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.
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.
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?
…be creepy and snuggle and…
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
Do you often suffer from reading slump? If so, what do you do? Let me know in the comments below!
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.