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Wednesday, 27 November 2013

I Was Hoping it Wouldn't Have to Come to This...

If you're one of those wonderful people who follows my blog without actually knowing me in person (meaning you must actually like what I write! Wow! I'm flattered, truly I am.), let me fill you in regarding my crazy, hectic, stressful-at-the-moment life.

I have biiiiiiiig exams this year. Mocks in January, real things in May/June. Having received the finalised timetable for the mocks today, I've realised how little time to revise I have left. As it is most of my Christmas so-called "break" will consist of revision. So, while it brings me great sadness (it really does), I am going to have to suspend Perfect Companions Have Pages and Prose until February.

Yes, it's okay to cry.

I can't possibly tell you how sorry I am or how awful I feel that I'm taking a somewhat-unprofessional pause. But life happens. As I love to say, c'est la vie. And on the bright side, I will have loads of great content (I hope) when I return! So many wonderful books from Santa and writing topics to discuss (like how foreshadowing IS NOT a theme, thank you very much! Long story short, bad English teacher, who, thank the Lord above, has now been replaced with a fantastic English teacher who agrees with me that foreshadowing is a literary technique, not a theme. But that's another rant...) and songs to share with you and my delicious gingerbread recipe! We'll have so much fun!

So now, as my parting gift, I would like to tell you that:

Because I knew you, I have been changed for good.

Don't forget to keep Dancing Through Life:

And of course, have a very merry Christmas!

Lastly, what Christmas would be complete without a generous helping of Buble?

I'd just like to say that I appreciate every single one of you, and I will miss doing this blog. Think of me, revising my quadratic equations while you go Christmas shopping, and know that this was not what I wanted. But we don't always get what we want. Life, as Augustus Waters says, is not a wish-granting factory.

So long, fare well, take care of yourselves, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, and see you all back in February! :)

Thursday, 21 November 2013

I'm sorry, but...

...there will be no Book Talk post tomorrow, because I am at the hospital. Worry not, I'm not going to die on you! This is, however, important and I wont get back home till late. Will be back next week my lovely lovely readers. Ciao x

Friday, 15 November 2013

Book Talk: the Abandon Trilogy by Meg Cabot

So last night, I finally brought an end to what has been an emotional roller-coaster ride second only to Lili St Crow's Strange Angels series. Oh. My. God. The cliffhangers at the ends of books one and Let's begin at the beginning, shall we?

Seven years old, Pierce Oliviera is playing in the Isla Huesos graveyard after being kicked out of the sexton's office at her grandfather's funeral. A tall, mysterious boy -- a giant, really -- spots her crying over a dead dove.

He revives it. Then walks away.

Fifteen years old, Pierce trips on her scarf, falls into her father's pool and drowns. She wakes up, cold, wet and afraid, in a cave by a lake. There are two long lines of people: her line, the quiet line, and the rowdy other line. Scared, confused, not realising what has happened, Pierce isn't really thinking when she runs up to the one person there she recognises -- the boy from the cemetery. John Hayden. He gives her a necklace just before the doctors revive her in hospital. When she wakes up, it's still there.

Now seventeen, and John is turning up everywhere she goes. This "dream" she had while dead is anything but fantasy, and anything but over. It's not like anyone would believe her if she told them, so she doesn't. But John's not the type of guy you can ignore. He wants to take her back to the place that haunts her nightmares. The Underworld. The only question is, why?

As with many trilogies, the first book in this series, Abandon, was by far the best. I loved the idea of having an NDE (someone who has had a near-death experience) as the main character, and as always Meg Cabot did not disappoint, even though my expectations were, after the Mediator series, incredibly high. The whole tall, dark, mysterious guy thing may seem like a cliche, but believe me, Meg Cabot handles it well. John Hayden is a complete, well-rounded, extremely interesting and three-dimensional character that you will fall in love with, even though in my opinion, it takes longer than usual. He's just so fascinating, though, that even if you don't like him, you still need to find out what happens to him.

I think it'll be hard to talk about Underworld and Awaken without ruining the end of Abandon, so I'll just say that they were full of suspense and fantastic, even though books one and two ended on EVIL cliffhangers! To contrast, book three felt almost too tied-up. So, as saying to little is better than saying too much, I'll leave you now to discover the series yourselves.

Star rating: 5/5

Till Monday!

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Writing Wednesday -- Creative Writing Prompts!

I cannot believe I didn't think of this sooner. Writing prompts! Fun or what? If this goes well, I'll definitely do this more often. You'll have to let me know what you think in the comments. Anyway...

It happens every time. You sit down, all excited to get those fingers tapping away on the keyboard. Coffee in hand (in your favourite mug, the one with the grammar pun), you sit back, relax, fire up the trusty old laptop, and...

...nothing. Not a word pops into your head. You set Microsoft Word to your comfort font, classic 12pt Times New Roman. Wait for it...nope. Still nothing. What's wrong with you? You're a writer! Why can't you write? Are you losing your touch? Has your muse abandoned you?

Oh no. What if this happens every day? What if you can never write again? Then the world will never read the masterpiece you've been pouring all that metaphorical blood, sweat and tears into! Why, cruel fate? WWWWWHHHHYYYYYYYY????????

Even if you're not as melodramatic as I am, writer's block -- or whatever you want to call it -- is scary at worst and irritating at best. So what can you do to lure your muse back and cure this bout of The Freeze?

1) Don't panic. The muse doesn't like you when you're panicked.

2) Read back over what you wrote yesterday. Put yourself in the scene. That is not your goldfish watching you from the tank, that is an ocean filled with Sirens waiting to lure your unsuspecting group of sailors to their watery graves. Honest.

Feeling inspired yet? If so, great! Dive in! But if not, that's fine, too. Just try one of these five-minute exercises to get those writing muscles warmed up. Have fun with them. The sillier, the better! All of these are my original writing prompts, so I give you permission to share and publish any work you create using these. You may also link back to this page and share the writing prompts as you see fit, I just ask that you please credit me, Hannah J of Perfect Companions Have Pages and Prose, as the creator. Thanks!

Your main character (or another book character), a celebrity, a friend, a family member and one of your childhood teachers are stuck in a lift/elevator. One of them is secretly claustrophobic. Write about what happens.
I've had hours of fun with this one. If you don't want someone to have claustrophobia, pick something else weird. Maybe the lights go out? Someone is on a mission to deactivate a bomb, and if they don't get out of here in thirty-eight -- make that thirty-seven -- minutes, the building will explode? Don't be afraid to mix it up.

Pick three songs at random from your music collection (shuffle is good for this.) Write a scene, a poem or a short story inspired by the events and emotions in those songs. Rule: You must use something from each song. Alternatively, use one line of the lyrics from each song in your poem.
This one is also one of my go-to prompts and I always make a playlist for each writing project I do. It's great for when you need to put yourself into the emotions of the scene, to keep the story in your mind when you're out and about and to spark ideas when you're feeling uninspired. My favourite artists to use for this are Taylor Swift, Kelly Clarkson and Lady Antebellum, because they have some gorgeous imagery in their lyrics, but anything works. I dare you to use The Duck Song...

Take your main character and put them in the climax of another book, or vice versa. How would they have handled the situation?
Also very fun, and useful for getting back into your MC's shoes, if this was your problem. Alternatively, take a main character from a book that's not yours and put them into the climax of another book that's not yours. Oh, and if anyone puts Bella Swan in the arena (The Hunger Games), please please pretty please send it to me. I'm dying to see how that would play out.

"The girl in blue sat in the furthest corner of the coffee shop, grazing on chocolate covered pretzels. She was scribbling madly on a tablet, and every time the bell above the door rang, announcing the entrance of another customer, she almost jumped right out of her chair."
Continue this, either from the girl's POV (in third person) or the POV of the person who is watching her (first or third). Try to answer some of the questions the beginning poses (Who is she? What is she doing on the tablet? Why is she so jumpy?) whilst also posing a few more of your own. There are real possibilities with this, because we know almost nothing about the girl. Take it in whatever direction you want, and keep going until you feel like stopping. Or turn it into a novella- or even novel-length piece. Be creative.

A shaft of light shines down on you, illuminating your bluish toes and a small space of damp stone floor. A few dust mites hover in the air in front of your nose, and you sneeze. The echo of the sound tells you the room can't be more than ten feet in any direction. You're cold, wet, hungry. Your head hurts like nobody's business. There's a thick stench in the air, like stale smoke and urine. Worst of all, you can't remember a single thing. Write from here.
This could be continued in any person, but I think first would be most effective. If you're planning on reading this aloud, though, second holds major possibilities.

That's all for now, but I'll try to make this a reasonable regular occurrence. It really depends on the response I get. So, if you've enjoyed, please let me know, and feel free to share your work in the comments. I'd love to see what you came up with! Until Friday, my lovelies.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Book Talk: Fire by Kristin Cashore

This is a book I read over a year ago, actually. Wow. It does not feel like anywhere near that long at all. I'm getting old ;)

Fire is a monster. Named after her flame-coloured hair and hated for being a breed she can't help, Fire relegates herself to a small corner of the Dells, mixing only with her friend Archer and his father. Aware and afraid of her ability to influence people with her beauty, she does this not only to protect them, but also herself from their prejudice. However, there lurks a bigger danger to the Dells, a danger that wears the face of a child. The fog is coming, and if Fire wants to protect those she loves, she will need to face a judgemental royal court, confront her past, and take control of her wild self, dealing with hurt, betrayal, passion and unexpected love along the way.

As you may or may not have guessed, this is a companion novel to Graceling. The sequel to Graceling, Bitterblue, is out but I have not read it yet, despite constant harassment from my friend. It's not that I don't want to, it's a question of, "Well, I have this much time, which book do I want to read more?" I wouldn't say this book had as tight a hold on me as others, but nevertheless I still consider it a great story and I salute Cashore on her world building skills. If you're a Narnia/Middle Earth/Oz lover, you must read this series. (May I just add that the books may be read in any order, and although chronologically Fire would come first, Graceling was published first and I recommend that you read it first. Why? You'll understand when you read it...)

What I really loved about Fire was the fact that just one of the characters is the same as Graceling, yet because we see him from more than just Katsa's (Graceling) perspective, we see more to him. We see ow he became what he is in Graceling, without him even being the main focus. It's use of subplots at its finest.

The one complaint I have is that at times it moved a bit slowly for my taste, but I am a thriller person. The writing was certainly beautiful, anyway, and the characters were interesting, especially Archer, Fire and Brigan. Archer has to be my favourite, even though he makes some mistakes, and he's not the type I usually go for. Odd. Who doesn't make mistakes, though?

Oh, and there's someone in this book called Hanna! No "h" at the end, but unless you count the crazy 5-year-old who got one mention in Joy Preble's Anastasia Forever, or the former best friend who committed suicide before Meg Cabot's Abandon even started, this is the first character who has shared my name. Hanna is awesome. I take it back -- Hanna is my favourite character. Sorry, Archer.

Star rating: 4.5/5

Amazon link.

Oh, and did I mention it has an awesome cover? :)

Monday, 4 November 2013

Music Monday and a Liebster Nomination!

Hey everyone!

This is me right now:

"Celebrate good times COME ON!"

Because my lovely blogging buddy and fellow teen writer, Alice (+Alice Kouzmenko on G+) nominated me for a Liebster award earlier today! Yay! Basically, the Liebster award is like a blogging chain letter. You get nominated, and have to answer 10 questions of the nominator's choice on your blog. Then, I pick three little-known blogs (I've heard less than 3000 followers, because the whole purpose of the Liebster is to spread the word for new or obscure, but talented, bloggers you like) and ask them ten questions. They link back to my blog and answer them, pick three nominees of their own, and thus the cycle goes on and on and on...

So, here is the blog of the wonderful Alice, my nominator:

I love reading her short fiction. It's always inspiring, thought-provoking and perfectly paced. I'm jealous :)

And the questions she asked me (so fun!):

1) What are three places you have always dreamed of travelling?

Hawaii, definitely! Then I'd love to go Japan, and Murano, which is an island off the coast of Italy. I'd say Russia, too, but my history teacher has told me horror stories about muggings there, and frankly, I'm a wimp.

2) Biggest goal in life?

Be happy. Really, is there anything else? Among the things that would make me happy are an adorable husband, kids, working in publishing and becoming a part- or even full-time writer.

3) Favourite flavour of ice cream?

That's a hard one. I'd have to say coffee, but I'm a self-confessed chocoholic, and I love strawberries and cream, too.

4) What inspires you?

Where do I begin?! My family and friends, obviously. Then books, music, writing, movies, and watching others act on their inspiration. Honestly though, I find inspiration in the weirdest of places. Once I thought of a novel idea in biology. True story.

5) What are you looking forward to?

Getting these stinky GCSEs over and done with! Then IB, university, life...everything. On a more immediate scale, this Saturday, because I'm getting and iPad Air with my birthday money from my Godparents, and a pumpkin spice latte :)

6) Summer or winter?

Winter. Why? Pumpkin spice latte, of course ;)

7) If you could have any talent, what would it be?

I would love more than anything to be able to draw, but I can't. At all. My people resemble potatoes and my trees look like poodle tails. Ah well, c'est la vie.

8) What's a question you've always wished someone would ask you, and what's the answer?

Awesome question! Well, that would have to be, "Which book character would you like me to bring to life with this magical machine here so you can marry him?" And my answer would be, "Gah, how could you expect me to make a decision like this?! Ethan Kozninsky, Edgar Graves, Cas Lowood, Thomas Sabin, Sam Temple...ahhhhh! Ethan. Let's just go with Ethan. Unless you're willing to do all five? Pretty please?"

9) What are you most proud of?

I wrote a novel before my dad even finished planning his! (He's still not done...) :) But I couldn't have done that without GoTeenWriters, so huge thank you and shout out to Stephanie Morrill and Jill Williamson, two absolute angels.

10) What is something that never fails to make you smile?

Reading a sappy kiss scene in a book, happily ever afters, disney films, the smell of Barnes & Nobles (don't ask), troll dolls, and listening to the music from "Wicked!"

And now, ladies and gentleman, bloggers and followers, put your hands together for my nominees!

*crowd goes wild*

1) The blog of one of my favourite authors ever ever ever, creator of Mr Sexy Blue-Eyes Ethan Kozninsky, awesome person, saint for putting up with me, JOY PREBLE EVERYONE!

2) I'm sorry, I know it's mean, but some of this stuff is just too true. And it's so funny. "Prom...really? That's the culmination of the greatest modern love story ever told?" TERRI WEAVER!

3) Here is another one of my writing and blogging e-friends, who is undertaking the huge task of forming a critique group for teen writers! I know you guys are out there and I know you want to join, so come on, help her out and meet some friends -- it's win-win! BRITTNEY JOHNSON!

Nominees, here are the questions you must answer on your respective blogs, linking back to mine and nominating three more blogs you think deserve more traffic. Don't forget to come up with questions of your own, too!

1) If you met the Doctor and he offered you a ride in the Tardis, where would you ask him to take you and why?
2) What book would you direct the movie adaptation of and who would you cast as the main characters?
3) Your weirdest dream ever?
4) If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?
5) Most memorable childhood experience?
6) Which historical figure, celebrity and fictional character would you like to be best friends with?
7) Pick one food or drink you couldn't live without.
8) Three things on your bucket list?
9) If I gave you $10,000 to start up a charity, what would that charity be called, who would you help and why?
10) How do you picture the end of the world?

Thanks again to Alice for nominating me. I am truly honoured that there is at least a small pocket of humanity that would miss my blog if I upped and disappeared; this is definitely motivation to carry on, even when I'm tired and lazy and have a physics test the next day. Nominees, I hope you have fun answering my questions. Can't wait to read your answers!