From One Blogger To Another: An Interview With Terry Tyler

From One Blogger To Another: An Interview With Terry Tyler

This week, I interviewed Terry Tyler, a writer and blogger who currently lives in the North East of England. She has published 13 books to date, her most recent novel being The Devil You Know, a psychological thriller released in October last year.

Terry is a huge fan of history and therefore loves historical novels. “Philippa Gregory’s historical novel The Other Boleyn Girl is a masterpiece!” she said.

The Other Boleyn Girl is loosely based on the life of Mary Boleyn, the sister of the infamous Anne Boleyn.

Terry explained, “The book was brilliant; I like the Plantagenets, the Tudors and the 17th Century most of all, although I will read about other periods too. I prefer serious historical fiction, not romances, and it needs to be extremely well researched, so that it can teach me about the period. The film adaptation of The Other Boleyn Girl, however, was garbage!”

History also inspires many of Terry’s novels.

I read one of these novels, The House of York, a historical fiction inspired by the Tudors and Plantagenets, which I reviewed here:

However, Terry is not only interested in the past, but the (possible) future.

“I’ve watched every season of The Walking Dead three times over!”

She explained, “I love stories about life after pandemics and zombie apocalypses, but they must be really well-written and thought out. It’s how people survive on the breakdown of society, when the world as we know it has gone, that fascinates me.”

Yet being a keen reader writer, it took Terry a while to begin blogging. “Although my first book was published in 2011, I didn’t start a blog for another six months.” She said, “Everyone kept telling me writers have to have blogs, so reluctantly, I started one.”

Eventually, Terry began to appreciate the use of having a blog. “It was a useful tool for me when I wanted to write things other than my current novel-in-progress. Now, I’m a part of Rosie’s Book Review Team and I write about all sorts – writing advice, publishing advice, book reviews and other random things that pop into my head!”

Terry’s newest novel, The Devil You Know, was the culmination of half a year’s hard work.

My Photo [The Devil You Know]

“It takes me about six months to go from having an idea for book to finishing it” Terry said, “I write very intensively once I get going – it’s what I do – and I fit the rest of my life around it. Although all my novels have different storylines, they always tend to be character driven and have a good plot twist or two!”

I asked Terry if she had any tips for any other writers. She said, “Show what you’ve written to someone who you can trust to give you an honest opinion, to make sure you can actually write.”

Whilst on the subject of honest opinions, Terry shared her thoughts on positive and negative reviews. “Negative reviews are just as valid as positive reviews because everyone reads a book differently.” she explained, “Even if a book is so badly written that it makes your Kindle cringe, they have the right to tell you so, just like when someone enjoys it, they have the right to express that.”

However, despite the risk of negative reviews, this shouldn’t be scare away a budding writer, Terry says.

“Don’t give yourself any grief; write because you want to write.” Terry said, “Even if you can only manage 500 words a day, you’ll have a first draft ready in six months or less.”

The Devil You Know is available as an e-book on Amazon UK and Amazon.com.

You can find Terry Tyler on Twitter @TerryTyler4 at and her website is terrytyler59.blogspot.co.uk.

***

Thanks for reading!

Please click ‘Like’ if you enjoyed, and  don’t forget to ‘Follow’ for more blog posts.

– Judith

Read and Review: 11.22.63

Read and Review: 11.22.63
  • Title: 11.22.63
  • Author: Stephen King
  • Published: 2011

11.22.63 is about Jake Epping, a recently divorced high school English teacher, who discovers a wormhole in his friend’s diner. The wormhole transports him to 1958, where Epping begins to adjust to 1950s life, as well as plot to prevent the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, which happened on the 22nd of November, 1963.

It’s hard to summarise the genre of this novel. I think it’s an interesting combination of science fiction, historical fiction, political dystopia and alternate history. Although I don’t profess to be a science-fiction fan, I really enjoyed the science-fiction elements of this book, because they were not too abstract for the common reader to understand – they felt normal and believable, which I think is rare in books that tend to focus on time, space, aliens and everything in-between.

I also liked the historical and political themes; I studied American presidents as part of my A Level History course, and 11.22.63 provided a decent recap of this. It was also interesting to consider the repercussions of each and every seemingly small action had in the “grand scheme of things”.

Furthermore, despite 11.22.63 being set in a world a further 50 years in the past, the questions it raises are still just as significant today:

  • If you could change a terrible event in the past, not knowing the future consequences, would you? What if this triggers an equally horrific event later in time?
  • Is it better to learn from the past, rather than try and undo it?*

This reminds me of the famous quote by the philosopher Santayana: ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it’. (Reason in Common Sense, 1905), p. 284

I also liked the length of the novel. It’s a big read, and took me a sizeable amount of time to get through, but I was kept captivated throughout and I was glad I had so long to enjoy the book for.

However, I thought there was an unusually high amount of explicit violence in the book – punches, stabbings, broken noses, and gun fights. I’ve read some of King’s horrors that do have high levels of bloody violence in, so on the one hand, this isn’t an unexpected feature in King’s writing. On the other hand, I naively thought those sorts of scenes would be unnecessary and therefore omitted from a non-horror book.

For me, the best part of 11.22.63 was the intertextual references to another of King’s books, IT, which is also set in 1958’s America, and the last King book I read, so I feel like I’m reading his books in some kind of weird order. I completely forgot that IT was set in this timeline, and to be drip-fed clues and references to another plot was really entertaining, although this isn’t a huge feature within the narrative of 11.22.63.

I also found the ending incredibly powerful; it’s rare for me to be strongly moved by a book’s ending (especially as most of them seem to end on cliff-hangers nowadays…) but I felt so sad for Epping, and the Dystopian America portrayed. I won’t spoil the ending for any who may wish to read it, but I was certainly affected by it.

I strongly recommend this book.

– Judith

Please click ‘Like’ or leave a comment, I really appreciate it.

Book Travelling Thursdays: Choose A Controversial Book

Book Travelling Thursdays: Choose A Controversial Book

Book Travelling Thursdays is hosted by Catia and Danielle on Goodreads. This week’s theme is: Choose A Controversial Book.

The last time I did one of these blog posts, I used my gut-instinct. I’m going to do the same this time; I’ve chosen Mein Kampf, by Adolf Hitler. For obvious reasons, this is a controversial book.

Whilst I haven’t read Mein Kampf, I learnt a little about it during my time studying the Third Reich as part of my A Level History course. It’s an autobiography published by Hitler, the leader of the Nazi Party in Germany, 1925. In Mein Kampf, which literally translates as My Struggle, Hitler outlines his anti-Semitic, militaristic views, political theories, and his plans to make Germany great again (I wonder if any current parallels could be drawn here).

Although Mein Kampf is a book full of controversial and offensive statements, I don’t think people should shy away from reading politically-charged, or historical texts.

I’m fascinated by the history of this period, and I think it would be interesting to experience it from the first-person perspective of Hitler, as the only other sources I’ve read are books by historians, written many years later.

Unusually, I found a Goodreads member, Shane Brooker, who’d given Mein Kampf 5 stars. Here’s what they said:

‘A very interesting read. It gives some insight into the mind and thoughts of one of history’s most infamous men. I feel it is a must read for everyone wishing to know more about the years leading up to the Second World War.’

Here are a few book covers I found of Mein Kampf. I decided to choose book covers from different time periods, rather than different countries – quite frankly I’d been astonished if Mein Kampf was being published worldwide. I believe the first cover is the original, German edition, the second is a 1943 edition and the third is a contemporary edition from 2007:

My Photo [BTT2 1]                         My Photo [BTT2 2]                        My Photo [BTT2 3]

I can’t really say I have a “favourite” cover, although I do think it’s an interesting shift from a plain book cover, to ones that use photos of Hitler looking quite menacing. I wonder what the design choices behind these photographs were.

Do you think we should read more controversial texts, or should some books be left unread?

– Judith

12 Days of Blogmas 2016 Day #5: Festive Book Quotes

12 Days of Blogmas 2016 Day #5: Festive Book Quotes

Welcome back to Blogmas! Today I’ve been reading up on some lovely Christmas-themed quotes from well-known books I’ve read to share with you.

1. Marcus Zusak, The Book Thief 

“It was the beginning of the greatest Christmas ever. Little food. No presents. But there was a snowman in their basement.”

When I first read The Book Thief, Zusak’s beautiful descriptions struck me; I think he writes in a very poetic way, which is unusual given that some of his characters are illiterate, and of course this quote is no exception.

2. C.S. Lewis, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe

“Always winter and never Christmas.”

This quote has quite sad undertone. It highlight’s Narnia’s cold, harsh landscapes under the reign of The White Queen that lack the joy, light and warmth of Christmas. It’s a relief, then, when Father Christmas finally arrives, giving gifts to the Pevensie children – followed by an even greater joy when Aslan returns.

3. The Bible, Luke Chapter 2: 10-11

“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.”

This is a quote from The Bible, from the Gospel of Luke. This part of Luke’s account tells us of the Birth of Jesus, the son of God. I think it is important to remember that Christmas is still a religious celebration for Christians around the world – this can be easy to forget in the midst of present-buying, food shopping and cheesy Christmas jumpers – and has a great deal of meaning. Christmas spreads a message of love, peace, joy and light – things I think we all need at the minute, given what’s going in our world.


I hope you enjoyed this little Blogmas post; please click ‘Like’ and don’t forget to ‘Follow’ ReadandReview2016 for more blog posts.

If you want to read more Christmas-themed book quotes, I encourage you read this article from Barnes and Noble, from last year, – it greatly amused me: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/10-great-literary-quotes-to-add-to-this-years-christmas-card/

Thanks for reading!

– Judith

12 Days of Blogmas Day #2: Naughty & Nice Book Characters

12 Days of Blogmas Day #2: Naughty & Nice Book Characters

Happy Blogmas! This is Day 2 of my 12 Days of Blogmas!

Today I’ll be thinking over some of the books I’ve read this year, and choose three characters have been Naughty and three characters have been Nice. My judgements were formed based on how deplorable (or not) their actions were, and how much I like them (either as protagonists or antagonists).

Nice

Forrest Gump from Forrest Gump (Winston Groom, 1986)

Forrest Gump is one of my favourite stories, and I think Forrest is well-deserving of being on Santa’s Nice list. He’s such a caring, thoughtful, and lovable character who tries to do right by as many people as he can, despite his limited intelligence. Of course, he’s not perfect – he is easily lead, struggles with addiction, and hurts Jenny deeply – but then again, nobody is. Forrest learns from his mistakes however, and I think this is his redeeming quality.

Colonel Brandon in Sense and Sensibility (Jane Austen, 1811)

Colonel Brandon is an absolute gentleman in Sense and Sensibility, and is particularly contrasted with the seemingly brilliant, but deceptive, John Willoughby. Both men fall in love with Marianne Dashwood and while Willoughby leads Marianne to believe they are in a loving, courting relationship and then breaks her heart, Brandon behaves with nothing but grace, generosity and kindness towards the entire Dashwood family. Safe to say, I am very glad that by the end of the novel, I am very glad that by the end of the novel, Marianne returns Brandon’s affections.

Sir John Falstaff from Henry IV Part 1 and Henry IV Part 2 (William Shakespeare, 1597)

Falstaff is a kind of father figure to Hal, particularly in Henry IV Part 1, and provides much comic relief, through his exaggerated recounting of events, over-exuberant lifestyle and use of language. I particularly enjoyed Roger Allam’s portrayal of Falstaff in the Globe on Screen productions, directed by Dominic Dromgoole. However, ultimately, Falstaff is flawed. He is fat, vain, arrogant and cowardly, spending most of his time with prostitutes and drinking away stolen money, and thus is cast out when Hal becomes King. However, annoyingly, I still really like the character of Falstaff, which is why I’ve placed him on my “Nice” list!

Naughty

Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights (Charlotte Bronte, 1847)

For anyone who has read Wuthering Heights, this is an obvious choice. Heathcliff is vengeful, calculated and seemingly takes pleasure from others’ misery. However, as a character, I am still drawn to him; Heathcliff fascinates me. He seems capable of love, particularly towards Cathy, but it is an all-consuming passion which is ultimately destructive and dangerous. He strikes up a special bond with Nelly, and is a subverted father figure for numerous characters, such as Hareton, Linton and young Catherine. In short, Heathcliff is a complex and “fun” character to read about and talk about, despite his antagonism and he’s my favourite character from Wuthering Heights.

Brady Hartfield from Mr Mercedes (Stephen King, 2014)

Brady is a heartless killer from King’s thriller and murder mystery novel. He slaughters a queue of people at a job fair by driving into them with a stolen Mercedes and leaves clues for the police for the next year and especially taunting retired detective Bill Hodges with notes and possible evidence. I really enjoyed this plot and I thought Hartfield was really well-written. He simultaneously sounds like a petulant child and a dangerous killer, a dumb criminal and a calculated genius. I found him very creepy and naturally, given the events of the book, a horrific character.

Amy and Nick Dunne from Gone Girl (Gillian Flynn, 2012)

After speaking of horrific and evil characters, how could I not mention the Dunne family from Flynn’s thriller Gone Girl? Amy is such a powerful character; she is manipulative, clever but scarily violent too. I was also fascinated by her “pregnancy” storyline too – I really like it when creators explore this subject for some reason, be it in books. films or television. Nick is equally flawed – he is an unfaithful liar and uses some pretty creepy language such as:

‘I picture opening her skull, unspooling her brain and sifting through it, trying to catch and pin down her thoughts.’

And that’s only on the first page!

Amy and Nick are a scary, subverted form of the ideal middle-class idea of marriage and I really like how Flynn played around with this. The Dunne family are certainly worthy of being on the “Naughty” list.


Those are my thoughts: do you agree or disagree with them? Would you place anyone else on the “Naughty” or “Nice” lists?

Happy Blogmas!

– Judith

Film Review: Wolf Hall

Film Review: Wolf Hall
  • Title: Wolf Hall
  • Director: Peter Kosminsky
  • Released: 2015

Wolf Hall is the BBC adaptation of Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies, the historical novels by Hilary Mantel.

Wolf Hall has 6 episodes. The plot follows the social, political and religious turmoil caused by King Henry VIII’s desire to divorce Catherine of Aragon and marry Anne Boleyn instead, breaking from the Catholic Church and founding the Church of England. The protagonist is Thomas Cromwell, lawyer and chief minister to the King.

 I was really excited to watch Wolf Hall, having been given the book for Christmas, later reading its sequel, Bring Up The Bodies, and then receiving the DVD as a birthay present last month. I struggled through the books, if I’m honest, and I hoped that the TV adaptation would help me understand the characters, context and plot further.

Mark Rylance played Thomas Cromwell well, although I thought at times the dialogue sounded almost slurred, which was odd. Through body language and dialogue, he effectively recreated the sassiness of Cromwell which Mantel portays in her books.

However, I wasn’t convinced by Damian Lewis’s portayal of King Henry; he didn’t have a loud or powerful voice like I expected and I don’t feel like he was as present as he was in the books. I really liked the portayal of Anne, by Claire Foy – which I hadn’t when I was reading the books, and by the end of the series I truly felt sorry for her.

Overall, I think Wolf Hall did compact the narrative well and make Mantel’s plot easier to understand, as well as the historical context.

Yet, some episodes seemed more interesting than others – the first episode or two seemed quite drawn out and lacked any “action”, whereas the later episodes where more gripping as we reached the climax between Henry and Anne’s marriage, and the increasing interest in Jane Seymour (played by Kate Phillips).

I also found the jumps in narrative confusing; various flashbacks, flash-forwards and dream scenes were included within the main narrative and sometimes it wasn’t clear whether it was a dream, a flashback, or part of the current narrative.

Each episode relied heavily on dialogue, so it felt like you always had to be paying attention, and this made it difficult to watch an entire episode in one go.

However, the most exciting part of Wolf Hall for me was that it was filmed at Berkeley Castle in Gloucestershire, a beautiful location I was fortunate enough to visit on my summer holiday this year. To watch the TV series and see the beautiful, archaic rooms and gardens on the screen – knowing you’ve stood there too –felt almost magical!

On the whole, I think Wolf Hall is a well-made TV series. If you’re a fan of historical fiction, or you just want to experience something more of Tudor history, then you’ll really enjoy it.

If you want to know more about the locations used in Wolf Hall, you can go here:

That’s all for now!

– Judith

The Sims Book Tag

The Sims Book Tag

This September, it is officially 2 years since The Sims 4 was released! If you aren’t aware, The Sims games are hugely popular; they are life simulation video games where you can create Sims (people), make them get a job, get married, have children or burn down their house, turn them into a supernatural creature and a whole lot more.

I absolutely love The Sims series (although I was never taken with the look of The Sims 3: I much prefer The Sims, The Sims 2 & more recently of course, The Sims 4).

My Photo [Sims Book Tag 2]
judiththereader, in Sims form!

Therefore, I thought there was no better Tag to do this month than The Sims Book Tag. Enjoy!

1. The Original Sims: The Best Author Debut

The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins (2015)! This was Hawkin’s first ever novel, after a life of journalism, and it was an absolute thrill to read. It was so well-done, that I wouldn’t have guessed it was her first time writing a novel. I definitely intend to read it again.

*Honourable Mention: Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn (2006). Like Hawkins, Sharp Objects is a thriller/murder mystery which kept me completely hooked. It raises issues of mental health and self-harm in particular, which I think was quite a bold thing to do, considering mental health awareness was not as publicised 10 years ago as it is today.

2. The Grim Reaper: The Saddest Character Death

I’m torn in my decision making, and either way it leaves spoilers!

I would have to say either Hans Hubermann from The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak (2005) or Bruno from The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne (2006). I think the thing about both of these characters is that they are portrayed continually to the reader as “morally innocent” (let’s make that a phrase, if it isn’t already) and so their deaths seem so unjustified – not entirely unexpected due to the war-torn German backdrop – but just so… unfair.

*Honourable Mention: Fred Weasley from Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling (2007). To be honest, a lot of the deaths in Harry Potter are quite emotional, but not enough to pip first place!

3.Sims Getting Stuck: A Character That Just Got In The Way

Honestly, I’d have to say Gale from the Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins. I know he was “needed” to create a love triangle and cause some tension, but I much preferred Peeta and so I couldn’t help but want Gale out of the frame!

4. Simlish: A Book With Amazing Writing

‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King (1975). The descriptions were amazing, and I felt like each character was truly fleshed out without being bogged down in pages of mundane details. Of course, the scary scenes were truly scary (duh, it’s Stephen King!) and I think he is a very talented creative writer.To be honest, any book written by Stephen King would fit this question!

5. Expansion Packs: A Series Where The Books Kept On Getting Better

The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling – you can tell by the increasing sizes of the books that more action, more character development and more themes are included in every book, truly adding to the Harry Potter world and experience.

*Honourable Mention: The Blessings of Myrillia Series by Crystin Goodwin, for which I was a beta reader. I really enjoyed these fantasy / YA books and I felt that not only was the story more developed in each book, but that the style of writing developed too, and made the reading process very enjoyable and easy for me!

6. Sims Romance: The Worst Case Of Instant Love

Bella and Edward from Twilight by Stephenie Meyer (2005). Bella didn’t seem to have any qualities, nay, a personality that would attract anyone – let alone a vampire. Plus, by the second book, New Moon (2006), it seemed ridiculous that Bella was simultaneously grieving over the loss of Edward, but starting to develop feelings for Jacob (I smell a love triangle approaching). I was then increasingly not keen on the direction Eclipse (2007) and Breaking Dawn (2008) took, in the speedy engagement, marriage, and birth of a child – all by the age of 19. Even without the supernatural creatures, that is just not normal.

7. Cheats: A Contemporary Book That Was Entirely Unrealistic

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green (2012). I don’t think I even made it to the end?

8. Needs Fulfilment: A Character Who Made All The Wrong Decisions

All the wrong decisions? Did you say all? (5 points if you saw the Macbeth reference)

Although I wouldn’t say every decision he ever made was wrong, Harry Potter from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series definitely springs to mind, particularly as he gets older. For example,

  1. In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry ignored the advice of Dumbledore and others, refusing to learn occlumency, and was subsequently manipulated and tricked into the Department of Mysteries, risking many of his friends’ lives
  2. In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry randomly decides to use an unknown, untested spell found in an old textbook and nearly kills his classmate (even if it was Draco Malfoy, his arch nemesis)
  3. In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Harry says the taboo word “Voldemort” (a word he is notorious for casually using throughout the series), leading to his capture, Hermione’s torture and Dobby’s death

9. Error Code 12: A Series That Started Off Great But Went Downhill

Although I like the stories, I’d have to say The Hobbit (1937) & The Lord Of The Rings series by J. R. R. Tolkien. Tolkien came up with a unique fantasy world, the narrative and characters are amazing, and this was developed when Peter Jackson launched his film adaptations. However, they are just so difficult to read! I’ve been ploughing through the series for quite a while now, taking lengthy breaks between each book. The Hobbit, the first book Tolkien wrote in the series, was the easiest for me to read but after that, it remains increasingly a struggle.

10. The Sims Vortex: A Book That Completely Engrossed You

As an alternative to The Girl On The Train, I would have to say Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (2012). I read this first and I read it in just a few days. I’ve mentioned it in a Book Haul and I’ve done a film review of Gone Girl too, so it’s safe to say that I loved this book. I couldn’t put it down because the characters were so intriguing, and you simply had to read more to access more flashbacks and diary entries to learn more about their pasts and mental states.

*Honourable Mention: Mr Mercedes by Stephen King (2014) – I was captivated by this book and hardly put it down!

Those are my responses to The Sims Book Tag: I hope you enjoyed this post. If you love The Sims as much as me, please feel free to do this tag!

That’s all for now!

– Judith