Most people have specific years that stand out as landmarks in their lives and for me, 2013 will definitely be one. It marked my official one year anniversary of working as a freelance writer and also saw the publication of my debut novella, The Vessel. Ultimately therefore, it felt like the first year where I was truly living out my dreams.
All I can ever hope for in 2014 is for my life to continue down the same path as it has been on for the past twelve months as I carry on trying to make a living doing what I love most. Happiness I hope and surprises I am sure; I look forward to it whatever it may bring.
What do you hope the following year will have in store for you?
One of the best things about blogging is the opportunity for people to share their opinions with likeminded people and given my love of literature, I am always open to recommendations of what books I should check out. In that same vein, here is a quick overview of a couple of my own recent reads (without any major spoilers). Please feel free to share your own thoughts if you have also read these particular books or even to leave your own suggestions of what I should read in the future if you, like me, are always on the lookout for a great story to get stuck into.
The 5th Wave
The 5th Wave – Rick Yancey
I really enjoyed this book. At its core it is a dystopian, supernatural thriller but there are a broad range of themes and ideas explored throughout; from love and human relationships to the devastating effects of war. The story is told in first-person but from the perspective of a few different characters, with focus shifting between them at intermittent points. Though at first I thought this slightly threw the pace off balance – mainly because I had already become so invested in the charismatic teenage heroine, Cassie – it soon became more accessible when the characters’ stories began heading towards an inevitable collision. With the two main protagonists going through very different experiences from each other, it can at times feel almost like two separate stories being told simultaneously in the mid-section of the book but this soon rectifies itself and becomes a wholly enjoyable read.
I rated The 5th Wave 4/5 on Goodreads.
Sleepwalking – Nicola Morgan
Another futuristic, dystopian, YA novel in which the hopes of mankind fall firmly in the hands of the teenage heroes; I had not even considered beforehand the arguably similar core themes when I chose to read these two books back-to-back. I found a few parts of Sleepwalking a bit rushed and didn’t find the heroine as appealing as I did Cassie in The 5th Wave, so perhaps did not get quite as immersed into the world of this book but what I did love was the heavily rooted links to literature throughout. Overall I loved the concept of the story and did enjoy reading it, though, without giving anything away; I will say I found the ending somewhat frustrating and contradictory to what had previously seemed to be the central theme of the book.
I rated Sleepwalking 3/5 on Goodreads.
Have you read The 5th Wave or Sleepwalking? What did you think?
As soon as you tell someone that you write, or even simply that you enjoy reading, you will more than likely be asked what your favourite book is. This has always felt like an impossible question to me as how could you possibly pick just one book when there is such a huge range of vastly different yet equally wonderful stories on offer?
In light of this, I have always preferred – and found it far easier – to tell people who the authors I most admire are, as though my favourite books can change from day to day depending on my mood and what happens to be capturing my imagination in that particular moment, the skills of the following people never cease to amaze me and while this is far from a comprehensive list of authors whose work I enjoy, these individuals certainly had a profound impression and influence on my own love of writing and literature.
I admire Hardy’s work first and foremost because he wrote genuinely interesting and compelling stories with characters I felt completely invested in but when you consider the time in which he was writing, it only becomes even more impressive. The boldness with which he tackled what were in his day hugely controversial social issues and the way in which he was not at all afraid to criticise the status quo are to be celebrated – particularly in his representation of the treatment of women and the class divide. His use of colour to portray deeper meaning, perhaps most notable in the brilliant Tess of the D’Urbervilles, is also a technique I find especially effective and inspiring. Aside from the aforementioned story of Tess, I also love The Return of the Native and Jude the Obscure.
Being from Scotland, it feels only natural to include at least one home-grown author on this list and Muriel Spark is certainly a fine example. The way she can interweave touches of comedy with heart breaking drama is second to none and the vivid pictures she paints of the very much realistic settings throughout her stories are beautiful. My favourite of her work would definitely include The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and The Driver’s Seat; both wonderful novellas.
Though some literary enthusiasts may initially be somewhat dismissive of authors famed for work primarily aimed at children or teenagers, I have never known a writer to create a series of stories capable of entirely transcending ages anywhere near the extent to which Rowling achieved it with Harry Potter. The attention to detail in her writing and the clear passion for the world she had envisioned combined with her representation of relatable and relevant real world issues captured the imaginations of generations and will undoubtedly continue to do so well into the future. Her more recent endeavours, The Casual Vacancy and The Cuckoo’s Calling (written under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith), show that her strength lies not only in the genre of fantasy; with the former being a hard-hitting, gritty story of political and social unrest in modern Britain and the latter, a compelling crime novel. Both prove that her ability to establish charismatic, enjoyable characters and well-paced, gripping stories are certainly not restricted to the confines of children’s fantasy.