Author, 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! 🙂

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 🙂

(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! 🙂

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 🙂

(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, Head over Heels in the Dales 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, Author, 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! 🙂

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 🙂

(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, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy 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 former Doctor Who 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! 🙂

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 🙂

(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! 🙂

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 🙂

(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.

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

A Book Review: Heroes

Welcome to my ‘Dannika Writes… A Book Review‘ series! 🙂

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 🙂

(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.

Heroes 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! 🙂

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 🙂

(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! 🙂

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 🙂

(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!

Author, Creative, Fiction, Reading, Short Story, Writing

Short Story Series – The Interview

Welcome to my ‘Short Story Series’ 🙂

I frequently ghostwrite short stories, and I write short stories for university assignments as well as for my own amusement. I’ve decided to share some short stories with you, in hope that you’ll enjoy them – and if you’d like to share with me your opinion of these short stories, I’d be grateful!

© D.E. Kendall

The Interview

What the hell am I doing?

Daisy Miller pulled into the overpriced city car park and plonked her forehead onto the sun-stained steering wheel of her vintage Nissan Micra. Though she still had ten minutes, Daisy couldn’t help but wonder why she was doing this to herself. She couldn’t stop her legs trembling, her palms were clammy, and she wished she’d remembered a drink because she was certain she had the worst case of cottonmouth ever.

Stretching up to examine her teeth for traces of red lipstick in the windscreen mirror, Daisy noticed a pimple rumbling beneath the surface of her nose. Unwilling to allow the thing to erupt and ruin that all-important first impression, the thirty-six-year-old fumbled with her only ‘decent’ handbag in search of concealer. An old tin of cherry lip balm flew out of the tightly packed bag and fell into the abyss of used coffee cups and heaps of takeaway wrappers in her passenger footwell.

A cacophony of expletives accompanied wrapper rustling in search of that tiny tin, until Daisy triumphantly lifted the grubby little pot out of the mess and held it up to the light, recalling fond memories while appreciating how its scratched surface glistened in mid-morning sunshine.

In a moment of panic, Daisy feared that search had made her late to the interview. After wiping grease from her hand along the cloth driver’s seat, a swift check of her battered silver watch revealed Daisy’s fears as unfounded.

Seven minutes.

Leaning back, Daisy nestled into the familiar, time-worn seat and closed her eyes. Although prepared to practise relaxation techniques she’d found online, Daisy quickly gave up on that endeavour and unwisely allowed her mind to wander instead.

After twenty-one years in hospitality, Daisy usually felt she could face any situation; not today. Reciting monologues covering valuable experiences gained working her way to a managerial role, after beginning her journey as a waitress in her grandmother’s café at fifteen, realisation suddenly struck that interviewers may ask about interests outside work. Unfortunately, working every evening, weekend, and bank holiday allowed Daisy little time to pursue anything she might be passionate about.

Flicking through imaginary scenarios, Daisy pondered how plausible it was to claim she worked with rescue animals (after all, she found Tinker and Mittens dumped by the bins at the back of the pub a few years ago and tended to them like children ever since) – then again, she had no free time to volunteer for animal charities, so had no references to support such a claim. Then, Daisy considered how intellectual she’d seem if she claimed to be an avid reader (she spent break times scrolling through social media, reading about the interesting lives of her school friends), but found a plot hole when she imagined them asking about her favourite read; if she confessed her favourite book was Matilda, she’d be laughed out of the room. Finally, Daisy decided to tell them she was interested in film and television, a major asset in advertising; however, she realised that wouldn’t work either – she was constantly catching up months after the initial hype, as she was always working late.

Two minutes.

The hands of her watch ticked closer to her fate, and Daisy could procrastinate no longer. Once she’d awkwardly fought through the broken seatbelt of her cramped eighties car, Daisy clambered out into the chill of that bracing autumn morning in an uncomfortably figure-hugging skirt she’d never worn (yet regretted, despite skipping breakfast). In wrapping the only nice coat she had (that wasn’t covered in cat hair) tightly around herself, Daisy accidentally dropped her keys. Slamming the rusty mustard door shut with a grunt, Daisy bent down to retrieve the collection of fluffy trinkets attached to her flat and car keys, when a heart-stopping rip resounded. Feeling her cheeks heat like coals on a barbeque, Daisy contorted herself every which way to see what had ripped and where. Much to her dismay, those tights she’d found balled up in the corner of her underwear drawer failed in their duty to conceal her muscular thighs; an indiscreet ladder spread across her upper left leg like wildfire. Daisy regretted her choice of skirt a little less when she realised it just about covered her dignity.

Pausing for a moment to take a deep, smog-filled breath, Daisy mustered the courage to march purposefully towards Linx-Sky Advertising; an architectural beast overshadowing the pebble-dash buildings surrounding it.

Here goes nothing.

Trying her utmost not to be intimidated by a receptionist who could’ve moonlighted as a model stationed at an enormous front desk, Daisy asked for directions. She thanked the tall receptionist, then squeaked her new shoes all the way to the lifts.

Daisy gazed around in wonder at the lift, marvelling at the marble walls, golden safety rails, and twinkling spotlights peppered above her like a constellation. During her observations, Daisy didn’t notice the lift fill with three other people and was snapped from her reverie by the melodic tones of a handsome suit, ‘You have to select a floor number if you want the lift to move.’

Feeling her cheeks glow red, Daisy half-smiled at the handsome suit, avoiding eye contact as she selected the eleventh floor. Daisy spent the first four floors fiddling with her fingernails, wishing she’d enough time to re-paint them as flakes of damaged blue nail polish moulted onto her skirt. There was a high-pitched ‘ding’ as the lift doors trundled open, inviting into the mix a rotund gentleman in suit trousers and an untucked paisley shirt, complete with crescent patches. As the lift doors trundled shut again, a powerful hue of body odour hit Daisy and she instinctively stepped backwards to escape it.

‘Alright there?’ The handsome suit, whose Australian accent Daisy noticed for the first time, had been caught up in her clumsiness as she accidentally stepped on his immaculate black shoes.

‘Sorry!’ Daisy’s cheeks lit up like brake lights, again.

‘No worries, happens all the time.’

Braving a brief glance up at the face atop the handsome suit, Daisy discovered enchanting mahogany eyes and tousled dark hair that perfectly complemented his olive skin and chiselled features.

Yes, I imagine women constantly fall over you.

‘What brings you here?’

‘Uh,’ Daisy was shocked by the sudden spark of conversation, ‘the eleventh floor, an interview.’ She averted her eyes, pretending her handbag zip required inspection.

‘I see. Name’s Adam,’ he presented his hand to Daisy.

‘Daisy. Daisy Millam… I mean, Miller.’ Daisy looked up and returned the gesture, her usually chubby fingers feeling delicately feminine as her hand slipped into his.

‘Nice to meet you, Daisy Miller.’

There was a satisfying ‘ding’ as the lift doors trundled open once more, drawing the sweaty zeppelin’s cloud of stench onto the ninth floor, as well as stealing Adam away. Daisy remained in the lift with one other passenger. Despite wrestling with the will to begin a conversation, Daisy didn’t have long to endure awkward silence, as the pointy-toed woman vacated the lift on the tenth floor.

Finally, Daisy reached her destination. Within seconds of stepping off the lift, a glamourous secretary greeted her. The Naomi-Campbell-lookalike led Daisy along a disorientating corridor that had an impossibly slippery floor and enormous canvases of ‘modern art’ clinging to its dull, grey walls.

Upon reaching the waiting room, Naomi disappeared into the executive office. Daisy was left to contend with the geometric carpet, lines of lime green chairs, and floor-to-ceiling windows offering views of a sprawling cityscape (as well as the dizzying visual of ant-sized people going about their lives eleven storeys below).

Not going to stand by the window.

Avoiding eye contact with those she presumed were fellow candidates spread around the room, Daisy clocked a water cooler neighbouring the closed office door. She longed for a cup of water to calm her nerves, though the cooler was occupied by a trembling middle-aged woman dressed for a fifties summer picnic.

Hope this isn’t a group interview; I prefer private humiliation.

To distract herself from nervousness, Daisy stole a glance at the candidates sat around her so she could imagine backstories for them. First, she noted the woman sat directly opposite her staring intently at a smartphone. The bleached-blonde bob cut, smart skirt suit and inappropriately high salmon heels suggested to Daisy that this woman was confident, sophisticated, and knew exactly what she wanted. Daisy decided the powerful-looking woman had to have an embarrassing floral name like hers, such as ‘Violet’ or ‘Hyacinth’, because she’d like to believe that woman had also been born to a single, teenaged mother.

Sarah Smith!’ Naomi’s voice bellowed from deep within the executive office.

‘Hyacinth’ stood up, dropped her smartphone into her vast handbag, then forced a smile en route to the office from which Naomi had beckoned.

Stupid woman with her normal, business-appropriate name.

Refusing to allow jealousy to worsen her anxiety, Daisy shifted her concentration to the male candidate three seats from ‘Hyacinth’. Upon noting his fresh-faced complexion and loose-fitted suit, Daisy was annoyed that a boy (who couldn’t have been more than eighteen) dare be interviewed for the same job she had dreamed of for the last decade. The poor boy’s anxious fidgeting wasn’t enough to appease Daisy; she resigned herself to the belief she’d lost the job to a millennial.

Devon Parker-Moore!

Off he went. Daisy took a subtle side-glance to her right, hoping to find a new backstory in the candidate two seats over from her. Unfortunately, Daisy’s subtle side-glance became a glare of disgust, as a balding candidate with nineties glasses and a pencil moustache draped his elongated arm over the back of the chair beside her. It was his creepy wink that sent Daisy scrambling out of her seat, handbag clutched tightly to her side, as she rushed to the safety of the water cooler where Nervous Nelly still stood. Daisy wondered whether Nelly was nervous because of the creep, or if it was the long wait for an interview that had her shaking so violently the contents of her cup resembled thrashing, stormy seas.

Chuck Bates!

Although she had to endure his passing perverted stare, Daisy was relieved Creepy Creeperson had vacated the waiting room. Little Devon, on the other hand, appeared less than relieved; he stepped out of the office and froze like a rabbit in headlights.

‘What happened, sweetheart?’ Nervous Nelly placed her full cup of water on top of the cooler and wrapped a comforting arm around little Devon’s shoulders, walking him out through the narrow, disorientating corridor as if guiding a toddler.

Wow.

Daisy felt the need for a stiff drink, though had to settle for water. As she bent over to reach for a fresh cup, her hairspray-hardened top bun tipped the cup on top of the cooler, splashing its entire contents over her skirt. The limited space in her handbag meant Daisy decided against squeezing a packet of tissues into it earlier that morning, and there was nobody around to ask where the toilets were.

Awesome.

‘Everything alright?’ In a cruel twist of fate, handsome Adam emerged from the office and Daisy wished the geometric carpet would swallow her whole.

‘Wow, what happened here?’ Adam stifled a laugh as Daisy noticed him attempt to avert his eyes from her sodden skirt.

Naomi sent Creepy Creeperson away with the icy threat of security, before flipping her demeanour and warmly inviting Daisy to begin her interview.

In contrast to the uninviting waiting room outside, Adam’s executive office had extravagant wooden floors with a backdrop of book-laden shelving, and a stylish white desk in the centre surrounded by luxurious turquoise chairs. Adam and his secretary sat across the desk from Daisy, in front of the wall of books. Daisy felt her fears fade as Adam introduced Naomi as Talia, and the interview began.

‘You two know each other?’ Daisy didn’t appreciate the subconscious look of revulsion that accompanied Talia’s question.

‘Sort of,’ Adam shot a sneaky smile at Daisy, ‘I want to know why you want this job. What made you apply?’

I’ve got this.

‘Well,’ Daisy had prepared for this question, ‘I feel it time for a change. Although I’m a creative person, I get little opportunity to be creative in my current role.’

‘I see,’ Adam rubbed the styled stubble of his chin as Talia tapped notes onto a tablet, ‘and what makes you suited for a career in advertising?’

Yes!

‘I have ample experience on the front line of hospitality, so I know what makes consumers tick and can design successful marketing campaigns around that,’ Daisy hoped her answer didn’t sound recited, parrot-fashion.

‘Fantastic,’ Adam placed both his forearms onto the desk and leaned forward, ‘our biggest clients are high-street fashion and cosmetics brands. What is it about fashion you’re most passionate about?’

Uh oh.

‘I, uh, could I get a glass of water, please?’ Daisy stalled, hoping to think of something to say that wouldn’t declare she’d failed to research the company’s clientele.

‘Talia, water please.’ Adam clicked his fingers at Talia, who immediately jumped out of her seat to do as commanded.

Daisy couldn’t believe what she’d just witnessed. In fact, she was so gobsmacked that she couldn’t assemble an answer to the fashion question.

‘Thanks,’ Daisy’s nail polish flaked again as she took the cup of water from Talia’s perfectly manicured hands.

‘What about cosmetics, have you ever undergone a cosmetic procedure?’ Adam eyed Daisy knowingly, as if he already assumed what her answer would be.

I’ll show them.

‘Actually, I haven’t.’ Daisy forced her words through the sweetest smile she could muster, ‘Unless tattoos count?’

‘You have a tattoo?’ The question, laced with disdain, slipped out before Talia could stop herself.

‘I have three.’

‘We have a strict policy on-’ Adam was obviously uncomfortable as he leaned back and shifted awkwardly in his chair.

‘Oh, don’t worry,’ Daisy looked Adam straight in the eye, ‘my tattoos are only visible when I’m wearing a bathing suit, or less.’

Look at them both, writhing in awkwardness; this’ll tip ‘em over the edge…

‘Though it’s not a problem. I mean, it’s not like you’re ever going to hire me as your first size sixteen underwear model, is it?’ Daisy let out the falsest laugh imaginable.

‘I think that’s all the questions we have. Talia?’ Adam stood up, avoiding all eye contact with Daisy as he rushed around the desk to open the office door.

‘No more questions.’ Daisy could see Talia was desperate to usher her out, stood behind her like a collie herding sheep.

‘You’ll hear from us by the end of the week.’ Adam reluctantly offered his hand to Daisy, who had to wipe his clamminess on her skirt as she walked out the door.

Upon returning to her beloved car, Daisy plonked her head onto the sun-stained steering wheel. She sat there in silence, mulling over the day’s events, wondering whether a career in advertising was worth the condescension.

What the hell was I thinking?

Author, Creative, Reading, Short Story, Writing

Short Story Series – Inheritance

Welcome to my ‘Short Story Series’ 🙂

I frequently ghostwrite short stories, and I write short stories for university assignments as well as for my own amusement. I’ve decided to share some short stories with you, in hope that you’ll enjoy them – and if you’d like to share with me your opinion of these short stories, I’d be grateful!

© D.E. Kendall

Inheritance

D.C. Hayley Pearce begrudgingly pulled up outside a grand Victorian townhouse. She was frustrated to be investigating yet another theft involving the upper-middle-class of London – when there were endless cases more deserving of her skills across the East End – Hayley trudged up the several stone steps and approached an emerald door guarded by imposing Roman pillars.

“Good afternoon,” Hayley forced a warm smile as she flashed her detective badge at the immaculately presented red-haired woman who answered the door, “Are you Mrs Spencer? I’m D.C. Pearce, we spoke on the phone.”

Hayley was invited into the lavishly decorated home of Karen and Peter Spencer; she struggled to maintain focus as she gazed in awe at the gloriously high ceilings from which chandeliers, dripping with multifaceted glass gems, were suspended.

“Can I get you anything to drink?”

The pleasant tones of Karen’s voice snapped the detective from her reverie as she politely declined. Perched on the edge of a decadent corner sofa, Hayley removed a recording device from her pocket and placed it upon the glass coffee table in front of her.

“No pen and paper?” Karen’s tone remained casual as she carefully placed a dish of homemade millionaire’s shortbread on the table, beside Hayley’s recording device.

“Thankfully, we’re a little more sophisticated than Sherlock Holmes,” Hayley’s eyes were on the delicious-looking shortbread before her. “Is Mr Spencer going to be joining us? I require witness statements from you both.”

“Yes, Peter will be with us shortly. He’s running a little late at the office.” Karen mimicked Hayley, her eyes devouring the shortbread she’d obviously denied herself for decades.

“Excellent. Do you mind if we begin?” Hayley activated the recording device upon Karen’s acceptance of the terms.

“I’d been helping Norah, my now sister-in-law, prepare for her wedding for the last year and a half. It’s all been incredibly stressful for her, especially since falling out with her closest friend over bridesmaid dresses six weeks before the big day.”

“Did that friend attend the wedding?”

“Unfortunately not. I heard she was turned away from the hotel.” Karen appeared saddened by the revelation, “Norah asked me to step in as chief bridesmaid after her friend refused to speak with her.”

“Could I have the name of that former friend please?”

“Of course,” Karen declared, “Sally Hensworth.”

“Thank you. How would you describe your relationship with Ms Evans?” Hayley couldn’t resist helping herself to a piece of shortbread, cut into a near-perfect cube.

Karen reeled off a twenty-minute monologue of epic proportions covering every detail of the relationship she had with her sister-in-law, within which she illustrated an affectionate friendship that had lasted the two years they’d known one another. Satisfied that Karen’s speech reflected the opinion of their relationship expressed by Norah, Hayley checked her watch, aware that Peter was nearly half an hour late to their meeting.

“Do you recall Ms Evans wearing her engagement ring upon arrival at the venue, the morning of her wedding?”

“To be perfectly honest, Detective Pearce, I was so focused on helping Norah get ready that I did not notice,” Karen prepared for another theatrical speech, “I did, however, remind her that it was customary to wear the engagement ring on her other hand during the wedding ceremony. Although, I am not certain she agreed. That engagement ring was special to her. It was bequeathed to Alan by he and Peter’s late grandmother, Florence, in her will. Norah never let that ring out of her sight, so I am surprised someone was able to steal it. When she discovered it was missing that evening, I helped her search high and low for it. The poor thing was in such a sorry state.”

“Yes, thank you Mrs Spencer, Ms Evans has already informed us of her version of events.” Hayley was desperately hoping Peter would arrive before Karen went off on another conversational tangent.

The front door was violently flung open, only to be slammed shut moments before a tall gentleman in a business suit, with dishevelled blonde hair, rushed into the room.

“Peter, this is Detective Pearce. I’ll make us some coffee.” Karen disappeared, soon followed by the sound of clanging cups coming from the kitchen.

“Mr Spencer–”

“Please, call me Peter,” he plonked himself onto the seat Karen vacated as he ran a hand through his hair to flatten it.

“Peter,” Hayley forced a false smile; she hated being obliged to forgo formality, “I have a few questions to ask regarding–”

“Yes, yes, I know why you’re here. Sorry, don’t have all afternoon. Got to be back in the office by five for a late meeting. What do you need to know?”

“First, I have to get on record your compliance with the use of this recording dev–” Hayley also hated being interrupted.

“Yes, it’s fine. I’m happy to be recorded. Please, carry on.” Peter shoved three small cubes of shortbread into his mouth simultaneously.

“Coffee!” Karen cheerfully announced as she placed a tray on the table, insisting Hayley have a coffee with cream and two sugars despite her repeated attempts to decline.

“If anyone needs me, I’ll be in the kitchen loading the dishwasher.” Karen pecked her husband on the cheek before she disappeared into the kitchen once more – the clashing and smashing about of plates and cutlery suggested her inexperience at loading the dishwasher.

“Alright,” Hayley composed herself, “I understand that your brother, Mr Alan Spencer, inherited an heirloom from your grandmother that he gifted to Ms Evans when he proposed to her. Why didn’t you inherit it? After all, you were the eldest of her grandchildren.”

“Didn’t want it.” Peter’s tone was blunt, “I married Karen fifteen years ago, while Alan only met Norah two years ago. Gran died three months before Alan proposed to Norah, so it made sense for her to have it.”

“Were you angered by that?”

“What, by the fact my brother gave his girlfriend a ring our Gran had worn continuously for sixty years without getting it cleaned first? Of course not.” Peter stuffed a further three shortbread squares into his mouth.

“Did you see Ms Evans wearing the ring on the day of the wedding?”

“Like I’d pay that much attention to her,” Peter scoffed, “I was busy organising the groomsmen, then Karen sent me home to fetch her hairspray. Apparently, she couldn’t cope without it. She had every aspect of the wedding organised, yet still managed to add to my to-do list.”

“So, you left the venue to retrieve your wife’s hairspray from home the morning of the wedding?”

“Yes,” Peter spoke to Hayley as though she were a child, “I left the hotel to collect the hairspray for my wife because, apparently, it’s the only one that holds her hair in place all day. She was too busy helping with Norah’s dress to leave, so, I got it for her. Hotel’s only a ten-minute drive away.”

“I see.” Hayley smiled, though itched to snap at the witness who was more focused on finding a napkin than answering questions, “And did you notice anyone who shouldn’t have been there as you were leaving or returning to the venue?”

“As a matter of fact,” Peter scratched his head as if rekindling lost memory, “there was some woman, dressed to the nines, protesting to a doorman that she was on the guest list as I returned. Apparently, she worked with Norah, which wouldn’t surprise me as they looked identical, but the doorman insisted she wasn’t allowed in. Said her name was Sarah, or Sandra ‘Chickenfirth’, or something like that.”

“Sally Hensworth?”

“That’s the one.”

Hayley thought it suspicious that Peter didn’t know who the woman was, yet he could recall the name when prompted. Peter’s late arrival and subsequent agitation concerned Hayley too; she longed to turn the collection of witness statements into an interrogation, though hadn’t the evidence to do so.

D.C. Pearce thanked Peter for his time, and he sent her on her way – though Hayley couldn’t shake the feeling that something wasn’t quite right.

* * *

Two days later, unsatisfied by the witness statements provided by Peter and Karen, Hayley set up a meeting at the station to speak to Alan alone; the only time they’d spoken was in the presence of his distraught wife.

“Thank you for agreeing to speak to me.” Hayley gestured for the smartly dressed solicitor to take a seat across the desk in her boxlike, cluttered office.

“No problem,” Alan straightened his tie with one hand, holding the other out for Hayley to shake, “I’m keen to find my grandmother’s ring, it means the world to my wife.”

“It states here,” Hayley opened a manila file and ran a finger along its contents to find the information she wanted to confirm, “the ring was worth approximately forty-thousand pounds. Is that correct?”

“That is correct, yes. We had it valued when my grandmother passed away.”

“And how did your brother react when you inherited your grandmother’s ring?”

“He was furious.”

Hayley could see Alan didn’t want to delve into an explanation as he looked down to adjust his cufflinks, though she needed to know more. “You failed to mention that when we spoke previously. Why?”

“My wife doesn’t know.”

Hayley remained silent to allow Alan to elaborate.

“If Norah knew she’d be heartbroken. She’s aware Pete never liked her. He thought she was a gold digger – she’s ten years younger than me and worked in a backstreet salon in Hackney. But Norah had no idea Pete contested the will when he discovered I’d inherited the ring. She thinks she’s finally been accepted into the family. Although Karen has made a real effort with Norah, Pete never hides his reservations. The ring was the extent of my inheritance, while Pete was left Gran’s holiday cottage in the Cotswolds.”

“Is it true that you and your brother fought just two weeks before your wedding?”

“Yes,” Alan looked up from his cufflinks to meet Hayley’s emotionless gaze, “he got dreadfully drunk at my stag party. Pete started slurring accusations about Norah, suggesting she’d stolen Gran’s beloved diamond ring from Karen and that marrying her was a mistake. He refused to believe that Norah keeping her maiden name was a gesture to reassure my family that she wasn’t marrying me for my money.”

* * *

Four weeks later, the three-carat solitaire diamond ring was discovered on an internet auction site, and the profile that posted it was traced to an IP address; Hayley had the proof she needed.

Racing up the several stone steps towards the Spencers’ front door – with backup of two uniformed officers – Hayley was prepared for impending conflict.

Repeatedly bashing on the ruby door didn’t rouse a response, so Hayley threatened to break the door down on the count of three.

“I’m here, I’m here!” Peter emerged with his hands in the air, “Please don’t damage the door, I just had it repainted.”

“Peter Lyle Spencer, you are under arrest for the theft of–”

Wait!” Karen’s voice bellowed from deep inside the Victorian townhouse.

Hayley and her colleagues ignored Karen’s dramatic cries as they span Peter around and slapped handcuffs onto his wrists.

“It was me. I did it. Please, take me instead.” Karen held her wrists together, palms upturned, looking to her shoes as she accepted her fate.

“No, sweetheart, don’t–” Peter’s pleas weren’t enough to prevent his wife from confessing.

Karen admitted to stealing the ring while Norah was panicking about a stain on her wedding dress – a stain Karen had covertly planted to cause a kerfuffle. She then handed the ring, hidden in a hair scrunchie, to her husband to ferry home under the guise of retrieving hairspray. Jealous that Norah had inherited the diamond ring she’d long admired, Karen acknowledged that she could never wear it without being disowned by her family. Therefore, she listed it for sale a few weeks later, without realising D.C. Pearce was still on the case.

Author, Creative, Fiction, Reading, Short Story, Writing

Short Story Series – The Stolen Book

Welcome to my ‘Short Story Series’ 🙂

I frequently ghostwrite short stories, and I write short stories for university assignments as well as for my own amusement. I’ve decided to share some short stories with you, in hope that you’ll enjoy them – and if you’d like to share with me your opinion of these short stories, I’d be grateful!

© D.E. Kendall

The Stolen Book

Lana stole a look at the bar over the pages of Affinity, her latest literary purchase. The bar’s cluttered appearance somehow added to its charm, with rustic cask ale pull taps, mirrored shelves laden with dusty spirit bottles, and her.

‘Good book, luv?’

Snapped unexpectedly from her reverie, Lana dropped her book and accidentally dipped a sleeve of her designer blouse in her latte as she fumbled to catch the paperback.

‘Sorry, luv, didn’t mean to scare ya.’

Rory slapped the back of the ancient wooden chair Lana was sitting on. She scowled at the woodworm-infested oak table her coffee-soaked arm was resting upon before turning to face the enemy. ‘It’s alright.’

Lana was as unnerved by his yellow-toothed, gappy smile as she was by the light bouncing off his balding, middle-aged head. As far as leering men were concerned, Lana was thankful that this one was at the less threatening end of the spectrum.

‘New book?’ Rory almost sloshed his half-a-pint of flat, amber liquid on Lana’s shoulder as he leaned over her to ogle her cleavage under the pretence that he cared what she was reading.

‘Um, yes,’ Lana shifted uncomfortably as the letch’s foul breath lingered, cutting through her personal space. ‘Tt’s by Sarah Waters, have you heard of her?’

Assuming that Rory didn’t read – he may not have been able to for all she knew – Lana hoped that’d be enough to get rid of him.

‘Can’t say I ‘ave, no…’ he seemed briefly contemplative. ‘Say, luv, why ain’t a nice girl like you home with the mister? You gotta ‘ave better things to do on a Monday night.’

‘I like the coffee here, I like the atmosphere,’ Lana vividly recalled having almost the exact same conversation with the man last week, ‘and it’s on my way home from work.’

‘Speakin’ of drinks, can I buy ya one?’

Smooth, she concluded.

‘Need a top-up there, Smythe?’ Alys’ melodic tones were enough to send Lana’s heart thundering, and turn her ears red.

‘Aye, luv!’

Lana felt an increasing sense of relief each step Rory took away from her as he made his unsteady journey towards the bar.

Alys collected a few stray glasses from a neighbouring table. Lana couldn’t help but turn to the source of clinking and clashing, gazing unnoticed while subconsciously tucking her hair behind her ears – as if it’d help her see more clearly, and cool her crimson complexion. Captivated by the cheerful barmaid, everything about Alys lifted Lana’s spirits: those flowy, patterned, knee-length dresses she always wore, even in winter; her brightly-coloured tights; her heavy, deep-soled, shiny black shoes; her half-shaven, half-pixie-cut hairstyle that was currently dyed blue; her shimmering red lips forming the trademark smile that never failed to brighten Lana’s day; and that nose ring Lana wanted for herself but never had the courage to get. The confidence Alys exuded opposed all that society had taught Lana to be – she often wondered whether her conventional fashion sense, tall, slim frame, and high heels ever inspired such a glance from Alys. A moment spent beyond those dark brown eyes and thick, winged eyeliner would make putting up with a thousand leering men worthwhile, Lana frequently thought.

Catching her by surprise, Alys asked Lana if she was enjoying her coffee and whether she wanted anything else. A flustered ‘No thanks,’ followed by an escape to the Ladies’ allowed Lana to avoid any awkwardness and take a minute to compose herself.

Thankful that the bar wasn’t too busy, Lana returned to her seat, only to discover her book was missing. Oddly, if someone had stolen her book for profit, they had completely ignored her expensive, lightweight jacket with her nearly new smartphone in the pocket.

Scanning the area, all she noted was Alys serving Rory another pint from behind the bar as he hunched over in an attempt to invade her personal space. The sizeable stone pillar in the centre of the pub, separating the bar from the tiny restaurant area, blocked her view beyond the small collection of tables dotted around the faded ruby and gold flecked carpet. All Lana could see was a pair of suit-clad businessmen huddled over a hefty-looking laptop.

Just in case the perp might be hiding there, Lana amused herself by checking the imposing fireplace to the right of her table. If the summer weather wasn’t enough to give away the fact, Lana ascertained that the fireplace hadn’t been lit for quite some time – owing to the scent of aged ash it emitted.

Smiling to herself as she enjoyed playing detective for a minute, Lana decided that despite her reservations regarding the floor’s hygiene – and the concern about creasing her palazzo trousers – she had to get down on all fours to clamber under the table in search of her missing book.

‘Everything okay?’

‘Ouch!’

‘Sorry, didn’t mean for that to happen,’ one of those suited businessmen stood beside the table, ‘I saw you dive under the table and wanted to check everything was alright.’

‘I’m fine, thank you.’

He offered a helping hand to Lana, which she didn’t accept, opting instead for the assistance of the nearest chair to pull herself to her feet.

‘I lost the book I was reading, that’s all,’ she smiled politely, avoiding eye contact as she pretended to be checking the floor for any sign of her book.

‘I’m Devon, by the way,’ he reached out a hand once again, ‘Devon Charles.’

‘Lana Myers.’

Subtlety didn’t work, so Lana decided to go for the blunt approach instead. Rarely did men like Devon continue on their path of intrusion if they met with such resistance.

‘I work in the city, here on business.’

Shooting a swift half-smile at Devon, Lana’s eyes darted about the pub as she panned for the best escape route. However, her lack of response only spurred Devon on.

‘I’m staying here for a couple of nights with my colleague, Alan,’ Alan reacted to Devon’s gesturing toward him with a wave, ‘we like the coastal setting. Nice views. So, do you come here often?’

‘Yes.’

If it weren’t mid-summer, icicles would have offered a softer response. Lana started shuffling items around in her handbag as if searching for car keys.

‘Hello, Mr. Mayhew!’

Saved by the belle, thought Lana.

‘Oh, I’m not Mayhew, I’m Devon Charles.’

‘Terribly sorry.’ Alys shot a cheeky smile at Lana, whose knees weakened to such an extent that she slunk into the battered, old chair beneath her. ‘I need to check something; it’s to do with your room. Would you mind popping over to the bar with me a sec?’

Visibly disappointed that his attempt at courtship had been thwarted, Devon reluctantly bid Lana farewell before following Alys to the bar.

Taking a deep, cleansing breath, grateful that she no longer had to share her personal space with a man, Lana engaged in an internal debate as to whether she should buy another latte to drink in the beer garden – away from the testosterone floating around the bar. The search for her purse was disturbed, however, by a familiar voice.

‘I hear you’ve lost a book?’

Turning to take in a rotund figure with a friendly face, Lana was pleased she wasn’t being harassed by yet another middle-aged man.

‘Hi, Cathy! How are you?’

They shared a hug before Cathy continued the interrogation.

‘Never mind that. Can’t have one of my finest patrons losing their stuff on my watch, in my pub. Even if she never buys alcohol…’

‘You know I can’t, Cathy.’ Lana knew Cathy was speaking in jest, though couldn’t prevent that pang of sadness that accompanied any thought of her late father.

‘I know, I know. I’m just messin’ with you,’ Cathy placed a comforting hand on Lana’s shoulder, ‘Now Missy, when did you last see that book of yours?’

Within ten minutes, there was a full-blown, pub-wide investigation into the case of the missing book. Lana couldn’t help but feel embarrassed by the fuss her oldest family friend was making, but then, Cathy was somewhat of a motherly figure to her since Lana’s mother disowned her when Lana was just twenty-one. Sometimes, Lana considered telling Cathy her secret, though the thought of losing her friendship was too devastating to contemplate. Of course, the alternative was Cathy trying to set Lana up with her niece, but Lana had never been much of a gambler.

‘I sha-haw her re-heeding it yonder,’ Rory slurred in response to Cathy’s questioning.

‘I noticed the young lady almost dropping the book in her tea when he startled her.’ Alan answered, with an accusatory finger pointing directly at Rory.

‘Don’t ya go pointin’ those manucurried digeds at me!’ Rory flopped off of the barstool and wobbled to his feet, swaying slightly as he tried his utmost to point a finger at Alan – failing miserably on account of beer-induced double-vision.

‘How dare you threaten my business partner like that?!’ Devon attempted to demonstrate his masculinity by standing up for his slightly shorter colleague.

‘Come on ‘en!’ Rory’s chubby fingers suddenly clasped into fists as he stumbled forward with the effort of his threat.

‘Let’s calm it down, fellas,’ Cathy’s authoritative tone was usually enough to suspend alcohol-addled spats, ‘I just need to know what happened to this young lady’s new book. Now, what did anyone else see?’

As Lana and Cathy turned to talk to an elderly bystander – who didn’t know what happened to the book but wanted to hear the day’s specials – a kerfuffle broke out between Rory, Devon, and Alan.

A chef who had been minding the bar rushed over in attempt to prise the drunken brawlers apart. Cathy got stuck in too, as soon as one of her beloved antique bar stools got knocked over.

‘Where the hell is Alys?!’ Cathy shouted, tactfully dodging an errant hand.

‘She… she…’ Maurice the chef struggled to answer as he almost took a shoe to the face, ‘she went to ch… change a barrel, then she went on b… break. Whoa man, watch it!’

Lana didn’t know what to do. The closest she ever came to such a scene was having to deal with a situation during last year’s Black Friday Sales at the department store she worked at involving two women who fought over the last pair of high-end, bargain-price hair straighteners.

Kicking, hitting, and elbow-jabbing intensified as thudding sounds resounded about the pub, drawing an audience to the scene. Since it resembled something out of an old American western movie, Lana channelled inspiration from that and took the first action that sprung to mind; she grabbed a pitcher of iced water from the bar and threw it over the assailants, accidentally splashing Cathy and Maurice in the process.

Expletives flew about the once quaint pub as all five adults reacted irritably to Lana’s snap-decision.

‘Sorry,’ Lana’s cheeks resembled mini beetroots, ‘I didn’t know what to do and was afraid someone would get hurt.’

The atmosphere calmed as the crowd of spectators dispersed, and those remaining on the scene guffawed.

‘Look, Cathy,’ Lana stepped aside out of earshot of the others, indicating for Cathy to join her, ‘I’m sorry things got so out of hand. It’s just a book; honestly, it’s no big deal. Please let the issue go.’

‘Alright love,’ Cathy put an arm around the shoulders of her unofficial daughter, ‘you get home, and I’ll get this all cleaned up. Seems these gentlemen can’t control themselves around you.’

Very funny.’

Cathy always knew how to put Lana at ease.

‘Thank you.’

‘No worries,’ Cathy started the clean-up operation as she lifted the fallen bar stool, ‘now get gone, before I have you barred from my pub!’

After a final, fleeting hug with Cathy, Lana collected her remaining belongings. Rushing out of the door, Lana refused to cave into the curiosity daring her to look back at the carnage she was leaving behind.

Stepping outside into the refreshingly salty air, Lana admired her surroundings for a moment. Beams of light from the day’s sunset glinted off the calm, kinetic peaks of the sea. Small fishing boats creaked in the harbour as gentle waves lapped against the harbour wall. A solitary seagull cawed overhead as it flew by. Then, Lana lost all sense of her surroundings as she tripped over something left in the middle of the pathway.

Swiftly scrabbling to her feet, brushing remnants of sand from her once pristine clothing, Lana’s embarrassment faded the second she saw what she’d tripped over – Affinity.

Collecting her book from the ground, Lana was puzzled. How on earth did my book get here?

Upon opening the book, Lana discovered an inscription: 06222100723 – Alys <3

Awestruck, Lana shook her head as if to reset her brain, in case what was happening was a dream. Yet to her delight, the inscription was real. Lana turned back to look through a window of The Coastside Inn. There, framed by blossoming clematis climbing the pub walls, stood behind the bar, was Alys – beaming back at her.

Author, Creative, Fiction, Short Story, Writing

Short Story Series – The Keys

Welcome to my ‘Short Story Series’ 🙂

I frequently ghostwrite short stories, and I write short stories for university assignments as well as for my own amusement. I’ve decided to share some short stories with you, in hope that you’ll enjoy them – and if you’d like to share with me your opinion of these short stories, I’d be grateful!

© D.E. Kendall

The Keys

There, on the forest path, lay a bunch of keys. Their metal glinted in sunlight as it broke through the canopy of trees above. I halted my horse, dismounted, then bent down to pick them up.

Suddenly, an inexplicable wave of anticipation overcame me – my horse must have felt it too, as she spooked. Holding tightly to her reins, I comforted her, placed a hand gently on her shoulder so she knew everything was ok. Her muscles stopped tensing, and within moments she’d returned to nudging the pocket of my fluorescent riding jacket in hope of a treat. As she snuffled expectantly at my hand, the keys jangled. I assumed they belonged to someone who’d been hiking or cycling – these were not car keys, they most definitely opened doors of some description.

Judging by how clean the keys were, I assumed they hadn’t been on the forestry floor for more than a few minutes. Though I would have a look around for their owner, first I thought I’d better take photograph in case I’d need to hand the keys over to the police and launch a social media search for the keys’ owner. However, when I got my smartphone out to take a photo, the battery had died. Strange, since it had been on 76% just before we set off twenty minutes ago.

Moments before leaving, I’d reassured my boyfriend I’d charged my smartphone. After getting lost for hours on a ride a few weeks previously, when my smartphone battery ran out and left me without maps or means to contact anyone, he was worried.

I didn’t dwell on the fact my three-month-old smartphone had stopped working and stuffed the keys into one of my jacket pockets, not forgetting to give my noble steed a treat before zipping up the pocket and mounting once more. We trotted quietly along the path in search of the keys’ owner. The footfall in that section of the forest was usually substantial, since the area was as accessible as it was beautiful. I expected it to be busy on a gloriously crisp autumn morning as that one was; however, all was silent. No crowds, no birdsong, no breeze rustling the canopy of browning leaves. Odd.

We increased our speed to a canter as I hoped to find someone near the entrance-exit point of the forestry car park a small incline away. As Belle and I emerged over the brow of the hill, we were perplexed to find nobody there either. I slowed Belle to a walk, and she relished the opportunity to snack on brambles laden with blackberries as I looked around in attempt to find someone.

I managed to direct my horse away from the blackberries, stifling a giggle as I noticed her muzzle was covered in dark purple splodges. Suddenly, something stole her attention. Her every muscle tensed in response to whatever she could sense. As I leant down to pat her neck, I could feel how rigid her muscles had become – something must have really frightened her. Soothing my panic-stricken horse as I best I could with my voice, I tried to urge Belle onwards. Even scratching her favourite itchy spot beneath her flaxen mane didn’t snap her out of it.


‘What’s the matter, girl?’ I asked, hoping for some sort of positive reaction.


The second I sat upright, Belle snorted, spooked, and took off at a flat-out gallop – completely out-of-character for her. My attempts to deter Belle from her determined dash away from whatever upset her were in vain. With knuckles as white as my complexion must’ve been, I held onto the reins more tightly than I ever had before.

Adrenaline coursed through her veins as Belle thrashed her way along paths we’d never encountered. She seemed lacking in her usual sure-footedness, slipping and tripping now and again – almost flinging me from the saddle twice.

Belle’s thundering hooves tore through muddy forest bridleways and crunched orangey-brown carpets of fallen leaves. I ducked instinctively, barely escaping low-hanging branches that came at my head faster than I could think.

We reached a brand-new bridlepath accompanied by the sounds of rushing water – in all the years I’d ridden Belle around the forestry, I’d never come across a river. Fear rose exponentially within me as we galloped onto a terrifyingly narrow pathway with a sheer drop to the left and vertical rock slope to the right. I kept trying to stop Belle, which made the situation worse as she stumbled a few times, almost unseating me. Belle never normally stumbled.

I made the mistake of looking down into the chasm below. Watching water gush alongside us as we continued our uncontrollable charge was like staring death right in the face. That’s the moment I decided to say, ‘Not today.’

Taking deep, cleansing breaths, I chose not to let fear control my actions any longer. I lightened my hold on Belle’s reins and stopped panicking, giving myself time to remember that my horse was initially trained using voice commands.

As if by magic, Belle slowed to a trot, then gradually calmed to a walk. Leaning over to check how sweaty she’d become, it was quite the shock to discover that Belle hadn’t broken a sweat whatsoever.

At that moment, a wind-chime-like sound jingled from my pocket. I rummaged for the keys, and as they emerged, I noted there was one missing – though it couldn’t have slipped from my pocket. So, I inspected the remaining keys more closely.

There was a word engraved on each key; Adversity, Comparison, Doubt. And on the pristine white keyring binding those keys was text that read, ‘For happiness to your life fulfil, inner-conflict you must kill.’ Beneath was a list containing each word engraved on the keys, along with the word Fear – which had a strikethrough.

Animals, Author, Mental Health Awareness, Uncategorized, Writing

On the Importance of Self-Care

Heyy, hope you’re well 🙂

Self-care sounds so indulgent, like it’s some sort of ethereal gift allowed only on special occasions – well, that’s what it seems to me anyway. I take care of my personal hygiene (perhaps a little too much, given my OCD for cleanliness), exercise, eat as healthily as I can and manage my responsibilities, but rarely do I spend time truly enjoying my own company.

Here’s what Google has to say about the definition of self-care:

The practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress. “expressing oneself is an essential form of self-care”

I love my family (including the animals!), I love my boyfriend, and I love my friends, so any time I can I spend soaking up their company and making the most of that ‘togetherness’ we’ve all been without for so long (although sadly, we can’t yet see all our family and friends in person). For me, this is a form of self-care, because I relish being surrounded by loved ones.

When alone, however, I am absolutely rubbish at taking breaks whilst I’m working. I get so absorbed by what I’m doing, that I just let time run away with me; then when I’ve stopped working, all I can do is plan and think about work. On the surface, this is great in terms of productivity – because I am a perfectionist, I try my best to create quality, meaningful content, so being able to get projects completed in a timely fashion is a great feeling. Unfortunately, in the long run I find myself physically and emotionally drained all.the.time.

On Monday I decided this is no longer sustainable. I had to get my backside in gear and organise myself properly if I’m to make the most of my life. I’m missing out on a heck of a lot because I’m so damn focused on earning money to keep my animals, and my everyday life, going. I am fed up of living in a constant state of anxious stress. I admit, having my new car stranded in a garage for the last week after it broke down three times within the first two days of owning it has done nothing to help my anxiety or stress levels… Though I took my first steps toward enjoying myself more by making time to enjoy riding my horses and walking my dog instead of just doing so for exercise, I spent quality time cwtched with my boyfriend as we ate great food, watched films and celebrated being together for a whole year; and I actually read a book for fun as opposed to just reading for work or studying.

Taking time to breathe in your life is not a luxury, it is vital.

Making time to nurture your mental and physical well-being is allowed.

Please, don’t ever feel guilty for wanting to make the most of time for yourself.

Self-care is different for each of us. So, here is a brilliant article by Anna Borges that might help you along the path of contentment & if you’d like further advice, you can find some here from mental health charity Mind.

Take care of your self <3

Best wishes,

Dannika

Author, Uncategorized, Writing

About Defeating Writer’s Block

Hellooo! 🙂


How are you coping now lockdown is easing?


I have been using this time to inspire myself and my writing. After nearly 30 years of writing, I have learned many things. One is that writing can solve a multitude of problems; whether that’s writing the book you want to read because you’ve never been able to find it, having an outlet for creative inspiration, or helping to work through anxieties by journaling. Another is that writing is as beautiful, breathtaking, and life-giving as it is fulfilling – in my job as a ghostwriter, I love enabling someone to make their dream of publishing a reality, by putting their ideas in writing. Though the truth is, writing can also be exhausting. Writer’s Block can strike at any moment, and it’s with that in mind I am arming you with the skills to defeat Writer’s Block…

1.) TAKE A BREAK
Yes, I did mean to shout that. I know it feels the complete opposite of what you’re supposed to do in this situation, because, if you’re like me, you want to just power through and get that writing done. I get it. But more often than not, that doesn’t work. However, I do have good news for you; walking away from your project works wonders! It gives you time to breathe and think about something other than the undiscovered intricacies of this project circling your sanity. It relieves the pressure, and reminds you that there’s more to life in the moment than clambering over the ever-growing wall of Writer’s Block. You’ll surprise yourself when you step away and allow that wall to crumble, freeing your mind to welcome a return of free-flowing ideas 🙂

2.) Go Outside!
This follows on from the previous point, but I think it’s necessary to highlight this. Going outside is soooo helpful. Take a walk around the block; go eat a picnic in your local park; spend time with your pets; go horse riding; try wildlife or landscape photography; do something outside whilst enjoying fresh air. Immerse yourself in the beauty of nature. Our world is inspiring, though you’ll never truly feel that if you never get outside to experience it 🙂 Something doesn’t have to have a divine or profound effect on you to be worthy inspiration – it can be the way a bird splashes in a birdbath, or sunlight dancing through leaves when looking up from the base of a tree, or even seeing a dog sliding on muddied grass to fetch their toy. Inspiration can be drawn from anything if you take the time just to look.

3.) Read.
I love to read. It inspires us to write, because something someone else has written has moved us. Whether that first realisation of this was twenty years ago, or five minutes ago, it is still so important. Ultimately we cannot learn or grow as writers without reading, it teaches us our craft. Don’t feel guilty about reading when you’re struggling to write – just read something you enjoy and fall back in love with words.

4) Write!
This is my final tip. This is one of the most useful tips for me. Forget what you’re currently trying to work through and write about anything in the world. It can be about your day, or your love of hats; or about a word you can’t get out of your head. You can Google search writing prompts, there are so many out there! The great thing about using writing prompts is that no one has to see it. It can be the worst piece of writing ever, but there’s no pressure. It is then that you’ll find writing becomes fun again – that’s the beauty of it 🙂

When you feel like the colour has drained from your writing, please don’t give up. Keep in mind that you are not alone and that wall will break. I’m rooting for you! <3

Best wishes,

Dannika

Uncategorized, Writing

About the Art of Writing

Hello, for the third time today!

I promise I’ll stop sharing blog posts for the rest of the day 🙂

Third and final blog post of the day is another revived post from an older blog of mine – I hope you enjoy this post.

Writing is an essential part of life. Harbouring the power to change our world, the written word still holds such enchantment and discovery, despite the digital age.

Here, I share some inspirational words from fantastical writers…

Anna Sewell, author of my all-time favourite book Black Beauty, made such an impact with her work that it led to improvements in equine welfare; such as removal of the ‘bearing rein’ and inspired the provision of water troughs for over-worked horses in Victorian towns/cities.

“Now I say that with cruelty and oppression it is everybody’s business to interfere when they see it.”

“We call them dumb animals, and so they are, for they cannot tell us how they feel, but they do not suffer less because they have no words.”

“There is no religion without love, and people may talk as much as they like about their religion, but if it does not teach them to be good and kind to man and beast it is all a sham.”

“Master said, God had given men reason, by which they could find out things for themselves; but he had given animals knowledge which did not depend on reason, and which was much more prompt and perfect in its way, and by which they had often saved the lives of men.”

Nobody will ever forget the changes inspired by Martin Luther King Jr. A civil rights activist, he believed in non-violent protest – succeeding in changing perspectives and encouraging equality.


“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

“I still have a dream, a dream deeply rooted in the American dream – one day this nation will rise up and live up to its creed, ‘We hold these truths to be self evident: that all men are created equal.’ I have a dream…”

J.K.Rowling, famous for creating the wizarding world of Harry Potter, is one of the most influential authors of our time! Her words inspire that hard work and dedication make dreams come true.


“Anything’s possible if you’ve got enough nerve.”

“You control your own life. Your own will is extremely powerful.”

“I believe in hard work and luck, and the first often leads to the second.”

“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.”

Roald Dahl’s stories have been captivating the imagination of children for generations. Everyone can remember their favourite story of his.


“You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double-chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts it will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.”

“Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”

Although not an author, Macklemore’s lyricism is fantastic. When you cut through the surrounding profanity and filler, listening to lyrics uncovers surprisingly insightful depth within the words.


“No law is gonna change us, we have to change us. Whatever God you believe in, we come from the same one. Strip away the fear underneath it’s all the same love.”

“The quickest way to happiness? Learning to be selfless. Ask more questions. Talk about yourself less.”

“I might not be the same but that’s not important. No freedom ’til we’re equal, damn right I support it.”

“The greats weren’t great because at birth they could paint. The greats were great because they paint a lot.”

It is an ultimate dream of mine that my own words might one day make a difference to the world for the better too 🙂

What writing most inspires you?

Please keep creating – I’m going to <3

Best wishes,

Dannika

Uncategorized

About the Benefits of Reading

Heyy 🙂

Here’s a revived blog post from an old page I created years ago. It feels especially relevant to what we’re going through right now, having to stay in to stay safe from this COVID-19 pandemic. The brilliance of being able to enjoy escapism through some cleverly-styled words printed on the pages of a book is remarkable. I don’t know about you, but I adore that ‘new book’ scent!

So, here it is, the benefits of reading…

Reading offers us magical escapism. It takes us to mystical new worlds, and allows us to adventure with colourful characters. But is that brilliant book you’re reading doing more to benefit your health than you know?

Brain Power

Yep, reading actually makes you more intelligent! Especially if you start reading at a young age, since reading introduces you to new vocabulary you wouldn’t otherwise obtain in everyday life. Reading provides exercise for your mind, improving memory and brain function. It also educates; even reading fiction can help us learn about history and other ways of life.

Inspires Compassion

Reading stories from another’s perspective encourages us to think of others’ feelings. Seeing the world through another’s eyes makes one better understand emotions, and teaches one to deal with complex social situations.

Reading is Relaxing

In our stressful lives it is so important to take some time out to relax properly. Settling down at the end of a busy day with a good book reduces anxieties and helps us forget the happenings of the day. Relaxation is significantly important for mental and physical health. It enables one’s body to unwind and recharge.

Incorporating reading into your bedtime routine can also help you sleep better too! By exchanging a real book for your mobile phone, television, tablet or e-reader, you can remove the stimulus of a screen – enabling a restful night’s sleep.


“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” – Dr Seuss

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

Please do go an adventure today, and tell the world about its wonder.

It takes a team to produce each book you ever read, don’t forget to review books you enjoy, to help others enjoy the enchantment of them too! 🙂

Hope you’re staying safe and well – we will get through this, though books will help us survive isolation and emerge all the better for it <3

Best wishes,

Dannika