Where'd I Leave It Wednesday

Alien Skin

Happy Wednesday bookish people! I’m back with another Where’d I Leave It Wednesday. This one is a bit different to usual, it isn’t focusing on my cane rather just my life in general at the moment. It was a piece that I wrote for a competition, that I didn’t win, and I thought I would share it here.

I hope you all enjoy it!

It was thin in my hands. Blue, and it crinkled like paper. With a string hoop stitched into each side of it. My hands fit through the hoops, it scratched at my ears as the blue front compressed to fit the contours of my face with each intake of breath, a second alien skin over the top of my own. Everyone else around me has blue alien skins now too. It only shows up when we go outside, or the postman knocks the door, but he’s already outside – that’s why his alien skin is already showing it’s had chance to fit to every crevice long before he sent the post through the letterbox or rang the doorbell with his gloved hands. Sometimes people have theirs hanging from their faces, dangling precariously from an inflamed ear that always has a crimson crescent curled around it’s back. It looks like they are shedding. Like a snake does when it’s done with its original skin. If you laid my alien skin out on a table it would be smaller than my sister’s is but when it is smoothed onto my face it covers just the same amount. My tiny brown eyes stare out at me over the top when I look in the mirror, it’s the same look my sister’s kitten gives me when he hides on the stairs but drops his head on the step above with a thump. Some days I think I’d quite like to be a cat. All I’d have to do is stalk through my owner’s open and welcoming legs, brush up against their skin and bite with my fanged teeth if they tried to move while I was walking through because, how dare they move. All I’d have to do is wait for hands to feed me, then lay on my back while the same hands, and others, would rub my belly and I’d pretend to push them away with my paws while really wanting them to continue. And I’d purr all day because I wouldn’t have to wear an Alien’s skin on my face whenever I left the house and I wouldn’t have to guess whether or not I knew the person I was talking to because as a girl registered as blind in a world where we are all wearing Alien skin faces, I can recognize even less than usual. We got Shadow, that’s the name my Sister gave her Kitten, in October 2020 and it’s fitting that he’s black and white when we got him in the month of Halloween – we tried to dress him up in a Mickey Mouse zip up jacket but he wasn’t having any of it, he hid in my backpack with one tiny paw poking out the side to swipe at our legs instead. Revenge for the dress up, he’s definitely my Sister’s cat – and he also really hates the Alien skins we wear when we go outside.

That’s it for today’s story, I’ll be back next Wednesday hopefully with another one!

Where'd I Leave It Wednesday

Where’d I leave It Wednesday – Garden In My Bedroom

Happy Wednesday bookish people! It is that time again where I tell you about one of my experiences that may or may not be funny. Today I’m doing something a bit different, usually I just write out the story but one of the modules on my University course was Creative Non-fiction where I wrote a few pieces about my experiences. This story is about how my cane picks up leaves. I hope you enjoy it!

I have more leaves gathered in my bedroom than there are in the park that is just beyond my front door. I’m not a collector in any way. Well, I am when it comes to books and pin badges, but definitely not leaves. They sit on my purple carpet, crinkling in agony when I walk over them. Most of them are torn. Flakes of brown and orange strewn around the floor. A friend of mine asked me if I’d spilt a box of Cornflakes and not picked them up. I told her it wasn’t but at that time we were already running late and I couldn’t explain that actually it was the corpses of leaves. I’m not sure that is any less weird.

They get impaled on my cane, like meat on a skewer. I can walk along the street just fine. Well, it’s a different matter entirely when I come across a pile of leaves. By the time I get home there are so many of them, twirling around my cane like orange pole dancers, I barely notice them anymore. They have become part of my room; it would be strange to get rid of them now. “You should hoover them up” I’ve been told by many people before. I can’t bring myself to do it. The leaf that is still green got stuck to the bottom of the cane when I walked through a particularly deep puddle of leaves. It got dragged with me for miles and now it lives on my bedroom floor. The least I can do is provide good hospitality. It’s not as bad as it sounds. My carpet isn’t completely filled with leaves, I leave most of them outside the house when I shake off the cane in the same way as you would an umbrella after closing it.

Picking up leaves isn’t the only thing that happens when I use my cane outside. I usually find that there are two different types of people that notice me on the street. There are the ones who ignore the cane and continue to walk towards me; I enjoy the look of surprise on their face when I don’t move either. Their shoulder will bump into mine; it will be knocked backwards but my legs will remain strong, unmoving in the slippery pavements. They all do the same thing. They turn, mouths open and begin to say “look where you’re going” but they stop when they notice that I’m Visually Impaired. The irony of it always amuses me.

Then there is the second group of people, the ‘helpful’ ones. If a person offers me help and I need it then I will be thankful for the assistance. However, some people don’t ask before ‘helping’. I must have an expression that screams help me. The one I remember most vividly was on a cold day, it must have been Autumn because the air was cold and the metal of my cane had been turning my fingers red as I held onto it tightly. The leaves had already begun falling. They were cutting into my skin like cat’s claws on a scratching post, climbing up my boots higher and higher. I was stood at a crossing, waiting for the man to turn from red to green as I usually do. I can’t tell when there is a space to cross between cars so I wait for the green man. There is a cone on the bottom of the Pelican crossing control panel where I press the button. If I put my finger on it and wait when it turns green the cone spins. It’s useful for sunny days when I can’t see the colours of the man.

Anyway, returning to the strange incident I remember. I was stood there waiting, rolling the ball on the bottom of my cane over the bumps by the edge of the road, when I felt a hand on my arm. It pulled gently and I moved with it. My feet stumbling over each other past the pavement on the other side and across another crossing, then another and then another all at once. I didn’t have the chance to look at who was pulling on me until they stopped walking and let go. I caught my breath while looking at them. It was a lady, if I had to guess she was probably around sixty years old, and she was smiling at me. I knew I had to be polite so I said thank you and watched her walk away down the street. She was only trying to be nice is what I told myself as I slowly moved back to the crossing that the lady had just walked me across. If she had given me a chance to talk, I would have been able to tell her that I had only wanted to get across the first crossing and not the three subsequent ones.

Things like this happen to me more frequently than I would like to admit. Once I reached the street that I had originally intended I looked down at my feet. There, lounging peacefully were clumps of leaves. They were red and orange and yellow. I shook my feet forcefully. Most of the leaves spun away, dancing across the paving stones without partners. Some lay at my feet, as lifeless as if I had killed them. They were submerged in puddles of water, reflecting the colours like a spilt paint box. Curling, closing themselves up into small orange cylinders, like orange Wotsits drowning in the puddles underneath my feet. Of course, they didn’t all extract themselves from me. I carried stowaways under my boots, which I didn’t realise until I reached my house. I carefully peeled them from my soles and let them drift to the purple carpet. Becoming part of the garden in my bedroom.

That’s the end of today’s story, let me know if you liked this style or not and whether you like this style or what I usually write more!

Book Reviews

Book Review: Victoria Schwab’s Bridge of Souls

Hello again bookish people! Wow, three posts today, I’m being very productive. I’m bringing you a book review for Bridge of Souls by Victoria Schwab. This is the third book in the Cassidy Blake series (City of Ghosts, Tunnel of Bones, Bridge of Souls). I was so excited to finally get this book. I read the first two in the series because I love Victoria Schwab’s other books – A Darker Shade of Magic and the Villians series particularly and I loved them so I could not wait to get my hands on the third book. I was not disappointed, it was just as good as the first two and I was fully immersed in the world of Cassidy and Jacob. In this book review I will give star ratings for four categories and I will write a little about each of these. I will try to keep it spoiler free as possible. I hope you enjoy reading my book review.

Everywhere you step, everywhere you stay, was once home to something – and someone – else.

Plot:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Following on from the first two books this book begins in a new city, this time it was New Orleans, I thought it was well researched and the plot was exciting and engaging. I felt every part of the story fit well together and didn’t feel forced. The plot of the first novel in the series was light hearted and each book after has had a darker tone, higher stakes at play, Bridge of Souls is no different and I felt the tension of the plot along with the characters which I think is one of the best things that an Author can manage to do.

Characters:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Already having been introduced to Cassidy and Jacob, the two main protagonists in the series, in the first two novels I felt like I knew them very well. I enjoy the relationship between the characters in this novel, the friendship between Cassidy and Jacob and the relationship each of those characters have with Cassidy’s parents. They are funny and interesting and I was very invested in the characters which caused me to feel sad for them when I needed to and relieved and worried and happy.

Dialogue and Writing:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The writing style is smooth and carries you along in the story, it is easy and clear to read. The dialogue is one of my favourite things about this series. It gives the characters likeable and interesting personalities and shows the relationship between Cassidy and Jacob. It is also a great tool to lighten the tone by having the conversations between the characters.

Overall:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

There’s not much more I can say here. I gave this book four stars overall because I really enjoyed reading this book and being back in the world of Cassidy and Jacob. I thought it was well-written and well researched. I cannot wait for the next book in this series (hopefully there will be more!).

Synopsis/Blurb

Where there are ghosts, Cassidy Blake follows … unless it’s the other way around?

Cass thinks she might have this ghost-hunting thing down. After all, she and her ghost best friend, Jacob, have survived two haunted cities while travelling for her parents’ TV show.

But nothing can prepare Cass for New Orleans, which wears all of its hauntings on its sleeve. In a city of ghost tours and tombs, raucous music and all kinds of magic, Cass could get lost in all the colourful, grisly local legends. And the city’s biggest surprise is a foe Cass never expected to face: a servant of Death itself.

Cass takes on her most dangerous challenge yet…

Book Reviews

Book Review: Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Boys

Hello bookish people! Happy Mother’s Day to everyone! Today I’m bringing you a book review for The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater, the first book in The Raven Boys four book series. I thought this book was okay, it was an enjoyable opening book to a series. In this book review I will give star ratings for four categories and I will write a little about each of these. I will try to keep it as spoiler free as possible. I hope you enjoy reading my book review!

This is a well-written, enjoyable opening novel to the series. It introduces the characters and has a contained conflict as well as an overarching conflict for the rest of the series. It has a unique and interesting premise that made me want to pick up this book. It cuts between the POVs of multiple characters including that of Blue, the main protagonist, Gansey and Adam.

Blue has spent the majority of her sixteen years being told that if she kisses her true love, he will die.

Plot:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

This novel has an interesting plot. It is a well planned, well-written and intriguing plot that keeps you reading on until the end, and I felt the ending was satisfactory to complete the story for this book while still managing to set up an intriguing story for the second book in the series, particularly because of the final line.
However, I felt there were too many little stories happening at the same time which made them hard to follow, and they didn’t all get solved within this first book. Also, it felt like an opening novel rather than a novel with a very defined plot, it seemed to centre around introducing the characters and their relationships (which I don’t think is a bad thing), that’s why I can only give the plot three stars.

Characters:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I thought that the characters in this novel were brilliantly engaging. One of the high points for me was the dialogue between them, particularly between Blue and Gansey, it is interesting and well-written. It makes me like the characters. I find I am very much a character-based reader, I enjoy their interactions and the things that add to the plot I find are the things that are revealed through dialogue or the lack of it. The main characters in this novel (Noah, Blue, Gansey, Adam and Ronan) are all clear characters, each with their own conflict. I would have liked this novel to explore Noah and Ronan more than it did as I found their characters lacking compared to the others but overall I thought the characters were a highlight in this book.

Dialogue and Writing:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I don’t have much more to say about this, as I’ve mentioned it in the previous two categories but I could only give this category three stars because I felt that the writing in the beginning may have been a little slow to actually delve into the story and because of this the writing in the second half felt too rushed for my preferences.

Overall:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

So, overall I’m rating this book three stars. I enjoyed the book and I definitely plan on reading the second book in the series (I’ve heard that’s the best one? so I’m looking forward to it). I am invested in the characters and their relationships but I couldn’t give a higher star rating because I wasn’t all that invested in the plot but I was at the same time – that probably doesn’t make much sense. I enjoyed it, but I probably won’t reread it any time soon.

Synopsis/Blurb:

“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

From Maggie Stiefvater, the bestselling and acclaimed author of the Shiver trilogy and The Scorpio Races, comes a spellbinding new series where the inevitability of death and the nature of love lead us to a place we’ve never been before.

Book Reviews

Book Review: Peter Swanson’s Rules For Perfect Murders

I have recently finished reading Rules for Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson and I really enjoyed it, in this book review I will give star ratings for four categories and write a little about each of these. I will try to keep it as spoiler free as possible. I hope you all enjoy reading my book review!

This is a cleverly plotted, fast paced, whodunnit full of twists and secrets. It focuses on a man called Malcolm Kershaw who works at a bookstore that specializes in selling mystery/thriller books. Then he becomes involved in a murder investigation. This novel contains elements of the great Golden Age era of crime fiction like Agatha Christie yet still manages to make itself unique in both it’s premise and structure. The reader follows the POV of Malcolm, following both the present and the secrets of his past that slowly emerge throughout the novel.

Plot:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This novel is an entertaining plot that kept me guessing from the very beginning. It was well thought out and from the technical point of view every scene led into the next in a brilliant and clever way. The secrets were hinted at and clues were sprinkled throughout leading to a (in my opinion) satisfying ending. I am usually pretty good at managing to guess the ending before it happens but with this novel I had no chance, the story swept me up and so many theories were spinning around my head. That is one of the reasons I gave this novel 4 stars for plot.

Characters:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

As for characters there are a lot of them, but the main ones are Malcolm Kershaw, his two bookstore employees, FBI Agent Gwen Mulvoy, his old friend Marty Kingship and married couple Brian and Tess Murray. Although each of the characters had very defined personalities from each other for me it felt like they were lacking in some way. Malcolm, was not a very likeable character I didn’t particularly have strong feelings for or against him but I was still engaged in his story. The two bookstore employees I feel could have been developed further, they are distinct and personally I felt they were likeable – the only two characters who I felt were likeable in this novel – but they weren’t that interesting. I would have liked to have seen more of Agent Gwen Mulvey, she features more in the first half than the second half and I felt her character could have been explored better. The other three characters I didn’t find to be all that likeable either but again they were well thought out and had an impact on the story.

Dialogue and writing:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I became invested in the novel because of the dialogue in the very first scene. It helped to heighten tension when it was needed and it helped lighten the tone when the novel needed balance as well. The dialogue, or lack of from some characters, provided personality and created an image of the characters for me. The writing style was easy to navigate, it flowed well in my opinion and it didn’t feel forced in any way. That was one of the main reasons I enjoyed the novel, usually I am a fan of character driven novels rather than plot driven novels but because of Swanson’s writing style and the engaging dialogue I found myself enjoying the read.

Overall:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

So, overall I rated this novel four stars because even though I wasn’t invested in the characters I truly couldn’t put the book down, I had to know how it ended. If you enjoy novels where you aren’t sure who you can trust then I would recommend Rules For Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson. (One note I will make is that if you want to read The Red House Mystery by A A Milne, Malice Aforethought by Anthony Berkeley Cox, The A B C Murders by Agatha Christie, Double Indemnity by James M. Cain, Strangers On A Train by Patricia Highsmith, The Drowner by John D MacDonald, Deathtrap by Ira Levin or The Secret History by Donna Tartt I would recommend reading them first because Malcolm is fond of giving spoilers to these books).

Synopsis/Blurb:
Years ago Malcolm Kershaw wrote a list of his ‘Eight Favourite Murders’ for his Old Devils mystery bookshop blog. Among others it included those from Agatha Christie’s The A.B.C Murders, Patricia Highsmith’s Strangers On A Train and Donna Tartt’s The Secret History.
Now just before Christmas, Malcolm finds himself at the heart of an investigation – as an FBI Agent believes someone may be re-enacting each of the murders on his list.