Fiction in 50: Night Terrors…

5

Welcome one and all to the second Fiction in 50 community challenge!  This month’s theme or prompt is Night Terrors!

fiction in 50

The premise is simple: sometime during this week…or even this month – there’s no Fi50 time police to chase you up…post a piece of fiction based on the prompt in 50 words or less.  For those who like more official instruction, you can find it, and prompts for future Fi50s, here…or click on the very attractive image above.

So here’s my twist on Night Terrors…I call it:

Value for Money

I have this recurring dream.  I’m being smothered by a giant moth.  My therapist suggested I give the moth a name to make it less terrifying, more approachable.  He suggested the name “Gigglewings”. His fee? $150 an hour.

I’ve bought a herbal sleep remedy and a tin of fly spray.

 

So there you have it….I’m happy to share that my contribution this month was partly inspired by this hilarious text exchange between father and daughter:

image

Personally, I think that guy should win Father of the Year.

So what are you waiting for? Join in!  If you need some more inspiration, check out ideflex’s effort at http://acrossthebored.com/2013/07/26/fiction-in-50-night-terrors/

And for those of you who like to plan ahead, next month’s prompt is Famous Last Words,starting the week of August 26th.

Yours in teeny-weeny narrative,

Bruce

 

Advertisements

Perfect: Read it if……

4

Evening all! Today’s “Read-it-if…” is hot off the press of my brain given that I only finished the book this afternoon. Today’s offering is Perfect by Rachel Joyce, the author of one of my personal favourites, and subject of a previous R-I-I review, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.

I was eagerly awaiting this one as soon as I heard about it, such was my enjoyment of old Harold’s antics in Joyce’s previous work. Did I enjoy Perfect as much? No. No, I didn’t. Is it nevertheless as worthy of a look as Joyce’s first book? Yes. Yes it is.

Perfect is told from two perspectives and in two time periods and follows challenging periods in the lives of its two protagonists.  Byron, a young lad growing up in 1972, discovers the plans of the powers-that-be to add two seconds to time, and must deal with the slow disintegration of his comfortable world after this added time causes his mother to make a terrible mistake.  Jim, a middle-aged, loner tormented by mental illness, attempts to make a new life for himself on the outside after the psychiatric facility in which he has long resided, is closed and the residents discharged into the wide world.

The paths of the two seem disconnected, albeit with some parallels, until late in the book, when certain commonalities are revealed for a very satisfying ending.

perfect

Read it if:

* you’ve ever suspected that time will do funny things to you if you don’t keep a very close eye on it

* you’ve ever been forced to wear a ridiculous outfit in the course of your work

* you’ve ever felt totally responsible for something that wasn’t actually your fault

* you like an author who can render characters in difficult situations with great sensitivity and skill

 

As I mentioned, I didn’t enjoy this one as much as Harold Fry, but that may have been due to my high expectations.  I found Perfect a little bit slower than I would have preferred, but Joyce’s characteristic turn of phrase and clever plot progression kept me hanging in.  There is a nice twist toward the end of the book that I actually suspected from very early on, but this didn’t diminish my enjoyment of the story at all – in fact, if anything, I felt more committed to seeing out the journey with the characters due to the gentle reveal.

In short, this was a good solid read with so much happening that one could be forgiven for feeling like they’d just finished a much longer book. Go on, give it a bash!

Until next time,

Bruce

 

Bruce’s Lucky Dip: Paper Dolls You Never Played With as a Kid…

18

It’s lucky dip time again, and have I got some ripping (pun intended) offerings for you today! For those who don’t know, my lucky dip feature involves typing a carefully selected term into the Book Depository’s search box and presenting you with the delightfully weird results.

So, paper dolls. Those favoured playthings of fleshlings fond of fun in two-dimensions. Who would’ve thought that scratching the surface of such an innocuous activity would  uncover a veritable treasure chest of oddity? Well, after the utter strangeness encompassed by the range of colouring books on offer, one probably shouldn’t really be surprised.  But one will be.

For your perusing pleasure, I present to you some of the real gems of paper-related play – click on the covers if your appetite for origami-esque shenanigans is whetted!

For the Buddhist who wants to add “right-dressing” to their list of rules for living:

dalai lama paper dolls

 

In a similarly religious vein, for the paper-doll enthusiast with a penchant for swift, undetectable revenge:

voodoo paper dolls

For the book enthusiast who really wants to get inside their favourite author’s head…and wardrobe:

literary greats paper dollsI’m slightly embarrassed to admit that I’m only certain of Shakespeare out of that lot…can anyone enlighten me as to who the rest are? Is that Sylvia Plath in the straight jacket? Virginia Woolf? And the bloke on the right looks like a close relation of Colonel Sanders the KFC man, but I’m guessing is somebody more literary minded….

For the pet-lover whose real-life animal friend is averse to wearing cute little outfits:

lucky cats paper dollsFor the man in your life who always liked to play with his sister’s dolls as a little boy:

naughty girls paper dolls

And my personal favourite….***DRUM ROLL PLEASE****…..

For the political enthusiast who wants to recreate famous scandals in their own home:

richard nixon paper dolls

Now before you start scratching your head at the utter surreal-ness of the book immediately above, the BD has a whole range of paper doll books featuring American presidents and their families.  So whatever your political persuasion, there is a paper doll out there for you, voter!

If paper dolls are not your thing, I have also recently discovered two more fantastically different colouring books that I just had to share with you:

For the littlest scholar of feminist philosophy:

girls are not chicks colouring

And for the colouring enthusiast who can’t resist using one of those fancy rainbow pencils:

sometimes the spoon colouring book

 

So what are you waiting for? Get out there and flex your creative muscle! And be sure to chime in with any other exciting paper-doll or colouring related titles that we need to know about.

Until next time,

Bruce

 

 

 

 

 

 

Haiku Review: Noah Dreary…

13

Evenin’ all! It’s Mad Martha with you again.  Today I bring you a haiku from a book with arguably the best opening page ever. See for yourself:

image

What a cracker, hey? The book is Noah Dreary by Aaron Blabey.  I’d not bothered to read any of Blabey’s work before, despite knowing that he was a CBCA shortlisted picture book author/illustrator, and I must admit that this has been a grave oversight on my part.  I found this book’s humour scratched that itch we all have for that which is just plain odd.

This particular work follows the trials and tribulations of Noah Dreary, seasoned complainer and recent head-loser.  The illustrations are just fantastic – really, this book could retain it’s sense of weird humour even if the words were to be omitted.  In all honesty, if that first page hasn’t captured your interest, I don’t know how I’m going to coerce you….but here’s a haiku review anyway!

image

Heads up, complainers:

Careful what you whinge about

Things could still get worse!

This book will appeal greatly to the kiddies, and to any grown-up who works in any occupation that involves dealing with incessant whingey-ness.

One word of caution though, for the faint of heart – as a younger stone I vividly remember being scared witless by any depiction of headlessness.  I particularly recall a television commercial for CCs corn chips that gave me the heebie-jeebies every time it came on (and put me off corn-chips for life).  Any illustrated versions of the The Legend of Sleepy Hollow were completely out.  If you (or your mini-fleshling!) gets a little freaked out over headless characters, this may not be the book for you.

Oh, and for your viewing (and possibly reminiscing) pleasure, here’s the link to the CC ad of which I speak:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oh36xZqaz8U

Yep. It still creeps me out.

Oh, and Bruce has asked me to give you another heads up: July’s Fiction in 50 challenge is coming up soon!  The theme is Night Terrors and you can find out more about this intriguing concept here.

Adieu my friends,

Mad Martha

The Rithmatist: Read it if….

16

Rejoice fleshlings, for today I bring you tidings of great joy – the good-book drought has broken!  Today’s offering from Brandon Sanderson, The Rithmatist, has brought me back to the lush, green delta of compulsive reading.

rithmatist

The Rithmatist follows the fates of Joel, son of a chalk-maker and all round ordinary sort of guy, who is completing his schooling at an institution dedicated partly to the teaching of Rithmatics. Rithmatists have a special ability to bring chalk drawings to life, an ability which comes in useful in Sanderson’s particular alternate universe given that wild chalklings (two-dimensional creatures made of chalk) can eat people…skin first in most cases.  Joel desperately wants to be a Rithmatist, but must content himself with studying the theory – until Rithmatic students on Joel’s campus start disappearing and he becomes much more involved in the fates and fortunes of the Rithmatic community than he could ever have hoped.  Thus begins a wholly original tale that has it all – murder, mayhem, mystery, monsters, mystical doodling and…much else besides, not necessarily starting with M.

 

Read it if:

* you are unable to walk past an author with a rhyming first and last name

* you can stand the sound of chalk scraping on a blackboard

* you believe that the fantasy/gearpunk/murder-kidnapping mystery/coming-of-age sub-genre is woefully under-represented in modern YA literature

* you like your alternate universes original, solid and drawn (pardon the pun) from an interesting new premise – I mean chalk monsters! Way more interesting than your run-of-the-mill shuffling horde

* you fervently believe YA fiction is far better off without (a) a broody looking long-haired girl on the cover and (b) crappy, forced love triangles between aforementioned broody-looking girl, attractive clean-cut young man number one and attractive rebel without a cause young man number two

 

I  am, quite frankly, astounded that I have not come across Mr. Sanderson’s work before, but I will definitely seeking out more of his stuff in the future.  One of the stand-out bits of The Rithmatist is the confident world-building that Sanderson has accomplished. He has managed to pull off a story set in a completely original and believable alternate-Earth, without getting bogged down in describing the ways and workings of the whole deal.  This in turn allows his characters to drive the narrative – another strength of the work.

If you’re looking for something completely different, with engaging characters and some really novel concepts, you could do a lot worse than this book.  And if the cover above doesn’t take your fancy, it’s also been released in the cover below!

Rithmatist 2

Ahhh, it’s good to be back in the world of enthusiastic reading again. Mr Sanderson, I thank you!

Until next time,

Bruce

 

Spine Poetry: Domestic Drama

12

And now for something completely different! Well, a bit different, considering I do poetry fairly regularly.  A month or two ago I was introduced to Spine Poetry – I can’t remember which blog I was browsing, or indeed the meme that spawned it (feel free to enlighten us all if this happens to be something you indulge in regularly!) – but this fantastic concept involves creating a poem using the titles of books…and taking a photo of their spines in poetic order.

For my first attempt I have selected some YA/Kid Lit tomes from the shelf to create a poem entitled: “Couched in Casualty”

spine poetry one

My place:

The curious incident of the dog in the night time.

Our big blue sofa, cracked.

Breathe.  Unwind.

It’s kind of a funny story.

For those interested, the details of the books pictured are as follows (links to more info in the thumbnails):

my place curious incident

 

My Place by Nadia Wheatley and Donna Rawlins

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon

 

big blue sofacraccked

Our Big Blue Sofa by Tim Hopgood

Cracked by K. M. Walton

 

 

breatheunwind

 

 

Breathe: A Ghost Story by Cliff McNish

 

 

 

Unwind by Neal Shusterman

 

 

its kind of a funny story

It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini

This was harder than I thought it would be, but I believe I’ll still indulge when the mood takes me.  I’d love to hear of the work of other spine poets also!

Until next time,

Bruce

Heads Up: Fiction in 50 Challenge Up and Running!

7

Yes my dears, I’ve finally got my act together and actually planned some dates and prompts for my Fiction in 50 feature. Details below (and permanently, as a page up there, in the header!):

Fiction in 50 is going to be a regular feature round the shelf in coming months and I invite any interested composers of mini-narrative to join in!

fiction in 50

The rules for participation are simple!

1. Create a piece of fictional writing in 50 words or less.

That’s it!  But for those who wish to challenge themselves further, here’s an additional rule:

2. Post your piece of flash fiction on your blog or (for those poor blog-less souls) add it as a comment on the Gargoyle’s post for everyone to enjoy.

And for those thrill-seekers who really like to go the extra mile (ie: perfectionists):

3. Add the nifty little picture above to your post (credit for which goes entirely to ideflex over at acrossthebored.com) or create your own Fi50 meme pic….

and 4. Link back here so others can jump on the mini-fic bandwagon!

So I’m thinking once a month is about the right amount of time between flashes, so I will be posting up during the weeks beginning with the following dates, using the following prompts for inspiration:

The week beginning:

July 29…..Night Terrors

August 26…..Famous Last Words

September 23….Unconventional Relationships

October 28….Monumentally Awkward

November 25….Past Regrets

December 30….Reflections

You’re welcome to pick your own topics or go along with the ones above.  Also, alternative prompts or ideas for future months are most welcome!

Fiction in 50: think of it as the anti-NaNoWriMo experience!

Oh, and for interest’s sake, you can find the communal first attempt at Fi50 here!

Yours in teeny-tiny creative endeavours,

Bruce