I’ve been Book Tagged!


Mr Plastic Castle, awesome creator of artwork- fabulous taster of music, has challenged me to not just to remember my formative years, but to drag no more that TEN books from the deep and misty depths of my memory, well it’s a fog really.
As it’s not my ten favourite books I’ve gone for the earliest books that have been most influential to my life, both my reading world and in my living, breathing reality.


Everyone has that one book that sings to them as a child- that resonates and moulds who we are. For me it is this one.

Tailchaser’s Song
A great read, all about cats, told from the point of view of cats living in a cats only world (well there are humans, but they aren’t really featured in the story itself). It’s a more grown up book but, you know, cats.

The Alchemist’s Cat
(Again with the cats) I loved this book so much it got me onto all of Robin Jarvis’ other works. I hankered after them, searching charity shops and car boot sales, ready to spend my pocket money. They are dark, gritty and gruesome, and all about anthropomorphised animals. So Ticks all round.

Sabrial, Lireal and Abhorsen (yeah they’re a trilogy, but I can’t bring myself to pick one.)
I just loved this series and still do!
No particular reason why, I just did because it’s different and almost addictive to read.

The Mallory Towers and St Clare’s series
It seemed all the women in my family had copies of these books and, as I was the only girl child and an avid reader, I had many many copies of each of those books until, regrettably, I had to have a clean out so I could move house.

The Iron Dragon’s Daughter
It is THE worst book I’ve ever read and helped me realise that utter crap gets published. It’s also the only book I have ever burned. I couldn’t bear to keep it and the thought of making someone else suffer with it was just too much.
I know book burning is the WORST thing you can ever do if you’re a book worm, so that should tell you how bad it was.

The Hobbit
Not only a great book, but I had a friend who didn’t read because she was dyslexic, but she saw me reading so much she tried the Hobbit. A proud moment for me!

Wyrd Sisters
When I was a wee bairn, I loved Terry Pratchett’s weird Sisters, now I’m older it’s Tiffany Aching and the guards series. But, thanks to the Weird Sisters, I now own perty much every single Discworld book there is.

The Banquet Scene of Macbeth
I had to study that one scene for years and it put me off the Bard completely. It’s only now that I would be happy to read his works. School is supposed to fill you with a thirst for learning, but it’s a complete passion killer.

Pay it Forward
I’d love to live in a world that thrives off this system; I have to hope that one day it will. It’s a great book with a great premise and it made a perty darn good film too.

So that’s my list, what’s yours?

Keep Ponies off the Menu!

Originally posted on JRBarker101- Musings of a Rambling Reader:

A few years ago I made a documentary with my other half about Dartmoor‬ Pony‬ Conservation.

Dartmoor ponies have been in decline since they ceased to be used as work horses in the mines of Dartmoor. Their numbers have dropped even further since their use as riding ponies has fallen out of fashion.

When we made this documentary a charity called the Dartmoor Pony Heritage Trust were making headway and were slowly bringing these iconic animals back into popularity.

Our little video went out across the globe and the Dartmoor Pony became famous and the charity flourished.

Today we heard that some pony owners are giving up and starting to sell these beautiful creatures for sausage meat. Our conservation video is up online for anyone who wants to see it.

Please help keep these beautiful ponies off the menu!


View original

American Gods- the 16 hour saga

I listened to the 16 hour extended version.
I have to say it wasn’t quite what I expected. It was a story with an inverted bell curve.

I started off on the edge of my seat, man released from jail, life turned upside down, it even had the WTF did I just hear moments that kept me hooked.

After that it was ok, then I hit the halfway mark and got bored, I don’t know if I would have fared better if I had read it, or whether it would have taken me longer to get through.

There was a LOT of travelling and hanging around, with the odd god origin story thrown in, then the ending came and I was hooked on the last two chapters.
Wondering if I should read the shortened version one day, but not for a long time me thinks.

3 Cups of Tea


Digitus 233- A Great Adventure Book

This was a great story, although there were few moments where I felt the story lost plausibility, but I think that was a personal thing.
This was partly due to the addition of Crazy Dude, I loved the character, but as a result of him I didn’t take the rest of the story as seriously as I should have done.
He felt unnecessarily silly to me. I can assume that there will be a reason for the little Dude, and I will feel terrible for pooh poohing him, but for now I’m unconvinced.
Otherwise the rest of the story was very creative and I love the hook ending- that was an ending that was cleverly dangled

I felt like this is a 3.5 Cup of Tea book but am rounding up to four because it has so many merits.


Steampunk! Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories

I bought this because I read Clockwork Fagin and loved it, when I received my copy I was over the moon to discover that one of the contributing authors was Garth Nix!
Not only that but I now realise there are more steampunk short stories compiled by this crowd.

So what do I make of the book?
The stories compiled are of varying lengths, some of them are even comic sketches. There are a mixture of different types of steam punk from fairy tales right through to dystopian.
I think the stories work well as a group and they are all gripping, if you like steampunk there will be something in this for you.

Lord of the Rings Film VS Book- Frodo’s No Wuss

Ok, so now I’m three quarters of the way through the second book of Lord of the Rings.

I don’t know what I was whinging about all those years ago when I couldn’t get past ‘all the walking’, it’s not that bad. In fact the story is fantastic!

Although my eyes do to tend to glaze over with the songs; there are far too many of those in my opinion.

Having recently watched the films it struck me how much they’ve changed some of the characters.

They turned Frodo into an absolute wuss, Pippin into an idiot, and Gimli, for the part where they went through the mines of Moria, for some reason turned into an over the top emotional wreck, flailing around and wailing.

I can understand why they might have to alter the characters to make them filmable, but it always bugged me that any time Frodo was approached by the enemy he dropped his sword and ran away. How was he supposed to protect anything like that, let alone the most dangerous piece of jewellery on middle earth?

Turns out he’s not a wimp at all, he always gave all he got whilst he could, he stabbed a cave troll in the foot in the book!  But in the film, sword on floor, run and hide.

Grr, rant, mutter, grumble.

Other than that there are a few discrepancies, Saruman doesn’t die in the book for one, some of the lines are swapped and parts of the story are merged, but it’s largely true to form.

I can now conclude that I like both, but for different reasons.

They both have their merits and their foibles, but for once I can’t say clearly whether I prefer the books or the films; which is odd for me, because normally it’s books all the way.

Life is Stranger than Fiction

I am pleased as punch to announce that I have been hosted by the kindly people at Read Write Muse today!

I wrote a post on some of the great and fun ways you can conduct research and why it’s important.

They even made me a little quote icon!  It feels pretty cool to be quotable I can tell you.

So thank you to the people at Read Write Muse; especially to Katie Cross who formatted and posted the article.
Here’s a little excerpt:

Everyone should research—because life is stranger than fiction

Hi Folks,

Today I’m going to help you find the enthusiasm to conquer that pesky little blighter of boredom- research.

‘Research?’  I hear you cry. ‘I don’t need any of that, I’m writing fiction!’

Tired of doing #research for your next fiction WIP? Children's Author JR Barker discusses ways to make research interesting again over here at ReadWrite Muse!

The truth of the matter is you do need to do research no matter what genre you’re writing for.

You can read the rest HERE and find more writing tips on their site.

The Zombie Chronicles Gets 3.5 Cups of Tea!

This is now my second Zombie book and, although I liked the story,  I don’t think I’ll be picking up another zombie book in a hurry.
It turns out that zombies just don’t tickle my literary fancy but hey, you gotta try these things right?

I shall review this one based on plot, readability, writing skill and characters.

The story starts with a happy couple on their first date and, within the first chapter, everything goes to hell in a hand basket.
Zombies come out the woodwork and people are forced to flee, the survivors manage to hole themselves up on a series of nice safe islands.
It’s  safe for all but  a group of siblings, who crash land into zombieland with a potential cure that they were supposed to be taking for analysis on another island, and an infected girl who they can’t bring themselves to kill because *spoilers*.
Trapped in zombieland they are set upon by many hoards of, you guessed it, zombies.
There are some nice subplots and a few twists and turns, which I won’t discuss until you have read it yourselves!
It was a superbly action orientated story. The cause of the outbreak isn’t known at this point, but it is a mutating virus, which means it effects everyone at different rates and spreads in multiple ways.
So storyline and readability has a big fat check next to it.

Writing- the writing style and description was pretty good.  I felt like I was there struggling through with them, I bought into their situation, the action scenes were faultless and the zombies were portrayed really well. Nasty little blighters that they are.
On to the peoples! The older brother and sister were pretty cool characters but some of the motley crew felt a bit false to me. At the beginning they were supposed to be but by the end I still hadn’t bought into them as people; they didn’t seem to develop believably.
There was also a irk on the romance side of things, everyone got paired off, which was odd because two of the characters had to undergo a little personality surgery to make it work.  It felt like they’d been put together because they were both good looking and therefore why not?

It’s written that they came together by circumstance, but I just didn’t feel it.
I would like to see how this series pans out, the end of this book ended on a cliffhanger good enough to make me want to grab the next book.

However, I don’t think I’ll be looking out for any other zombie books. Not because I didn’t like this story, but because I find zombies dull.

Tea Verdict?

3.5 cups of tea, the extra half star was lost on the romance and secondary characters.