from them too?

Our first idea: writing a book, to use as invitations.

I got the idea when I saw how cheap it was to print each copy of my novel, Gods and Conquerors, on demand. Comparing that to the price of some wedding invitations (wedding suppliers seem to just pick a number out of thin air), there was really no contest. Writing our own book to celebrate our very bookish day seemed like the best choice.

You can read our book at the end of this post, or simply read on to find out how to make one yourself.

How to do it



First, you need to find yourself a print-on-demand self publishing service. I used createspace.com, but other services are available and no one is paying me to advertise for them, so I encourage you to shop around. It should also be noted that createspace is closing down and its services moving over to Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), so that won't be an option soon, if it even is at the moment.

It's very easy to set up an account and create a new title, so I won't patronise you with a guide for that.

Next, you need to create the content: write a story to go in the book, and design the cover. Anyone who knows how to use Word (or similar) can easily create the interior, as KDP and createspace both provide good templates. For the cover, you might want to involve someone who knows a bit about graphic design. We didn't, because we were happy with our amateur cover; but if you want it to look really snazzy, perhaps you need to call in a favour or two.

When it comes to content, you probably need at least 14 pages of story before you reach the wedding details. I think all print-on-demand services have a minimum page count, so you couldn't just make it a simple invitation with no other content even if you wanted to. Why you would want to is a mystery to me - the whole point of this is to create an original and amusing book for your guests to read - but just in case, I thought I'd mention it.

We wrote ours in rhyme, the story of our relationship from beginning to now.


Once formatted (and re-drafted, and formatted again and again), you can upload your interior as a simple Word file, and your cover as .pdf. Then, you can order your proofs and approve your book.

"But, once it's approved, it's basically a self-published book - doesn't that mean anyone will be able to buy it?!" I hear you ask. And it's a valid concern; it was my biggest worry, too. But no, you don't have to publish to any online stores if you don't want to. On createspace, you could set it so that the only way to buy your book was through createspace.com (whether other services provide that facility, I couldn't say). We bought all our own copies, and then we trashed it after that.

So, as you can see, it's really simple. Don't let anyone charge you for it; if you're struggling and need some assistance, just reach out and I'll help if I can.

And here's our book:


 
 









The pages I haven't included here contain all the vital details that would bore the average reader of this blog: accomodation, gifts, and RSVP requirements. There was nothing especially creative about those pages, so I'm sure you'll manage without them.

If you like this idea, feel free to copy it, and check out the rest of our bookish wedding ideas here. If you like them all, why not show me some love by buying one of my books

Sorry I haven't been around for a while. I've been on and off of Instagram too, doing various life admin things like organising ...

Book Reviews - August '18


Sorry I haven't been around for a while. I've been on and off of Instagram too, doing various life admin things like organising our wedding and stuff. Also writing a new book, but more on that another time. For now, here's a picture of a cow and a roundup of short Instagram reviews I've written recently.


Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - John le Carré

"The more identities a man has, the more they express the person they conceal."

There is a Russian mole in the British intelligence service, and George Smiley is asked to come out of retirement to find him. He must wade through the secrets and lies of all the people he used to work with, uncovering things about his past and the lives of his colleagues that he had never known before.

Somewhere between the excellent writing style and the subtle and complex story of espionage and intrigue, this book hooked me. I absolutely loved it. The relationships between the characters; our thoughtful, quiet protagonist; the interlacing of past and present... It was all just brilliant.

Something I really loved is the quaintness of it all. No mobile phones, no Internet, no complicated forensics or global spy networks; just people, and paper, and telephone calls, and manilla folders in hotel rooms. It made the story more human, which is hard to do now that technology has taken over.

Not that that was a conscious decision - it was written in the 70s and set in the 70s, so they were quainter times.

Anyway, the mystery was also good. And the film is good too. Can't recommend this story highly enough.


5/5.


Joyland - Stephen King

"When it comes to the past, everyone writes fiction."

Devin Jones is a twenty-something working at a theme park over the summer. There was a murder at the park a few years ago that remains unsolved, but really, most of the book is just about his love life.

I wanted to like this book. Apart from the fact that the cover is great, it was also bought for me by the love of my life, and I like it when I like the books she gives me. But King just wouldn't let me like it.

It's marketed as a crime novel. It is published by an imprint called Hard Case Crime. But it's no crime novel at all, and certainly not hard. The mystery is alluded to a couple of times, then you have to wade through a very tedious 200 pages (yes, 200!!) before he decides to start investigating it, then he forgets all about it, and it is instantly solved for him around page 250. I'm not even exaggerating, the crime is that irrelevant.

So if it's not a crime novel, then what is it? Boring, mostly. It's just a novel about working a summer job, making friends, living a normal life. Yawn. Honestly, what you learn in the first 200 pages could have been told in 30. And it's so wholesome and PG, even a few F-bombs and a couple of C-bombs can't make it any edgier.

It was also intensely irritating that every woman in the story seemed to fall in love with the protagonist. He's the most boring nice guy in the world, but every woman he walks past wants to strip off for him as soon as she meets him. Awful.

Should have been a short story, at the most.

1.5/5.


And Then There Were None - Agatha Christie

"In the midst of life, we are in death."

10 people are invited onto an island owned by one very mysterious U N Owen, for a variety of reasons. But when they start dying and learn that they are being killed for past crimes, they just wish they could get off it again.

This is my second Agatha Christie book. And this one, just like Murder on the Orient Express, felt like it was written for kids. Or by someone who hasn't read much, or didn't have an editor. But this is Agatha Christie, so that can't be true. It's just her style, but I'm not a fan.

For example, sometimes there will be a paragraph with a few revelations in it! And every sentence will end with an exclamation mark! As if that will increase the impact! But it doesn't! And there are other annoying things too... Like overuse of the ellipsis...

Anyway, that aside, this is a very entertaining story. It's fun to try and work out who's next and who's doing this, and she did well to hide it till the end - it wasn't the bloke I guessed it would be.

Recommended for fun and murder. And yes, I am going to pretend that this book didn't have a very different original title.

3.5/5.


I Love Dick - Chris Kraus

A woman stalks and harasses a man she barely knows, because she has convinced herself that she is in love with him. She writes him countless letters, and even sends an inappropriate fax to his work.

Sounds like the kind of creepy story I'd love. And I might have, if it wasn't true. This Dick is a real person, and the protagonist is Chris Kraus, the book's author. How minging is that?

But since it's apparently a novel, I don't know how much of it is fact and how much fiction. So let's pretend it's all fiction.

The protagonist of this book comes across as an obnoxiously pretentious intellectual who thinks that raiding the thesaurus and constructing all the most convoluted, overripe sentences she possibly can, each with as many obscure references as possible, will make her seem as intelligent as she keeps saying she is.

There doesn't seem to have been an editor. Whole paragraphs are begging to be cut, and the grammar is often questionable. Also, it's littered with this's. THIS'S. How is that better than "this is"?

Anyway. The book slaps itself on the back for saving feminism. But for the first half, you wonder what's feminist about it. Are you showing that women can be insane stalkers just as well as men? Well, I don't doubt that.

To be fair, in the latter half there are some good points about the injustice of how women are perceived compared to men. But they're hidden in such a flood of tangential, irrelevant crap that you wish a good book had made those points instead, so that they would be presented in a way that would be interesting instead of... this.

There is an afterword at the end of this edition, which says that the critics are wrong about this book, and then tries to explain why. What this told me was that they knew it was bad, and they felt the need to try to persuade us it isn't.

1/5.


The Adventures of Augie March - Saul Bellow

"Some people, if they didn't make it hard for themselves, might fall asleep."

Augie March is a likeable, normal American living in the 30s, growing up around people of all social standings and attitudes, trying to work out who he really is. And that's it really - this book is 500 pages of someone living a life.

In a way, it's like Stoner, which I loved. Nothing much happens - there is some action every now and then, but mostly it's just someone plodding along through life, doing stuff normal people in the real world might do. The problem is, where Stoner really got me, this one didn't.

I don't know why. It was well written, often amusing, and the "normal" things he did were actually often quite ridiculous so should have been more entertaining, but I just went through it feeling... Meh.

So it ended up being a struggle. But I must emphasise that it was well written and in places was quite fun. Just didn't do it for me, overall.

3/5.


Spares - Michael Marshall Smith

"You have to accept gifts occasionally, because there are some things you can’t give yourself."

Spares tells the story of Jack Randall, drug addict and ex-cop living in a city which is a former flying shopping mall, trying to solve the mystery of who has kidnapped the clones be rescued from a life of slavery.

Except, it's not really. He forgets about the clones ("spares") pretty quickly, and really, for most of the book, I think he's just trying to work out who's shooting at him.

In my opinion, a good whodunnit should make the reader care about the result. They should want to know who did the crime, they should crave justice. But this book didn't achieve that for me - it changed its mind too much. One minute it was about the spares, then Randall's dead family, then a random bunch of murders in the city... Yes, it all comes together in the end, but on the way there were too many twists for me to care.

I also wasn't blown away by the writing. I saw a lot of my own style in there, from when I was just trying my hand at writing. And when I write like that, I hate myself. Clumsy sentences; paragraphs that are supposed to be funny and whimsical but end up missing the mark and being a bit embarrassing; poorly formed relationships between characters; bad dialogue...

BUT having said all that, when it worked, it worked. MMS came up with some great metaphors and some passages were very amusing. It was a mixed bag of ideas and half of them should have been cut, but the other half were good. It was also never slow or boring. It just wasn't a great whodunnit, I thought.

3/5.

One year ago today, my debut novel was released on Kindle and paperback (and the next day, I used it to propose to my girlfriend ). And...

Gods and Conquerors is 1 Year Old!


One year ago today, my debut novel was released on Kindle and paperback (and the next day, I used it to propose to my girlfriend). And since then, even though I haven't tried anywhere near as hard as I should have to market it, hundreds of people have read it, and a few have even liked it!

My nan didn't. She told me she had to give up near the beginning. "I don't know," she said, preparing to drop the mic and walk away, "how you come up with such weird ideas!"

But luckily, she hasn't left a Amazon review. 14 people have, and they've all been very kind. Even kinder, @amybucklesbookshelf said it was "truly astounding", and @cherrijaynebooks wrote "mind blowing" in her review. I'll never stop using reviews like that, no matter how sick they get of me quoting them.

So, here we are, a year later, and there's nothing that would make me happier right now than for hundreds MORE people to read it. Especially if one of them had the power to green-light its production as a Hollywood film, bringing me fame and fortune beyond my wildest dreams... but let's not get ahead of ourselves. How do I propose to get YOU to read it today?

For the next 5 days, you can get up to 75% off Gods and Conquerors on Kindle on the Amazon.co.uk and .com stores! The sooner you buy it, the more you save. 

Head over to the Books page today to grab your copy. You can even read the first chapter before you commit, if you're still not sure if you want a copy. Either way, I hope you have a nice day, because I will. It's filled with lovely memories and it's also a Saturday.

This cat doesn't belong to me. It just wanders into our kitchen sometimes, as if it owns the place. I haven't stolen it though; ...

Book Reviews - April '18


This cat doesn't belong to me. It just wanders into our kitchen sometimes, as if it owns the place. I haven't stolen it though; after I give it a little stroke, I put it out in the garden and tell it to go home and cuddle its owner.

Speaking of crimes though, it's whodunnit month on destroyedordamaged.com! Here are the books I've read this month, and what I thought about them. Hit their names to buy them on Amazon.



Aaron Falk returns to the rural town in which he grew up to attend the funeral of his former friend, who apparently committed murder-suicide over money troubles. While he's there, he realises that might not have been the case, and begins an unofficial investigation into what really happened.

The writing is solid. It's not great, but it's good enough. There are some gripping bits too, where you finish a chapter and want to start the next immediately. So that's a good thing, especially in a thriller.

Twist endings are pretty much expected in crime thrillers, but I think it's important that when they come, you feel like it has been building up, even if you didn't realise it. Ideally, the reader would be very surprised, but still wonder how they didn't see it coming. But in this book, I felt cheated by the ending. It felt thrown together at the last minute, for the sake of a twist. I'd also guessed who it was halfway through.

Also, there are some glaring holes that ruined it a bit for me. Like, the first piece of evidence we see is that the shotgun shells used in the shooting were different to the shells owned by the apparent perpetrator, and the police in their official investigation just thought, "yep, no issue there." Huh?

They also use shotguns to cull rabbits, which doesn't seem very efficient to me, but I don't know much about guns or rabbit culling so I'll let that one go.

Also, at one point, Falk finds an ID which was stashed away years before. The passage says, "There was a plastic wallet with an ID of a girl[.] It said her name was [...] and she was nineteen." So, did the ID specifically say she was 19? Because that ID is going to become useless really quickly, since our ages change once a year. Or did it say her date of birth, as most IDs do? In which case, how could she be 19 now when the ID was hidden away 20 years ago? Or does Falk inexplicably know the date on which it was hidden, so he knows that on that day she definitely would have been 19?

I'm making a bigger deal of that than it was. But at time of writing this, I only recently read that bit and I just thought it was ridiculous. An editor should have caught that.

2.5/5.



"Neither of the two people in the room paid any attention to the way I came in, although only one of them was dead."

PI Philip Marlowe is hired by the Sternwood family to find the person behind a blackmail attempt. He makes fast progress, and ends up discovering a web of lies, money, smut and crime that links nearly everyone he meets.

I enjoyed this book. It was fun, quick-witted, exciting and well written. It's a whodunnit, in a way, but you really don't have time to be trying to work out who did what, because every chapter has a new turn that throws you off course.

Apparently, the novel was "cannibalised" from a number of Chandler's short stories. I didn't feel like there were any major threads left untied by that fact, but it did feel, sometimes, like the twists and turns were being made up as he went along; so that might have been why.

The one thing some more delicate readers might not like is the attitude of the protagonist (e.g. towards women), which is VERY outdated by today's standards. But the fact is, it was written in a different time, when people saw the world differently. We're better off now, but that doesn't mean we should throw out all the art people made during less enlightened times. If you think we should judge people from different times by today's standards, then I think you're an idiot. Soz.

Highly recommended for a quick and amusing read.

4/5.



"Some men get the world, some men get ex-hookers and a trip to Arizona."

The Christmas party at one LAPD station descends into violence against prisoners, and the courses of three officers' careers are changed forever, as they are forced to overcome the resentment and regret left behind by that fateful night to solve LA's "crime of the century".

There are whole paragraphs of this book that you won't understand unless you're fluent in 1950s police slang. It's almost as if the author doesn't want you to understand, he's spread it on that thickly.

And even if there wasn't slang everywhere, the writing style is also confusing in parts. Every now and then, there are convoluted passages that are probably intended to be stylish, but just left me thinking they could do with a cleanup.

But still, when the style works, it's very good. The book isn't a drag by any measure, even though it's quite long by my standards. There's so much story in there that you feel like you're moving forward, every chapter.

The ending was a bit of a mess though, I thought. There were some silly bits that weren't very believable and too many threads tied up in too much of a rush.

But having said all that, I still have to say it's good. Recommended, if you don't have anything better to read.

3.5/5.


Murder on the Orient Express - Agatha Christie

"If you confront anyone who has lied with the truth, he will usually admit it - often out of sheer surprise. It is only necessary to guess right to produce your effect."

The Orient Express is stuck in a snowdrift. There is a body with 12 stab wounds on board, and Hercule Poirot is assigned the task of finding the killer.

I've never read any Agatha Christie books. But everyone has heard of her - you can't hear her name without thinking of murder mysteries. So, obviously, I went into this expecting excellence.

I wasn't impressed by the writing style, to be honest. It felt like it had been written for kids. No subtlety, not enough showing and too much telling, strange adverbs everywhere... Nah. Not for me.

The story was quite complex though. And you want that from a murder mystery. It has to be complicated and the evidence all has to point you in the wrong directions all the time; that's what keeps it interesting. That was good.

But the ending! What a... load of crap. Sorry, Agatha fans, but I wasn't pleased with that at all. My eyes rolled so hard I thought they were going to roll down my throat and fall out of my bum. The revelation of the culprit is disappointing, and the events at the end of the story were just silly. That's what I thought, anyway. And I'm probably wrong - this has been adapted into about 3 films now, hasn't it?


3/5.

In two months' time, on 12th of May, it will be the first anniversary of the release of my debut novel, Gods and Conquerors . In tha...

New Covers!

In two months' time, on 12th of May, it will be the first anniversary of the release of my debut novel, Gods and Conquerors.

In that time, hundreds (yes, hundreds!) of copies have been downloaded on Kindle or purchased in paperback, it has been reviewed 10 times on Goodreads with an average rating of 4.1, and AmyBucklesBookshelf.co.uk has given it an absolutely glowing review which I read back to myself whenever I'm feeling a bit down. It's been lovely.

But if you said to the average person, "Have you read Gods and Conquerors yet?" They would probably ask you what you were on about. If you went into your local bookshop and asked them where they keep their books by up-and-coming writer Aaron Kane Heinemann, they would have no choice but to turn you away. Despite hundreds (yes, hundreds!) of people having downloaded and read my two books, even combined they haven't sold more than a thousand copies.

I probably shouldn't have told you that. Doesn't matter too much, I suppose.

Anyway, the point is, I'm not as successful a self-published author as I would like to be. So how do I change that?

Well, one way to change it, according to the self-publishing forums, is to create an "author brand". Have a running theme across your covers - the fonts, the imagery, etc. - so that your readers recognise your books and fill their bookshelves with them, and encourage all their friends to do the same.

So, that's what I'm doing this year. Yes, this whole blog post has been about some new covers for my two books - how anticlimactic is that? Story of my life, I'm afraid, folks. Here are the new covers, in all their glory.



One of the other tips for success in self-publishing is to release a book every year. I'm not sure I could manage that, but I'm working on another short story collection at the moment. We'll see how that goes.

Have a nice day, everyone.

It's been a while since I posted a review roundup hasn't it! Some would say it's because I haven't been reading much, so...

Book Reviews - February '18


It's been a while since I posted a review roundup hasn't it! Some would say it's because I haven't been reading much, so it hasn't seemed worth it to post a roundup, but I would call that cynicism. If we try hard enough, you and I can just pretend that I read these books in February, because I'm a super fast reader and I read a lot and that's a fact.


Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell

"Our lives are not our own. We are bound to others, past and present, and by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future."

I bought this book for about 50p from a charity table at Sainsbury's. It doesn't have a back cover and it looks like someone used it as a doorstop for a few years, but it was readable and that's all that matters.

Cloud Atlas is 6 stories in one. Its overarching story is that of one soul travelling through time and inhabiting different bodies, but each life it lives is a new and interesting story about the way humans treat each other. Particularly, the way in which we enslave or bully or generally rule over each other.

At first, I was a bit bored. I found it hard to get into or care about. But as the stories went on I found myself caring more about some than others, and it was the variety that really helped me get into it. By the end, I loved it.

But it was still a bit too long for me. I'm a fan of being concise, and long books take me a long time to read because I can't face reading them on the train. It's not exactly a deal breaker, but it doesn't endear me to a book, when it's thicker than my nan.

4/5.


Outer Dark - Cormac McCarthy

"Ive seen the meanness of humans till I dont know why God aint put out the sun and gone away."

Culla and Rinthy Holme are brother and sister, and we join them holed up in a cabin waiting for their child to be born. Culla is ashamed, so when Rinthy gives birth, he leaves the baby in the woods while she sleeps, telling her it has died. But Rinthy won't be fooled, and when she discovers the lie, she sets off across the country to find her child.

This is McCarthy's second novel, published in 1968, and even though it came early in his career, you can see that he always had the talent he has today. It has the same darkness, sparseness and inimitable style as all his other works, even if it doesn't have some of the action to grab you and shake you around.

A must-read for any McCarthy fan, but not necessarily for someone who's looking for a first McCarthy read. For that, I'd recommend something like No Country for Old Men.

3.5/5.


The God Delusion - Richard Dawkins

This is a 400 page argument against belief in God. It's not nasty or belittling, it's just matter-of-fact rebuttals to the most common arguments that religious people make that God exists. But you could be as nice as you wanted in a book like this, and it would still be controversial, because people get so angry about this stuff.

Sometimes Dawkins goes on a bit and says in many, many words what could have been said in a few. But most of the time, he articulates very well those points which many of us might have wondered over the years but never really put into words. Like, why do we have to tip-toe around "respecting" (i.e. not questioning) other people's beliefs, no matter how little evidence they have for those beliefs? And why is it okay to indoctrinate children into life-changing religion, when they're clearly not old enough to make informed decisions about it themselves?

Did you know that the percentage of people who identify as atheists or agnostics in the UK has increased from 14% to 42% in the last 55 years?

I don't like debating my beliefs anymore. I did when I was a teenager, but now I just think that as long as you're not hurting anyone else, you can believe what you want. The trouble is, a lot of people use their beliefs as an excuse to hurt people.

4/5.

GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED. CONGRATULATIONS TO THE 20 WINNERS AND BETTER LUCK NEXT TIME EVERYONE ELSE! 😁 Welcome to 2018, DestroyedorDamag...

Goodreads Giveaway!


GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED. CONGRATULATIONS TO THE 20 WINNERS AND BETTER LUCK NEXT TIME EVERYONE ELSE! 😁

Welcome to 2018, DestroyedorDamaged.com readers! (Hi mum!)

I thought I'd start the year with a gift to you all, but because Goodreads don't let you do Kindle giveaways outside the US, I'm just starting it with a gift to all you readers from the US instead 🤣.

Yes, from today until 4th Feb, if you're a US resident with a Goodreads account and a Kindle, you can enter to win one of 20 copies of my debut sci-fi novel, Gods and Conquerors!

Gods and Conquerors tells the story of four people who are sent on a one-way trip to a planet known to be inhabited by intelligent life, only to find the planet a scorched wasteland when they arrive. It has been described as "truly astounding" (Amy's Bookshelf), and you can click here to read more about it.

So, what have you got to lose? Click here to enter for free right now!

(See Goodreads for full terms and conditions.)

I missed October, so I've squashed two months together. I know I've been a terrible blogger, and I've received a number of ...

Book Reviews - October & November '17


I missed October, so I've squashed two months together. I know I've been a terrible blogger, and I've received a number of e-mails begging for me to return, so here I am.

0 is a number.


Creating Character Arcs - K. M. Weiland

I read this book after seeing it mentioned on my favourite YouTube channel, Lessons from the Screenplay. Check out that guy's videos, they're great. I also read it on an iPad, which I wasn't a fan of. Just didn't feel right, reading on such a shiny screen.

Anyway, about this book. It's a good look at creating convincing characters who experience convincing changes in outlook as a result of the things that happen to them. It's all about the Lie your characters believe, the Truth that they need, the wound that made them like this...

I don't want to sound like a know-all, but I felt like a lot of this stuff was intuitive, like I already knew it but I just hadn't put it into words yet. That probably comes from reading a lot of good books - as any writer will tell you, if you read enough, it will become more and more easy to write well too. But still, there was also a lot of new stuff, a few "of course!" moments, and a couple of things I'd never even thought of before.

All in all, I'd say it's a very good book for anyone who calls themselves a writer. Especially if you like books that are badly edited - this one has loads of mistakes!

4/5.



The story of a collapsing family told from four points of view: 33-year-old Benjamin, with the meandering mind of a 3-year-old; Quentin, the son whose Harvard education was paid for by selling some of the family's land; Jason, the piece of shit son so obsessed with money that he'd steal it from his own family; and their servants, who put up with more of the family's shit than I ever could.

More stream of consciousness from Faulkner, clouding up the story. And more of me not knowing how to feel about it. When you're in the midst of it, it's frustrating because it will go on and on and you have no idea what's going on but you keep reading because you have faith that it will become clearer at some point, even though it doesn't seem that the author wants it to become clearer.

And it does. By the end of the book you pretty much understand everything that's happened, even if you were still lost halfway through. But I just wonder if there wasn't a way this story could have been told that was a lot more friendly to the reader, and less pretentious. Was the reward so great that it was worth dragging yourself through all that punishment?

Obviously a lot of people think so. This book is constantly appearing in top 100 lists, so people love it. And apparently, it's better on the second reading. I won't be reading it again any time soon, but I didn't dislike it. I just wasn't blown away.

3.5/5.



An anti-self-help book written by everyone's favourite mentalist. This book isn't about giving you a recipe to follow to achieve happiness, it's about all the ideas and thoughts that philosophers and writers have had over the last few millennia about how we can change our mindsets to live more happily.

So, instead of positive mental attitudes and asking the universe to give us what we want, we're advised to lower our standards and accept that sometimes things are going to go wrong, and that's ok, because we're prepared for it and we can just pick ourselves up and try again. Putting pressure on ourselves to try a load of different methods of forcing happiness is actually likely to achieve the opposite.

Just decide that everything is ok. If you do your best and things don't work out, accept that it didn't go your way and move on. Life is too short to aim for the stars and be crushed when we can't reach them. So stop worrying about things you can't control, and cherish the things that mean something to you while you have them.

I enjoyed the book overall, and the ideas inside it definitely wormed their way into my head. I feel like I can take something from it and be a bit more chilled about things now. But it was a bit too long - points were laboured and repeated until you felt like you'd been beaten into submission by them. I think it probably could have been half as long and still got its points across.

Also, the last hundred pages are about death. How to die well, how to be okay with your own death, how one might feel about becoming terminally ill... I went into those thinking it would be a bit much, and a depressing way to end a book; but it was okay in the end. Not as bad as I expected.

As with all things Derren Brown does, it's still great despite any minor flaws.

4/5.

Sorry I haven't been around all month. I meant to write a Writing IRL post - it was really important, since I promised to do it mon...

Book Reviews - September '17


Sorry I haven't been around all month. I meant to write a Writing IRL post - it was really important, since I promised to do it months ago - but I didn't. I don't have a good excuse, I've just let you down. I don't know if this makes it any better, but today, my book is 0% off on Amazon. That's right, it's only FULL PRICE! Go check it out.

Anyway, let's get on with this.



This is a lovely little story about love and friendship and the weird personality traits we all have. I loved it, so I read it all in one day. It made my heart feel warm.

One of my favourite things about it is that Kaufman let his imagination run wild and allowed himself to be silly. I have the capacity to be very silly, but I rarely let myself do so in my writing because I'm worried that I won't be taken seriously. It's really important to me that I'm one of those pretentious writers that write meaningful things. But you can be taken seriously and still be a bit silly, if you write something good. Like this.

A lot of people on Amazon and Goodreads just can't do silly though. They don't have the sense of humour for it. It's quite amusing reading the reviews of people who didn't get it, but think that that gives them a reason to be angry with the book. How dare it be funny to some people when it didn't make me laugh?! Fuck you, book!

Anyway. I loved it. Would recommend to anyone who wants a light, quick, wholesome read.

5/5.



This is a Young Adult book which you might have heard of. In my experience, Young Adult books are generally too long, and they have mediocre writing and poorly formed, immature characters. This book is no exception.

It started out ok. It was fairly exciting, the characters were believable, there was stuff happening... then about 100 pages in, it slowed right down, and the characters became melodramatic and boring, and I was just left thinking that the book could have been shortened by about 50%.

I was also surprised that a book about racism could have so many stereotypes crammed in. Apparently, no white person has ever heard Happy Birthday by Stevie Wonder. So my life must have been a lie...

It wasn’t the worst thing I’ve ever read, and it does have an important message, and I hope it helps some people become more tolerant. It’s just not a great literary achievement, I'm afraid. And, saying that, I'm lucky that no one reads this blog, or I'd suffer a backlash in the comments like anyone who doesn't give it 5* on Goodreads. Seriously, people go mad.

3/5.



"It takes two people to make you, and one people to die. That's how the world is going to end."

Addie Bundren is dying. Outside, her son Cash is making her coffin, without even considering if she can hear it. When she dies, her husband will put her in that coffin and travel miles to bury her with her family, stinking out the towns he passes through and putting his entire family at risk.

We all know I love a moody book, a pretentious book, and especially a book with long sentences, southern US accents and dirty horses. But this didn't grip me, because half the time I was trying to understand what the characters were on about. It's definitely not the book's problem; if I were cleverer, I'd have caught on quicker.

The problem is all the stream of consciousness stuff. I get lost when a character is rambling on and changing subjects mid-sentence and obsessing over stuff that doesn't make sense. I had the same problem with Umbrella by Will Self. My attention span just isn't sufficient.

But it was good. Even if I had to Wikipedia it afterwards to make sure I got it all right. I did, pretty much.

3.5/5.

Wait a minute, that's not a book!  Well, I'd just like to sneak in a little mention for the new Queens of the Stone Age albu...

Book Reviews - August '17


Wait a minute, that's not a book! 

Well, I'd just like to sneak in a little mention for the new Queens of the Stone Age album too, since we're reviewing stuff. If you like good music, check out Villains. I am obsessed with it at the moment.

Anyway, let's get back to books.


Ready Player One - Ernest Cline

I was looking forward to reading Ready Player One, because everyone you talk to about it loved it. But I was horribly disappointed.

Most of my criticisms have already been written by a load of other reviewers. The references were shoe-horned in, and useless to the story. He was always telling us things, never showing us. He over explains everything - the first 60 pages are just lengthy explanations of the world, the OASIS, those embarrassing references. The writing was below average and the love story was cringeworthy.

And yes, those references really were as bad as people say. So obvious, so over-explained. It made me wonder who he was writing it for - if you want it just to be a nice nostalgia trip for people who lived through the 80s, why explain every reference to death? If you want to appeal to everyone, why make the references so specific to someone who lived in the 80s and had a very limited set of interests? Choose your audience, and stick to it.

I also have another gripe that I haven't seen anyone talk about. The main character (or maybe just the author, since it's clearly just about him) really wants us to know how TOLERANT he is. He wants a big old pat on the back for it. He meets this person for the first time thinking it will be a white man, and it's a black woman! Gasp! And he's totally OKAY with that! Wow, what a lovely guy. Then he finds out his love interest has a birth mark on her face! Oh no! But it's okay, because he thinks she's BEAUTIFUL! YAAAAAY! If you need to make such a big deal of being a nice, tolerant person, you're not nice at all, it's clearly just an act.

Then at one point, he says that the OASIS was the best thing to happen to black women, because in that virtual world they can pretend to be white men. WTF?

Anyway, I've gone on too long now. It wasn't the worst book ever because it had video game stuff and it was easy to read. The film might be better. I just found myself cringing the whole way through.

2/5.


Cities of the Plain - Cormac McCarthy

John Grady Cole (All the Pretty Horses) and Billy Parham (The Crossing) find themselves working together on a ranch in the conclusion to the fantastic Border Trilogy. John falls in love, and as one might expect from one of these books, it isn't going to be easy to find a Happily Ever After sitch. It might change both his and Billy's lives forever.

Just another brilliant, profound, emotional book from Cormac McCarthy. What can I say? I bloody love the man. He's a living legend.

The only thing I wasn't mad about was the epilogue. Right at the end it picked up again, but most of it was a bit rambly, philosophising for its own sake without regard for whether conversations like that actually ever happen. But still, it's all very deep and meaningful, so who can blame him for leaving it in? He loves a bit of it, I love a bit of it, we're all happy.

4.5/5.



Yes, this is my book, and I'm a self-centred dick for including it in this post, but I haven't sold a million copies yet, so I'm still trying to market it, okay? Give me a break.

@amybucklesbookshelf wrote a really lovely review of my book this week, and I'd encourage you to follow her on every social media channel you can find (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Blog). I'd also encourage you to read the review and to buy my book because it would make me very happy.

If you're a book blogger or a bookstagrammer or a Hollywood producer, I might be throw a copy at you to review and/or option for a multi-million dollar film deal. Get in touch and let's see what we can do.