Featured

an arts review//

Hello there my fine friends! So wonderful to be back again. It really has been too long, hasn’t it?

(Which is why we need the perfect entrance)

*flops exuberant bow*

I will have my regular post hopefully next week, but this week I wanted to share a project I have been working on when I have had time this year; my Silver Arts Award.

*hails all fellow artists and/or art critics*

For this Arts Award you have to share what you have been creating for part of the project, so I thought it would be cool if I told all of you about what I have been working on. So here goes.

My Silver Arts Award:

Review of My Own Work |

I had a very interesting experience creating my own artwork for this award – it was challenging but I really enjoyed it and there was a lot of fun along the way.

                The first painting I completed was of a VW Campervan making its way through a lonely mountain pass in the dead of winter. I wanted to convey the cold and darkness of winter in this painting, but also the camper’s security and cosiness in this otherwise desolate scene, as well as the beauty of the mountains at sunset despite their harsh appearance.

                I think the depth of the scene went well, and especially the sketches looked very appealing, but the actual painting itself did not go as well as I’d hoped. For one thing, I forgot that (generally) it is better with watercolours to leave a space unpainted to make it look like snow, an instead tried to paint white watercolour paint on top of the areas I had accidentally made a darker colour. This could have been avoided if I had researched a little deeper into the subject or perhaps have used gouache for the snow effect. Also, the camper turned out a bit less well-defined, as the art pen I used to outline it had a nib that bled a bit into the paper as it was not good quality. What I would change next time would be to research more in how to paint mountain scenery and where to find better art pens.

                My next painting was an acrylic on hardboard canvas of two hillwalkers in the mist of a mountain. I had fun creating the damp look of this painting, and how the eye is drawn to the centre of the scene, where the bright clothes of the first hiker catch the attention. I wanted to show the mystery and strangeness of being on a mountain clothed in mist, as this picture was actually based on a photo of me and one of my friends climbing a mountain during the summer of last year.

                I was very pleased with how this painting turned out, as I’d never used acrylics properly before and wasn’t certain of how it would be different to watercolour. However I was surprised of how similar they were and how interesting and fun it was to be able to blend paint colours and create layers, which you can hardly ever manage with watercolour. I enjoyed creating shadow and the mist swirling overhead as well, it gave depth of field and connotated secrecy and intrigue. The hikers are exploring an unknown world that they know hardly anything about, and the mountain appears to be keeping it from them unless they take another step forward.

                I think what could have been done better would be making the path slightly clearer; also I think what I could change with this painting if I did the same another time would  be  to make the hiker farther away slightly clearer and perhaps use more imaginative colouring; but all in all I was very happy with how this piece turned out.

                In my final painting I portrayed a girl crouching on a mountainside, taking photos of the breathtaking autumn scenery surrounding her. Since autumn is my favourite time of year, this was a very exciting scene to create. I used watercolours for my outline of her face and body this time, rather than using my art pen like I did in painting #1. I wanted to convey a cosy, falling leaves sort of feel to this landscape, so muted reds, browns and the yellow of the photographer’s jumper complemented each other perfectly. I tried to capture her concentration on the scene she is photographing, and show how far up the mountain she is despite it being shrouded in mist by her hillwalking gear (backpack, boots, etc.) and only the tops of trees being visible, with a farther away summit in the distance. These peaks are quite opposed to the previous mountains I had painted, looking more like rolling hills than rocky crags but still a large distance from the ground.

                What could have been improved in this painting was probably how the girl by making her less ungainly in how she was positioned, making the other hill in the background darker and therefore providing greater strength,  and perhaps also the shape and height of the pine trees as they are sometimes too different in height and have differently shaped branches to each other; however, I was very pleased with this painting. Next time I do a similar painting in the future I will probably make these changes and perhaps also adjust the lighting so that it is slightly darker so I can focus more light on one object.

                I learned from my friends reviews that I need to improve my technique for positioning different objects (people, trees, roads, etc.) by making them less awkward and more realistic, and also that my colouring of the different areas could be improved by using vibrant shades and colours to improve the focus and catch the attention better. In conclusion, in future projects I would hope to incorporate these ideas.

The Paintings |

And, there you go, folks!

Something I would really, really appreciate is if you could comment your thoughts below; as part of my project I need lots of feedback. 🙂 What stood out to you in the art? What do you think I could have done better?

See ya next week!

Featured

introducing me. and books. and life.

Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them.

-Lemony Snicket

Never trust anyone who never reads.

-Me.

And to be quite honest, in my mind, there are only three kinds of people in the world: those who can’t read, those who won’t read, and those that do. Welcome, readers, to my blog. 🙂

My name’s Abbie, mocha-drinker, horse-rider, sesquipedalianist and all round book-lover; and together we’re going to delve into the magical world of reading, writing, culture and everything else in between. Care to join me?

Anyway, I hope you enjoy this wild adventure we’re starting on. Gettin’ excited yet?

Please don’t hesitate to ask questions, suggest post ideas or even just have a chat. Until next time… 😉

New Year chit-chat

Well would you look at that, my merry old friends! It’s going to be New Year. And that means entering an entirely new decade. ISN’ T THAT EXCITING?!

I mean, like, how often do we actually waltze into a decade, right?

*umm, every ten years Abbie. Duh.*

So, in honour of this brilliant occasion, I decided to interview my lovely, beautiful friend Gosia, a fellow blogger, about what she finds special about this time.

If you had one resolution at new year that you could keep the rest of your life, what would it be?

It’d be to always keep learning. I know that sounds vague 🙂 but I mean that in every way you could look at it! Never let go of that desire to know MORE about what interests me intellectually, and always be open to discussing my views and opinions with others. I thrive on debating and I want to always be open to at least learning and understanding the other side of whatever subject we’re talking about. And understand more of the fact that no experience, no matter how difficult, is ever wasted, and no person I meet, no matter how they treated me, is ever there without a purpose, but that there is always some way I can grow and learn from this. I’ve had my share of rather peculiar experiences and people in 2019 and rather than becoming bitter or wanting to simply leave that behind me, I’m trying to make sure I process it peoperly and let it grow me.

What is your favourite drink/food at new year?

CHEESE!!!! One thing I’ve definitely gotten from my dad is his love for all kinds of cheeses:) I can’t stand blue cheeses, but otherwise I could eat loads of cheddar, double gloucester, gouda, smoked cheeses, brie, with oatcakes, smoked sausage or on its own. I’m already half-closing my eyes, imagining a beautiful cheese board and only me to eat it…Yum! Unfortunately, it’s easy to get nightmares after ingesting too much cheese. Don’t ask me how that works!

Christmas decor left up or taken down?

Don’t get me even started on people who take their Christmas decor down before the 6th of January! For me, the days between Christmas and the 2nd of January are the most peaceful, family-focused, joyful and festive times of the year, and I can’t see why you would want to cut that short! I also think that’s because my ancestors are Polish…where you decorate right before Christmas rather than the first week of December, and that would mean only about a week of Christmas decor!

What are your thoughts on new year’s resolutions?

I think it’s a cool idea. I’m definitely a planner, so I love brainstorming work, travel and study ideas. I think it’s a good and healthy idea to sit down every so often (and it’s OK if it happens to be New Year’s) and think about your goals, whether they be at work, reading, fitness, health etc. For a few years, I did a list of Goals and Resolutions. Resolutions would include fairly typical ideas such as write more, read more, be braver, and Goals would be specific achievements, such as visit Germany, get my driver’s license, learn to swim etc.

I think the ideas is valuable as it helps with always looking to the future and the good things that are coming. On the other hand, if I’m creating resolutions that are either unfeasible or are going to make me feel guilty rather than inspired, then I hope I would have no hesitation about scrapping them.

Speaking of resolutions, what ARE yours, if you have any?

First of all, what I mentioned in the first question – keep learning, be more present, grow stronger. Secondly, there are a few things I want to start doing more of that I used to: read more and write more – I used to be fanatical about both before I finished school and started working, playing piano and learn guitar, and do more acting and drama again. I also need to start working out several time a week as my health permits. I got to do a lot of travelling and experiencing new people and different cultures in 2019 and that is something I want to carry on into 2020. In terms of specific goals, I plan to start university in the autumn and go hiking for two weeks in the mountains somewhere in Europe in the summer and also start a podcast. I used to blog but have totally lost my motivation and ideas so I plan to explore the direction I could channel my creativity.

What would your one year younger self think of you now?

I think she would be a little bit sad. It’s hard to explain, but this year was hard in all the ways I least expected it to be. She would be disappointed and a little angry that some of the different plans and dreams she held close to her heart were crushed and are gone. She would be proud, though, of the strength and tenacity I have gained and she would gasp in wonder at the beautiful moments and unexpected friendships I made.

How would you like your older self to think of you next new year?

I hope she will be proud and will have absolutely no regrets. I hope she will be stronger and will look at any mistakes I know I will make and be able to know that everything happened for a reason.

Are there any particular random aspects of your own new year celebrations that make you think of new year?

Taking down the kitchen calendar where the whole family writes down birthdays, holidays, visitors, trips, events etc. and going through the whole year starting with January and discussing and remembering all that happened that year. We laugh and we sigh and we wonder how on earth that was this year yet?! Also, making and eating sausage-sauerkraut baked bites – it sounds odd but it’s something we’ve made and enjoyed for many years now!

Let’s forget about snow for a moment – what sort of weather makes you think of New Year?

Clear, cloudlessly blue sky; crisp, freezing air; frosty, crackling and frozen hard ground underfoot. I like to take a New Year’s hike with my family, and this is how I imagine it. The night would then be starry and breathtakingly freezing.

What does your perfect New Year’s Eve look like?

I enjoy the way I usually spend it – an evening spent with family. Dinner at around five and then we light a fire in fireplace in the living room and then we literally wait till midnight, playing games, reading by ourselves, singing carols, watching movies. It’s generally quite chill, although we do get pretty heated and competitivie sometimes! We eat snacks (CHEESE) and drink mulled wine. We then enthusiastically count down to midnight, toast the New Year with champagne and crack the usual worn-out jokes about “see you later today” before going to bed. we then sleep in, go for a hike and eat a festive dinner.

Would you rather play games/watch movies on New Year’s Eve?

Can I be vague and say both? 🙂 When I watch a movie with other people, it is still an interactive experience, as I’m always commenting and discussing and reacting in all the right ways. Recently I watched a Christmas Hallmark with a few much younger girls and i think they were surprised how invested a 20 year old can get and how hard she can fall in love with the handsome prince with a British accent. I love to spend the six or so hours of waiting for midnight in watching either one movie or an episode of Planet Earth and then playing games such as Boggle, Carcassonne, Othello, Dutch Blitz.

Any other thoughts about this special start of the year? 

Regardless of what the previous year was like for you, you made it this far and that is enough. You should be proud of the many ways you’ve grown. I try to approach the months to come with excitement, not fear and worry.

It’s going to be a good year!

The One about Christmas…

Ok.

I know.

I wanted to write a whole series on Christmas – I always do.

But somehow, I’ve been so so busy this festive season that that just hasn’t been possible. So here is another super long post to get you guys into the Christmas Spirit.

You betta grab your milk and cinnamon cookies (like me!) and join me as we read on…because…

CHRISTMAS IS COMIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIING!!!

*me*
*people who get annoyed by my over-the-top-Christmas-iness*

But hey, I AM restrained. I didn’t wear my Christmas jumper until the first, peeps! Though of course I was really wanting to…however I’m always a Scrooge right up till the First of December. You just need to wait till the right time of year, guys!

*me crushing all pre-December efforts*

And, guess what this post is gonna be ’bout.

So I know that long posts are far more interesting than short ones – but I also know that marathons (like my last post) shouldn’t be constant. To be frank, it would just get boring! So I will be doing longer posts now, but likely less often. Less often than this, you ask?

Welp, let’s get right down to it, shall we folks? Get ready for a way-out post on a variety of diverse things.

10. What are Your Favourite Carols?

I LOVE CAROLS!!!

If you know me for any length of time, you’ll know that I live music. I pretty much breathe music. I sleep….no, I really don’t. But I love music a whole lot, and CHRISTMAS is the perfect season for, well, Christmas music. And we got a good jam down here.

All of them have a special place in my heart. I love the good ole tunes, the bangin’ out of Bing Crosby or Nat King Cole on the radio, the wonderful feelings they bring out in people…I’d say that this is the hardest thing for me to decide.

Cuz I love Carol of the Bells…or Angels we have Heard on High…or Silent Night…

Oh, shoot!

I guess I should just say I love all carols. But you’d better not be caught by me if you’re playing it wrong.

(or sing)

Carols have got to be just right. Otherwise, I throw them out; literally. Out dey go, and dey’s never comin’ back. I just like a specific style, like, I can only listen to White Christmas by Bing Crosby for example. So if it’s not right, then…well, you know what happens next.

So my favourites? Well, as afore mentioned, Bing, Andy Williams, Francesca Battistelli (Christmas album, duh, same for those that follow), Casting Crowns, Chris Tomlin, Barlowgirl, Tobymac, 1GN…yeah there’s a few. What are yours though?

*when Christmas carols are exiled until next year*

9. What are Your Favourite Movies?

I love Christmas. I just do. I love the candy, the art, the presents, the hot chocolate, the cosiness…and what can always sum up Christmas perfectly for me? Movies. Good, solid Christmas ones. Watching them is my family’s tradition.

*my dad*

So what sums up a good Christmas movie for me? Basically the same criteria I use for everything else.

*me when criteria fails*

A good, solid plot. Cheeriness and happiness. A good dash of romance and fun.

We need a real story with adventure, characters, plot, suspense…go to this post if you want to know the full blurb, because it basically goes for movies too. But the upshot is, don’t go for something that’s cheap or cheesy – now that doesn’t mean don’t go for an inexpensive movie. What I’m saying is, don’t go for a movie that is cheap; go for one that has a good storyline and feels Christmassy, no matter if it only cost you £1 or £13!

Here are some of my favourites, though: Elf, Muppets Christmas Carol (faithfully watched every Christmas day of my entire life – comment below if your family has done a similar thing), The Snowman, The 12 Dogs of Christmas, Christmas Oranges, Home Alone, A Christmas Wish, Christmas with a Capital C, The Polar Express, Frozen II…oh come on, that counts!…the list goes on and on.

Ooh, and Starwars come out at Christmastime!!

But don’t just read about these – watch them.

*when a plot hits me unexpectedly*

*Sorry dudes but you’ll have to bear with these gifs –Elf is one of my favourite movies of the season 😉 *

8. What are Your Favourite Books?

Hmm…well, if you include Children’s books, The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski, The Christmas Angel by Pirkko Vainio, One Wintry Night by Ruth Bell Graham and A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (which is probably the favourite of every book lover on earth. Sigh. I’m so cliche).

I do love Christmas books, I just never seem to FIND them. These books have been in my family for as long as I care to remember..has anyone out there got any reccomendations for some more grown-up books? I’d love to know.

*coughs*

Erm, take no notice of my..*cough, cough*..staggeringly high tbr pile..

But I do love reading during the holidays – there’s always plenty of down-time during storms, especially where I live in Scotland, there are often low level storms that last up to two or three weeks at best, so we need a lot to keep us occupied. Though that’s because of rain, sleet, wind and other (sometimes) nasty elements cause there to be a slight inability to go outdoors; but I’m sure in some parts of the world you’re getting beautiful, frigid drifts of snow up to the eaves…

7. What are Your Favourite Christmas Clothes?

Christmas jumpers. Obviously.

Or pyjamas, those are good too.

Ohh, and onesies! I love a cute onesie.

But I also love the hats, especially berets or pom-pom hats, normal jumpers, dungarees, thick scarves – all in very bright and beautiful colours.

6. What Puts you Most in the Christmas Spirit?

Well, there are a lot of things that make me be in the Christmas spirit; Santa Claus, cinnamon/clove essential oils, candles, turkey, mistletoe (and by the way I haven’t in the past and probably never will be kissed beneath mistletoe anytime soon, don’t fear! ;)), the Jesse Tree, Christmas Trees, sledging, carol singing…but I think that the thing that most puts me in the Christmas spirit is seeing how others show simple acts of kindness, often to people they don’t even know with no reward other than knowing they’re helping somebody.

And also even just helping someone at home with chores, caring for your next door neighbour, or getting a present for a kid whose parents are really low on income – that’s what truly gets me in the Christmas spirit.

For example, a Christmas trad in our family for a while was to go around all our neighbours with Mince Pies. Okay, so they might have been a little overdone, and a little badly shaped..but they were made by kids, and it’s the thought that counts, right?

And when I help someone, I know deep down that this is what Christmas really is all about. It’s not all about turkey, or Santa, or snow-globes; it’s about the birth of a Saviour who taught us to love others.

5. What is your Favourite Decor?

As an artist, I’m always on the look out for cute decor and objects to put in your house.

*Yeah, girl. Smooth. Like, objects you put in your house are decor?*

I love Christmas decor because it is so varied. I’m a minimalist, though, so there CAN be too much. I love silver, white, green and gold themes especially; some of my home decor faves are miniature flocked pine trees, white and gold stars, silver fairy lights, green ribbon, just to name a few.

But my favourite item of Christmas decor would HAVE to be the Christmas wreath. They’re absolutely gorgeous, easy to craft and adorable anywhere in the house; the same goes for Christmassy garlands.

4. Music (other than Carols!)

I love a good Christmas bop, but when I need something quiet and relaxing, these Christmas tunes are always there to help me out. They’re good for down-time, sitting at the table, for the background, in your earphones at work and for togetherness or aloneness! My favourite instrumental pieces for Christmas are…

Jennifer Thomas’ Album, Winter Symphony.

The Piano Guys Album, Christmas Together (though not all instrumental).

The Polar Express.

Midwinter Carols, Joel Clarkson.

3. What are your Favourite Christmas Foods?

What’s Christmas day without Christmas dinner? There’s only one answer:

So I have some favourites that really make the Season for me. And by the way we don’t have all these in the one meal, some are for breakfast and for tea aswell, just saying. 🙂

Turkey, Cranberry jelly, roast potatoes, pumpkin pie, lentil soup with cream, a cheese plate, crackers, carrots, peas, and piles and piles of chocolate coins.

2. What are your Feelings During Christmas?

I suppose it would really depend on the Christmas itself. Sometimes at Christmas people (and that includes me) feel very un-jolly and to almost Scrooge-like proportions. And I’m not joking with this statement – a lot of people who don’t like Christmas have a REASON WHY. It’s not like all of them are kill-joys; in fact, a lot of them are having a really hard time. And I’ve been there.

But if I could sum up my feelings about Christmas in a normal, happy time, I’d say joyful, grateful, and perhaps a bit more humble. God sent his son to a stinky, rough barn where there were animals and not even a proper bed – and despite how pretty they make it look in the nativity scene, Jesus came into a world that straightaway hated him and wanted to kill him for it. If God could dwell in someplace so hostile and awful while never complaining, what more should we do in our comfortable, warm homes this Christmas?

1. What are your Favourite Kinds of Advent Calendars?

Well at the moment we have four Advent Calendars in the house.

Yup that’s right…including my two younger sisters chocolate advent calendars. In fact this year we were gifted with five chocolate Advent Calendars, but mum thought they were getting too hyper from the chocolate they already had. 😀 The other two calendars are a pretty inked one and a felt one for the whole fam.

I like the arty one best probably, for it’s cute wintry decor; but I like the felt one too because it shows the true meaning of Christmas (apart from the Wise Men being at Jesus birth and there being three of them, right?!)

But hey, what are YOUR favourite carols, books, movies? What puts YOU in the Christmas spirit?

I WANT TO KNOOOOOOOOW.

A very long expected post…

Sometimes, life is thrown at you, and all of a sudden you’re completely caught at unawares like…

2019 has been that sort of a year for me; I don’t feel emotionally or mentally ready to give you the details yet, but the fact is I spent my entire Summer in hospital, which you might agree is a bit of a bummer. Just a little bit.

So I just haven’t had as much time to blog recently – plus my inspiration has been a little low. But all that, ladies and gentleman, is about to change.

*makes massive entrance; swaggers in and takes a bow*

everybody else

AAHHEEEEEEM. QUIET, PLEASE!

*curtain rises*

May I present to you….the most long of expected posts and the most expected of long posts in the history of this blog……

WHAT MAKES A FICTION BOOK GOOD (and what doesn’t. Copyright me. Teas and Coffees apply).

Storyline |

This is deeeeeep water, my friends. Very very deep.

*me desperately trying to answer controversial questions that have been thrown at me…. without drowning*

And I think pretty much anyone can realise that. What makes a book good is so different to each individual person that you could actually say that posts like these don’t matter.

OR DO THEY???

Because, quite frankly, even if this post is received with *ahem* slighly less praise than it deserves *ahem* then *ahem* there’ll at least *ahem* be good area for discussion at the bottom of this post.

*ahem*

So please, comment freely! All or no criticism is welcome, because I understand that not everyone holds my views. About books. Or maybe about a lot of things, actually.

However, this is beside the point. What were we talking about? Ah yes, storyline.

Now I (as an avid reader) know that there are probably at least a hundred, maybe more, different genres. And I’ll try to look at this from an unbiased perspective, but if anyone wants to add helpful criticism, I’ll tell you which are my favourites.

*sighs dramatically*

My favourite genres are Historical Fiction, Fantasy and YA (though apparently YA is really just as simple to read as children’s books but for teenagers, so I don’t frequent this stack of novels often. I prefer HARD reads – you should probably keep that in mind too).

So, I’d like to outline for you my favourite storylines. Here goes.

The Adventure

Obviously, I love adventure in books. And no, don’t point at me shouting,’how can you not like Jane Austen?!’

Because let me get one thing straight – for me, adventure is a quality that includes action, drama, and a touch of a cliff-hanger; this does NOT rule out novels like Austen’s by any means.

For example – and I KNOW her works are not thrillers, you people! – she has the action when there’s gossip among the old mothers, the drama when a girl meets her could-be-husband while injured in the rain, and the cliff-hanger at the end of the chapter when you can’t decide if she prefers Colonel Brandon to John Willoughby; there IS adventure going on in their small community, even though I wouldn’t consider Austen to be my fabourite writer.

Sorry!

For me, in a sentence, true action in a plot requires boldness, bravery, courage, loyalty, a good little scare and a happy conclusion (plus the things I already said above). You need adventure to give LIFE to a book.

*I quoth thee my English examiners*

For me, it’s something a good book simply can’t do without.

The Romance

Okay, we’ve heard it before. A girl looks like she hates a guy but actually likes him better than she appears to like the popular guy at school who turns out to be her boyfriend. A girl is saved from some life-threatening situation by a handsome stranger. A guy falls in love with a girl, the girl he cannot have, he tries to impress her, other guy bops in and swings her off her feet, first guy angry, shows her he loves her and is made of truer stuff than guy number two….end of story. Sound familiar?

I shall confess my transgression – I do love these little things (with the right tweaking of course. If not I ditch them foreves), and let’s face it, you have heard this line before^^ Though not necessarily from Will Turner. People use this quote EVERYWHERE. But do they mean it? I love the romantic twist and all, but…well, don’t we need something a bit more solid? I like it most when a guy says he’ll die for her – and almost, or actually, does. Or makes some other enormous sacrifice simply because he loves her, not because he loves the romance.

#WillTurnerandanyothertrueguy

But not when he doesn’t MEAN it.

And I know, we don’t need all this dying; but I just want to point out how hollow so many film AND book plots are today. Where are the REAL MEN AND WOMEN, PEOPLE?! I firmly believe women should also sacrifice for those they love, but guys especially seem to have this problem with unkept promises most in media. I just would like more Will Turners or Faramirs or Finns and not emotionally romantic guys around in books who are only there as long as the girl is hot or something. And this is truly what I think, not just because I like their characters.

Plus their own choice to admit that their feelings might NOT ACTUALLY BE MATCHED BY THE GAL’S. I’ve heard somewhere before that you learn if a guy really loves you if you say no to him about something (but girls, this doen’t mean you should start saying no all the time just to see the effects)

The point is, we need to expect better from both writers and authors *AND people*. Chivalry is not dead, people, and we need to keep it alive. Plus, I would love a bit of a twist, wouldn’t you? A little something different in the romance section. A different story. Men and women are more attractive to me as couples when they find out they both have the same feelings and face their burdens together, standing up for each other, no matter what.

Another thing about romance in books is it is often overdone. I just really dislike too much of a good thing, same as too much action, too much adventure, too much death (#yesthereareactualgenresforthis); I think I’ve read (in total) about four proper, full-on romance books in my life and dumped every book of ’em except one because the plot was interesting so I mostly skipped the mushy parts to find out what happened. I just find it a leetle bit tough to go through.

It’s like, talking about, well, married stuff that I couldn’t care less about. I like romance, but not so much that I will submerge myself in it until it makes me constantly feel like..

So, to sum up romance? Low-key, but still adorable; caring, happy, and just a dash of fun. That’s what true love in books looks like for me – and, well, anywhere else. 🙂

The Suspense

Okay, so we already sort of covered this in my adventure section, but I feel like unpacking this a bit more, as my history teacher says.

Suspense (and I’m not joking) is what brings a story home to us. It shows us the characters are people too, that they have things to fear or worry about, that there’s something probably life-changing/threatening going to happen, and the result? You simply cannot put it down.

Here’s the main purpose for suspense: To keep readers reading the book and not wanting to put it down. But, suspense and conflict do not have to come from one dastardly event occurring right after another, like Dominoes falling. Suspense has all to do with the structure of the novel. Relevant and even life-changing events, wrapped in their own form of suspense, must happen as part of a logical sequence of events. You’ve done a good job with suspense when readers care about what’s going to happen and don’t want to stop turning pages, or if they must stop reading, they’re eager to return to the book as soon as possible. You can use and build suspense in many ways; however, you don’t want to overdo this or it will slow plot momentum.

Joyce Shafer, LEC

Guys, can you imagine life without suspense?! Imagine the Shire without Mordor, the West Indies without pirates (the bad ones), the galaxy without The First Order, the entire world without supervillains? Would you stay interested in that movie/book long at all?

(And hopefully you agree with me on this one)

NO WAY!! IT’S DOWNRIGHT BORING!

And as that quote up there says, you CAN have too much suspense – but without it I truly and wholeheartedly believe that the world of fiction would crumble to dust. Just take this, for example:

They went two or three miles further, and the orc-hold was hidden from sight behind them; but they had hardly begun to breathe freely again when harsh and loud they heard orc-voices. Quickly they slunk out of sight behind a brown and stunted bush. The voices drew nearer. Presently two orcs came into view.

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, JRR Tolkien.

And do this:

They went two or three miles further, and the orc-hold was behind them; but they heard orc-voices. They went behind a brown and stunted bush. They heard the voices. Some orcs came into view.

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, JRR Tolkien – changed for blogging purposes only.

If you take away the suspense, you not only rob this excellent quote of a whole lot of its bulk, you take away the need to find out what happens next. I never have enjoyed a good, proper fiction read if it has little to no suspense; but the same goes if there is too much. Then I’m like..

*Too much! It’s just too much!*

Now, onward, my friends!!

The Descriptions

Now we will have a good look at descriptions; taking away the bare bones of what a book should be and how it should actually be described. I love descriptions, y’all. I just have to admit it. I could not go on in life without descriptions, in both my own books and those I read. Just like the other things I have already described, books just would not be the same without it.

Simple as that.

So come along, chaps, and we’ll delve into one of my favourite areas of bookishness…

Background

Envision a play. A good play. Not one of those cheap-skate things you only pay like 20p for or something (though I doubt if even THOSE exist anymore..).

But anyway, bear with me; so you’re at this play in the theatre and the acting was phenomenal, the cast was perfect and it was pulled-off wonderfully. But there were no costumes, no artwork, no props….it might seem a little lifeless, don’t you think? This is like a fiction book with absolutely ZERO detail. It feels cheap and unbelievable, there’s barely any evidence of what the characters are actually doing because you don’t know where they are or what they do or what sort of world they occupy. Sound familiar?

For your sake, I hope it doesn’t. These books are NOT worth it, by any means, and quite frankly (it really pains me to say this of a book) it’s wasting your time.

Period.

So you want background? What SORT of background? Well, I would start with describing things.

Here’s an off-the-top-of-my-head-story-in-a-sentence:

Elynnea looked around and then turned back. She had walked into a corner of a shop that sold things.

Me.

Now, add the descriptions.

Elynnea gazed around furtively and turned back again to make sure that she hadn’t been folllowed. She had wandered into an ancient, forgotten corner of the shop that sold strange, dusty artefacts.

Me – better.

*You can also see here that I added a touch of suspense; try and spot it. If you do, comment below :)*

I know you probably don’t appreciate it much, but we authors are actually doing a whole lot of work when we give you background! We put in little jokes about the character so you get to know them, their attitude, what it’s like where they go/live/work, the atmosphere, how they communicate….there are endless things to consider. Plus you can see how I’ve tried to ‘show’ you what is happening, as it is called, rather than ‘tell’ you (eg. bluntly referring to what is happening with little sense of story or description).

So there you have it – background (and description) in a nutshell.

Characters

Now, I wonder I wonder I wonder….

If we have background, and we have a story, what else do we need for, well, an actual BOOK??

That’s right, y’all. People. We need people, people! Or any other form of life that is a character, but I’ll just be covering human characters in this post (or, some human. Mostly human).

Because what is a story without characters? Well, let me just say – not very fun. At all.

*have I said that somewhere before?*

The Heroine

You most likely know by now (if you have followed me for any length of time on Goodreads, or if you know me by any other means) that I have very specific guidelines for characters. The reason? I’ve just always liked to dissect people. In books.

*of course, not literally, you understand*

So I have pretty high standards. Here are some of mine for a heroine. Do YOU have any?

  1. She is kind
  2. She is PART of the adventure (not constantly a damsel in distress, but aalso not showing up her guy by how much tougher she is)
  3. She is courageous
  4. She is willing to die or sacrifice a WHOLE LOT for what she believes and who she loves
  5. She knows her limits and when to let others take over, but still works her hardest
  6. She understands peoples needs and tries to help them
  7. She is not conditioning with her affections
  8. She does not hide her affections
  9. She doesn’t only seem attractive when in her best clothes and makeup
  10. She knows her guys love is not all that defines her
  11. She apologises when she’s wrong

I know I haven’t written much here, but it’s because I find this topic so wide and difficult to describe. I would love it if you guys out there would tell me your ideas too – these are just some basic things I look for in a heroine. Can you guess which famous heroines are my faves from this list? 😉

The Hero

I’m a girl. I read book with guy heroes. And sometimes it’s difficult, especially if it’s the opposite sex, to discern between what’s fiction and what’s not. Cause for girls I’m just like, ‘yeah, she can’t do that in reality’ or ‘that relationship just wouldn’t work out in real life’, but with guys you just kinda want to believe they’re all big strong super models who would never do anything wrong.

So please keep this in mind. I’m sure it happens with guys too about girls in books.

Hero guidelines..

  1. He is also kind
  2. He doesn’t run from danger but faces it like a man (unless it is utter stupidity to do so)
  3. He fights for what is right and who he loves
  4. He understands and leaves it when he knows pursuing a certain relationship is a bad idea
  5. He treats his girl with respect and does not make fun of or shame her
  6. He looks after and protects his girl, but lets her do the same for him aswell
  7. He shows his love for her – but not in a creepy, flirty or arrogant way
  8. He doesn’t have to have an eight-pack to be heroic
  9. He knows when to lead but when to let others lead too
  10. He apologises when he’s wrong
  11. He saves the heroine’s life. At least once.

Antagonist

Then there’s the bad guy. The criminal. The bogey man. The one you wouldn’t really want to risk meeting if you had to.

Generally, the bad guys I like best are either those who are non-human or have non-human elements that set them apart from the good guys (though this is not always the case. There ARE some good guy aliens, and people with eyepatches, or whatever).

I’ve just always liked bad guys with SOME SENSE of humanity but also something different to us (this can even be as simple as an awful, like, really awful temper) because it brings them home to us so so much clearer. It shows how they could have once been like us – but either something corrupted them or something they LET corrupt them corrupted them….it differs with each plot.

So let’s just say…I personally don’t love the insane bad guys as much.

I know what you’re thinking:

Uuum, duh Abbie, you are basically throwing out over half the bad guys in world history!!!!

No. Because I have a basic rule when it comes to insanity from bad guys – I dislike the ones who are evil simply on the grounds that they are completely insane and have no clue of what damage they are invoking, as opposed to baddies who do insanely evil things just because they feel like it or completely embrace their insanity and reek havoc rather than going to their local mental health department. Very subtle difference here, folks.

Plus I prefer bad guys who are actually bad. Not just like ‘haha it’s funny to be bad’, but those that have a solid reason for it. Not necessarily a good reason, but all the same a reason. Bad guys aren’t that scary to me if they laugh over a kid getting their icecream dropped and their balloon popped.

*enter Gru*

So yes, basically bad guys need to have a good reason for being bad, a good reason for doing bad things (other than just the chance to release their pent-up evil laughs), and have a good reason for actually being against the protagonist. Well, if you could call it good.

So you can think of some ‘good’ bad guys too…Emperor Palpatine, Smaug, Kylo Ren, Barbossa…try to spot their human AND non-human elements.

The Ending

There’s really only one thing that I can say about book endings. Please, just please – let it be happy.

Even if they all die but it’s for a good cause, it’s happy.

Even if they don’t know what will happen next to them, it should be happy.

Even if they all feel at a loss but have done all they could ever do,

make

it

happy.

I just have never got the mindset behind books such as Romeo and Juliet where they commit suicide after learning the other is dead – if that’s all that matters to them, well, all I can say is, wouldn’t your loved one WANT you to still be alive if they die, if they had good intentions at all?

I’m just all for happy endings. In a society where there is increasing doubt and depression, don’t kids and adults alike need encouragement of some sort? I know I’ve asked a lot of questions in this post, but I do think this is a genuine point. Literature is such a big part of society, even in our modern world. We need uplifting in this day and age.

So end happy. Perhaps not ‘happily ever after’; but at least happy with the knowledge that the characters did all they could, loved well, and ended in at least some achievement. Because that’s what true, good books should be all about.

****

I hope you enjoyed, my dear friends! Have a wonderful week, and go on to read more and more books. And always appreciate the good ones.

If we encounter a man of rare intellect, we should ask him what books he reads.

Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.

P.J. O’Rourke.

A good novel tells us the truth about its hero; but a bad novel tells us the truth about its author.

G.K. Chesterton.

It Ends

Now, if none of you want to read this, then…

So, you poor old readers who have been left behind thought my Tolkien rants were over? Sadly, they’re not. At least, not quite. Because just yesterday, I watched The Hobbit.

AND The Lord of the Rings.

In one week.

Yaaass, it set me on FIYAAAAAH!

So don’t be mad. It might just make me slip my elvish boots on and grab me arrows… buckle on your Mithril and get ready for an action-packed adventure!

*Me*
My favourite bit about this? How he CONTEMPLATES the bow

Okay, so you know last week was a bit of a short post…I’ll admit it.

So, this week I want to do a very very long post on a collection of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movesss (whooops, beginning to sound like Gollum!); it’s gonna be basically what I think makes every one of these films just so absolutely incredible, but also my favourite characters and why they may be different to how I think of them in the books. And for YOU, my little halflings, you can post comments on what makes these good to you. 🙂

*Don’t worry if not all my jokes make sense to you – it’s a fandom after all, what do you expect?!*

Gandalf’s embarassment – teeheeheee!

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Return of the King and The Battle of the Five Armies|

True courage is about knowing not when to take a life but when to spare one.

Gandalf the Grey.

I think this whole movie series could be summed up by this one quote. Now, I’m not saying that the entire movie is flowers and roses, they all lived happily ever after, etc…

It’s the fact that each character VALUES THE LIVES OF THEIR FRIENDS AND LOVED ONES. Bilbo does his best to save Thorin by keeping back the cursed Arkenstone. Kili tries to save his brother. Tauriel saves Kili from an Orc raid in Mirkwood. Legolas saves Tauriel from his own grouchy father. And Legolas…is not saved by anyone.

#Icanfightbymyself

But you get my point, right?? The Characters deeply and eternally care about each other. They are not willing, even when all hope seems lost, to give up or give in. Their strong morals of steadfast friendship and courage ring true throughout these films, and bring me to tears.

Every.

Single.

Time.

I hate to break it to you, but though Legolas has something of a standing in this series since he is in The Lord of the Rings, Tauriel is not actually in the books at all. I know, right?! And she’s the best character EVVVEEEEER!!

*Me reading The Hobbit*

So, without further ado, let us get on with my character ratings for The Hobbit movies… Name translations are in front of the characters real name.

Tauriel | Daughter of the Forest

Okay, so we were talkin’ bout her, weren’t we? Weeell, let’s give this wonderful she-elf a good looking at.

She’s obvioulsy enrolled at Thranduil’s palace in Mirkwood as Head of the Elven Guard, and is known for her amazingly swift and tactical movements while fighting (like many of the Elves).

But what is so amazing about this Elf is her thirst for adventure, justice, and her love for Kili, a dwarf in Thorin’s company. Even Legolas’ creepy father, Thranduil, King of Mirkwood, won’t stop her relentless courage.

She can dress wounds, fight, and just about give ole Legolas a right telling off at times (which, my friends, is certainly not a simple task).

Unfortunately for Tauriel, Legolas is in love with her too.

Legolas giving Tauriel the death stare after she talks to Kili (!)

And only in the last movie does he realise his mistake and decide to do some good elsewhere and train up Aragorn, Isildur’s heir (if you were wondering, Isildur is the guy who cut The Ring from Sauron’s hand), where you will find him again in The Lord of the Rings; Tauriel quietly slips out of the story.

Because, after Kili’s awful death, you can see she is heartbroken, and Legolas finally recognises that she could not ever love him, because no matter what her heart would stay with her loved one. So he did the best thing an Elf can do – leave and help someone else who needs it.

Tauriel also shows her wit and determination to do right by protecting the remnant of dwarves left behind and Bard’s family when Smaug the dragon soars over Rivendell and sets it aflame, then goes with Legolas to spy out the orcs. She truly is a remarkable, honest character.

Legolas | Greenleaf

Yeah, that literally IS what his name means!! Go figure. Cause his last name is also Greenleaf..

Legolas is a steady, loyal character, also famous like Tauriel for his slick moves and quick battle plans. He’s the son of Thranduil. Nuff said. I personally don’t think I could LIVE with that sort of a parent; he’s so controlling, arrogant, greedy, self-centered *my sincerest apologies to Thranduil fans, by the way* witless, cowardly, and…you get the point. I don’t like him very much at all. Not the rest of the characters, but…

But hey, this bit is meant to be for Legolas. How many more times can you keep liking his part?!

Can I just say he is my favourite guy in LotR, hands down?? I mean, Stryder is the leader, Sam is the cutie, Frodo is the Ring-bearer…but Legolas seems to me to often be the heart and soul of this intrepid quest.

He’s loyal, kind (heh, except in 99% of The Hobbit :S ) and knows how to deal with the enemy. Although he is often torn between his loyalty to his own people and The Fellowship, this rogue elf is about as fearless as it gets. Plus I’m slightly biased since he was one of my first fan crushes. :p Like, before I even saw the moves!!!

Bilbo |

Sadly, my dear questers, I cannot find Bilbo’s name meaning – however, I DID find out that ‘Hobbit’ comes from Holbytla, an etymology that JRR Tolkien made up meaning ‘hole-dweller’ in Old English.

This fond little hobbit comes from the Shire in Middle-earth, and as most of us know, his quiet peaceful life changes forever when he is visited by Gandalf the Grey with Thorin’s company.

I was so pleased when I saw how Bilbo was portrayed by Martin Freeman – he is exactly how I imagine Bilbo from the book!

Even though Bilbo may have flaws, he has such decency, wit and determination that makes everyone instantly love him. He’s very brave, and brings a touch of solidity and homeliness to the scary world outside of the Shire that few characters except hobbits can provide.

Something I always find hilarious about good old Bilbo is how he obviously cannot fight as well as the dwarves, but tries so very hard that he somehow manages to defeat his foe. *stifles chuckle*

Another reason Billbo is so likeable is how he talks himself out of situations, with both Gollum and the Three Trolls. His tenacity and daring are often overlooked completely by the other characters, but they are qualities in him that we love. Also his hilarious way of looking at things.

And can we just say that he’s one of the few people who can actually GET GANDALF ANNOYED?! This in and of itself is an achievement, I would say!

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King |

I made a promise Mr. Frodo, a promise… don’t you lose him Samwise Gamgee; and I don’t mean to.

Samwise Gamgee.

Just as Gandalfs’ wise saying can easily sum up The Hobbit, so Sam’s simple yet profound words have always left me speechless. What friendship and courage he and all the other characters show in this series! The Fellowship itself does not just centre on the task at hand – even after it has been broken, Legolas, Gilmli and Aragorn actually go to rescue Merry and Pippin, their friends – they don’t just count them as a loss and look to the Greater Good to satisfy them.

Frodo (as the main character) has always struck me as needing the others with him, and I don’t believe for one moment this is a sign of weakness. So often today we are told that we must be strong on our own and I believe that is true to an extent – but if you look at Frodo, he simply needed the others to help him complete the mission. There’s no other way of putting it.

Let’s face it though, there were some parts in this series I just find HILARIOUS because of all the plot changes from the original, but also the characters’ silliness.

  1. Boromir’s famous quote “One does not simply walk past the gates of Mordor…” I mean, WHY ON EARTH does he say that?! This is the FELLOWSHIP we’re talkin’ bout!!
  2. Sauron being a bit of a wuss. Okay, so he’s evil. But mostly all we see him doing is howling at everyone with his mace.
  3. Gimli picking a fight with elves. He obviously couldn’t see he was outnumbered 10 to 1.
  4. Eowen following Aragorn around everywhere. I know, this is in the book…but seriously, how funny!
  5. Aragorn’s love interest. I just have a feeling that their love was sort of, well…awkward?! Plus it wasn’t in the book. I mean, she turns up to kiss him in an evening dress as if she’s been waiting for it. I prefer true love in whatever they happen to be in, no matter how manky!
Yaas, de battle clothes are on! I feel like this part is actually the most romantic bit of the whole movie
Meh. I prefer her fighting, tbh.

But all that being said, LotR is one of my favourite movie series, and I’d reccommend it to anyone. Again, true themes of loyalty, redemption (esp. with Boromir) and a united cause.

Aragorn | My favourite definitions are Revered King, Royal Valour and Noble

The perfect leader – full of courage, never willing to give in, and above all else, a true King of Men. I can’t get over how much Aragorn cares about everyone else in THe Fellowship. Ok, so I know we have the slightly creepy bit at the start of The Fellowship, but I think it was mainly to build atmosphere, and he totally proves himslef for who he is in the Return of the King.

I actually imagine Aragorn to be slighlty MORE shady in the books, but that’s just my opinion. But yes, a true fighting guy. You go, Stryder!!

*thumps Aragorn on shoulder*

Frodo | wise

Ah, the Ring-bearer. I haven’t got much more room for all my favourite characters (if you knew me, I pretty much think of EVERYONE as my favourite, except the bad guys), but I had to stick in something for dear old Frodie.

He may be small, but he’s strong. He may fall for the Ring, but his friends help him finally be rid of it and Sauron and all his dark forces. He may often get hit with a weapon, but he bounces back. That’s what I love so much about this resilient wee hobbit…plus his child-like delight in simple things.

Now, tell ME what you think could have been differently, or what you loved about these movies – I’d love to know. 🙂

Long live Legolas and Gimli and Elrond and Gandalf and Tauriel and Kili and Thorin and Merry and Pippin and Frodo, and Sam, and jolly old Hobbiton!

Tolkien’s Works.| The Return of the King

The very end of The Lord of the Rings! I can’t believe we’re here already!

Isn’t this joyous news!! We’re finally almost there! (Please forgive my RIDICULOUS grammar)

Legolas, Aragorn and Gimli travel together to find the Dead Men of Dunharrow, who must join them, as they are under an ancient curse that compels them to fight for the King of Gondor. With this new army, they reach the besieged city of Minas Tirith, where Eowyn ( Theodoen’s niece who disguises herself as a soldier ) and Merry together kill the Lord of the Nazgul.

As all this is going on, Sam frees Frodo from Cirith Ungol, and they begin their journey again across Mordor, finally reaching the Cracks of Doom (as a distraction, Aragorn leads a company against the Dark Lords Armies). However, instead of destroying The Ring, Frodo puts it on; however, Gollum reappears and bites of Frodo’s finger, taking The Ring. But while jubilating over what he has done, Gollum loses his footing and plunges into The Cracks of Doom, destroying himself, and therefore The Ring, together. When it is destroyed, Sauron loses all control, his army begin to die and fall into disarray, and the victory is won.

Three cheers for hobbits!!

YESSSSS!

So there, in a nutshell, is a short version of what goes on in The Two Towers. Want to find out more? Watch DA MOVIE! Or better yet, the book. 🙂