Posts Tagged ‘ read ’

Creative Juice

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Growing up, I read a lot but I also drew a lot from around year 4 (8 years old). I studied, copied, coloured, erased. Art was more my life than words and now that has reversed.

I made the big decision during A Level (16-18 years old) that I was better at writing than I ever was at art. Writing began to take over from when I was 13 and continued. Sure, I drew constantly during my A level years and I have sketchbooks worth of art but the image in my head never matched up to what I could draw and that frustrated me too much.

The last few days I’ve had dreams about artwork and dreams about poetry and writing. Maybe this means I can do both or maybe it just means I need to do something creative. Either way, it’s difficult. Without practicing art, my hand is not as skilled as it was before. The lines are sketchier, less well shaped or defined.

The same thing can happen with writing if I take a break, short or long. I’ve been told that there’s only so much creative juice to be had and this is true. Any artist or writer can tell you that after that creative feeling has gone, if you press on and try to draw or write something else, it will usually not be of the same level as the first piece.

I never thought 3 and a half years would have so much impact upon my drawing but I’ve seen friends who’ve continued along that path surpass my talent. Now, I don’t often get ideas in a format which translates well to art and I wonder where I got all these old ideas from.

I’m wondering if it’d be best to try to keep my art up, alongside my writing. After all, the more ways ideas can come to me and form in my head, the better, surely? All artists need to keep an open mind to inspiration, at least.

Does anyone else have any experience of this? I’d love to hear your words of wisdom or despair.

Holly Ice

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A Touch of Magic – M. Ruth Myers – Cards, Romance, Murder

A Touch of Magic, M. Ruth Myers, Holly Ice Review, author, book, romance, murder, cardsA dazzling sleight-of-hand artist is recruited by the State Department to pit her skills – and wits – against a master terrorist. He’s about to receive a piece of stolen film used to make US passports, film that could open the door to terrorists around the world. Although Channing Stuart is the fourth generation in a family of acclaimed magicians, she’s the first of them not to turn pro. Eye-to-eye with a killer, will she have the nerve and nimbleness to pull off a switch that finally proves her worthy of her bloodline? Special agent Bill Ellery is irritated to find himself suddenly teamed with this amateur whose passion to succeed is as great as his own, and whose penchant for the unpredictable unsettles him as much as the woman herself.

In an upscale resort where every enticement hides a trap, they play cat and mouse with enemies known and unknown as a time bomb ticks. Hundreds of lives depend on the deftness of one woman’s fingers and … A TOUCH OF MAGIC.

This was a good read. It had romance, intrigue, some cool magic tricks, family angst and some great characters. The plot was also good although I think the female villain could have done with a little more filling out.

There was nothing overall wrong with the story really and yet I still felt it was missing something. I was not left with much after reading it and I think I should have been. Some thought or feeling should have remained: it usually does with a great book.

Perhaps I wanted more of a conclusion on the romantic side, something cuter, or perhaps I wanted to know what happened with the terrorists – whether good triumphed once and for all.

Of course, this could well be the point. I myself am a lover of grey, where the realistic side of the world creeps into books: the villain doesn’t always lose and the good guy doesn’t win every battle; not everything is solved in one book.

There were some surprises and great twists as well as sleuth work, time-focused problems and murder, all trademarks of a good thriller.

Ultimately, the book kept me interested despite me wanting some undefinable more out of it. Since I can’t define this, despite trying, I’m giving the book a 4/5.

This seems to be a rather popular score for me at the moment!

The book can be found here

Here’s hoping I find a 5/5 soon. Suggestions welcome.

My twitter: Holly Ice

Off to read some more now 🙂

The Lost Dragon – Drako – The Last Spartan Warrior

The Lost Dragon Drako Read Review Holly Ice Author

I was gifted this book on a read for review arrangement

This book surprised me. At first I thought it was going to be a “very boy” action packed fight ’em up. Then I learnt the protagonist was gay. That was a direction I was not expecting and it kept me reading!

The main character, Andreas, is a black dragon god decendant. His father, Jarel, is the black dragon god who holds as much, if not more, power than Zeus, the leader of Olympus. The story follows the action as subordinate gods and “rogues” (those who defy the rules of the gods) try to bring back an ancient power.

It is good to see books which have a twist not usual in their genre and that is what captured me, at first, with this book. However, I have to be honest and mention its faults as well as its great points.

Good Points

Originality – the content of the story does a lot to bring action fantasy out of its stale niche.

Characterisation – almost all characters are well rounded and feel realistic.

Plot – the plot flows really well, obviously crafted with a good hand for structure. It is also original, new, and kept me reading to see what happened next.

Ending – the ending set up for another book and still managed to keep most ends tied up. I myself have trouble with endings so I have to give props where props are due here.

The Discussion

The cover, for instance, would not have made me pick the book up. I understand there is an illustrator etc but it is not my style of art and the picture is not perfectly centred on the background. The writing however is appropriate for genre and looks good.

On to the intro: the protagonist is fighting for Sparta before the main time line of the story in the modern age. The plot idea here is great but this first scene needs tidying up. Words are repeated in the first scene (‘thought’ twice in the first 3 sentences – ‘slash’ is also used as a verb twice on the first page).

This is, of course, looking at the text on a micro level but these repetitions do get noticed by a reader and it makes the narrative seem clunky. There is also a little bit of over exposition here.

However, to the good points: this problem seems to disappear for the most part after the first scene. My advice would be for the author to read over this scene and double check they are happy with it. Perhaps it would read better from Andreas’ POV as a memory? This would give us greater insight into the character early on.

Narrative issues later in the story are much more minor and sparse. I think I saw one ‘site’ instead of ‘sight’ and on one page an ‘is’ was missing from a sentence etc – nothing huge at all.

The only big problem later on is the lack of description for Solaris and Cassandra. Solaris is not described beyond cliffs and big halls. It needs colour to the landscape as well as the gods and others inhabiting it.

Meanwhile Cassandra falls flat for me. All the other characters are well rounded with great characterisation and very original (more good points) but Cassandra accepts things too easily. She is pulled this way and that with no argument at all. Even for a healer, this goes too far for a woman’s personality imo, especially as she is not a mopy young pacifist.

The transition into her “new form” (trying for no spoilers here) also needs better handling. She grows but not much about her appearance or carriage is mentioned otherwise. It also seems as if her personality changes substantially. This character, I feel, needs more time devoted to her.

As a minor point, Jarel sees her as a love interest for Andreas even though he already knows why this romance cannot happen – perhaps this love interest idea should be played down, more implied than real or made more cryptic as a red herring.

The last problem I have is the fight scenes. Mostly, there are, as other reviewers have suggested, descriptive and original. However in a few places I noticed the same area of the body was hit repeatedly and yet the narrative did not say ‘again’ or imply this is recognised. A couple of times the kicks or punches seems infeasible in the positions I was lead to believe the characters were in. Also a few times different characters got hit in the same place, and way, close together. This just needs straightening out a little. Also, I feel these fights could benefit from shorter sentences rather than convoluted ones as sometimes I started to lose interest and fall out of the action.

Although I have to say that these scenes are much more original in flips and moves and injuries than I can think of on the spot so congrats to the author for that.

Considering the good points and the discussion points, as well as my definite enjoyment for the read, I have to give this book a 4/5.

It is well structured and paced with mostly great characters and very original content. This trumps the few minor slip ups as well as the need to re-evaluate Cassandra’s persona as the novel is still very readable as is.

The book can be found on amazon here: The Lost Dragon, Drako should you wish to read it.

As always, I can be found on twitter: Holly Ice

I hope you liked the review. Any suggestions or additions/disagreement with what I’ve said then please comment below. Ciao!

Charity Shop Treasures

This Tuesday just gone me and a few of my house mates travelled into town for ‘CharityShopShopping!’ as I love to enthuse.

Of course, I found some clothes: 2 dresses, and 3 tops, but the major find was the books.

Here’s a little pic:

DSC05756

(As when I first pick them  up off the shelves, I find it hard to stop hoarding them to my chest. I just can’t let go – partly ’cause it usually means they all fall to the floor with a thunk. Currently they’re in a haphazard pile on my bed, awaiting a read). Maybe someone with a good editing programme can turn this into an inspirational wallpaper of some sorts/illustrate over the top.

I think I found a good mix of crime and fantasy, even a great book on dream symbolism. Most people may think that a little odd, but it’s going to be really useful when I try to create worlds and new cultures. They have to have symbolism come from somewhere! The avenues open to us in books on the occult and fantasy are almost limitless. Then there’s real life to boot – superstitions, looks, fashion, taboos, food…

Here’s a list of the books and their authors. I think I picked most up for around £1.

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  1. ‘The Lovely Bones’ – Alice Sebold (Have heard it’s a good book and intend to do my own research). 
  2. ‘The Mermaids Singing’ – Val McDermid (A serial killer crime book. The blurb caught me: ‘You always remember the first time. Isn’t that what they say about sex? How much more true it is of murder…’)
  3. ‘The Calling’ – Inger Ash Wolfe (First found the author’s name interesting and the grimy cover pretty cool. Then I was interested by a handicapped detective and a body with a ‘mouth moulded into a strangely meaningful shape’).
  4. ‘Three Great Novels – The lost years – Let it Bleed, Black & Blue, The Hanging Garden’ – Ian Rankin. (Three novels in one. How could I resist? Also I’ve read Rankin’s books in a holiday destination’s bookcase and rather enjoyed them so needed more).
  5. ‘Blue Moon’ – Alyson Noel. (Looked familiar. Turns out I’ve probably read this particular novel in the series in ebook format but I don’t remember the plot that well so no worries. Onward reading!)
  6. ‘Ink Exchange’ – Melissa Marr. (Not going to lie – this really was a case of a stunning cover. Then  I looked on the back and eyes and wings pulled me forward. It sounds like a dark tale full of mystery. Can’t wait to get to it!)
  7. ‘The Complete book of Dreams’ – Edwin Raphael. (A great reference book to add to my home library as I build my writer’s den. It looks good from what I’ve looked up so far although a skunk was woefully absent, as was sex. Interesting.)
  8. ‘Advent’ – James Treadwell. (Okay so I bought this book online but it WAS in the charity shop as well when I went out. This is the one I’m reading at the moment. Again, it has a great cover but, more than that, is represented by the Janklow and Nesbit agency and I met one of their agents at the London Book Fair. Also, it just sounded like my kind of read. Magic is on the loose, people see things that aren’t there and cannot conform to the modern day).

Needless to say, my backpack was rather heavy after buying all this! Very much worth it though.
Once I’ve given these a good read I’ll be sure to report back on their contents.

If you know of any great books then please message me, especially if these are great writing references. I need more of those!

Also, if you like fantasy or crime, I’m currently writing a novel which is a blend of both. I’m toying with the title ‘While I Slept’.
My next post will have snippets of the text and some character info most likely but if you want to keep on top of my progress then I’m recording it on twitter almost daily: https://twitter.com/Holly_emma_Ice

Hope you are all well and reading/writing to your heart’s content.

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