Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Review: Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Green

Budo is an imaginary friend desperate not to be forgotten, because when a child forgets about his/her imaginary friend, they disappear forever. Budo is lucky because Max isn't like other children; he 'lives mostly on the inside' and has trouble communicating and making friends, so he has relied on Budo for a long time.

One day something terrible happens to Max, and Budo is the only one who has any hope of saving him - but he can't do it alone, and soon his loyalty to Max is tested to the very limit.

Despite reading some very bad reviews of this book, I actually really enjoyed it. The idea of imaginary friends really existing, being able to interact with one another and trying to help each other not to be forgotten is a lovely concept. At first I was hoping that this wouldn't be all that happened in the story, but it did get really exciting and Max being autistic added another element of conflict.

The narrative style is very stilted and simplistic. This is on purpose to reflect Budo's interpretation of Max's autistic behaviours and speech patterns, but it does get a little irritating after a while and I feel like it could have been written more conventionally and still had the same effect. The story itself would have been enough to convey how difficult it is for everyone involved to cope with autism.

The blurb compares this book with 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time' and 'Room' (click to read my review) which is actually spot-on, as it is basically a combination of the two, with the addition of imaginary friends to the mix! Although I feel that this doesn't do quite as good a job of explaining autism as 'The Curious Incident', and it is (thankfully) a lot less gut-wrenching than 'Room', although there are still some weepy moments throughout.

Overall, this was a really enjoyable read despite the voice of the narrator. What starts as a deceptively light hearted premise tackles some really big issues and towards the end will leave you frantically trying to finish it to find out whether everything is okay in the end! If you're anything like me, it will also leave you feeling very guilty for all the imaginary friends you forgot about - and inadvertently killed - when you were little.


Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

After witnessing the mysterious death of his grandfather, sixteen-year-old Jacob travels to a tiny Welsh island to discover the truth about the strange letters and photographs his grandfather left for him. There he discovers the old house, home to some very peculiar children who need his help, leading him on a terrifying adventure that will test him beyond anything he has experienced before.

Well it has to be said that this book isn't particularly well-written. It is a YA novel but I have very high standards as I know that writing for children and teens is no excuse to cut corners! The main character, Jacob, is a bit annoying; even before anything bad happens to him, he seems to do nothing but sulk and complain about how much he hates being rich and privileged. The narrative style is very stilted and I found my eyes drifting off the page sometimes because of how repetitive the sentences were.

However, the story itself was quite enjoyable. It was a bit slow leading up to the discovery of the old house, but after that it became fast-paced and exciting and I was eager to find out what would happen next. The best part about this book is that all the photographs scattered throughout the story are real and mostly unedited, and it seems like the author picked out some intriguing ones and pieced the story around it, which is a really nice idea. The characters and abilities of the peculiar children are great, even if their dialects sometimes seem a bit too much like an American person trying to sound quirky and British, which is a massive pet hate of mine!

The ending was very abrupt, and left them heading off in a boat to try and find somewhere else to live...which led me to think the author is probably planning to write a sequel. I don't like it much when it's this obvious, it feels like I'm not 'getting my money's worth' so to speak, if I have to read a whole other book before I find out how the story really ended!

The book is great to look at, with thick paper, wallpaper print on the chapter pages and of course the wonderfully unsettling photographs. So nice that I avoided reading it in the bath like I do with most books, as it inevitably makes the pages wavy.

All in all, this was an enjoyable novel but I never felt as invested in it as I do with most of the books I read. I think I'm definitely more into realistic stories that I can relate to. However, I will be passing this onto John as I think this sort of thing would be right up his street...monsters, time travel, etc etc!

 I think this would translate well into a film and will probably end up being made by Tim Burton with lots of black and white stripy things and Helena Bonham-Carter playing the role of Miss Peregrine, which will surprise absolutely no one.

6/10 - Not my usual cup of tea, but a fun read nonetheless!

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

My second internship gets under way

This week I started my internship at the Navy News and I've settled in really nicely. On Monday I researched and wrote the 'Time of your Lives' column, which is where they publish some news stories from that month in previous decades. So I had to go through the archives and find an interesting story from November of 1972, 1982, 1992 and 2002 and then write a brief summary of each along with quotations. I also picked out a nice picture relating to one of the stories - a cat being awarded his Good Cat Badge!

Then yesterday I was given the task of writing lots of charity-related press releases into proper news stories, which I found really interesting because at my last internship with Fusion People I had to write and edit some press releases, so I now have experience of writing for both sides of the process.

Today I had the scary task of meeting the chief executive of the Mary Rose trust and interviewing him about the soon-to-be-opened museum and the whole project of building, conservation, etc. But it turned out not to be scary after all, he was very nice and eager to talk to me about it, which was great because it meant the interview ran really smoothly and I got a lot more information than I had questions for. I also hope this means I'll be less terrified the next time I go in for a job interview, because I know what it's like on the other side!

I recorded the whole interview on a voice recorder, then when I got back to the office I played it back and typed it all out. Tomorrow I am working from home to write up the article, which is looking to be very extensive. It will be fantastic to see the finished article published in the Navy News.

I'm really pleased with how many times I have stepped out of my comfort zone and taken on new challenges in the last few weeks. I feel like I'm a lot tougher and smarter than I give myself credit for.

I'll be posting some book reviews in the very near future - right now I am reading Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children which is way out of my usual choice of genres but it seems like a fun read so far. I have also been reading Edward Abbey's Desert Solitaire on my train journeys, so I can pretend I'm escaping to the beautiful, wild American desert rather than travelling through grey England!

Friday, 5 October 2012

Bad Flo :(

I haven't posted in over a month! So I'm forcing myself to write something now, even if it is just a poor recap of what I've been up to over the last month.

At the start of September I went to Rome for a week! It was fantastic and one of my next posts (hopefully you won't have to wait a month for it) will be my top tips for anyone visiting Rome - dos and don'ts, that sort of thing. It was a great holiday and the first time I've been to a different country as a proper responsible grown up rather than letting my parents do all the work. I ate a lot of gelato and pasta, but I also did an awful lot of walking so it balanced out rather nicely.

I am now two weeks into my three week placement at Fusion People, where I have been working on the marketing team and doing lots of research, editing, copy writing, etc etc. It's been a great experience so far and I've learnt a lot, as well as (kind of) overcome my phone-shyness! It's gone really quickly and I will be quite sad to leave. But I've got another internship coming up on the 15th October, working in the editing office of the Navy News in Portsmouth. I've been so lucky to get all these opportunities, and experience in marketing and editing is a really valuable thing.

It's my birthday next Wednesday. I have no idea what I'm doing or what I'm getting from anybody. I hope I get brioche for breakfast, but other than that I'm not particularly fussed! I'm getting into the writing spirit again, and I'm desperate to write a book of some sort, so it's lucky that November is next month so I can take part in NaNoWriMo for once. Everyone from my university graduated today except me, because I couldn't afford to get tickets or hire a hat and robe. I didn't really feel like floating around in a cape all day anyway.

I'm planning on setting up a Facebook and Twitter account for this blog so I can post updates through those. It'll mean deleting my pre-existing 'Love from Florence' Facebook account which was for my handmade jewellery, but that seems to have dwindled over the last couple of months as I've developed a social and working life out of nowhere!

I have another couple of posts planned out, including a book review, a craft tutorial and my aforementioned Rome guide, all of which I'll write and post over the weekend, and I will continue to update regularly from now on...I promise!