Tag Archive: books

I really wanted to take on a reading challenge this year, to try to add diversity to what I read. I looked at several I found online but none of them quite hit the points I wanted to challenge myself on. So, I decided to compile one of my own.

I’m challenging myself to read 18 books in 2017, from my list of 24 challenge criteria. I’m not necessarily trying to read something for everything on the list because I’d like to give myself some flexibility and a chance to actually succeed. You could try to do all 24!


In January I read:

“The Girl on the Train” by Paula Hawkins – which I counted as “a popular best seller”. This was outside my normal reading habit as I tend to go for genre fiction and avoid mainstream books, perhaps because I don’t want to feel like I’m reading the same thing as everyone else.

“Marked” by Sue Tingey – I won this book in a competition I didn’t even enter! It was weird. I got a message on Twitter, completely unexpectedly saying “you’ve won a free copy of a book”. It was “a book I knew nothing about.” Anyway, they sent it and this year I finally got round to reading it.

In February I am reading:

“The Dark Half of the Year” by North Bristol Writers – I could count this as “a book by someone I know”, but I’m going to use it for “an anthology of short stories” instead. I may or may not skip over my own story.

“The Works of John Keats” – My lovely partner bought me an 1899 edition of the Works of John Keats for Valentines Day. I’m planning to work my way through this over a couple of months while also reading other things. I don’t want to risk carrying it around in my bag at my day job.


If you’d like to try this challenge, why not post a comment with a link to your blog and let others know what you’re reading.


Is it Okay to Stop Reading a Book?

I am currently caught in a reading dilemma.

The book I’m reading isn’t very good. Or at least isn’t holding my attention.

Is it okay to stop reading a book? Logic says “of course!” and yet it feels wrong.

Book with glasses against the backdrop of a library

Image courtesy of pannawat

When I am enjoying a book I make time to read and rocket through the chapters to the end all too fast, but when the book I’m reading isn’t engaging me I tend to choose other things to do. I might have that book on the go for over a month, and not spend much time reading. So by forcing myself to keep going I read less over all and then I resent that. I want to read lots of books and this book is getting in the way!

Reading is supposed to be an enjoyable pass time; there must be something seriously wrong if I find myself procrastinating from it, right?

So why do I feel so reluctant to give up on a book?

There’s a part of me that wants to give the author the benefit of the doubt. The eternal optimist that believes that the next chapter is when it will start to get good.

Then of course there is the fear of missing out. What if the next chapter is where it starts to get good and I don’t give it that chance and I miss out?

If something doesn’t hook me within a chapter or two, I can put it back on the shelf on the basis that I’ll tackle it again at another time. Maybe I’m just not in the mood for that genre. I can justify that.

But, if I persevere and get a decent way into the book, by the time I begin to suspect that the author is never going to deliver what I want from the book, I’m already committed. I’ve already spent some number of minutes/hours reading. If I give in now that was wasted time and I also have to admit that I was duped or made a bad call, and no one likes to admit they were wrong.

There’s also a nagging fear that if I don’t finish it, it will sit there, unfinished, forever, constantly reminding me of my failure to read it. If I put it back on the shelf at this point I’m not going to want to try again. I’ve already come to the conclusion that it’s not for me. And if I won’t want to read it in the future, it’s now or never!

This is particularly a problem with printed books rather than digital. I struggle to part with books (okay, things in general, I confess) at the best of times. At least if I finish it I can part ways with it amicably as I donate it to a charity shop or drop it off at a book share, but how can I let it go if I haven’t read it? I chose it and bought it; I don’t want to get rid of it before I have had my money’s worth.

By this point I understand I sound like a crazy person.

Is it just me who feels this way?

… No seriously, is it? Leave a comment below and let me know how you feel about giving up on a book.

What do you do if you start a book and it doesn’t grab you? Do you persevere and struggle through to the end? At what point do you decide enough is enough and walk away?

Do you ever regret not finishing a book?

Over on The Great Escape I explore more about the implications of readers quitting on books in my article Fiction Industry News – Amazon and Pay-Per-Page

Memories of Terry Pratchett

The Colour of Magic - Terry PratchettThere are few occasions when the news that someone you have never met has passed away affects you almost as strongly as learning about the death of a loved one.

Today, Sir Terry Pratchett, beloved, world rebound author of fantasy and humour, lost his battle with Alzheimers disease.

When I was a young teenager a friend of mine recommended I read The Colour of Magic and I borrowed the battered copy from the school library. Previously, I read what I found on my parent’s shelves (mostly Wilbur Smith), along with treasured story books from my childhood (chief among them Heroes and Monsters, a book of Greek myths, and my Penguin Swiss Family Robinson).

It was like opening a new world. Of course given the book that might not sound like a strange statement to make. But truly, for the first time I got a sense of how wide the horizons of fiction could be and I wanted to explore them. It marked the point at which I began to develop my own reading tastes.

I devoured the book, and the next (The Light Fantastic) and more. I bought my own copies of each of the Discworld series and they soon occupied a whole shelf to themselves. The later instalments are all hardbacks; I was too impatient to wait for the paperbacks.

My favourites are the most dog-eared from re-reading; Pyramids, Thief of Time, Going Postal and Good Omens. They will always have a place on my shelf. They will pass down my family. I hope they are read and re-read until they fall to bits. Terry Pratchett opened my eyes to a world of reading and a passion for books and I believe his books will do the same for countless children for generations to come.

If I could leave even a fraction of such a legacy when I depart this world I would count myself very lucky. My thoughts go out to the family, friends and fellow fans of this giant of the literary world.

General update and “coming soon”

Along with the rest of Britain, I’ve had a bit of a dry spell recently. A blogging dry spell at least. Hopefully the two aren’t linked and it won’t start raining as a result of me posting an update.

This is a bit of a general update and “what’s coming up” before I plough back into the regular posts.

As you’ll see from the last update back in May, I’ve had my film making hat on in the run up to production of Gabriel Cushing at the Carnival of Sorrows. We were due to begin filming next week, but plans have changed and we’ll now be filming next spring. Nevertheless, I’ve been doing a lot of work with the rest of the team on script development, planning and design. Next week we’ll be doing a whole bunch of pre-production work, promo material and more and later in August  (23/08/13).

One benefit to the change of plans has been that I’ve had more time to devote to my writing over the last couple of weeks. An autumn release date for Mime is looking pretty implausible at the moment, but Spring 2014 should be possible. Before I get into the major re-writing phase I’m clearing some other smaller projects off my plate. Call it a mental warm up of the editing muscles.

One current big project is a romance novella called Annabelle Blue. I don’t want to give too much away as I am planning to submit it to various publishers; this one isn’t for self-publishing. However, the way it has evolved has somewhat taken me by surprise. Next Friday (02/08/13) I’ll have a post dedicated to that and a case of unexpected philosophy.

I’ve also got a few reviews to pen. I’m not usually a big review writer, but sometimes I come across something that defies my expectations. So the case with Pacific Rim which I saw in EPIC-3D-IMAX-o-vision on Wednesday. You can catch my review of the film on Monday (29/07/13).

I’ve also been trying to write more reviews on Goodreads, so look out for a run down on some of those next Monday (05/08/13). I’ll be following it up with a few thoughts on standalone stories vs series the following Friday (09/08/13).

So that’s what’s coming up, and now that I’ve posted this I theoretically have to stick to it!

Grest Escapes | Volume 1 - Pre-order on Kickstarter now!The Kickstarter campaign for Great Escapes | Volume 1 finishes today! We’ve raised an astonishing £507 so far, a full £107 more than our target.

For those who don’t know, Great Escapes is the first in a series of annual anthologies from The Great Escape where I am fiction editor. The book features contributions from 18 great writers spread all over the world, some of who featured on The Great Escape in 2011/12 and some new ones with brand new, never before seen contributions. There’s also illustrations from Kat-in-the-attic.

Some of the rewards offered on Kickstater, including custom artwork from Kat and “The Round the World Book Tour” will only be available through Kickstarter! So make sure you don’t miss out.

To pledge your support for this book, visit the Project Page and be sure to check out the Project Updates for more about the extra rewards.

Pre-orders close at 9:00pm GMT, Wed 5th December.

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