Monday, 21 March 2016

On human frailty

The book that changed the way I read was 'We need to talk about Kevin' by Lionel Shriver. Before this book I tried to read positive, feel-good books with strong, likable characters that I would often give up on before I was half way through. After reading about Kevin I realised that it was the negative books with the more unlikable, fallible and fragile characters that I really liked reading. These are the latest reads concerning human weakness that I have enjoyed in the last few months.

Labor Day by Joyce Maynard

I found this a sweet, deep story about an agoraphobic mother, Adele, her precocious young teenage son, Henry, and the unusual and close relationship that develops between them and an escaped convict, Frank, who hides with them over one long Labor Day weekend. The story is detailed and complicated. You could dismiss Adele as weak and Frank as bad, but I grew to have a soft spot for both of them and the love they manage to find for one another, despite the unlucky cards life has dealt them.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

This novel was certainly a puzzling mystery. It leads you down several different paths and I often found myself being confounded and surprised by the twists and turns the plot was taking. It is an immensely readable book and I found myself absorbed and swept along with it despite hardly liking any of the characters, excepting Nick's sister Go. Amazing Amy is a tremendously complex character who I found very difficult to relate to, but I was still deeply interested in how her story would unfold.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

The girl on the train is Rachael. At the beginning of the book we have her thoughts and feelings in the morning on the way to work and in the evening on her way home. While she is doing her daily commute her thoughts and feelings drift to the house she used to share with her ex-husband, that she still sees twice a day, as the view of it has become part of her journey. However her main view is of another house nearby and the attractive couple who live there, who she is soon obsessing over. Rachael's life at first appears fairly humdrum but it doesn't take long for things to unravel. We are introduced to the voices of two other girls, not on the train, Anna and Megan, and soon everything has gone sideways, if not upside-down. I really enjoyed this book, even though I had worked out the ending about two thirds of the way through.

The Dinner by Herman Koch

What I loved about this book is that the different sections of it are named after the different parts of a dinner you would get in a fancy restaurant. The different sections are Aperitif, Appetizer, Main Course, Dessert and Digestif. I suppose you could think its quite boring to read about people eating, but there's much more to this story than that. Two couples have met in the fancy restaurant to discuss a terrible thing their sons have done. Over the course of the evening we find out that the couples themselves are not entirely blameless and the methods they are prepared to use to resolve the situation are quite shocking. The last time I encountered a couple having dinner in a fancy Dutch restaurant was in 'The Fault in our Stars', I found this book to be quite an unexpectedly nasty antidote to that romantic interlude.

To read more of my book reviews please visit my Goodreads reader page which you can find here.

Monday, 14 March 2016

Secret London Part Four (Blog Post 100)

A few places to visit had accumulated on my Secret London list and I chose a couple more from my book plus a couple from my own knowledge that I thought it would be good to have a look at. To start off mum and I met at Waterloo and after a trip on the Jubilee line arrived at St. John's Wood.


After a walk down 'the made famous by the Beatles' Abbey Road we came to The Alexandra and Ainsworth Estate

I've been wanting to visit this impressive housing estate for a few years. It's used a lot in films, as it is so unusual and eye-catching. Mum and I walked all the way through it admiring the symmetrical concrete forms and intricate well-designed shapes; taking photos of the striking angular houses and apartments.

We then took two short train rides from Swiss Cottage to Hoxton for The Geffrye Museum.

The museum is a bit like a real life version of the BBC 'Back in Time' series of programmes. It starts with displays of drawing rooms from the 1600s, moves on to rooms in the 18th and 19th centuries and then in the modern extension you can see displays of 20th century lounges. I definitely recognise some of this furniture from the decades I have lived through in my own life. I have visited this museum a number of times and it is definitely one of my favourites.


The main purpose of our trip was to try out the Geffrye Museum Cafe. It was very pleasant with elegant surroundings. I had a substantial ploughman's lunch and mum had a very tasty looking vegetarian hash.

From the Geffrye Museum we then took a bus down to the river to visit The Twinings Tea Museum.

I am a big tea fan and Twinings make fine tea, so I think I was expecting more from this experience than I actually received. There is not much to the museum, it is mostly a shop and is very narrow. The tea and what there is of its history were interesting but it was all a bit brief, so we quickly moved on.

The rest of the afternoon was spent visiting more popular sights in London, the Thames, Hungerford Bridge and the Royal Festival Hall. Over a coffee mum and I compiled a Secret London Top Ten list and I am now mulling over a follow up to our four Secret London day trips.

Sunday, 13 March 2016

AmiloFinn on DeviantArt

I've long been interested in the DeviantArt website and have been admiring the fan art on there for quite some time. I needed a photosharing website for my story covers on Wattpad so decided to take the plunge and finally sign up for DeviantArt myself. Above is the painting I decided to use for my profile picture and below are the first four cover designs I have put into my gallery. The pictures are called Cheesecake, Magic, Underground and Bubbles. You can find my gallery here and my stories here.

Monday, 7 March 2016


Before I discovered or rediscovered Christianity I was more interested in superstition and the occult. This picture and song are more what I was inclined to believe before I began to become a more regular church goer.

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Tube Tales on Wattpad


I am being more active on Wattpad in February and March. As well as developing my writing I am also developing my illustration and cover designs. The above two illustrations are for two stories called Magic and Underground. This is my blurb about the two stories.

Magic - While travelling home from work, one rainy afternoon, desolate Georgia finds that sometimes hope comes in small and surprising packages.

Underground - My new journey to work is great; ten stops on the tube and ten minutes walk at either end, I wonder what ten days of it will do to me?

I am posting my Underground story one day at a time for the next two weeks.

I also have two collections of poetry on Wattpad.

Teenage Troubles is a collection of five poems concerning various problems I encountered as a teenager from wayward youths, body issues, depressive thoughts, substance abuse and identity crises.

An Anatomy of Love features seven poems that represent decades of my thoughts and feelings about love and relationships.