books, ness talks about life

a golden autumn // a memory

Autumn was bursting with gold and browns. The amber tree leaves, glowing, lit by pure sunlight is a snapshot in my mind.

also my friend took a photo so viola here the scene be!

I was wearing too many layers and had to peel off my waterproof jacket and under jacket. There was no sign of rain, the sun was out and shining so warmly you could almost believe it wasn’t autumn at all.

celebrity sighting

The English countryside is a gentle thing – rolling hills, rising and falling dotted with stone walls, clusters of trees, farms houses tucked away in corners, winding roads, old churches, all of it spread out like a quilted blanket pinned to a tumbling earth … I adore it.

This walk reminds me of Sutcliff’s writings – the way she summons a Britain that is both familiar and unfamiliar, an echo of a long ago time and also a glimpse of a hidden one you can still discover.

I spent some time requesting my best friend listen to the audiobook of The Lantern Bearers. ‘It’s just like this!’ I told her … in rather more words than that.

In November, you see, I finished The Lantern Bearers again and it was just as good – I ended it with a lump in my throat and a burning in my eyes. It’s my book; I’ve read it as a girl and I’ll continue reading it until I’m an old woman and sometimes – when I wander out into the countryside, on my own or with friends, I’ll catch sight of the Britain she describes.

books, ness talks about life

there were no dukes but there was ramses: london, a trip

So I went to London and I saw (1) dead squirrel and (3) mice.

But I didn’t just see the glorious, native wildlife. It was time to see The Phantom of the Opera again, and then – The Lion King. It is difficult to describe with mere words just how much I adored watching the Phantom. When the organ first thunders its notes, if I was a dramatic soul, I would surely have fainted away.

I am a very, very serious being, so I silently battered my niece’s arm to express my joy instead.

The Lion King was very creative but I think it was unfortunate that I’d so recently seen the Phantom. It suffered in comparison.

And then, of course, it was time to hang out with my dear friends in the British Museum. Someone had to check my bag; to make certain I wasn’t smuggling priceless artefacts into the Museum, obviously. They didn’t find any artefacts, but they did find my change of clothes. One day, I swear, those will be artefacts too. My gosh, I’m ahead of my time.

My main squeeze, Marcus Aurelius, was looking fine but couldn’t spend lots of time with me due to scheduling conflicts. Meditation, and all that.

I went to see my dude, Ramses, and but many, many people rudely interrupted us by staring at him. Guys, he’s shy. Have some respect. (He tried to do his whole stony gaze thing. It didn’t help.)

I hung out with some mummies too and we had a nice little chat about life, death, and how their internal organs were out, and mine were in.

The Elgin Marbles weren’t able to be seen, so perhaps we’ve finally given them back to Greece.

fig 1.1 the absence of dukes

Afterwards, of course we had to visit St James’ Park and Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens. You know, my extensive research in Regency novels had led me to believe that there would be eligible dukes and earls everywhere – left, right, and centre. I had concluded that you could barely take a single step without tripping over them.

Well guess what?

There were none.

Disgusted. I was disgusted.

Believe it or not, there was also time to browse two or three bookstores. I bought The Witness for the Dead, which is the sequel to my favourite book – The Goblin Emperor. I have finished it now and it was good, but, like The Lion King – it suffered by the comparison with its predecessor.

In Convent Gardens, it rained and rained and rained. I crammed myself into a little shop and queued to buy an umbrella. It was, I suppose, a very British visit to London.

books

how to design a front cover for your book – a follow up

I feel like I’m imitating Hollywood (blegh!) and just doing post sequels. What have I become?!

It’s been out for a few months now but let’s properly introduce it. Ah-hem. I’d like you to meet the new front cover of Our Intrepid Heroine:

It’s back! It has a new front cover! It’s been edited! It’s as short as ever! And I didn’t: a) do the editing or b) do the front cover design and yes, I call that an absolute win.

There was an old front cover. There was an old front cover making process. But that’s in the distant past now. I call this a glow up. A follow up post six years later.

SO LONG, OLD COVER!

I wasn’t sure what the heck this book needed but it needed an upgrade. It didn’t need to look like a unicorn genocide had taken place in a post-apocalyptic world. It needed to have colour. It needed to have panache! Style! I didn’t need to be languishing over AHHH THE UNICORN DOESN’T HAVE A HORN or DANG IT! I LEFT THE TELEGRAPH POLES IN THERE!

So I showed Monkey & Whale Designs all my favourite book covers. I drew a very bad sketch of what a new front cover might look like (‘stained glass’ I announced with considerable authority) … and voilĂ .

Things started happening. and friends, comrades, fellow air-breathers … we have come a long way from:

*incoherent laughter*

These are the facts: Our Intrepid Heroine has a unicorn following her about, she can’t pronounce ‘felicitations’, and she’s on her way to slay a dragon. A dragon that has killed an entire flock of her father’s sheep, three goats and one pig. And a frog.

Our Heroine has a sword named ‘Death’ and a spear called ‘Doom’. She is afflicted by the presence of pesky princesses, mysterious Hooded Persons, and noble knights.

Narrated by a Narrator who is fond of detours and digressions, this is a short novella with tongue-in-cheek humour and Very Important Tips in hunting dragons that will be sure to stir the curiosity of the eager amateur dragon-hunter.

BOOK CREDITS:

*orchestral music plays*

Edited by: Deborah O’Carroll

Designed by: Monkey & Whale Designs

Written by: Me. In 2014. At the Beginning of Everything.

Available: Here

books, ness rambles

this blog has wrinkles / also: a gift

While the general census of the public seems to be time flies, it hasn’t felt like that here. However, to my considerable surprise, I realised quite recently that it’s been eight years. Eight years since I created a wordpress blog and embarked on a long hunt for the perfect blog name. (I still live in hope that I can find it!)

This blog has grown up with me, in a way. I started it in my late teens; as a kid with long, long hair who loved books immensely.

this picture could be like, a metaphor or something. but i prefer to remember it as ‘standing in a goat field with a book from a blogger i followed so a part of her could be in england’ because my gosh that’s a thing i did.

I’ve rambled about my life; about living abroad, things that didn’t happen on my adventures, ear piercings, hair dyeing adventures, how to make the perfect cup of tea, a bookworm’s guide to makeup – but most of all, I’ve rambled about stories; stories I’ve loved, stories I disliked, and stories I’ve written.

i’ve also taken many, many photos of books. because that’s a thing i’ll be proud to tell my grandnieces and nephews about

I think we all need a place for ramblings – this has been mine. Or at least, it’s been one of them. There are places and there are places for different forms of expression.

And man, this particular one has been fun. Some of my favourite blog posts are the ones in which I forced myself to watch an abomination of a movie, read a book about Batman and was disgusted, and recounted my immensely successful attempt at a Robin Hood retelling.

In our world of views and likes, ‘has it been a popular blog’ might be the first question asked upon hearing ‘eight year blogversary’. And the answer is – no. While it would – in theory – be nice to be one of those big blogs with a multitude of likes and so on and so forth, that hasn’t happened. And that’s okay. This blog has been exactly what I’ve needed it to be.

a place to do whatever the heck i’m doing here, for example – did i even write about the book i’m holding? i’ve no idea

I have immensely enjoyed using this space; I’ve written when I’ve remembered to and how I’ve wanted to. I’ve made schedules and abandoned schedules and then – for sheer larks – made more schedules (and abandoned them too!)

It must be said though: I am very grateful for those lovely souls who have read here over the years. I might not have quantity but by golly, I have quality.

What’s next, then? Good question! I’ve no idea. Who knows what the future holds? The past two years have been … well, they’ve been something. The internet isn’t always the greatest place to be – it can be difficult to navigate its waters, even in little corners like this. But writing about books and about, oh heck – anything and everything – has been a joy.

I can’t say I’ve learned many things over the last eight years – but what I have learned (and then promptly forgotten and then have to relearn) is this: we aren’t promised health, happiness, or even tomorrow. But we can change the way we view things; we can choose hope and we can choose joy and we can choose how to react. We can choose.

And that, my friends, is a God-given miracle.

You might see different posts pop up – on space, on eels, on the books I’ve remembered that I’ve read, and perhaps on ‘bigger’ topics or perhaps not. Either way – as a celebration of the eight years I’ve dwelt here, I’ve placed A Most Irregular Prophecy as completely free for the day. You can grab it – or not! – right here.

If you’ve been reading here a wee while, or are only just stopping by – thank you, and in the words of Guy:

Don’t have a good day. Have a GREAT day.

(happy reading!)

books

space, eels, and a mouse called algernon

My current read is The Gospel of the Eels which differs greatly from The Gospel of Loki which I’ve recently loaned to my uncle. It’s a cosy book and did you know that Aristotle and Freud were both obsessed with eels? These are the facts humanity needs to know. You’re welcome.

But I’ve read other books too.

STAR TREK: AGENTS OF INFLUENCE // dayton ward

Take Star Trek: The Original Series and write a novel about one of their off screen adventures. You’d think that this would be an instant hit in Le Monde de Ness. It was, and then it wasn’t.

I think that the show works best as a TV show – with the charm and charisma and sheer madness of the characters/sets/dialogue. The book bounced around between – I think – three or four points of view which was a little disorientating for me.

It was great to hang out with old friends but I think I’d much prefer the show itself. I haven’t learned my lesson because I’m reading another Star Trek novel right now. It’s got Evil!Spock (?) and Kirk is dead and it happens in the first chapter?!

Also, side note: William Shatner is going into space????

Interesting. I wonder if it will be anything like he imagined when acting as Kirk.

THE PLANETS // andrew cohen & professor brian cox

I loved this book. It filled me with wonder and, indeed, awe. To think that Saturn has lightning, and Jupiter, storms. I learned so much. (And, some would say, retained so little. But some shouldn’t say that. Boo them.)

FLOWERS FOR ALGERNON // daniel keyes

Basically, if you want to see me cry – ask me: have you read Flowers For Algernon? and I will dissolve into a puddle and weep.

I cried. Repeatedly. At the end of the book. Retelling it to my Mum. Attempting to talk about it with someone else.

I haven’t read the short story yet. Emotional devastation isn’t something I’d typically seek out on a Monday. (It seems a more Thursday kind of thing.)

ANCILLARY JUSTICE // ann leckie

Two words: corpse soldier.

No! More words: ex-ship corpse soldier.

I liked it. There. I said it. I liked the side character who tags along. I could picture everything quite clearly.

Will I read the sequel? Maybe but probably not too. (There’s a clear answer for you!) I liked being in the world but the stakes are going to be even higher probably in the next book and my poor nerves won’t take it.

Wait. Waaaait. I should rephrase that: I liked reading about the world but I’d rather not be in it. ‘Zero privacy and Big Brother Is Watching You and oh! I know a new career plan you could be trapped in your own body as a star ship uses it to do ship stuff‘ aren’t on my ‘To Visit’ list. (I don’t have a ‘To Visit’ list just yet but if I had this wouldn’t be in the top fifty-seven destinations. Fifty-eighth at a push but no more.)

(Once again I will state in the annals of this blog: I should totally be a professional book reviewer. Ah-hem. I’m really very good at this gig.)

happy reading!