Animals, Author, Blog, Book Publishing, Career, Creative, Equestrian, Fiction, Happiness, Horse Riding, Life, Positivity, Reading, Writing

“Larry” and “Animals’ Guide” have been Republished!

Hi Everyone,

Hope you’re well πŸ™‚

It has been exceedingly busy here at ‘D.E. Kendall HQ’ over the last few months!

However, this post isn’t about a general update (hoping to write an update sometime in the next month), it is to celebrate the (FINAL) new editions of Larry and Animals’ Guide to the Human Race being republished πŸ™‚

The road to this point has been exceedingly long and winding, so it’s an enormous relief that two of my original books are finally finished…

So, I started writing Larry when I was 15 years old, and it has seen several versions in various states of quality/readability to reach its current edition – and I am delighted to have completed the journey, at long last! While I realise my perfectionism may not ever allow me to feel 100% proud of my work, because – as with every aspect of my life – I always perceive facets of myself through a highly critical lens (though I wish I didn’t!), I hope I have done the adaptation of Larry’s story justice.

After a close call with a vanity publisher in 2014-2015, Larry has been self-published, traditionally published, and has now been self-published once again for the final time. I’m tempted to craft a more in-depth blog post in future, to write about each phase Larry has endured to get here – please let me know if that’s something you’d be interested in reading πŸ™‚

For now, if Larry can inspire even one person to treat animals with more kindness and compassion, 15 years of hard work will have been worthwhile. There has been a considerable amount of research and editorial work poured into Larry, and I hope you’ll gain something positive from reading it…

Larry: A Rescue Pony’s Story

by D.E. Kendall

This third edition of Animals’ Guide to the Human Race has been completely transformed from its previous editions, thanks to my improved writing and editorial skills owing to four years of a creative writing degree and over two years of ghostwriting experience. Therefore, I hope Animals’ Guide will provide readers with some much-needed positivity, in a world obsessed with everything that’s wrong instead of celebrating the little joys in life. For those of you who are familiar with Animals’ Guide, please rest assured that this version is almost unrecognisable from previous editions; it’s actually readable now (I hope)!

The purpose for Animals’ Guide is to be read in small snippets as opposed to being read cover to cover as a novel. Therefore, Animals’ Guide has been designed to inspire positivity and laughter, no-matter where you are or whatever’s happening in your life – I hope Animals’ Guide becomes a form of comfort to readers, somewhere nice to turn when life gets overwhelming. Also, previous editions of Animals’ Guide have proven especially popular for those who don’t have the time to dedicate to reading, so it would be amazing if it appeals to an even wider audience moving forwards πŸ™‚

Please let me know what you think of Animals’ Guide to the Human Race – I’d love to know that it has made you laugh and/or brightened your day by even a teeny tiny amount…

Animals’ Guide to the Human Race

by D.E. Kendall

Infinite thanks for your continued support! πŸ™‚

Best wishes,

Dannika

Adventure, Author, Book Publishing, Career, Creative, Teaching, Writing

End of an Era?

Hi Everyone, I’m sorry it’s been so long…

How are you? How have you found the last few months? I feel this post is all about me, so please share anything you’d like to celebrate about your own life in the comments!

TL;DR – A lengthy essay detailing recent happenings and life changes. Honestly, I’m not expecting you to want to read the entire post, it’s more for my own ‘journal of life experiences’, so in the future I can look back to appreciate how far I’ve come. If you do manage to read this entire blog post, congratulations! You now know more about what’s going on in my life than most of my own friends and relatives do πŸ™‚

After four years of hard work, my BA (Hons) English Literature & Creative Writing with The Open University is complete! While I longed to achieve a First-Class degree, I may just miss out and am predicted a 2:1 classification – which I’m told is still pretty impressive, considering my status as a mature student who works full time and has a hectic home life. I hope that my experience will inspire others to embark on a degree, if it’s something they’ve always wanted to do, because if I can do it so can you πŸ™‚

However, I have found the last few months – well, last few years if I’m being honest – overwhelming. My schedule has been so saturated with work that I’ve felt time slipping by uncontrollably. While I love writing, adore reading, and enjoy studying, I underestimated how much time would be taken working for myself as a ghostwriter while studying towards a degree full-time. I am still passionate about writing, though recently, I’ve been forced to reconsider my ambitions…

I’ve always been fascinated by education; the science behind it, learning processes, and the incredible opportunities brought about by collecting new skills. In fact, some of my favourite ghostwriting projects have been based in children’s literature.

As a teenager, while I was told by a few of my high school teachers – and high school careers advisor, and relatives, and friends, and basically anyone I discussed careers with – that I’d be a great primary school teacher, I toyed with the idea but never felt confident enough to pursue that career path. Initially, I was training to become a horse riding instructor and equine behaviourist, since – aside from writing books by myself, which, unfortunately, will never guarantee an income – being around horses was the only place I felt truly confident and comfortable. One painful hand injury, seven years, and countless trials in various career paths later, I cannot seem to shake that longing to be involved in the education sector.

Therefore, I re-considered becoming a primary school teacher and sought advice to that affect from wherever I could – I even work as a classroom assistant for a local tutoring company one to two evenings a week, to gain valuable teaching experience and refamiliarise myself with a classroom setting – yet still didn’t feel comfortable with the thought of managing a class of thirty unruly children by myself. My experiences working with young people have, however, reaffirmed that feeling that I should be working with them to make a difference for the better. But I kept wondering how could I possibly do that unless I became a teacher?

Luckily, my love of books led me to read the Guide to Writing for Children and YA, which I discovered in the hope of improving my craft as I work on my own YA sci-fi series. Within the pages of that invaluable book, I learned of an entirely new realm of children’s literature – and it has opened my eyes to the possibilities available to me in the world of educational publishing! I intend to pursue work in a school (preferably library-based or as part of a reading/literacy intervention role, though I’m certain working as a teaching assistant will be equally rewarding), in hope of gaining amazing insight into the young people I intend to write for, before I embark on creating exciting books for reluctant readers and children whose reading levels don’t correlate with their curriculum age groups. I am beyond excited to – after many, many years of uncertainty and deliberation – have finally found a route to utilise my literary skills and experience to support young people in developing a love of reading and appreciation of books. It may take a few years to accomplish, though I am truly looking forward to the wonderful literary challenges ahead!

Therefore, is the completion of my university course the end of an era, or the beginning of an exciting, new adventure? I hope it’ll be the latter πŸ™‚

Anyway, in other news…

Unfortunately, despite the lifting of restrictions, the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic has been devastating for many businesses:

First, I was represented by the fabulous company Top Rated Ghostwriters for two years, though they sadly had to close down due to unforeseen losses caused by the pandemic. It was an honour to have been represented by such a fantastic company, and having the opportunity to work with a team of amazing ghostwriters was brilliant – I cannot thank Top Rated Ghostwriters enough for their support and encouragement.

The loss of an agent is another factor that has forced my decision to limit the ghostwriting projects I take on in future – because I no longer have a ghostwriting support system in place if ever I need help, advice, or encouragement. However, I do intend to continue working on smaller-scale ghostwriting projects when I have time, such as those for charitable organisations or memoir writing, because there are so many fascinating stories out there just waiting to be told – I’d love to use my experiences to bring those stories to life, especially for people who may not otherwise be able to afford to do so πŸ™‚

Second, Wordcatcher Publishing became a victim of the pandemic, too. Not only did Wordcatcher Publishing traditionally publish two of my books, but the company also gave me the opportunity to work as a publishing assistant – which provided me with invaluable experience that I may never have had otherwise. I learned so much while working for Wordcatcher Publishing, from proofreading and working with authors on various editorial projects, to typesetting manuscripts for print and managing book metadata. I am incredibly grateful for the publishing experience I gained at Wordcatcher, and it was a pleasure to work with so many wonderfully talented authors – several of whom have become my friends!

As a result of the closure of Wordcatcher Publishing, however, I now have to re-publish my debut novel – Larry – and series of short stories – Animals’ Guide to the Human Race. Although I have now completed my university studies, my time is still extremely limited, so I have decided to edit Larry and AGTTHR for the very last time in every spare moment I can find, with a view to self-publishing them through either KDP or Ingram Spark in the very near future.

A little bit of good news – for those who enjoy my writing – five years in the making, I still haven’t given up on my series of YA sci-fi novels! I am crafting a dynamic cast of characters for my sci-fi series that, I hope, will help readers feel more confident within themselves, alongside the inspiration to act with greater compassion towards others – my novels will also be packed with mystery, suspense, conspiracy theories, and super-advanced tech that requires significant research to write coherently. So, please ‘watch this space’ for updates…

Thank you, once again, for your continued support! You are incredible, and I am honoured that you’ve chosen to spend your time with me (well, with my words, which is pretty much the same thing) πŸ™‚ <3

Best wishes,

Dannika

Author, Book Publishing, Career, Creative, Equestrian, Life, Mental Health Awareness, Mindfulness, Positivity, Self-Love, Share Your Story, Uncategorized, Writing

About Judgement

Hi Everyone,

Long time, no see (again)! Wishing you a Happy New Year – hope you were able to enjoy the festive season, whether or not you celebrated πŸ™‚

As you’ve probably guessed, I’ve been super busy so haven’t been able to write a new blog post for a long while. Although I felt inspired to write about this topic many months ago, recently, I’ve uncovered considerable inspiration for it that – I hope – will enrich my perspective.

So, in this blog post I’m going to write about judgement and misjudgement.

Judgement has several definitions dependent on context, though for the purposes of this blog post, ‘judgement’ is defined as: “an opinion or conclusion”. Whereas, ‘misjudgement’ is defined as: “the action of forming a wrong opinion or conclusion”.

As humans, we are hardwired to make judgements about everything. We have to, it’s an instinctive element of survival. However, the act of making unnecessary or unjust judgements of other humans has become toxic.

Of course, there are countless people out there who are dangerous and deserve to be judged as such – I should know, I’ve come across a few who I failed to judge correctly – but there are instances that unearned misjudgement causes intense pain for the recipient.

The blame isn’t solely on those who make misjudgements of fellow human beings, though. We live in a world where humans are pitted against one another in an atmosphere through which “survival of the fittest” translates to “survival of the selfish, forsaking the feelings of others”. We are quite literally bombarded with messages in the media and through advertising that tell us we’re not good enough. Constant messages that unless we conform to the impossibly narrow rubric of ‘perfection’ conveyed by the powers that be, we are unworthy of respect and therefore fair game for judgement by those who may or may not know us.

I guess, for those who enjoy making rash judgements of others without truly knowing anything about them, it’s easy to deflect their own insecurities when someone else is just ‘there’ awaiting deconstruction. Often, misjudgements don’t surface instantly – allowing the judgemental to twist and contort their vision of another person to fit their own fantastical image, instead of taking the time and effort to uncover the truth.

I’ll illustrate several of the misjudgements I have been subject to or have seen, that once ate away at what little self-esteem I had until I realised that someone else’s judgements are nothing to do with me.

Humans should support one another, not tear one another down – though if all conflict ceased (whether conflict with self or with others), imagine how many businesses would cease, too. Unfortunately, health and wellbeing β‰  wealth and aesthetic.

If someone wishes to concoct a dishonest, unrealistic judgement of me based on whatever misinformation they have access to, I have no power to compel them to think of me otherwise. Unless a person has the strength to escape their blinkered viewpoint, through making the effort to learn the truth before making a judgement, is their opinion even worth your consideration?

(Mis)Judgement #1 – All Equestrians are Wealthy

I’ve heard this judgement made of so many horse owners, and it couldn’t be more wrong!

Obviously, owning horses costs a lot of money – nobody’s denying that. But there are countless other passions, pursuits, and hobbies that are expensive but aren’t getting nearly as much judgement as that experienced by horse owners.

For those of us compelled to rescue horses, the years of going without ‘normal’ experiences such as eating out at restaurants, shopping for ourselves, and holidays abroad were made worthwhile by the joy of seeing our horses grow and thrive after suffering unmentionable mistreatment at the hand of evil.

Owning horses can make it impossible to lead a life of freedom. Horses don’t allow us to be selfish. They force us to consider another’s life and wellbeing every day, without fail. While we may enlist kind helpers to support us in the care of our horses on occasion, ultimately, the responsibility of their care is at the forefront of our minds 24/7. As worthwhile as horse ownership is, it consists of endless hard work, too.

Horses become part of your family. So, when there’s a choice between a new car and vet bills, joke! There is no choice. Saving money is near impossible, because horses have this uncanny skill of injuring themselves or suddenly becoming poorly just as you start to feel on top of your finances – even if it has taken years of working long hours and forsaking a social life to have saved that money.

So, to conclude, horses are incredibly wonderful and while those of us who are fortunate to love them don’t regret our choice, we have to work sooo much to afford the basic care costs of horse ownership that we do end up missing out on several elements of life non-equestrians take for granted. If you love living paycheck-to-paycheck, enjoy having next to no free time, and appreciate shovelling wheelbarrow-loads of poop every day, invest in the ownership of a horse πŸ™‚

She’s worth it all – I love my special pony <3

(Mis)Judgement #2 – Self-Publishing Invalidates Literary Ability

In the publishing world, there’s a common misconception that unless your book has been traditionally published, it isn’t worth a reader’s time.

While there are a lot of self-published works out there that deserved an extra few rounds of editing before being released (my first attempts at self-publishing being a case in point), there are hundreds of thousands of incredible self-published works out there that are going unnoticed because their route to publication wasn’t ‘traditional’.

For those of you unfamiliar with the publishing world, I’ll give a brief explanation of the traditional publishing process and the self-publishing process…

Traditional Publishing: 1 – Write manuscript. 2 – Edit manuscript. 3 – Rewrite manuscript. 4 – Edit manuscript, again. 5 – Repeat steps 1 to 4 at least 3 times. 6 – Craft individual query emails to literary agents and publishing companies that accept unsolicited manuscripts. 7 – Wait at least 6 months, either receive several rejections or don’t hear anything back. 8 – Repeat steps 6 and 7 for years, hoping one literary agent or publishing company will notice your literary efforts. 9 – Can go one of two ways, either let the rejection eat away at resolve and give up, or, finally get lucky and get your manuscript published, perhaps getting a small advance that amounts to less than minimum wage over the time you spent crafting your literary masterpiece. 10 – Attend any literary events as requested by literary agent or publishing company, perhaps attend some speaking engagements, and look forward to writing your next manuscript.

Self-publishing: 1 – Attempt all steps of Traditional Publishing process to step 9, except don’t get lucky by having your manuscript published and also don’t give up. 2 – Muster courage to forge your own path to publication and edit your manuscript, again. 3 – Pay an editor to edit your manuscript. 4 – Pay a proofreader and beta readers to work through your manuscript. 5 – Work on edits suggested by reviews from proofreader and beta readers. 6 – Hire a cover designer. 7 – Research the inconceivable number of options for publishing routes. 7 – Finalise all aspects of your book, from typesetting and metadata, to content and self-publishing platform. 8 – Publish your literary masterpiece. 9 – Market your new literary endeavour, receive very little support from family/friends/acquaintances who don’t quite understand how to help market your book, jump at any opportunity to sell more copies of your book, accept direct criticism, and spend money on advertisements for various social media platforms. 10 – Work on your next manuscript while juggling the marketing process of your published work, as you need to have a fairly substantial backlist in case you enjoy future literary success.

Of course, everyone’s journey to publication is unique, containing many diverse realms of experience – and it’s important to remember that every literary experience is valid (whether positive or negative). However, as you can see, self-publishing is not as straightforward as it may seem. Anyone who has the courage to write works that make a positive impact on readers is deserving of respect and fair pay, no-matter their route to publication πŸ™‚

(Mis)Judgement #3 – Showing Cleavage is Unacceptable

As someone who was bullied in school, suffers emetophobia, has been sexually abused/controlled/manipulated/cheated on/received negative comments about my body in the past, as well as having to deal with chronic pain/issues with dexterity since experiencing an injury to my hand 7 years ago, my relationship with my body has been turbulent. The manner in which I present myself is constantly evolving, in line with my confidence.

So, when I feel like wearing an outfit that happens to accentuate my breasts, it’s because I’ve garnered the confidence to do so. Yet I still receive derogatory comments – surprisingly, most often from people I know – or am mocked, as people seem to think it acceptable to say something unnecessarily unpleasant about how I look. I wouldn’t even begin to explore the reasons they feel the need to do so, though more often than not, those reasons are clearly not to empower me or to help improve my self-confidence. (Unending thanks to those who always try to build my confidence, however, your efforts are truly appreciated!)

I wouldn’t dream of saying something negative about someone else’s appearance, let alone write disparaging comments about their appearance on a public platform for all to see. In fact, I make a conscious effort to compliment others – online and in person – in recognition of their efforts to look nice, because I know it makes them feel more positively about themselves.

While I acknowledge that superficial beauty should never be regarded the essence of a human’s worth, the way society has been formed forces us to recognise the superficial and gives us little choice but to begin improving the world by making the effort to raise people up with compliments about their appearance instead of insulting them for the way they dress. Misogyny has a lot to answer for and really does need to be addressed. However, I don’t see those who comment about my appearance making complaints about BeyoncΓ©, or Lady Gaga, or Katy Perry, or any other famous women for leaning on societal notions of attractiveness by using sexuality to propel their brand? I wish I had their confidence; you’d see a lot more of my writing if that were the case πŸ˜‰

If you don’t like how a person presents themselves on social media, just scroll on. There’s absolutely no need to make damaging, negative comments about other people, especially when you don’t know their story.

In light of this, I’m making my point with a plethora of images of me in varying states of appearance – cleavage, no cleavage, make-up, no make-up, indoors, outdoors, filters, no filters, etc. – to illuminate the fact that it doesn’t matter how I look, I am who I am. In every photo I’m still me, I still have exactly the same sense of morality, exactly the same capabilities, exactly the same worth. The same goes for other people, too. Nobody else has the right to judge you for your appearance – so please keep being yourself, because the universe needs you just as you are πŸ™‚

Moral of the story (or, blog post): DON’T MAKE JUDGEMENTS WITHOUT COMPASSION.

I’ve said (written) it before and I’ll say (write) it again, we are unique – and, provided we strive to be kind in all we do, we do not deserve other people’s misjudgements so we shouldn’t let their misinformation taint our joy.

You are the only you in existence – please don’t allow others to let you feel unworthy because they cannot comprehend every complex facet of your brilliance πŸ™‚

Thanks for reading <3

Best wishes,

Dannika

Book Publishing, Book Review, Creative, Crime Writing, Fiction, Mystery, Reading, Uncategorized

A Book Review: Where Are You Now?

Welcome to my ‘Dannika Writes… A Book Review‘ series! πŸ™‚

As a writer, I have a natural affinity with words. So, it makes sense that I enjoy reading the literary creations of others, too. I began writing book reviews many moons ago; I was in a book club and it was suggested to me by a kind person there that I share my reviews online, as they believed others would appreciate my honest approach to reviewing reads both great and not-so-great.

Being a published author myself, I also realise how awesome it is knowing someone has taken the time to appreciate your efforts to entertain and/or enlighten them, then gone above and beyond to tell others about it as well. Reviews are vital to the success of every book in every genre; and that isn’t necessarily tied to positive reviews and recommendations. From an author’s perspective, constructive criticism plays an essential role in the development of one’s writing, and ultimately, it becomes something every writer appreciates (even if they don’t realise it at the time!).

I only read paperbacks, by the way – which is the reason I include links to the paperback copies of books I’ve reviewed. While I know eBooks are amazing – and that maybe, one day, I’ll get into reading them too – I’m afraid that, for me, nothing beats the delectable scent of a fresh, new paperback or that sensation of being able to actually hold a literary masterpiece #literarynerd (I advise against falling asleep whilst reading though; being thumped on the head by a book is not so fun…). However, should you feel that fellow readers would appreciate a link to the eBook version of a book, please include it in the comments below.

Before you delve into this blog post, I believe it’s worth mentioning that I do not apply ratings to my reviews. In my opinion, every writer is an individual and, to be honest, I don’t believe it’s fair to compare their works – how would one even rate the work of mystery writer in comparison to a romance novelist, or a sci-fi aficionado in comparison to a non-fiction biographer? If you’re happy to place a rating value on a particular book, however, please feel free to include that in the comment section of this blog post πŸ™‚

(Please note that I will be adding a brand new Book Review page to The Emet. Review website, for those of you who have emetophobia.)

In this post, I will be reviewing Where Are You Now? by Mary Higgins Clark…

Description:

“How far would you go to keep a secret?

It has been ten years since 21-year-old Mack went missing. A Columbia University senior, he walked out of his room and has not been seen since. Every year he calls his mother on her birthday, on his birthday, and on Mother’s Day. He assures her he is fine, refuses to answer her frenzied questions, then hangs up. Even the death of his father on 9/11 does not bring him home.

Mack’s sister, Caroline, has now endured two family tragedies. Determined to solve the mystery surrounding her brother’s disappearance, she sets out to discover the truth. But with it comes a secret that someone will do anything to protect, leading her to a deadly confrontation with an unexpected enemy…

A fast paced thriller perfect for Mary Higgins Clark many fans.

My Review:

Mary Higgins Clark (a.k.a. “MHC”) is referred to as the “Queen of Suspense” and she has been the favourite author of my Gran’ma for as long as I can remember. Gran’ma had bought several MHC novels for me as birthday presents over the years, yet I never seemed to have time to read them. Luckily, one rainy winter night, I discovered a collection of MHC novels on my shelf and decided to read one. Where Are You Now? is a fantastic, page-turning read that captured my attention and introduced me to one of the best thriller writers of all time.

Every character was masterfully painted, and MHC’s artistry with words illustrated their unique motives; some pivotal to the plot, others turned out to be red herrings. The characters seemed real, which I understand is a well-known skill of MHC.

The story moves along at an exciting pace, never offering opportunity to tire of the plot – which keeps you guessing, right to the end! However, if you prefer the perspective of a novel to remain consistent, this book will disappoint you. The narrative point of view flips from first-person to third-person, which did take a couple of chapters to get used to.

To conclude, I recommend this book if you enjoy mystery, thriller, and crime writing. It’s a great read that has it all; suspense, mystery, and excellent characterisation.

Author, Book Publishing, Book Review, Career, Creative, Memoir, Non-Fiction, Reading, Teaching, Teaching, Writing

A Book Review: Head Over Heels in the Dales

Welcome to my ‘Dannika Writes… A Book Review‘ series! πŸ™‚

As a writer, I have a natural affinity with words. So, it makes sense that I enjoy reading the literary creations of others, too. I began writing book reviews many moons ago; I was in a book club and it was suggested to me by a kind person there that I share my reviews online, as they believed others would appreciate my honest approach to reviewing reads both great and not-so-great.

Being a published author myself, I also realise how awesome it is knowing someone has taken the time to appreciate your efforts to entertain and/or enlighten them, then gone above and beyond to tell others about it as well. Reviews are vital to the success of every book in every genre; and that isn’t necessarily tied to positive reviews and recommendations. From an author’s perspective, constructive criticism plays an essential role in the development of one’s writing, and ultimately, it becomes something every writer appreciates (even if they don’t realise it at the time!).

I only read paperbacks, by the way – which is the reason I include links to the paperback copies of books I’ve reviewed. While I know eBooks are amazing – and that maybe, one day, I’ll get into reading them too – I’m afraid that, for me, nothing beats the delectable scent of a fresh, new paperback or that sensation of being able to actually hold a literary masterpiece #literarynerd (I advise against falling asleep whilst reading though; being thumped on the head by a book is not so fun…). However, should you feel that fellow readers would appreciate a link to the eBook version of a book, please include it in the comments below.

Before you delve into this blog post, I believe it’s worth mentioning that I do not apply ratings to my reviews. In my opinion, every writer is an individual and, to be honest, I don’t believe it’s fair to compare their works – how would one even rate the work of mystery writer in comparison to a romance novelist, or a sci-fi aficionado in comparison to a non-fiction biographer? If you’re happy to place a rating value on a particular book, however, please feel free to include that in the comment section of this blog post πŸ™‚

(Please note that I will be adding a brand new Book Review page to The Emet. Review website, for those of you who have emetophobia.)

In this post, I will be reviewing Head Over Heels in the Dales by Gervase Phinn…

Description:

Join Gervase Phinn in the classroom where he faces his greatest challenge: keeping a straight face as teachers and children alike conspire to have him laughing out loud . . .

‘Could you tell me how to spell “sex” please?’

Gervase Phinn thinks he’s heard just about everything in his two years as a school inspector, but a surprising enquiry from an angelic six-year-old reminds him never to take children for granted.

This year Gervase has lots of important things on his mind – his impending marriage to Christine Bentley (the prettiest headteacher for miles around), finding somewhere idyllic to live in the Yorkshire Dales, and the chance of a promotion.

All of which generate their fair share of excitement, aided and abetted as usual by his colleagues in the office.

Funny, uplifting and joyful,Β Head over Heels in the DalesΒ is the third in Gervase Phinn’s much-loved series.

My Review:

When I read this book, I had no idea it was the third in a series (despite that being listed on the back cover) – although, to be honest, you really don’t have to read other books in the series to enjoy this book. Full of fun, Head Over Heels in the Dales is a delightfully light-hearted read packed with vivid scenes illustrated by Phinn’s exquisite literary talents.

Despite being non-fiction, Head Over Heels in the Dales reads more like a fiction novel than a memoir – but I imagine the reality of Phinn’s experiences illuminated the hilarity, romance, and stresses of life as a school inspector that are depicted in this book.

Phinn details his time as a school inspector, though reading this book actually made me feel confident that I’d enjoy a teaching profession alongside my writing career.

Having read All Creature Great and Small by James Herriot when I was younger, I definitely felt that Head Over Heels in the Dales had the same vibe. I have visited Yorkshire briefly, but feel as though I’ve spent considerable time ensconced in its rural idyll thanks to Phinn’s marvellous descriptions of the the rugged yet beautiful Dales countryside:

“Willingforth Primary School resembled a prosperous, well-maintained private residence. It was set back from the main road, which ran the length of the small picturesque village, tucked behind the Norman church and the village pond. It was an imposing grey stone Georgian building with high leaded windows, each supporting a pair of white shutters, and a large oak-panelled door with brass knocker in the shape of a ram’s head. To the front was a small, well-tended lawn with a sundial and tubs of bright geraniums still untouched by frost.”

I definitely recommend reading Head Over Heels in the Dales if you’re in search of a humorous, light hearted book that’s undemanding yet entertaining.

Adventure, Book Publishing, Book Review, Creative, Fiction, Reading, Science Fiction, Uncategorized, Writing

A Book Review: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Welcome to my ‘Dannika Writes… A Book Review‘ series! πŸ™‚

As a writer, I have a natural affinity with words. So, it makes sense that I enjoy reading the literary creations of others, too. I began writing book reviews many moons ago; I was in a book club and it was suggested to me by a kind person there that I share my reviews online, as they believed others would appreciate my honest approach to reviewing reads both great and not-so-great.

Being a published author myself, I also realise how awesome it is knowing someone has taken the time to appreciate your efforts to entertain and/or enlighten them, then gone above and beyond to tell others about it as well. Reviews are vital to the success of every book in every genre; and that isn’t necessarily tied to positive reviews and recommendations. From an author’s perspective, constructive criticism plays an essential role in the development of one’s writing, and ultimately, it becomes something every writer appreciates (even if they don’t realise it at the time!).

I only read paperbacks, by the way – which is the reason I include links to the paperback copies of books I’ve reviewed. While I know eBooks are amazing – and that maybe, one day, I’ll get into reading them too – I’m afraid that, for me, nothing beats the delectable scent of a fresh, new paperback or that sensation of being able to actually hold a literary masterpiece #literarynerd (I advise against falling asleep whilst reading though; being thumped on the head by a book is not so fun…). However, should you feel that fellow readers would appreciate a link to the eBook version of a book, please include it in the comments below.

Before you delve into this blog post, I believe it’s worth mentioning that I do not apply ratings to my reviews. In my opinion, every writer is an individual and, to be honest, I don’t believe it’s fair to compare their works – how would one even rate the work of mystery writer in comparison to a romance novelist, or a sci-fi aficionado in comparison to a non-fiction biographer? If you’re happy to place a rating value on a particular book, however, please feel free to include that in the comment section of this blog post πŸ™‚

(Please note that I will be adding a brand new Book Review page to The Emet. Review website, for those of you who have emetophobia.)

In this post, I will be reviewing The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams…

Description:

An international phenomenon and pop-culture classic,Β The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the GalaxyΒ has been a radio show, TV series, novel, stage play, comic book and film. Following the galactic (mis)adventures of Arthur Dent, Hitchhiker’s in its various incarnations has captured the imaginations of curious minds around the world . . .

It’s an ordinary Thursday lunchtime for Arthur Dent until his house gets demolished. The Earth follows shortly afterwards to make way for a new hyperspace express route, and his best friend has just announced that he’s an alien. At this moment, they’re hurtling through space with nothing but their towels and an innocuous-looking book inscribed, in large friendly letters, with the words: DON’T PANIC.

The weekend has only just begun . . .

With exclusive bonus material from the Douglas Adams archives, and an introduction by formerΒ Doctor WhoΒ showrunner, Russell T Davies.

The intergalactic adventures of Arthur Dent begin in the first volume of the ‘trilogy of five’, Douglas Adams’ comedy sci-fi classic The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

My Review:

One of my favourite books, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is a work of literary genius. This book is so incredibly ridiculous that I have laughed out loud at the hilarity of it time and again!

If you enjoy straightforward stories with a clear beginning, middle and end, this is not the book for you. This book is about as unconventional as advising the use of a towel in emergency situations, but that is exactly the catalyst of its brilliance.

Where to begin about the plot, storylines, and characterisation? Adams has created an incredibly diverse universe packed with complex detail, yet the complexity of it all is overcome by the ironically down-to-earth style in which the narrative is written. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy follows Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect along a series of misadventures following the destruction of Earth to clear the way for a Vogon hyperspace bypass.

I cannot decide which character is my favourite, as they’re all so wonderfully written, though I can’t help but empathise with Marvin – the Paranoid Android. He’s a fascinating character whose astounding level of intelligence is continually underestimated; in a way, I wonder whether he’s a subtle reflection of the reaction to humanity’s inability to realise their own intelligence…

Dialogue is realistic, scenery is cleverly crafted, and the characters – whilst wildly wacky – are so believable that it’s difficult to imagine that they don’t exist out there, somewhere.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is a truly inspirational work of science fiction that I recommend if you enjoy sci-fi, comedy, or out-of-this-world adventures!

Author, Book Publishing, Book Review, Creative, Crime Writing, Fiction, Mystery, Reading

A Book Review: Art in the Blood

Welcome to my ‘Dannika Writes… A Book Review‘ series! πŸ™‚

As a writer, I have a natural affinity with words. So, it makes sense that I enjoy reading the literary creations of others, too. I began writing book reviews many moons ago; I was in a book club and it was suggested to me by a kind person there that I share my reviews online, as they believed others would appreciate my honest approach to reviewing reads both great and not-so-great.

Being a published author myself, I also realise how awesome it is knowing someone has taken the time to appreciate your efforts to entertain and/or enlighten them, then gone above and beyond to tell others about it as well. Reviews are vital to the success of every book in every genre; and that isn’t necessarily tied to positive reviews and recommendations. From an author’s perspective, constructive criticism plays an essential role in the development of one’s writing, and ultimately, it becomes something every writer appreciates (even if they don’t realise it at the time!).

I only read paperbacks, by the way – which is the reason I include links to the paperback copies of books I’ve reviewed. While I know eBooks are amazing – and that maybe, one day, I’ll get into reading them too – I’m afraid that, for me, nothing beats the delectable scent of a fresh, new paperback or that sensation of being able to actually hold a literary masterpiece #literarynerd (I advise against falling asleep whilst reading though; being thumped on the head by a book is not so fun…). However, should you feel that fellow readers would appreciate a link to the eBook version of a book, please include it in the comments below.

Before you delve into this blog post, I believe it’s worth mentioning that I do not apply ratings to my reviews. In my opinion, every writer is an individual and, to be honest, I don’t believe it’s fair to compare their works – how would one even rate the work of mystery writer in comparison to a romance novelist, or a sci-fi aficionado in comparison to a non-fiction biographer? If you’re happy to place a rating value on a particular book, however, please feel free to include that in the comment section of this blog post πŸ™‚

(Please note that I will be adding a brand new Book Review page to The Emet. Review website, for those of you who have emetophobia.)

In this post, I will be reviewing Art in the Blood by Bonnie MacBird…

Description:

London. A snowy December, 1888. Sherlock Holmes, 34, is languishing and back on cocaine after a disastrous Ripper investigation. Watson can neither comfort nor rouse his friend – until a strangely encoded letter arrives from Paris.

Mlle La Victoire, a beautiful French cabaret star writes that her illegitimate son by an English lord has disappeared, and she has been attacked in the streets of Montmartre.

Racing to Paris with Watson at his side, Holmes discovers the missing child is only the tip of the iceberg of a much larger problem. The most valuable statue since the Winged Victory has been violently stolen in Marseilles, and several children from a silk mill in Lancashire have been found murdered. The clues in all three cases point to a single, untouchable man.

Will Holmes recover in time to find the missing boy and stop a rising tide of murders? To do so he must stay one step ahead of a dangerous French rival and the threatening interference of his own brother, Mycroft.

This latest adventure, in the style of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, sends the iconic duo from London to Paris and the icy wilds of Lancashire in a case which tests Watson’s friendship and the fragility and gifts of Sherlock Holmes’ own artistic nature to the limits.”

My Review:

Around six years ago, when this book was newly published, I bought the hardback copy and read it whilst on holiday. After lending the book to a fellow Sherlock Holmes enthusiast, it was never returned – so, I bought the paperback version to replace it and thoroughly enjoyed reading this story for the second time!

I’ve enjoyed the Sherlock Holmes novels of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle since I was in high school, so the discovery of a series of Sherlock Holmes novels by a female writer was exciting.

Despite the miniscule aspects of Americanisation in a few of the descriptions (I can’t recall exact quotations, but I remember noticing them as I was reading), the portrayal of Holmes and Watson in Art in the Blood would’ve made Sir Arthur Conan Doyle proud. For those inconsistencies of description or characterisation, I appreciated the thought MacBird attributed to creating a Preface which added a satisfying depth to her story:

Over time, perhaps from moisture and fading, a number of passages have become unreadable, and I have endeavoured to reconstruct what seemed to be missing from them. If there are any mistakes of style or historical inaccuracies, please ascribe these to my inability to fill in places where the writing had become indecipherable.”

My favourite character in this novel has to be Watson, the narrator himself, because MacBird illustrated a character that was both believable and endearing. Alongside Watson, the development of Holmes’ character in possession of various afflictions associated with genius was exercised intelligently, without damaging the sanctity of Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. I found the other characters in the novel to be brilliantly written, with unexpected twists and turns that kept me from prematurely guessing their motives, behaviours, and ultimately, their fate.

The storyline was diligently plotted, which allowed little room for inconsistency – something that can ruin an otherwise great read. I am definitely a fan of Bonnie MacBird’s writing, thanks to Art in the Blood, and I look forward to reading the other Sherlock Holmes novels in this series.

Whilst there were aspects of the story that were both disturbing and devastating, MacBird handled the difficult subject matter tactfully, with a literary flare obviously sparked by the inspiration of her muse, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. To be able to elicit such reaction through her words is proof enough that MacBird is a talented author, yet I also believe the way she wove descriptive detail into dialogue made Art in the Blood such a page-turner!

Whether or not you relish novels based on protagonist Sherlock Holmes, if mystery and crime writing are your genres of choice, you’re likely to find this book a gripping read. If you’re already an avid reader of the adventures of Holmes and Watson, you won’t be disappointed by Art in the Blood – thanks to MacBird’s sympathetic storytelling skills, you’ll find yourself immersed in a familiarly mystical world originally envisaged by a literary legend.

Author, Book Publishing, Book Review, Creative, Fiction, Reading, Science Fiction, Uncategorized

A Book Review: Foundation

Welcome to my ‘Dannika Writes… A Book Review‘ series! πŸ™‚

As a writer, I have a natural affinity with words. So, it makes sense that I enjoy reading the literary creations of others, too. I began writing book reviews many moons ago; I was in a book club and it was suggested to me by a kind person there that I share my reviews online, as they believed others would appreciate my honest approach to reviewing reads both great and not-so-great.

Being a published author myself, I also realise how awesome it is knowing someone has taken the time to appreciate your efforts to entertain and/or enlighten them, then gone above and beyond to tell others about it as well. Reviews are vital to the success of every book in every genre; and that isn’t necessarily tied to positive reviews and recommendations. From an author’s perspective, constructive criticism plays an essential role in the development of one’s writing, and ultimately, it becomes something every writer appreciates (even if they don’t realise it at the time!).

I only read paperbacks, by the way – which is the reason I include links to the paperback copies of books I’ve reviewed. While I know eBooks are amazing – and that maybe, one day, I’ll get into reading them too – I’m afraid that, for me, nothing beats the delectable scent of a fresh, new paperback or that sensation of being able to actually hold a literary masterpiece #literarynerd (I advise against falling asleep whilst reading though; being thumped on the head by a book is not so fun…). However, should you feel that fellow readers would appreciate a link to the eBook version of a book, please include it in the comments below.

Before you delve into this blog post, I believe it’s worth mentioning that I do not apply ratings to my reviews. In my opinion, every writer is an individual and, to be honest, I don’t believe it’s fair to compare their works – how would one even rate the work of mystery writer in comparison to a romance novelist, or a sci-fi aficionado in comparison to a non-fiction biographer? If you’re happy to place a rating value on a particular book, however, please feel free to include that in the comment section of this blog post πŸ™‚

(Please note that I will be adding a brand new Book Review page to The Emet. Review website, for those of you who have emetophobia.)

In this post, I will be reviewing Foundation by Isaac Asimov…

Description:

“WINNER OF THE HUGO AWARD FOR BEST ALL-TIME SERIES

The Foundation series is Isaac Asimov’s iconic masterpiece. Unfolding against the backdrop of a crumbling Galactic Empire, the story of Hari Seldon’s two Foundations is a lasting testament to an extraordinary imagination, one that shaped science fiction as we know it today.

The Galactic Empire has prospered for twelve thousand years. Nobody suspects that the heart of the thriving Empire is rotten, until psychohistorian Hari Seldon uses his new science to foresee its terrible fate.

Exiled to the desolate planet Terminus, Seldon establishes a colony of the greatest minds in the Empire, a Foundation which holds the key to changing the fate of the galaxy.

However, the death throes of the Empire breed hostile new enemies, and the young Foundation’s fate will be threatened first.”

My Review:

As an aspiring sci-fi writer, I couldn’t resist buying a copy of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation when I saw it in a bookshop. Upon reading Foundation, I realise why Isaac Asimov is referred to as “the father of science fiction”. The writing is insightful, and seamlessly describes the futuristic world you swiftly find yourself immersed in.

This book is, as defined by the title, the foundation of a series. Therefore, the vast majority of it explains the mechanisms of the dystopian world Asimov is introducing you to. So I’d advise approaching this read with an open mind, because there won’t be the usual ‘beginning, middle, end’ storylines you’d expect in a traditional fiction novel.

I believe it’s also worth noting the time in which Asimov wrote this series, because viewing it from that perspective truly does enlighten you to how incredibly ahead of its time Asimov’s writing was! For instance, Foundation was published in 1951 – when most of the technologies described in the novel were not in existence. An aspect of this novel that I found slightly disagreeable, yet not completely unexpected owing to the time in which is was written, was the lack of female characters. I do understand that the reality of the world in which Asimov resided was unlikely to boast powerful female representation, but, as female reader with an interest in sci-fi, I would have appreciated the novel even more so had the powerful leadership roles and characters depicted throughout Foundation been more diverse.

Asimov was a Professor of Biochemistry, which shines through in the attention he paid to every detail set into Foundation. However, if you aren’t as fascinated by reading the scientific and political detail that provides a backdrop for the novels to come, this novel is likely to struggle to maintain your attention for too long.

I haven’t yet read any other works written by Asimov – although I have seen the film adaptation of I,Robot, one of my favourite films – but I am definitely going to be reading the complete collection of Asimov’s science fiction works as soon as I have time, because Foundation was such an inspiring read.

If you enjoy science fiction as much as I do (i.e. you enjoy it enough to write sci-fi yourself), then I wholeheartedly recommend reading Foundation as the introduction to other works by Isaac Asimov.

Book Publishing, Book Review, Creative, Fiction, Reading, Uncategorized

A Book Review: Heroes

Welcome to my ‘Dannika Writes… A Book Review‘ series! πŸ™‚

As a writer, I have a natural affinity with words. So, it makes sense that I enjoy reading the literary creations of others, too. I began writing book reviews many moons ago; I was in a book club and it was suggested to me by a kind person there that I share my reviews online, as they believed others would appreciate my honest approach to reviewing reads both great and not-so-great.

Being a published author myself, I also realise how awesome it is knowing someone has taken the time to appreciate your efforts to entertain and/or enlighten them, then gone above and beyond to tell others about it as well. Reviews are vital to the success of every book in every genre; and that isn’t necessarily tied to positive reviews and recommendations. From an author’s perspective, constructive criticism plays an essential role in the development of one’s writing, and ultimately, it becomes something every writer appreciates (even if they don’t realise it at the time!).

I only read paperbacks, by the way – which is the reason I include links to the paperback copies of books I’ve reviewed. While I know eBooks are amazing – and that maybe, one day, I’ll get into reading them too – I’m afraid that, for me, nothing beats the delectable scent of a fresh, new paperback or that sensation of being able to actually hold a literary masterpiece #literarynerd (I advise against falling asleep whilst reading though; being thumped on the head by a book is not so fun…). However, should you feel that fellow readers would appreciate a link to the eBook version of a book, please include it in the comments below.

Before you delve into this blog post, I believe it’s worth mentioning that I do not apply ratings to my reviews. In my opinion, every writer is an individual and, to be honest, I don’t believe it’s fair to compare their works – how would one even rate the work of mystery writer in comparison to a romance novelist, or a sci-fi aficionado in comparison to a non-fiction biographer? If you’re happy to place a rating value on a particular book, however, please feel free to include that in the comment section of this blog post πŸ™‚

(Please note that I will be adding a brand new Book Review page to The Emet. Review website, for those of you who have emetophobia.)

In this post, I will be reviewing Heroes by Stephen Fry…

Description:

“Few mere mortals have ever embarked on such bold and heart-stirring adventures, overcome myriad monstrous perils, or outwitted scheming vengeful gods, quite as stylishly and triumphantly as Greek heroes.

Join Jason aboard the Argo as he quests for the Golden Fleece. See Atalanta – who was raised by bears – outrun any man before being tricked with golden apples. Witness wily Oedipus solve the riddle of the Sphinx and discover how Bellerophon captures the winged horse Pegasus to help him slay the monster Chimera.

HeroesΒ is the story of what we mortals are truly capable of – at our worst and our very best.”

My Review:

This book is referred to as “Volume II of Mythos” – though I didn’t read Mythos before reading Heroes, I did note a few small references that would likely have made more sense if I had read Mythos too.

Upon reading Heroes, it is impossible not to imagine Stephen Fry’s voice narrating! I’m not into audiobooks at the moment, though I have discovered that Stephen Fry actually recorded an audiobook version of Heroes that you can find here.

In the interest of being completely honest with you, when I initially took on the Herculean task of reading Heroes, I was disheartened by how challenging it was to keep reading. I became so frustrated that I kept falling asleep whilst reading it that I took a break from it for a little while to read something else. However, upon returning to Heroes, I realised that it isn’t written as novel to be read cover-to-cover, but instead, the book is separated into chapters that focus on specific characters. Therefore, I began to read Heroes as more of a ‘character story guide’ than a novel, which made it far easier to work through – I think it would be an incredibly useful reference book for writers who wish to include characters from Greek mythology in their work. I also liked the sections of colour images of paintings, pottery, sculptures, and other works of art that depicted some of the characters and scenes in the book – it was a great addition, and fascinating if you’re a bit of a history nerd like I am!

I appreciated the “List of Characters” in Heroes that illuminated many of the details I knew nothing about. There were also explanations at the end of some pages that described how to pronounce certain names, the interesting meanings behind names, and other information that provided an insightful interpretation of mythical particulars.

In conclusion, I would definitely recommend reading Heroes if you enjoy Stephen Fry’s writing and would like to learn a little more about Greek mythology. However, I believe it may be beneficial to read Mythos before Heroes, in order to get the most out of this reading experience.

Author, Book Publishing, Book Review, Creative, Equestrian, Fiction, Reading, Uncategorized

A Book Review: The Horse Dancer

Welcome to my ‘Dannika Writes… A Book Review‘ series! πŸ™‚

As a writer, I have a natural affinity with words. So, it makes sense that I enjoy reading the literary creations of others, too. I began writing book reviews many moons ago; I was in a book club and it was suggested to me by a kind person there that I share my reviews online, as they believed others would appreciate my honest approach to reviewing reads both great and not-so-great.

Being a published author myself, I also realise how awesome it is knowing someone has taken the time to appreciate your efforts to entertain and/or enlighten them, then gone above and beyond to tell others about it as well. Reviews are vital to the success of every book in every genre; and that isn’t necessarily tied to positive reviews and recommendations. From an author’s perspective, constructive criticism plays an essential role in the development of one’s writing, and ultimately, it becomes something every writer appreciates (even if they don’t realise it at the time!).

I only read paperbacks, by the way – which is the reason I include links to the paperback copies of books I’ve reviewed. While I know eBooks are amazing – and that maybe, one day, I’ll get into reading them too – I’m afraid that, for me, nothing beats the delectable scent of a fresh, new paperback or that sensation of being able to actually hold a literary masterpiece #literarynerd (I advise against falling asleep whilst reading though; being thumped on the head by a book is not so fun…). However, should you feel that fellow readers would appreciate a link to the eBook version of a book, please include it in the comments below.

Before you delve into this blog post, I believe it’s worth mentioning that I do not apply ratings to my reviews. In my opinion, every writer is an individual and, to be honest, I don’t believe it’s fair to compare their works – how would one even rate the work of mystery writer in comparison to a romance novelist, or a sci-fi aficionado in comparison to a non-fiction biographer? If you’re happy to place a rating value on a particular book, however, please feel free to include that in the comment section of this blog post πŸ™‚

(Please note that I will be adding a brand new Book Review page to The Emet. Review website, for those of you who have emetophobia.)

In this post, I will be reviewing The Horse Dancer by Jojo Moyes…

Description:

“The 2009 novel The Horse Dancer by Jojo Moyes, the bestselling author of Me Before You and two-time winner of the RNA Novel of the Year award.

In a hidden corner of London, Henri Lachapelle is teaching his granddaughter and her horse to defy gravity, just as he had done in France, fifty years previously. But when disaster strikes, fourteen-year-old Sarah is left to fend for herself.

Forced to share a house with her charismatic ex-husband, her professional judgement called into question, lawyer Natasha Macauley’s life seems to have gone awry. When her path crosses that of Sarah, she sees a chance to put things right.

But she doesn’t know that Sarah is keeping a secret, one that will change all their lives forever . . .”

My Review:

The Horse Dancer weaves stories of every character together through a tapestry of events. Moyes’ writing is saturated with such brilliant descriptive detail that it’s easy to become immersed in the story and empathise with the characters. I’m an equestrian enthusiast and horse owner, so I found the level of detail Moyes dedicated to her horse-related scenes absolutely wonderful! Although it’s worth mentioning that you don’t have to know anything about horses to enjoy the equestrian aspects of this story.

All the main characters were adequately ‘fleshed-out’, though my favourite character has to be Boo, the horse – whose bravery was the most believable of all. I think it’s worth mentioning that there were a few plot ‘twists’ that I anticipated, and there were minor aspects of the story that were improbable – for instance, it is highly unlikely that a couple in the middle of a divorce could plausibly live together, and a young girl being invited into the home of complete strangers was difficult to comprehend. However, for any tiny details of the story that were improbable, there were exciting scenes and emotive storylines that made The Horse Dancer so readable it was difficult to put down at times!

The beginning of the book introduces two seemingly separate storylines as it develops the individual backstory of each protagonist – if you dislike stories that are set out this way, it might take you a little longer to get into the story itself; but I assure you it’s worthwhile. There are many well-written chapters in the middle of the story that are compelling – they offer suspense, emotion, and action-packed excitement. As for the ending, I felt it provided a satisfying conclusion and wrapped up the story nicely.

I’d definitely recommend this book if you’re looking for an indulgent read to enjoy of a chilly winter’s evening, cwtched up in a blanket as rain patters against the nearest curtained window.

Author, Book Publishing, Book Review, Creative, Fiction, Mental Health Awareness, Reading, Uncategorized

A Book Review: The Midnight Library

Welcome to my ‘Dannika Writes… A Book Review‘ series! πŸ™‚

As a writer, I have a natural affinity with words. So, it makes sense that I enjoy reading the literary creations of others, too. I began writing book reviews many moons ago; I was in a book club and it was suggested to me by a kind person there that I share my reviews online, as they believed others would appreciate my honest approach to reviewing reads both great and not-so-great.

Being a published author myself, I also realise how awesome it is knowing someone has taken the time to appreciate your efforts to entertain and/or enlighten them, then gone above and beyond to tell others about it as well. Reviews are vital to the success of every book in every genre; and that isn’t necessarily tied to positive reviews and recommendations. From an author’s perspective, constructive criticism plays an essential role in the development of one’s writing, and ultimately, it becomes something every writer appreciates (even if they don’t realise it at the time!).

I only read paperbacks, by the way – which is the reason I include links to the paperback copies of books I’ve reviewed. While I know eBooks are amazing – and that maybe, one day, I’ll get into reading them too – I’m afraid that, for me, nothing beats the delectable scent of a fresh, new paperback or that sensation of being able to actually hold a literary masterpiece #literarynerd (I advise against falling asleep whilst reading though; being thumped on the head by a book is not so fun…). However, should you feel that fellow readers would appreciate a link to the eBook version of a book, please include it in the comments below.

Before you delve into this blog post, I believe it’s worth mentioning that I do not apply ratings to my reviews. In my opinion, every writer is an individual and, to be honest, I don’t believe it’s fair to compare their works – how would one even rate the work of mystery writer in comparison to a romance novelist, or a sci-fi aficionado in comparison to a non-fiction biographer? If you’re happy to place a rating value on a particular book, however, please feel free to include that in the comment section of this blog post πŸ™‚

(Please note that I will be adding a brand new Book Review page to The Emet. Review website, for those of you who have emetophobia.)

In this post, I will be reviewing The Midnight Library by Matt Haig…

Description:

“Between life and death there is a library. When Nora Seed finds herself in the Midnight Library, she has a chance to make things right. Up until now, her life has been full of misery and regret. She feels she has let everyone down, including herself. But things are about to change.

The books in the Midnight Library enable Nora to live as if she had done things differently. With the help of an old friend, she can now undo every one of her regrets as she tries to work out her perfect life. But things aren’t always what she imagined they’d be, and soon her choices place the library and herself in extreme danger. Before time runs out, she must answer the ultimate question: what is the best way to live?”

My Review:

The Midnight Library is an incredible feat of literary magnificence. It is about the headspace Nora Seed has been forced to occupy by depression – as her soul is suspended between life and death – and the storyline follows her journey through lives she could have lived.

Although Nora’s character is so real and relatable, my favourite character is Mrs Elm (though I won’t go into too much detail about her, so as not to share any spoilers!). The book is written from a third-person limited perspective, which enhances the story’s emotive qualities without forcing the overwhelming intensity of a first-person point of view.

I enjoy ghost stories, and while The Midnight Library isn’t a ghost story, I found the scenes Haig depicted to be ethereal and compelling. In fact, I lost quite a few hours’ sleep as I read the entire book within two nights! It may have been the lack of sleep, but I admit to crying and laughing aloud as I read this book; something I haven’t done whilst reading for a long, long time.

The Midnight Library forces you to consider your own mental health, as well as recognise how deeply another’s mental health could be affecting their life and the decisions they make – even if there’s no obvious sign of that to the outside world. The book encourages empathy for fellow human beings too, without focusing wholly on the negative aspects of mental health that led protagonist Nora to become suspended between life and death.

While reading The Midnight Library, it quickly becomes obvious that Haig truly understands the state of Nora’s mind as she contemplates all aspects of her life throughout the book. It encapsulates the significance of choices, both major and seemingly minor, by highlighting the positive difference we can make to others’ lives without even realising it – as well as reminding us that we aren’t always in control of the tragedies that befall us.

Despite the dark moments depicted within the book’s page-turning story, ultimately, The Midnight Library is one of the most uplifting books I have ever read. I wholeheartedly recommend The Midnight Library to everyone; it is a work of genius not to be missed!

Adventure, Animals, Author, Book Publishing, Career, Creative, Equestrian, Ghostwriting, Mental Health Awareness, Nature, Open University, Photography, Reading, Writing

Long Time, No See!

Heyy,

Long time, no see – 3 months, to be exact o.O

I’m always apologising for being busy, though this time, I’m not going to. Instead, I’m going to include a brief (well, brief in terms of my writing) update along with my hope that all is going wonderfully well in your life – if it isn’t, please know you are not alone πŸ™‚

So, I finally completed my Stage 2 modules as I study for BA(Hons) English Literature & Creative Writing with the Open University. Due to my ridiculously heavy workload, I initially intended to complete one module at a time for the final Stage 3 section of my degree, though I’ve given deep thought into what I’d like to achieve, and have had endless discussions with my loved ones about my terrible attempts to forge a work-life balance – I’ve come to the conclusion that if I am to relieve pressure long term, I’m going to follow their advice and study full time from Sept/Oct this year, so I’ll have less pressure on my time as of June/July 2022. That means I’m going to take a small step back from taking on new ghostwriting clients with lengthy projects – if you’re a prospective client with a lengthy project, I apologise! But I have to focus on improving the quality of my assignment scores, since I achieved 80%-95% for Stage 1 modules (though I did complete them part time, around part time employment) and only 65%-75% for Stage 2 modules (completed around self-employment; the hours for which I spend working I dread to count!). I am still accepting smaller projects, such as blog posts, website content, articles, and short stories πŸ™‚

I am not at liberty to discuss any aspect of ghostwriting projects – as I sign confidentiality agreements for every project – though I can let you know that business has been incredibly busy, for which I am exceedingly thankful! Unfortunately, I did experience my first (and hopefully last) setback in my ghostwriting endeavours, when a client failed to pay the final fee for their project; they disappeared the day after I sent them the final document. I admit that my trust in the basic, moral goodness of human nature was tested, and though I have chalked it up to being a valuable lesson learned, it was also the catalyst for my decision to pursue the completion of my degree full time as I reassessed what I’d like to achieve through ghostwriting. It saddens me that despite my best efforts to help people and make a difference for the better, someone could be so thoughtless as to waste my valuable time and effort – especially since I’d turned down other projects to help the client, as there was a tight deadline and I was told the project meant a lot to them. So, I have decided to focus on completing my degree, and whilst I will continue ghostwriting and proofreading, I am only going to take on projects I know I’ll enjoy, as I am going to spend more time on my own writing whilst I pursue a primary school teaching career (unless, in the meantime, I manage to emulate a fraction of J.K. Rowling’s success with my own novels, enabling me to write for myself full time; which is highly unlikely!).

I have always been driven to make a difference for the better, something I have strived to do through ghostwriting and proofreading – for instance, I’ve taken on many projects free of charge for charitable organisations, alongside my busy work schedule – though have found that my love of writing has been tested on occasion when I’ve had to work 14-hour days while struggling to juggle everything going on in my hectic schedule. Enduring a miscarriage – as well as suffering with my mental health as a result of the constant stress caused by the struggle against the rising pressure of everything – has taught me that life is too short not to do what I love for a living. Whilst I love writing – and have earned more money through ghostwriting than any other job I’ve ever had – I cannot sustain the level of work I have been. I’m not making as much of a difference for the better as I intended through the type of ghostwriting work I do. Although I am going to continue working for several of my fantastic clients, for whom I provide ghostwriting projects regularly, I will be dedicating more of my time to achieving success with my own writing (since I’m able to do so for my clients, I may as well try writing bestselling pieces for myself too!), and I am going to work towards becoming a primary school teacher; following in the footsteps of many amazing female relatives before me, primary school teaching is a career I expect to be as challenging as it is creative, but will allow me steady, structured working hours and the ability to work as part of a team and ‘switch off’ at the end of the day (instead of being immersed in my solitary work 24/7) – enabling me to make the most of my life, whilst still making a positive difference to many young people’s lives πŸ™‚

Moving on from my career aspirations, I created a special book for my niece (whom I hadn’t seen for a year due to pandemic lockdown restrictions) for her 5th birthday. She’s going through a tough time with her health, so I felt it would cheer her up to have a book created specially for her πŸ™‚ Whilst I still have a lot to learn in terms of illustration and typesetting a fully-illustrated document, I thoroughly enjoyed working on Evelyn-Rose’s book around my crazy work/uni/life schedule; it helped me channel stressful energy into something positive. In case you’d like to view it for yourself, the link to the listing for “Evelyn-Rose’s Magical Adventure” is here.

Something I’d been debating for many years was getting a second tattoo. My first experience was traumatic, to say the least, so I’ve spent years researching and pondering whether the benefits outweigh the risks. Though I am pleased to say that I did go ahead with getting a tattoo, inspired by a photograph I’d taken on the last family holiday we went on with my wonderful grandparents – something my late Nan and I talked about for a while was my getting a peacock butterfly tattoo, so I hope she’d have appreciated my decision to finally go ahead with getting it done πŸ™‚ As it happens, butterflies are also representative of the beauty of change, of hope, and of triumph through adversity – a fitting testament to my life experiences.

I have been revelling in the beautiful weather lately, taking every opportunity I can to get Cai walked and ride/spend time with my horses, as well as to delve back in to another of my hobbies – photography πŸ™‚ I’ve not been feeling quite myself, so I’m currently working hard to exercise more and eat healthier, in hope of losing weight, improving my strength, and toning up; I’m pleased to report that it’s only been a couple of weeks since I finished my final end-of-module uni assignments, though I feel better already for spending more time out and about. You can follow some of Cai’s adventures on his Instagram page.

However, as often seems to be the case, my injuries have made being more active far from straightforward. Not only has my hand been more painful lately (due to increased exercise through following YouTube HIIT/Pilates videos, horse riding, Cai pulling on his lead, etc.), but I have discovered that my jaw is dislocated and has been causing me major issues in the form of pain, swelling, and headaches – I had mistaken the issue as being an impacted wisdom tooth for a long time; it was the thought of having another tooth removed that put me off making an appointment with the dentist, but if non-invasive treatments don’t work, I might have to go through some pretty unpleasant surgery on my jaw o.O

My boyfriend, Gareth, and I have a few events to attend this year, as well as a few days away in Edinburgh to look forward to this summer – and I’m working hard on improving my self-confidence – so, I’ve spent a little time practising using make-up. My skin has been terrible lately – which I imagine is largely stress-based – and that hasn’t helped me feel better about myself. Whilst I’m nowhere near as great at using make-up as I’d like to be, I’m hopeful my face painting/sculpting skills will continue to improve…

I’ve been working hard to improve my confidence whilst driving, and am pleased to be making progress πŸ™‚ I even went to the cinema a couple of days ago, for the first time in around 18 months!

Annndd I’ve decided to dedicate as much time as I can to my own writing by taking it more seriously – as such, I’ve signed up for Mslexia and WritersHQ, which will help me gain confidence by interacting more frequently with fellow writers. I’ll be making more time to read books from fantastically inspirational authors too, to improve my writing as much as possible and ‘switch off’ – just received a mega Waterstones order; anyone else love that ‘new book’ scent? πŸ˜‰

For more regular updates, please feel free to visit my Facebook page, Instagram page, and Twitter account πŸ™‚ I am also updating The Emet. Review as often as I can.

I hope to be more active in terms of content creation for my blog from now on, so you can expect more interesting posts than this – such as a short story series, book reviews, and a variety of posts about all things literary, equestrian, and mental health πŸ™‚

Anyways, I hope all is well with you; I look forward to reading messages about all the exciting things happening in your lives too!

Stay awesome <3

Best wishes,

Dannika