Friday, 26 August 2011

War Torn, by Andy McNab and Kym Jordan

I LOVED this book.

As in, “couldn’t-put-it-down-and-read-all-450-pages-in-five-days-even-though-I-was-really-busy-all-week” loved it.

I was a bit uncertain at first about reading it – I had heaps of other books to read, and I’ve already read an Andy McNab book but didn’t like it. But this book was awesome.

It followed the lives of a group of British soldiers as they undertook their tour in Afghanistan, as well as the lives of their families at home in London. Starting with a bang, two men were maimed within the first two chapters after the characters engaged with the enemy, and the rest of the platoon have to cope with losing their mates as they go about their duties. Meanwhile, at home, the wives deal with pregnancy, loneliness, and learning to live with the wounded soldiers sent home.

In my opinion, what made the book so good was that it was full of emotion. It wasn’t like other military fiction/thriller novels where the characters are all toughies – it showed emotion. It detailed how the characters dealt with the constant threat of death, being away from their loved ones, and their relationships with each other. While, like all good thrillers, it was still filled with guns and explosions, it went deeper into the emotions of the key characters.

With all this show of emotion, it was hard not to like the characters. The connection with the characters didn’t build over time, but rather was there from the start. The first glimpse I had of the wives back home showed just how hard it was. The first wife readers meet probably faces the most hardships: she’s Polish, so can’t speak English too well; doesn’t get on too well with the other wives; and has to deal with so many hardships at home. By the end of the chapter, it was impossible not to love her.

Like all books, it’s not for everyone, but whoever loves a good thriller but is looking for something different, this is a book you’ll love.

For the comments, what good books have you read lately? What did you love about them?

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Liebster Blog Award

Last week, I was awarded the Liebster blog award not once, but twice! I’d like to thank Amanda, and blogging twins Lizzy and Constance! Thanks girls!

This blog award is for blogs which have fewer than 200 followers. It’s designed to promote the little blogs, and give publicity to all the blogs that are still growing. I was curious as to where the word ‘liebster’ came from, so I consulted my good friend Mr Google. Liebster is German for ‘favourite’ (or ‘friend’, but Google Translate says the former). How nice!

Amanda, Lizzy, and Constance said some pretty awesome things about my blog:

“Also rather new, Matt's blog is all around awesome.  He talks about writing, he talks about Harry Potter, and he distils what we can learn from J.K. Rowling into a three-part, manageable blog post.  Genius.  Go follow!” 

"Okay, Amanda totally already awarded him, but I'm going to go ahead and do so also, because Matt's worth two awards. Matt is a(n Aussie!) thriller writer who blogs quite regularly. I enjoy his posts a lot and almost every time have something to say in the comments because he has a way of raising irresistible questions at the end of his posts. While I don't see an actual list of followers anymore, go check it out and comment for him!"

Naww, shucks. I know who I have to get blurbs off when I get published!

Following Liebster tradition, I have to pass the award on to five other bloggers with under 200 followers. Except, the thing is… I don’t seem to follow too many blogs with fewer than 200 followers so I can’t actually pass this on. Yep, that’s right: I only follow big blogs.

I’m searching for new blogs to follow, so next time I get this award I’ll be able to send it along. But for now, that’s the end of this post.

Once more, I want to thank Amanda, Lizzy, and Constance. Thanks!

Monday, 22 August 2011

Last Week

I’ve had a really busy past few days… well, actually, the entire week has been hectic, hence no post on Friday. There are a few things I wanted to mention though.

First up, I received the Liebster blog award from Amanda, and then Lizzy (and Constance, because it’s her blog too). It made me realise that I don’t seem to follow too many small blogs, so I’m still coming up with a list of recipients to pass the award on to. Check back on Wednesday, because hopefully I’ll have it all done by then.

Being halfway to the mid-semester break at university, last week was filled with exams and assignment due dates. But, I sat my last exam today, and I’ve submitted my assignment, so I’m assignment-free! (At least until next week when I have another exam). My writing has really suffered partially because of all the assignments, but also because I seem to have entered the writing stage where the idea isn’t new and shiny anymore, and it’s actually work now. I participated in another ‘5,000 words in 5 days’ marathon last week, and failed dismally at it. It was a struggle each day.

Lastly, I’ve come up with a brand new story idea! I came up with it on Thursday, and I’ve already written a bit of a brief outline for it. I won’t give too much away (mostly because I’m still exploring the idea), but it’s military fiction, and will probably be a novella or really large short story. I’m calling it 73 MINUTES, a title which I think will stick.

I need your help, guys! For the comments, what do you do when the excitement of your story wears off? I really want to finish the story, but at the same time I want to re-write my previous WIP. Let me know in the comments!

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

100x100: Halfway There!

The participants in the ‘100 Words for 100 Days’ challenge have all reached Day 50, which means we’re finally halfway there! The days seem to be whizzing by, and I’m sure I’m not going to be the only one sad to see it end.

Because we’re at Day 50, I wanted to share another round of stats:

Total Words Written for this quarter: 15,183
Average per Day: 607.3
Most Written in a Day: 1,658 on 27 July
Least Written in a Day (excluding 0 words counts): 301 on 5 August
Days Missed (0 word count): 0

I’ve done really well this quarter, with not a single day under 300 words (which is my personal goal). In fact, a lot of the days I wrote 500+ words, and lately that figure has become my informal goal. If I keep the 500+ words up I can have my WIP done in no time!

We’ve decided on some more ‘5,000 words in 5 days’ min-marathon: We’re all doing one right now, from Day 50 to Day 55, with another two at the end of the next two quarters. Merrilee and Kerryn have decided on a ‘7,500 words in 5 days’ mini-marathon because of their consistently high word counts, which is amazing!

I want to show the statistics for the total challenge now. These figures come from the entire 50 days:

Total Words Written: 25, 204
Average per Day: 504.1
Most Written in a Day: 2,028 on 18 July
Least Written in a Day (excluding 0 words counts): 104 on 13 July
Days Missed (0 word count): 3

I’ve written over 25K since the beginning of the challenge, which is brilliant! I’m really proud of these numbers. The most words written figure comes from the first quarter, and for a while it stood as a record for the challenge. It’s since been beaten, but I’m hoping on some massive numbers to reclaim top spot!

If you want to check out my Day 25 post, you can see it here.

For the comments, how is your writing going? Are you in a slump, or are you on a writing high? Let me know.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Eats, Shoots & Leaves, by Lynne Truss

Hi, my name’s Matthew, and I use way too many commas.

I finally got around to reading Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss, as per Authoress’s suggestion. I loved it. I was primarily reading it for the section on commas, but I enjoyed the other sections too.

If you haven’t read this book, I strongly encourage you to. Not only is it informative, but it’s also quite an amusing read! There’s sections on apostrophes, commas, and pretty much every other form of punctuation mark.

If you have read this book, did you enjoy it? What were some important points you got from it? And while you’re commenting, what are some other great books essential for writers? Let me know in the comments section!

Friday, 12 August 2011

Book Buying Habits

Last weekend, there was a massive birthday sale at a bookstore I frequent. I’m talking MASSIVE. I managed to get a book for $10, one which the little price sticker said was originally $45. WIN. I only bought two books (I didn’t have too much money with me and I had to buy someone a birthday present. Not-win), but I got them for a combined total of a mere $18.

This sale really got me thinking about my book buying habits – I don’t buy a lot of books, and the books I do buy usually come from department stores. Why? Because books are so damn expensive.

I’ve got a massive TBR pile at the moment (don’t we all?) so I’m trying not to get too many new books (somehow I still do…). But when I want a book, I use the library. More often though, I have impulse-buys from department stores, all of which have around 35% off all books all the time (hence the reason my TBR pile is constantly growing). So, although I visit the book stores a lot, I never ever buy anything. They’re just too expensive, especially when I can go to Big W or K-mart and get it cheaper.

Another one of my habits is that I never buy a book by an author I’ve never read before. I’m a bit of a picky reader, so it’s a risk for me to buy a book which I might not enjoy. I always get those books out at the library, and if I like the book, I’ll buy the others. Yet, these two books I bought were by authors I had never read before. I’d seen the books around and wanted them, but figured I get them some other time.

For the comments, what are your book buying habits? Do you buy from bookstores or cheaper department stores? Or do you only borrow from your local library? Let me know!