October Wrap-up

Yes, it’s a teensy bit late into November to be doing October’s wrap-up but I’ve never let that stop me before, so why change things now? (I’m actually still hoping I’ll get wrap-ups done for July, August and September, but that might be wishful thinking!)

Anyway, this won’t be anything very exciting because as you know, October was a terrible month for me. Which means it was the worst possible time to go on a book buying ban. But I succeeded, so my book haul looks like this:

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How unlike me is that? All three were given to me (and it turned out I already have Aurabel, so that won’t be staying) and I didn’t buy. A. Single. Book. Obviously as soon as the calendar turned the page to November I was straight into Waterstones, but given I probably average about 20 books a month, I was quite impressed with myself!

Reading-wise, I only read seven books in October, which is almost as unlike me as only acquiring three books. They were:

  • Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire
  • The Exact Opposite of Okay (which was amazing and highly recommended)
  • Harry Potter and The Order of The Phoenix
  • Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince (you may be noticing a theme)
  • Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows
  • The Serial Garden
  • They Both Die At The End (also amazing. I utterly loved this.)

I only managed one review sadly (linked above), but it’s better than nothing.

So how was your October? I very much hope it was better than mine! Link me your posts in the comments if you like – I’d love to see what you’ve been up to.

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Book Review: Michael’s Spear

So today I’m part of the blog tour for Michael’s Spear, the final book in the Hobbes End trilogy by Hilton Pashley. I didn’t want to clog up Hilton’s guest post by including a review there, so you get a second post today. (I know, nothing for weeks, then two at once!)

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The Universe is coming apart at the seams.

As Jonathan and his friends fight to save it, their every move is being watched from the shadows. Lilith, the last Archdemon, has plans of her own, and with the legendary Michael’s Spear under her control Jonathan has never faced a more lethal foe.

With the odds stacked against him, Jonathan will need all the help he can get if he is to fulfil his destiny.

It’s time for Gabriel’s grandson to finally spread his wings…

I’m so glad that Dome Press invited me to be a part of the blog tour, or I might not have come across this book. Even if I had, I suspect I would have been put off by it being the final part of a trilogy I haven’t read. If that’s ringing alarm bells for you as well, let me put your mind at rest – it doesn’t matter. Yes, there are references to what has gone before, and it’s true that we’re kind of thrown in at the deep end in terms of who everyone is, but I found myself getting to grips with everyone and everything quite quickly, and I think that’s testament to Hilton Pashley’s writing. There are enough explanations that everything makes sense, and it didn’t matter that I’d had two books less to get to know all the characters because I loved them anyway. I particularly loved Hobbes End as a setting. I don’t think it’s going too far to describe it as a character in its own right to be honest, because so much of what happens is because of Jonathan’s love for his home village.

Jonathan is a great character too. It’s easy to separate a children’s book hero from his parents for story reasons, but in Michael’s Spear Jonathan has masses of family and family-like friends around him, and they help him. It was really lovely to see that in a children’s book. And, in fact, all the supporting characters are well written and rounded people (and by people I generally mean angels, or fallen angels, or werewolves…), and I really did find myself caring about everyone.

What I really loved about Michael’s Spear though, was the way Pashley wove a ton of theology into it, without ever making it about religion. I know – I don’t know how he managed that either! But it is a story that is entirely without judgement, even with heaven and hell as literal settings and angels and demons as major characters. I mean, yes, the demons are generally the bad guys, but that’s mostly their choice. They don’t *have* to be. Jonathan’s mum is a demon and she supports her son in trying to save the universe, so to me it’s clear that there is a choice to be made. There are also some interesting points about the possibility of redemption – it’s clear Lucifer is searching for forgiveness, and he sees his caretaking of Hobbes End as a way to earn that, but it’s equally clear that the person who needs to forgive him is himself.

Michael’s Spear is a great middle-grade novel that works just as well as a standalone as I imagine it does as the end of a trilogy. There’s a definite sense of closure by the end, and while I’d love to see more stories set in Hobbes End, it seemed a good place to leave them. I’d highly recommend picking both this and the previous 2 books up, especially if you have middle-grade aged children, because I think they’d love it.

4/5

Michael’s Spear was published on the 16th November by Dome Press. ARC received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to Karen and Emily for organising the blog tour and sending me my copy!

Blog Tour -Michael’s Spear by Hilton Pashley

Michael's Spear Blog Tour Poster

Today on the blog, I am thrilled to share a guest post from Hilton Pashley, the author of the wonderful Michael’s Spear. I really enjoyed this book, and you can find my review in today’s other post. Suffice to say that I definitely recommend it to everyone who enjoys an adventurous middle grade novel, and it poses some interesting questons about redemption. After all, there’s not many books where you find Lucifer as one of the good guys!

Anyway, it’s over to Hilton, who’s written a fantastic post about the life of a writer – sometimes solitary, yes, but with its own unique rewards.

Lonely, but not alone.’

The life of a writer can be a tad lonely at times; after all, it’s just you, your keyboard, and the indescribable weight of a blank page in Microsoft Word. The beginning of a novel is often the worst part for me, I’m not very good at them; it feels an almost Sisyphean task to get that narrative boulder rolling up that hill, hoping that it doesn’t roll backwards and flatten you in the process.

Prior to starting a novel I tend to write lots of messy notes – most of which I later ignore – and try to build up a head of steam before sitting down and banging out a first draft over the space of a couple of months. I’ve tried planning things out, but for some reason that process doesn’t work for me. In fact, the most useful piece of advice I was ever given was to know how the story ends. At first I didn’t get it, but after painting myself into a series of narrative corners with my first novel, Gabriel’s Clock, I realised that as long as you know where you want to end up, it doesn’t matter what detours the story takes you on as you’ll still end up at the right place.

I’ve also learned that sharing too much of a concept early on can sometimes be a bad thing. It’s human nature to takes the opinions of others to heart, and this can end up with you doubting yourself and that boulder grinding to a halt. However, there are counters to the solitude of the scribbler. The characters one builds become imaginary friends, and while hunched over a steaming keyboard they blather on to you about their loves and hates, hopes and fears. It’s probably good that the public don’t get to see that bit, lest they call the emergency services.

Then, we have the professional contacts such as agent and editor, who in my case have become friends too. You build close bonds when working on creative projects, and the feeling on sending in a new manuscript is akin to handing in an essay at school and hoping you don’t get a “Must try harder” comment in the margin.

Then one also gets feedback from fans, which is possibly the most fulfilling thing of all. Your baby is out in the world, and children (and adults) are sending you messages from all corners of the globe about their favourite bits, which characters they like the most and why, and what they want to see more of. It makes the slog of hammering out the words worthwhile.

And finally, every now and then, you get a surreal experience that you can tell the grandkids. For me, my favourite is from my first public engagement just after Gabriel’s Clock – the first of the Hobbes End trilogy – was published. I was speaking at the Hostry Festival in Norwich, and sharing a platform with authors Rose Tremain, Andrew Cowan and Louis de Bernieres. I spent most of the time being star struck and trying not to be sick, but when we were signing books at the end, I had to double take when Louis asked if I would sign a copy of Gabriel’s Clock for his children. A simple thing, but lovely for a debut author at the time. It just goes to show, be you author or reader, you’re never alone with a book.

Thanks so much for taking the time to write a guest post for me Hilton – I think we’ve all felt that pressure of a blank word document at some point!

If you want to find out more about Hilton, or the other books in the Hobbes End trilogy, check out his website here.

Michael’s Spear, the final book in the Hobbes End trilogy (although you don’t need to read the others to enjoy this one – I hadn’t!), was released on the 16th November by Dome Press. It’s well worth your time!

Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the blog tour above!

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