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I swoon over fictional men

Catching up

Hey, guys! I’ve been pretty quiet on the old blogosphere lately, but I promise I’ll be catching up with you all in the next day or two!

After experiencing one of the best weekends of my entire life, my head’s all over the place (in the best of ways! ❤️) so I haven’t been online too much!

500 followers!

Nothing remedies post-vacation blues better than being greeted by this upon my return.

500 followers, eh? 500 people who enjoy hearing what I have to say about books and writing…it’s beyond surreal.

I’ve met so many incredible people through blogging and I just want to take a moment to thank you all for your continued support and friendship ❤️❤️

See ya, guys!

No posts until Wednesday, guys! I’m off to Glasgow for a ‘wee’ trip!

Much love, my adoring fans 😘😘😘😘😘😘

‘Fellowship of Ink’ Paul Magrs

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Brenda is back! It’s the 1930s, and Brenda (of Brenda and Effie fame!) finds herself in the old, medieval university town of Darkholmes in the North of England. She’s a housemaid, and teams up with fictionalised versions of CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien, who are conjuring up monsters from other dimensions through their writings. Together, they battle demons and solve strange mysteries.

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I’ve been in something of a reading slump these past two weeks and, as a result, it has taken me a rather long time to read this novel comprised of a mere 312 pages.

As is the case with most books, it was the cover of Fellowship of Ink that reeled me in initially. The rainbow colours, the sparkles, the dramatic tag line, the endorsement…combined, they promised a fun-filled, fantastical adventure, all from the comfort of my chair.

Now, I’m going to be honest, I have mixed feelings about this book and after some investigation (a rich term for having a quick Google), I discovered that Fellowship of Ink is a prequel to another series that features Brenda, the Tylers’ housemaid. I’m not sure if the fact that I haven’t read these other books has had an effect upon my enjoyment of this book, but I just found I couldn’t really immerse myself in the story.

Sure, there is a wide array of colourful characters populating this book and the way in which these characters interact with one another is fantastic. The dialogue between them is witty and fast paced and makes for some amusing scenes, particularly those involving Henry Cleavis. Each of the characters is well-rounded and unique and unlike any character I have ever come across elsewhere in fiction. They’re what make this novel so fresh and innovative.

I like the idea behind Fellowship of Ink; the idea that writing can wear thin the walls between the realms. I mean, who hasn’t, at one point or another, wanted to enter an alternate or fictional universe? I think that idea alone speaks to a small spark of hope residing within all of us.

However (god, how I hate that word sometimes), while the story is fast paced and exciting in places, I found it quite difficult to follow. As I said, perhaps this is simply because it’s a fictional universe that I’m unfamiliar with and I realised that this might be the case when I didn’t understand the ending of the book. I felt like I was missing something crucial and I think it might have been because I haven’t read Brenda’s series. If it’s a prequel, though, should a reader be left feeling like this? I don’t know, this is a situation I’ve never faced before as a book blogger.

Furthermore, from an editorial perspective, there are so many errors within Fellowship of Ink. There are multiple typos scattered among the pages, characters become other characters on more than one occasion and Brenda is referred to as ‘Bessie’ twice on page 300. As a writer, I understand editing is difficult but this is a book published by a professional publishing house. Books (I assume anyway) are supposed to be subjected to proofreading and multiple edits before being published.  Truth be told, I’ve never read a book with so many errors and it really pulled me out of the story every time I encountered one.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Song: Iron Maiden’s Stranger in a Strange Land 

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This book is available on Amazon in e-book and paperback format.

My latest book buys

After receiving a £72 Amazon voucher from work, I thought I’d go ahead and treat myself to some books (and Japanese Kit Kats, of course, but they haven’t arrived yet).

Words – a poem

 

Words

Your words caress me in ways no mortal hands have ever done, sending shivers dancing across my very soul

How is it that mere words have become such an intrinsic part of my day, having woven themselves into my existence,

So much so, that my desire to talk to you transcends the mind, becoming a physical need that makes me ache

Your words are potent, filled with a raw honesty that leaves me trembling and breathless

And I have to ask myself this one question; if your words alone do this to me, what will your presence itself do?

Curing the reading slump

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Has it taken you a week or more to finish a 300 page book? Is your TBR list growing rapidly out of control? Are you finding it difficult to concentrate when reading? 

Well, my friend *pats bed beside me, inviting you to sit down* (yeah, yeah, I’m blogging in bed today, just get in the damn thing, okay!?), you’re quite possibly suffering from a condition known as reading slump. Reading slump affects all of us from time to time, but it’s particularly frustrating when you’re a book blogger and reading is something you kinda, well, have to do. I’m in the midst of a mild reading slump right now and figured it might be a good idea to compile a list of potential cures for this affliction. Before we begin, let’s get comfy, okay?

Let’s…

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…be creepy and snuggle and…

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…drink tea!

1. Ask yourself this question; why are you in a reading slump? Very often, my reading slumps are a reflection of my overall mood. It’s no massive secret that I have depression and when I’m having a period where I’m feeling particularly low, I find it a struggle to do the things that I enjoy. I find it difficult to focus on things such as reading and writing and I find myself feeling extremely lethargic. I’ll pick up a book and find that I either can’t concentrate or I just don’t want to read it. When I’m feeling like this, I try and figure out why I’m feeling more low than usual. Sometimes there isn’t a reason. Sometimes there is. If I do manage to pin point a cause, I work on a way of eliminating it, be it through talking to a friend or trying to change the way I approach whatever it is that has made me feel like that.

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Talking and hugging; simple yet effective!

2. Don’t beat yourself up about it. I feel this ties in with the first point, particularly when you can’t determine the exact cause of your reading slump. As book bloggers, being in a reading slump is distressing. Your eyes frantically scan your blog, locking on the date of your last review. Last week, two weeks ago…it doesn’t matter how long ago it was, it will still induce feelings of guilt and make you feel like complete and utter shit. Criticising yourself doesn’t help. Hell, if anything it makes it worse. By making yourself feel useless as a blogger and bookworm, you bring yourself down and the whole cycle starts again. If you’re in a reading slump, don’t sweat it, okay? Your followers and blogging friends will still be there when you return to the bookish blogosphere. We get it completely and you don’t need to feel bad about it. This knowledge alone can help immensely.

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“No recent book reviews anywhere!”

3. Magazines! Magazines are a god send when it comes to tackling the ol’ reading slump. If the above two points don’t apply to you, that’s fine. Sometimes reading slumps arise from just needing a break from heavy reading. Magazines offer a bit of light relief and give your brain a mental break, all while still enriching it. It’s a win-win situation when it comes to magazines! Happy days!

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4. Try something different. At the tail end of last year, I went through a massive reading slump and it was primarily because I was sick to the back teeth of paranormal romance. It’s the genre I initially built my blog around and, consequently, I felt I had a duty to read that genre and that genre alone. I began to feel as though I was reading the same story over and over, but with different characters and maybe a different location. I was bored and just couldn’t be arsed to read anymore. In January 2017, I decided to change things around and pledged to read more widely. Now, I dabble in all genres (well, I don’t literally mean all. Were you aware that dinosaur erotica was a thing? Nope? I’m sure your life was better without that horrific tidbit of information, so I apologise) and as a result, reading became exciting for me once more!

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My reaction to the knowledge that dinosaur erotica exists.

5. Switch off from social media for a while. Social media…ah, it’s a great yet terrible thing, isn’t it? On the one hand, you get to meet shit tons of new people and keep in touch with friends, old and new alike. On the other…well, it’s distracting as hell. Two months after buying Charles Bukowski’s The Pleasures of the Damned as a bedtime reading book, I’m not even a quarter of the way through it and do you know why!? Because I lie in bed watching videos of sloths being bathed and hung out to dry or guinea pigs playing tug of war with lettuce leaves! There! I admitted it! My point is that social media can be distracting and very often, I’ll leave my phone on charge in my bedroom while I go have breakfast. As a result, I usually fit in at least an hour of undisturbed reading in the morning (well, work depending). I’m not saying you should go on a social media detox (those guinea pig pics on Instagram won’t like themselves!) but more you should hide your phones and tablets for an hour or two each day. It works wonders!

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The age old question…

Do you often suffer from reading slump? If so, what do you do? Let me know in the comments below! 

Jazz has been productive!

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So, life has been very busy in the Land of Jazz and I thought I’d provide you all with a brief update.

  • My debut poetry anthology, Sweet Oblivion, has now been published and you can download your free copy here. If anyone wants to leave a brief review on Goodreads perhaps, please feel free to do so. This is my first book so I’m a little nervous about reviews, but I guess that’s all part and parcel of publishing books.
  • I’m on a temporary hiatus from my podcast, A Cup of Tea and a Chinwag with Jazz. I was uploading the episodes onto SoundCloud and I recently used up all my free hours. To upload more, I’ll have to start paying a monthly fee and with my current monthly outgoings and university on the horizon, it’s simply not an expense I can afford right now.
  • A short story of mine – well, I think flash fiction is more appropriate, it’s only 100 words long! – is being published in an anthology. The publication is in the early stages so more to follow!
  • My friend and I are currently working on an anthology of short stories together that we are hoping to publish through Amazon and Smashwords. I’m always on the lookout for proofreaders so drop me a message if you’re interested!

That’s all from me today. I’ve been up since 4am and I can hear my bed calling to me. 

‘Psycho’ Robert Bloch: GUEST REVIEW

It’s always lovely to play host to fellow writers, bloggers and bookworms here at I swoon over fictional men HQ and today I’m delighted to welcome Chauncey Rogers, who has written a review for Psycho. 

I recently reviewed Chauncey’s incredible book, Home To Roost (you can check out my review here) so it’s an honour to be able to share his thoughts on my blog today.

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Norman Bates loves his Mother. She has been dead for the past twenty years, or so people think. Norman knows better though. He has lived with Mother ever since leaving the hospital in the old house up on the hill above the Bates motel. One night Norman spies on a beautiful woman that checks into the hotel as she undresses. Norman can’t help but spy on her. Mother is there though. She is there to protect Norman from his filthy thoughts. She is there to protect him with her butcher knife.

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First off, thanks Jazz for letting me post my review here. You’ve been great, your reviews have been great, and it’s nice to get to add something to I Swoon Over Fictional Men.

Second, I’ve never seen the film adaptation of Psycho. Sorry Alfred Hitchcock! I’m sure it’s amazing, though. On that same note, I haven’t seen any of the Bates Motel series, either.

Third, if the grammatical ambiguities in the book’s blurb bothered you, then know that I’m right there with you. However, take comfort from the fact that there are no such issues in the novel itself.

And now, on to the review!

Psycho was perfectly enjoyable. Robert Bloch’s writing is very smooth and fast. That, taken with the fact that this is a short novel at just over 50,000 words, makes it read very much like watching a movie–or, rather, watching the movie. Hitchcock even said, “Psycho all came from Robert Bloch’s book.”

And really, I feel like that might be review enough. Alfred Hitchcock, the man known as “The Master of Suspense,” liked the book so much that his film adaptation is almost a scene-for-scene remake of the book. (And how would I know this, seeing as I haven’t seen the movie? I don’t. But that’s what other reviewers have said, and, given the feel and pacing of the novel itself, I believe them.)

For those who are big on the film, know that there are some differences: Norman Bates’s appearance, one of the character’s names, and the specific manner of one character’s death–and I do mean specific.

Now, I really did enjoy this book. However, I could imagine somebody who is a much harsher critic saying some of the following things:

1. The plot was predictable. (Probably not really true. More likely, this book just made such a splash when it first came out in 1959 that we’ve all encountered spoilers for the plot before.)

2. Characters were stereotypes. (This sentiment may be valid–the Private Investigator, for example, wears a fedora and smokes a bunch.)

3. There isn’t enough gore. (Anyone who whines about this last one really misunderstands the mentality and motivation of the story’s killer. They’re just wrong. Also, they’re forgetting that this book debuted in 1959.)

It’s a quick, smooth read, with a film (two, actually) and television series to its credit. It also starts off with a textbook McGuffin, for anyone excited by that term, and was inspired by the true story of the murderer Ed Gein, though I wouldn’t recommend reading up on him until after you’ve read Psycho.

If you like the movie Psycho and are wanting a bit more depth to appreciate, you should read the novel. If you’re watching Bates Motel, the same applies. If you like thrillers and haven’t read Psycho, you should. If you’re wondering whether or not you like thrillers, give Psycho a try and find out. You might like it.

Rating: 4 out of 5. (I would give it 5/5, but I factor in cost on Amazon, and they just bumped up the kindle price from around $5, which is what I bought it at, to closer to $10. Still good, but the price seems steep for being a shorter book.)

Song: The Avalanches’s “Frontier Psychiatrist

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This book is available on Amazon in both paperback and ebook format.

 

About Chauncey

 

Chauncey Rogers has been reading and writing since before he knew how to do either–he carried around a copy of Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park until he could read it, a labor that lasted from the first grade through the third grade; and was known to write and illustrate lengthy, illegible stories about dragons and dinosaurs. After a two-year ministry service in Los Angeles, he attended and graduated from Brigham Young University with degrees in linguistics, history education, TESOL, and editing. While there, he met, fell in love with, and married his dream girl. After realizing that now was as good a time as any to chase a dream, Chauncey and his wife decided to pursue writing professionally.
His debut novel, Home To Roost, was released in March 2017. His second novel, Cleaving Souls, will be released this summer.
He has two children and a pet sheep. The sheep annoys him very much. The children, less.

Jazz’s interrogation 

What do you look for in a book?
Writing is predominant. I don’t care how good your plot, if the story is poorly told, I will not read it. After that, I want a story to move me, or give me something to think about. Genre does not matter as much to me, but the book must be reasonably family friendly.

Why do you read?
For entertainment, and to develop my own sense of good writing and writing style. I’ve often found what I read reflected in what I write.

If you could visit any fictional world, which would you visit and why?
If my resources were limited, Middle Earth. I’d love to see the Shire, Rivendell, and the Woodland Realm. Unfortunately, as a human I would belong better in Bree, Rohan, Gondor, or Laketown.
If I had more resources, I’d love to travel the Star Wars galaxy in my own ship, with the obligatory alien and droid sidekicks.

Buy your copy of Home To Roost today and be sure to check out Chauncey’s website!

 

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