The Return & New Services Offered

I’ve been remiss in my blogging duties over the past few weeks. I don’t know about anyone else but sometimes it seems very draining and I just want to drop off the radar for a while. It’s coincided with a lull in my activity over on Goodreads, and honestly I find it quite hard to keep up the marketing for my books when it doesn’t seem to have much of an effect. Plus, sometimes I just want to step back and excise myself from the internet bubble a little bit. However, I am going to endeavour to make more of an effort to update my blog regularly (part of the problem is that usually I’d post movie reviews to my blog but most of those have been going to Flickering Myth). 

I’ve also decided to start doing some freelancing work. I have dabbled with writing articles before, but now I’m branching out with proofreading, editing and formatting books for Kindle. I know that it can be very hard for indie authors to get their books proofread and edited, and some people may not feel confident with formatting their books, so I’m here to offer my help for a nominal fee that will depend on the length of the book and the services required. Also, if any authors want to be interviewed I’m happy to host them on this blog, check out the ‘Interview’ tab to see a few of the interviews I have conducted. 

If anybody would like to get in touch you can either find me on Facebook, Goodreads or my e-mail address.

Thanks,

Rob

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Lost in the Wilderness – A Song of Ice and Fire Retrospective

The past few months my reading has been wholly concentrated on A Song of Ice and Fire. I’m a huge fan of the Game of Thrones tv show, and when season three ended I didn’t want to have to wait a year to find out what happened next. I considered starting the books from where the show left off, but a couple of friends who had already read them warned me that a few things had been shuffled around, so I decided to start from the beginning. Since they’re so long I figured that it would take me a while to read them all, and by the time I was done with book five it wouldn’t be too long before book six came out. Little did I know they’d be so engrossing that it only took me a couple of months to finish them all. 

You won’t find any spoilers for the tv show or the books here. I find that people are pretty good with protection the tv people from spoilers, but on a few occasions I noticed a few slip in so I have to remind myself to be careful. But here are a few reflections on my feelings about the show and the books now that I’ve read them. 

One of my problems with the show is that I find it hard to keep track of all the supporting characters. A lot of the names slip by me so sometimes I don’t get the importance of a certain character. The books really helped with this, and I actually loved that I’d seen the tv show first. Reading the first book I was able to think, ‘oh yeah, I remember that!’ and it was nice to be reminded of things I’d forgotten. 

The show has made some changes too. Some for better, some I don’t really understand. There are some made for dramatic choices that I have no problem with. But there’s at least one instance where a name has been changed and I’m not really sure why since their stories don’t intersect. 

I’ve also found that I like some characters in the book that I wasn’t too fond of in the show. In the show my favourite characters from the start (along with a lot of other people I’m sure) were Arya and Tyrion. It was only through the course of the show that my fondness for Dany and Jon grew, and I’ve only started to have sympathy for Sansa in season three. But in the books I started liking Dany, Jon and Sansa a lot earlier and I became a far more invested in their storylines. 

That doesn’t mean the books are completely better than the show though. One advantage that the show has is that it’s not done from a point of view style. I think it’s a very interesting technique in the books but I found it hard sometimes to become emotionally invested in the non-point of view characters. There are a few moments in the show that have had more impact for me than they did in the books (although in fairness that may have been because I knew they were coming, there were certainly plenty of moments in Book 3 part 2, Book 4 & 5 where I had to gasp). But even then some deaths seemed to be mentioned casually and I didn’t think they had as much impact as they should. 

I know some people complain about there being too much description in the books. I can’t fault George R. R. Martin for his worldbuilding. I love it when he goes off into a little tangent to explore some of the history. I think he’s created this amazing landscape and he’s breathed life into it in a way that I’m extremely envious of. However, I think with the food it gets a bit tiresome. But his handling of characters is amazing and I love how a character can be mentioned in a book and it just seems a throwaway name, but later on it turns out they’re actually very important. 

So far I think Book 3 is my favourite. There’s so much emotion and drama and the end is amazing. I mean, tv people, you think season three was full of surprises you haven’t seen anything yet! Game of Thrones was really interesting and really tight and focused and did a fantastic job of introducing the world. A Clash of Kings I didn’t think was as good, I thought there was a lot of characters moving around and I felt there was a lot of set up. A Storm of Swords was the peak, it had everything. A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons suffered somewhat by being split geographically. It wasn’t as much of a big deal for me because I could read them straight away, but I can’t imagine how frustrating it must have been for those who read them as they came out. 

I also feel that in A Dance With Dragons there are certain chapters that aren’t really needed, and it’s almost as if the author has written them to say “I know you like these characters, so here they are just to show you I haven’t forgotten about them”. But there’s still a lot of surprising twists and turns and the ending…wow. The books are so engrossing and I can’t recommend them highly enough, especially if you’re a fan of the show. I’m so glad I decided to read them because they add so much depth. 

I’m looking forward to seeing what they’ll do with the tv show. The books get so large and wide-ranging that I’m not sure 10 episodes a season will be enough. I know there have been worries that the show will catch up to the books, but I think there’s enough substance there to keep the show going for a few more years before they have to worry about that. I think the only thing that is going to be a major problem is the children aging. 

Now I’m off to go and read all the fan theories and speculations. And I don’t have to be worried about spoilers! Yay! 

Felicio Chapter 28 – The Bell Tolls

The wintry sky seemed to be drearier and more grim than usual. The places that looked so familiar now seemed alien and distant, as if they had been changed overnight. Peter’s whole perception of the world took on a more shadowy tone. He’d always had a cynical edge about him but deep down there was a yearning for optimism; a deep-seated belief that even though his life may not have been exactly as he wanted it out there, somewhere, there was still a brighter day waiting for him. Those illusions had been shattered since Stephanie had died. There was no end to the tears, and it felt as if part of him had died as well. He hadn’t dared to put on the mask of Felicio and it was all Stacy could do to get him out of bed. Due to the tragedy college had been closed. Peter had sneaked in one night, it was so eerie and empty and haunted by the memory of all those who had perished that he couldn’t bear to stay there for more than a few moments.

He had returned home; his parents were worried when they hadn’t heard from him. He barely muttered two words to them though, he was so withdrawn and distant but little could they suspect how deep his guilt went. Every time he closed his eyes he imagined how her face must have looked as that tower came toppling down, and the look of realisation that she must have had when she knew that Felicio wasn’t coming to save her. He had failed her and he had failed himself, he’d failed everything that he had been working for over the past few months.

“It wasn’t your fault,” Stacy had tried to tell him, “you can’t be everywhere at once. These things happen…they’re terrible but they happen. You can’t lock yourself away like this, I know Stephanie wouldn’t have wanted that,” but all he could do was stare into space and think about his best friend’s last moments. After all, what good was being Felicio if he couldn’t even protect the people closest to him?

Now he was standing in a cemetery, feeling uncomfortable in his tight shirt and trousers, and it felt strange not feeling the comfort of Felicio’s costume next to his skin. The mass funeral was a sombre affair. The people were a sea of black, each unified in their grief. The town had been through a lot recently but this tragedy had been the breaking point. Many people had come out to criticise the police and the city authorities, and others said they felt genuinely afraid every day. As the sharp wind whistled around him Peter clutched Stacy’s hand and listened to the reverend’s words.

 

“Life is full of inescapable tragedy. Recently is has become ever present and in these dark days it is easy to forget the good in the world. There is still good in the world. We have all suffered, we’ve all lost someone who means a lot to us, but I as you now to turn to each other and remember that we are in this together. We are not alone, no matter how bleak or fearsome the world seems. We must honour those who died by not giving into our fear. We should not allow ourselves to be turned away from the path of the righteous. There is good in all of us. There is strength in all of us. There is hope in all of us. Join me in prayer now so that we may so goodbye to those we have lost, and we can ask the Lord for strength in these troubled days.”

 

They bowed their heads. Peter didn’t ask the Lord for strength, but he did send a message to Stephanie, just in case she was out there somewhere,

Steph, I’m so sorry I wasn’t there to save you. I should have been, I should have been better but you don’t know how hard it is sometimes. All these things that happen…sometimes I just want to be normal and I want everything that I’ve always dreamed of having but then there’s Felicio and I want to be a hero but I can’t sacrifice all of myself. I can’t be everywhere at once and I can’t save everyone and I hate it. It scares me because I want to be a perfect hero and I should have saved you. Sometimes it all seems too much and I wonder if I can succeed, because at the moment all I see is failure. And I can’t believe you’re gone. I don’t think I could have done this without you. I know I was…difficult sometimes but I miss your advice and your patience and the way you were the only one to actually take an interest in me. You were my best friend and I’m so sorry for letting you down. I’ll never forgive myself.’

 

A single tear trickled down his cheek and Stacy squeezed his hand harder. As the reverend spoke the name of every person who had died that day Peter etched them on his conscience, because if he had been there he would have been able to prevent the incident. After the service everyone mingled, although Peter largely kept himself to himself. Every time he looked into someone’s eyes he felt a pang of guilt, and he could barely speak to anyone without his voice cracking. However, Stephanie’s parents sought him out.

“Hello Peter,” they said.

“I’m sorry for your loss.”

“Thank you…um, Stephanie had a few things that we know she’d love for you to have. If you could come by at some point that would…that would be great.”

“Okay,” he said. They looked tired and worn out. Stephanie had been their only child and when Peter looked at them he saw how closely she resembled them. Her father didn’t say anything, but they looked older than he remembered them being. Perhaps they had all aged a little more than usual that day. After that he and Stacy moved through the field, passing alongside the mourning throng.

“Are you okay?” she asked, but he barely heard her. With his enhanced senses he could hear everyone’s complaints. Some of them mourned their losses, some of them blamed the arena management, some of them claimed the world was going to hell and there was no hope for anybody. Most simply grieved, and wondered why it had to be their loved one that was taken. Each of them searched for a purpose or a reason but none of them could find any. As well as parents there were a lot of people Peter recognised from college, and some he knew were Star Children. E wanted to confront them there and then and yell at them, ask them what were they thinking, why were they doing what they were doing but he restrained himself. The only other person he wanted to see was Emma, but he wasn’t surprised that she was absent. The sheer cauldron of grief would have been far too much for her to endure, but he did notice an isolated figure that looked familiar and it took him a few moments to remember that it was Emma’s twin sister Katrina.

“Er, hi, Katrina? It’s Peter, we met briefly a while ago, I’m Emma’s friend.”

“Oh, hello,” she said dismissively, barely acknowledging his presence as she gazed into the distance.

“Can you just let her know that I’m around if she needs to talk about anything.” Her eyes snapped to Peter’s face and her tongue lashed out

“If she needs to talk to anyone it will be me. She doesn’t need anyone else poking their noses into her life,” her nostrils flared and her eyes blazed. Stacy and Peter were taken aback by the outburst, but it was in a low voice so nobody else noticed. Stacy was about to retaliate when a loud droning bell rang out. DONNNNGGG DONNNNGGG DONNNNGGG. Everyone looked up at the huge tower, for the bell wasn’t supposed to ring until the turn of the hour.

“The bell is tolling for us all,” Katrina said, and then she walked off, leaving Peter and Stacy mystified.