Thursday, 31 July 2014

Blog Tour: My Second Life by Faye Bird Author Guest Post

Living Life Once, Living Life Well

We have probably all had someone say to us, “you only live once,” when we’ve talked about doing something we want to do, but are unsure whether we can. And when it’s been said to us we’ve probably agreed, because there is truth in the sentiment; we only live once so we must experience life not run away from it, we must grab opportunities that present themselves even if we have to move out of our natural comfort zone to take them, and we must take chances in life.

And of course the message to grab opportunity while you can, and to live life to the full, is perhaps never more pertinent than when we are young. Without the responsibilities and experiences of adulthood upon us, there is the potential for a very real opportunity to just live life, and in doing so find our place in the world. Being young is a special time, we are told, and whilst we are young, we should celebrate this.

But what if you are a teenager and life scares you? What if you are teenager and there are too many choices, and the choices you do have don’t feel like the right ones? What if you just don’t feel at home in your own skin or know who you are yet or even how you might get there and find out? 

This is how Ana feels in My Second Life, and not simply because she lived a life before as Emma, but because she is 15 and this is just how it can sometimes feel being 15.

I certainly remember feeling some of these challenges 15, and the effect was paralysing. I mean, to me everyone else looked like they’d already got it sorted - who they were and where they fitted in the world – and really I was fearful, possibly even a bit lost. I was meant to be living life, grabbing at it, celebrating… but somehow I didn’t know how, and there was a pressure in this, both from myself and from the outside world, which made me feel like I just wasn’t cutting it. When you feel like this it’s hard to grab at life and live it well.

Of course Ana in My Second Life has more to deal with than most; she is plagued by the memories of Catherine’s death and the life she has lived before when she was Emma, and it stops her really living her life day to day. How can she grab at her life and live it, when she doesn’t feel like she knows who she is? How can she grab at her life and live it, when she doesn’t recognise herself as the person she wants to be?

I didn’t intend for the conclusion to My Second Life to send some kind of message to the reader – I don’t think any writer writes a story with a message in mind – but undoubtedly when I came across the quote from Henry James’s The Ambassadors, I knew there was something in those words that echoed Ana’s story, which is why I wanted the quote to sit, as it does, at the end of the book. 

I don’t wish to give too much away – in case you go on to read – except to say that out of the darkness of Ana’s story there is hope, and in that hope there is a resolve of a kind. A resolve that says that life doesn’t need to be grabbed at or hurried or pressurised in order to be lived; it just needs to be recognised as precious, important, significant even – and in that simple recognition you will do the best by it – you will find a way to live it for yourself, and in so doing, live it well. 

My Second Life by Faye Bird is out now. Read the first chapter online now at Follow Faye on Twitter @faye_bird. You can also search for #mysecondlife on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

July Review

Summer Holidays are now here. Insane amounts of reading have commenced ...

Books read in July

112) Witch Hunt by Ruth Warburton (British Books Challenge)
113) Winger by Andrew Smith
114) Zero Hour by Will Hill (British Books Challenge)
115) A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray
116) Come back to me by Mila Gray (British Books Challenge)
117) The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily Danforth
118) Pink by Lili Wilkinson
119) Derby Girl by Shauna Cross
120) Threads by Sophia Bennett (British Books Challenge)
121) Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell (British Books Challenge)
122) Lies like Love by Louisa Reid (British Books Challenge)
123) Pea's book of best friends by Susie Day (British Books Challenge)
124) Maybe One Day by Melissa Kantor
125) Buffy the Vampre Slayer Omnibus #4
126) Thirteen Chairs by Dave Shelton (British Books Challenge)
127) Sorry about me by Laura Dockrill (British Books Challenge)
128) Dawn by Eve Edwards (British Books Challenge)
129) Waterborn by Rachel Ward (British Books Challenge)
130) The Castle by Sophia Bennett (British Books Challenge)
131) Dangerous boys by Abigail Haas (British Books Challenge)
132) The Christmas Tale of Peter Rabbit by Emma Thompson (British Books Challenge)
133) Oliver and the Seawigs by Phillip Reeve (British Books Challenge)
134) My Second Life by Faye Bird (British Books Challenge)

Book Events attended

Sadly none but I have a few awesome ones lined up for August

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Review: Unstoppable by Liz Bankes

Rosie has managed to wangle spending the summer before uni in the same house as her boyfriend Cal – but who else should also be staying except for the infamous man-eater, Cleo.

Things between Cal and Rosie could never have been described as easy, but her growing jealousy seems like an unstoppable force. Can their love weather the storm?

My thoughts
I have been waiting for this book for ages and couldn't read it quick enough. I loved it because it was Funny, heartfelt and really sweet. It felt me to like a Sarra Manning novel comparable to the Diary of a Crush series.

I particularly loved Rosie and all her worrying as she was definitely a character I could relate to with my crazed worrying and OCD list making.

My very geeky side adored the pop culture references particularly those that referenced His Dark Materials,

A book I adored and a series I would thoroughly recommend

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Review: Winger by Andrew Smith

Ryan Dean West is a fourteen-year-old junior at a boarding school for rich kids. He’s living in Opportunity Hall, the dorm for troublemakers, and rooming with the biggest bully on the rugby team. And he’s madly in love with his best friend Annie, who thinks of him as a little boy.

With the help of his sense of humor, rugby buddies, and his penchant for doodling comics, Ryan Dean manages to survive life’s complications and even find some happiness along the way. But when the unthinkable happens, he has to figure out how to hold on to what’s important, even when it feels like everything has fallen apart.

Filled with hand-drawn info-graphics and illustrations and told in a pitch-perfect voice, this realistic depiction of a teen’s experience strikes an exceptional balance of hilarious and heartbreaking

My thoughts

Winger is one of those books that you pick up and happily read and laugh along to before it unexpectedly smashes you in the chest and leaves you an emotional wreck.

I enjoyed Winger from the outset. A boarding school novel featuring a host of teenage boys was bound to raise more than a wry smile from me. I got into the characters and the setting quickly and thoroughly enjoyed finding out more about them and their story and regularly found myself chuckling away at a variety of passages. It really captures that self involved teenage stage perfectly well.

For me however the book left me a reeling mess within the last few chapters. I won't go into details but I was left stunned and it took be several days to think it over and come to terms with it. It really packs an emotional punch and I loved it for it.

All in all a book I will continue to recommend for a long time to come 

Monday, 28 July 2014

Summer's Shadow by Anna Wilson

When Summer's mom died, her life is turned upside down

Summer's mother's will states that Summer's legal guardian is her uncle Tristan: a man Summer has never even heard of before. Forced to leave her life in London, Summer moves to Tristan's creepy, ancient house in Cornwall. There she is met with indifference from him, open hostility from her cousin, and an aunt who has chosen to leave rather than to tolerate her presence. Soon Summer comes to believe that the house may be haunted. But is it haunted by ghosts, or by the shadows of her family's past? Scared and lonely, Summer begins to spend more and more time in the beautiful sheltered cove she discovers nearby. But she's not alone. A local boy frequents it too. Can Summer find first love and the answers to the mysteries of her new home with this good-looking boy who appears to be too perfect to be true?

My thoughts
This was an OK read. I happily read it and enjoyed it well enough. I loved the setting and finding out the mystery surrounding Summer's past. However for me I really disliked the uncle and I wanted him to stand up for himself and Summer and have more of a backbone

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Bookcase Showcase: Author Simon David Eden

One of the bookshelves in my study. As it’s closest to hand, there’s usually a lot of research related books on it, which are ever changing depending on what I’m working on. The permanent features are the Oxford English Dictionary and trusty Thesaurus.  My old desk was rescued from a junk shop and the fully operational Bakelite phone was a find at the Imperial War Museum. Mosey’s in charge of stationary (no make that stationery which he excels at) and there’s usually a price to pay if I want to make use of the Moleskine notebooks - nuzzling/grooming/treats, preferably all three and before his sister Bea gets back.   

A mish-mash of fiction and non-fiction, if there’s a system to my bookshelves I’ve never figured out what it is. A reaction perhaps to having once run a bookshop in Brighton where it was my job to know the location of everything in stock. Perhaps I’ll sort them one day. Having said that, this motley bunch snapped at random are all (almost all) like ‘The Savage Kingdom’, thematically related to the environment and/or the mysteries of our universe, and include some really thought-provoking stuff: Lovelock’s ‘Gaia’, Coats’ Living Energies, H Mortimer Batten’s wonderful ‘Red Ruff’, and a very dog-eared ‘Alchemist’ (see below) which I first read in Sri Lanka in the early 90s. And veggie or no, I think everybody should read ‘Eating Animals’ by Jonathan Safran Foer.
Also on the shelf, J G Ballard’s ‘Vermilion Sands’ which I adapted for TV (for the wonderful producer Jane Tranter) only to spend 10 years watching it gather dust as no-one else ‘got it’. Jim loved my scripts however, and I’ve a fax (remember those?) from him framed on my study wall. It’s there to remind me to always try to enjoy the creative journey, as quite often you don’t get to actually reach the intended destination!  Jonathan Carroll’s magical ‘The Land of Laughs’ is in there too. Another project I had hoped to adapt for the big screen. Who knows, maybe one day I still will. Are you listening Alex Kitman Ho? :) 

Never tire of revisiting Coelho’s classic. Deceptively simple, deliciously profound.

The Popular Science Educator in 2 volumes. I spent many a winter’s night curled up with these as a kid. Absolutely brilliant stuff covering everything from how clouds are made to the internal workings of a combustion engine to ‘termite romance’! Do they make ‘em like this anymore? They should! 

The giant keys are a prop from my last stage play, a musical adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s ‘The Little Match Girl’. The books… more H G Wells than you can shake a stick at. 24 titles in 12 Volumes for 35 shillings back when the printing press was still steam powered! OK. Not quite. They were actually printed by Odhams in the 1920s and my dad brought a set in the 50s. But given he was working two jobs just to pay the rent and keep food on the table back then, it was quite a bold investment. ‘The Invisible Man’ was probably my first brush with sc-fi/fantasy, so maybe that’s when the seeds were sown for my ‘Animalian’ novels. Thanks dad!
This blogpost was part of Simon's blog tour for the release of his new book The Savage Kingdom