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Review: ‘Underneath’ by Michael Cargill

Genre: Crime
Length: 190 pages

[Warning – This book contains swearing. If you are uncomfortable with that, I would suggest not reading it. However, I would stress that I thought it fit well within the story and wasn’t overbearing.]

I have awarded this 5 story stars.

Summary: Underneath tells the story of Hugh, a disturbed man who loved squirrels and garlic, and hates people, who he refers to as slugs. Having tried to be a team player and interact with other people, in both his work and personal life, and feeling nothing but disgust and blinding anger, he eventually stopped bothering.

Review: Underneath asks the question ‘How well do you actually know the people closest to you?’ in the most striking way. Hugh, the main character, appears perfectly normal on the outside, even charming at times. However, underneath, he is clearly a raving lunatic! It just goes to show that looks and first impressions can be deceiving. Written from two points of view, we hear from Hugh, who is losing his temper in various locations such as a supermarket, and Claire and Robert, two police officers who are cleaning up the mess.

I thought this was really well written. From the very beginning, I hated Hugh. Everything about him just made my skin crawl! I was greatly impressed by how well the author managed to ‘get into the characters head’, for lack of a better way of phrasing it, and the descriptions of Hugh’s thoughts and actions portrayed that. At times the story felt a bit repetitive, but I felt that this emphasised how all over the place Hugh’s mind was, that he couldn’t remember if he had done something so he did it again to be sure. A very clever effect! While it took a few chapters for any ‘action’ to be seen, it was in no way boring and still kept me engaged with the story.

While there was a lot of tension, particularly regarding when Hugh’s mood would change, and what he would do as he seemed quite unpredictable, there were also elements of humour. I loved Robert, the police officer, who was constantly either eating or thinking about eating which definitely made me smile each time! Also, the interactions between him and his co-worker, Claire, were great.

★★★★★ – Well written and an interesting view into the mind of the disturbed main character. Tense, with elements of humour. An interesting read!

Where to buy:
Amazon UK (Kindle)
Amazon UK (Paperback)
Amazon US (Kindle)
Amazon UK (Paperback)

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The Rory Gilmore reading challenge!

Okay, so it is no secret that I absolutely adore Gilmore Girls. I have the books, and every season on dvd! For those of you that haven’t seen it, you’re missing out (but I won’t hold that against you)!

Gilmore Girls is a tv show that features a single mother (Lorelai) and her daughter (also Lorelai, but nicknamed Rory). Lorelai got pregnant with Rory at the age of 16, and the show focusses on her desperate need to find herself, away from her well-meaning but pushy parents, Richard and Emily. In the process of finding herself, and creating a life for her and her daughter all by herself, Lorelai and Rory become more like best friends than mother and daughter.

Rory is an absolute book-worm; something that I’m sure a lot of us can relate to! You very rarely see her without a book in her hand, or not talking about a book. I’m surprised I hadn’t tried this myself before I came across the challenge!

It really is a magical show, and I love every second of it.It’s incredibly witty! There are lots of actors/actresses that you will recognise, too! Melissa Mccarthy and Jared Padaleki, for example!

I can recite each episode, and my grandma even refers to me as Rory due to the amount I read – though not as much as Rory it seems!

Anyway. This post is not about my love of Gilmore Girls (have I convinced you to watch it yet?), but rather a post I came across earlier on a blog called Blogs-Of-A-Bookaholic. This amazing person has opened my eyes to The Rory Gilmore reading challenge!

The Rory Gilmore reading challenge is a challenge to read all of the books that Rory refers to in the show. How cool is that?

Are you up for the challenge? How many have you already read? Let me know! I’ve read 102/349

Here is the list. Let’s do this! A lot of these are classics and can be found for free in E-book form

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Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge – Book list

1.) 1984 by George Orwell
2.) The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
3.) Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
4.) The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon
5.) An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
6.) Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt
7.) Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
8.) Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
9.) Archidamian War by Donald Kagan
10.) The Art of Fiction by Henry James
11.) The Art of War by Sun Tzu
12.) As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
13.) Atonement by Ian McEwan
14.) Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy
15.) The Awakening by Kate Chopin
16.) Babe by Dick King-Smith
17.) Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women by Susan Faludi
18.) Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie
19.) Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
20.) The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
21.) Beloved by Toni Morrison
22.) Beowulf: A New Verse Translation by Seamus Heaney
23.) The Bhagava Gita
24.) The Bielski Brothers: The True Story of Three Men Who Defied the Nazis, Built a
Village in the Forest, and Saved 1,200 Jews by Peter Duffy
25.) Bitch in Praise of Difficult Women by Elizabeth Wurtzel
26.) A Bolt from the Blue and Other Essays by Mary McCarthy
27.) Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
28.) Brick Lane by Monica Ali
29.) Bridgadoon by Alan Jay Lerner
30.) Candide by Voltaire
31.) The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer
32.) Carrie by Stephen King
33.) Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
34.) The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
35.) Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White
36.) The Children’s Hour by Lillian Hellman
37.) Christine by Stephen King
38.) A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
39.) A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
40.) The Code of the Woosters by P.G. Wodehouse
41.) The Collected Short Stories by Eudora Welty
42.) The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty by Eudora Welty
43.) A Comedy of Errors by William Shakespeare
44.) Complete Novels by Dawn Powell
45.) The Complete Poems by Anne Sexton
46.) Complete Stories by Dorothy Parker
47.) A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
48.) The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
49.) Cousin Bette by Honor’e de Balzac
50.) Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
52.) The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber
53.) The Crucible by Arthur Miller
54.) Cujo by Stephen King
55.) The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
56.) Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende
57.) David and Lisa by Dr Theodore Issac Rubin M.D
58.) David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
59.) The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
60.) Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol
61.) Demons by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
62.) Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
63.) Deenie by Judy Blume
64.) The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed
America by Erik Larson
65.) The Dirt: Confessions of the World’s Most Notorious Rock Band by Tommy Lee,
America by Erik Larson
66.)The Divine Comedy by Dante
67.) The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells
68.) Don Quijote by Cervantes
69.) Driving Miss Daisy by Alfred Uhrv
70.) Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
71.) Edgar Allan Poe: Complete Tales & Poems by Edgar Allan Poe
72.) Eleanor Roosevelt by Blanche Wiesen Cook
73.) The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe
74.) Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel in Letters by Mark Dunn
75.) Eloise by Kay Thompson
76.) Emily the Strange by Roger Reger
77.) Emma by Jane Austen
78.) Empire Falls by Richard Russo
79.) Encyclopedia Brown: Boy Detective by Donald J. Sobol
80.) Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
81.) Ethics by Spinoza
82.) Europe through the Back Door, 2003 by Rick Steves
83.) Eva Luna by Isabel Allende
84.) Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer
85.) Extravagance by Gary Krist
86.) Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
87.) Fahrenheit 9/11 by Michael Moore
88.) The Fall of the Athenian Empire by Donald Kagan
89.) Fat Land: How Americans Became the Fattest People in the World by Greg Critser
90.) Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson
91.) The Fellowship of the Ring: Book 1 of The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
92.) Fiddler on the Roof by Joseph Stein
93.) The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom
94.) Finnegan’s Wake by James Joyce
95.) Fletch by Gregory McDonald
96.) Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
97.) The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem
98.) The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
99.) Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
100.) Franny and Zooey by J. D. Salinger
101.) Freaky Friday by Mary Rodgers
102.) Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut
103.) Gender Trouble by Judith Butler
104.) George W. Bushism: The Slate Book of the Accidental Wit and Wisdom of our
43rd President by Jacob Weisberg
105.) Gidget by Fredrick Kohner
106.) Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen
107.) The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels
108.) The Godfather: Book 1 by Mario Puzo
109.) The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
110.) Goldilocks and the Three Bears by Alvin Granowsky
111.) Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
112.) The Good Soldier by Ford Maddox Ford
113.) The Gospel According to Judy Bloom
114.) The Graduate by Charles Webb
115.) The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
116.) The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
117.) Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
118.) The Group by Mary McCarthy
119.) Hamlet by William Shakespeare
120.) Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling
121.) Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling
122.) A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers
123.) Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
124.) Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders by Vincent Bugliosi and
Curt Gentry
125.) Henry IV, part I by William Shakespeare
126.) Henry IV, part II by William Shakespeare
127.) Henry V by William Shakespeare
128.) High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
129.) The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon
130.) Holidays on Ice: Stories by David Sedaris
131.) The Holy Barbarians by Lawrence Lipton
132.) House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III (Lpr)
133.) The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
134.) How to Breathe Underwater by Julie Orringer
135.) How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
136.) How the Light Gets in by M. J. Hyland
137.) Howl by Allen Gingsburg
138.) The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo
139.) The Iliad by Homer
140.) I’m with the Band by Pamela des Barres
141.) In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
142.) Inferno by Dante
143.) Inherit the Wind by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee
144.) Iron Weed by William J. Kennedy
145.) It Takes a Village by Hillary Clinton
146.) Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
147.) The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
148.) Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare
149.) The Jumping Frog by Mark Twain
150.) The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
151.) Just a Couple of Days by Tony Vigorito
152.) The Kitchen Boy: A Novel of the Last Tsar by Robert Alexander
153.) Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain
154.) The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
155.) Lady Chatterleys’ Lover by D. H. Lawrence
156.) The Last Empire: Essays 1992-2000 by Gore Vidal
157.) Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
158.) The Legend of Bagger Vance by Steven Pressfield
159.) Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis
160.) Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke
161.) Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them by Al Franken
162.) Life of Pi by Yann Martel
163.) Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens
164.) The Little Locksmith by Katharine Butler Hathaway
165.) The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Andersen
166.) Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
167.) Living History by Hillary Rodham Clinton
168.) Lord of the Flies by William Golding
169.) The Lottery: And Other Stories by Shirley Jackson
170.) The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
171.) The Love Story by Erich Segal
172.) Macbeth by William Shakespeare
173.) Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
174.) The Manticore by Robertson Davies
175.) Marathon Man by William Goldman
176.) The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
177.) Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter by Simone de Beauvoir
178.) Memoirs of General W. T. Sherman by William Tecumseh Sherman
179.) Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
180.) The Meaning of Consuelo by Judith Ortiz Cofer
181.) Mencken’s Chrestomathy by H. R. Mencken
182.) The Merry Wives of Windsro by William Shakespeare
183.) The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
184.) Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
185.) The Miracle Worker by William Gibson
186.) Moby Dick by Herman Melville
187.) The Mojo Collection: The Ultimate Music Companion by Jim Irvin
188.) Moliere: A Biography by Hobart Chatfield Taylor
189.) A Monetary History of the United States by Milton Friedman
190.) Monsieur Proust by Celeste Albaret
191.) A Month Of Sundays: Searching For The Spirit And My Sister by Julie Mars
192.) A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
193.) Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
194.) Mutiny on the Bounty by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall
195.) My Lai 4: A Report on the Massacre and It’s Aftermath by Seymour M. Hersh
196.) My Life as Author and Editor by H. R. Mencken
197.) My Life in Orange: Growing Up with the Guru by Tim Guest
198.) Myra Waldo’s Travel and Motoring Guide to Europe, 1978 by Myra Waldo
199.) My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult
200.) The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer
201.) The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
202.) The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
203.) The Nanny Diaries by Emma McLaughlin
204.) Nervous System: Or, Losing My Mind in Literature by Jan Lars Jensen
205.) New Poems of Emily Dickinson by Emily Dickinson
206.) The New Way Things Work by David Macaulay
207.) Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich
208.) Night by Elie Wiesel
209.) Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
210.) The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism by William E. Cain, Laurie A. Finke,
Barbara E. Johnson, John P. McGowan
211.) Novels 1930-1942: Dance Night/Come Back to Sorrento, Turn, Magic
Wheel/Angels on Toast/A Time to be Born by Dawn Powell
212.) Notes of a Dirty Old Man by Charles Bukowski
213.) Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
214.) Old School by Tobias Wolff
215.) On the Road by Jack Kerouac
216.) One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
217.) One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
218.) The Opposite of Fate: Memories of a Writing Life by Amy Tan
219.) Oracle Night by Paul Auster
220.) Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
221.) Othello by Shakespeare
222.) Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens
223.) The Outbreak of the Peloponnesian War by Donald Kagan
224.) Out of Africa by Isac Dineson
225.) The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton
226.) A Passage to India by E.M. Forster
227.) The Peace of Nicias and the Sicilian Expedition by Donald Kagan
228.) The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
229.) Peyton Place by Grace Metalious
230.) The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
231.) Pigs at the Trough by Arianna Huffington
232.) Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi
233.) Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk Legs McNeil and Gillian
McCain
234.) The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby
235.) The Portable Dorothy Parker by Dorothy Parker
236.) The Portable Nietzche by Fredrich Nietzche
237.) The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of
Paul O’Neill by Ron Suskind
238.) Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
239.) Property by Valerie Martin
240.) Pushkin: A Biography by T. J. Binyon
241.) Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw
242.) Quattrocento by James Mckean
243.) A Quiet Storm by Rachel Howzell Hall
244.) Rapunzel by Grimm Brothers
245.) The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe
246.) The Razor’s Edge by W. Somerset Maugham
247.) Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books by Azar Nafisi
248.) Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
249.) Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Douglas Wiggin
250.) The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
251.) Rescuing Patty Hearst: Memories From a Decade Gone Mad by Virginia Holman
252.) The Return of the King: The Lord of the Rings Book 3 by J. R. R. Tolkien
253.) R Is for Ricochet by Sue Grafton
254.) Rita Hayworth by Stephen King
255.) Robert’s Rules of Order by Henry Robert
256.) Roman Holiday by Edith Wharton
257.) Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
258.) A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
259.) A Room with a View by E. M. Forster
260.) Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin
270.) The Rough Guide to Europe, 2003 Edition
271.) Sacred Time by Ursula Hegi
272.) Sanctuary by William Faulkner
273.) Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay by Nancy Milford
274.) Say Goodbye to Daisy Miller by Henry James
275.) The Scarecrow of Oz by Frank L. Baum
276.) The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
277.) Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand
278.) The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir
279.) The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
280.) Secrets of the Flesh: A Life of Colette by Judith Thurman
281.) Selected Letters of Dawn Powell: 1913-1965 by Dawn Powell
282.) Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
283.) A Separate Peace by John Knowles
284.) Several Biographies of Winston Churchill
285.) Sexus by Henry Miller
286.) The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
287.) Shane by Jack Shaefer
288.) The Shining by Stephen King
289.) Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
290.) S Is for Silence by Sue Grafton
291.) Slaughter-house Five by Kurt Vonnegut
292.) Small Island by Andrea Levy
293.) Snows of Kilimanjaro by Ernest Hemingway
294.) Snow White and Rose Red by Grimm Brothers
295.) Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy: Lord and Peasant in the Making of
the Modern World by Barrington Moore
296.) The Song of Names by Norman Lebrecht
297.) Song of the Simple Truth: The Complete Poems of Julia de Burgos by Julia de
Burgos
298.) The Song Reader by Lisa Tucker
299.) Songbook by Nick Hornby
300.) The Sonnets by William Shakespeare
301.) Sonnets from the Portuegese by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
302.) Sophie’s Choice by William Styron
303.) The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
304.) Speak, Memory by Vladimir Nabokov
305.) Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach
306.) The Story of My Life by Helen Keller
307.) A Streetcar Named Desiree by Tennessee Williams
308.) Stuart Little by E. B. White
309.) Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
310.) Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust
311.) Swimming with Giants: My Encounters with Whales, Dolphins and Seals by Anne
Collett
312.) Sybil by Flora Rheta Schreiber
313.) A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
314.) Tender Is The Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
315.) Term of Endearment by Larry McMurtry
316.) Time and Again by Jack Finney
317.) The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
318.) To Have and Have Not by Ernest Hemingway
319.) To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
320.) The Tragedy of Richard III by William Shakespeare
321.) A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
322.) The Trial by Franz Kafka
323.) The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters by Elisabeth Robinson
324.) Truth & Beauty: A Friendship by Ann Patchett
325.) Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
326.) Ulysses by James Joyce
327.) The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath 1950-1962 by Sylvia Plath
328.) Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
329.) Unless by Carol Shields
330.) Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann
331.) The Vanishing Newspaper by Philip Meyers
332.) Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
333.) Velvet Underground’s The Velvet Underground and Nico (Thirty Three and a Third
series) by Joe Harvard
334.) The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
335.) Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett
336.) Walden by Henry David Thoreau
337.) Walt Disney’s Bambi by Felix Salten
338.) War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
339.) We Owe You Nothing – Punk Planet: The Collected Interviews edited by Daniel
Sinker
340.) What Colour is Your Parachute? 2005 by Richard Nelson Bolles
341.) What Happened to Baby Jane by Henry Farrell
342.) When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka
343.) Who Moved My Cheese? Spencer Johnson
344.) Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf by Edward Albee
345.) Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire
346.) The Wizard of Oz by Frank L. Baum
347.) Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
348.) The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
349.) The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

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My first ‘Community Pool’!

I recently saw a post about a ‘community Pool’ on a blog called The Daily Post, and decided to give it a try!

For those of you that don’t know, a ‘Community Pool’ post is a chance for everyone to ask questions or request feedback regarding posts, or their blog in general.

After much deliberation, I finally left a comment asking for feedback about the layout and feel of my blog. I’ve been worried for a long time that things aren’t very easy to find on my blog, or there are areas that are just too busy, so I thought I’d ask for opinions!

The feedback I got was great, and was from blogs that were unrelated to my subject of books, which was really interesting. So far, I have had feedback from Rebel PowerUnsolicitedtidbitsSoundtracks For TwentySomethings and Captain Ken’s Cloud in the form of comments or likes, and it was all really helpful. They seemed to like my layout and the colours that I used, so I will stop worrying that it’s too busy! Thanks for your help!

I would like to thank The Daily Post for organising this post, which I found, as a new and first time blogger, invaluable. Thank you! And of course, I would like to thank those who took the time to view my blog and leave feedback. It was really helpful, so thank you!

So, have any of you had any experience in a ‘Community Pool’? Did you find it useful? Let me know!  

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Author Interview: Brandon Zenner

profileHi Brandon! Thanks for agreeing to be interviewed. Before we begin, can you tell us a bit about yourself?
For the past ten years I’ve been working full-time bar-tending in a busy Irish bar, in Red Bank, New Jersey. Working nights has afforded me the luxury(if you can call working nights a ‘luxury’)of being able to spend my days writing. Before the recent addition of my amazing daughter, my wife and I were able to do a substantial amount of traveling; which included the Greek Isles and Venice(not California). As soon as my little girl gets a bit older we’ll be back out there seeing the world.

Brilliant, Thanks!
So, what inspired you to start writing?
I’m not sure if there was any one thing, but I do remember when I was an early teen, and reading authors like Kurt Vonnegut for the very first time, and realizing that you could truly do whatever you wanted to do with words—I was mesmerized, and still am. Books are only limited by the imagination of the author, and the willingness of the reader to enjoy them. I got my first idea for a novel when I was about 16, and it came on rather randomly. I wasn’t looking to write or become an author; I just suddenly got an idea and decided to see where it would take me.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Right now, time. I don’t have any. Not enough, anyway.

Time seems to be a big problem for authors!
When you’re writing a new story, where do you start? Main text? Title? Start? Ending?
In most cases I like to throw the main character’s name out there right away. First word. If I have my characters, I have my dialogue, and the story writes on its own.

Do you have any regrets, or things you wish that you’d done differently?
I should have taken some writing classes when I was young, but I had a very ‘Bukowskian’ thought process back then. I believed that good writing came from the individual, and not a classroom. I still somewhat believe that to this day, but I now know that learning some basic and advanced grammar is hugely beneficial. It would have saved me a lot of time more recently.

What advice would you give to other authors?
For a new author, or someone who wants to write, but has not yet written anything, I think there is initial fear and uncertainty that prevents them from starting their project. You have to make yourself sit and write those first words to get the project going, and that can be very challenging. I’ve talked to a lot of people who get so anxious about writing that they end up putting off their project for so long that they get lost. You have to put that ink on paper, no matter what, and if you don’t like what turns out, that’s what editing is for.

Sounds like good advice!
Are there any books or authors that you feel have particularly influenced you?
There are a lot of authors, but for the sake of argument, I’ll name a few that I’ve really liked over the years. I’ve already mentioned Kurt Vonnegut, as he has a huge place in my late teens, but I would like to also mention, John Fante, Cormac McCarthy, Charles Bukowski, Iain Banks, and Ken Follet. There are more, but I think that list covers a lot of bases.

How much research do you do in preparation for your writing?
Depends. Sometimes I have a thorough idea of the story before hand, and other times I only have a slight idea, and the story writes itself. Sometimes I go back and spend hours, days, researching something that I feel needs strengthening. I did a lot of research beforehand in The Experiment of Dreams, with concerns to aura migraines and sleep patterns. But it still seems like I’m doing research now, learning more and more, even though the book is finished. I get sent all sorts of articles from fans via twitter and Facebook.

Can I ask, if you don’t mind, what are you currently working on?
Before writing The Experiment of Dreams, I had an idea for a rather long novel. I wrote the entire rough draft, which finished at about 150,000 words. I didn’t like the way it turned out, so I wrote The Experiment of Dreams while taking a long break from it. Now, I’ve gone back to that original manuscript, and tossed it away. I have re-written the entire rough draft from scratch, and am currently doing a read through before sending it off to an editor. Without giving anything away, it’s a bit more literary than The Experiment of Dreams, set in a dystopian world. It’s still about 140,000-150,000 words—as of now. (My review of The Experiment of Dreams can be found here.)

Is there anything you’d like to say to your readers, or just in general?
First of all, Thank You. It really does mean a lot when someone enjoys your work. The readers make it all the more enjoyable to continue writing. Secondly, I would like to tell my readers: I have just begun. I waited a long time to start this career, and I have more than a few ideas for future novels and stories.

Thanks, Brandon!

To learn more about Brandon Zenner, please visit:
His goodreads author page
His Amazon author page
His book ‘The Experiment of Dreams‘ at Amazon UK
His Facebook page

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Getting to know: Brandon Zenner

profileHi Brandon! Time for the fun interview!

What were you like in school?
I was a B average student academically. Nothing special. When I was in high school I made friends with a lot of the seniors and juniors, so when I myself was a senior, I was ready to get out of there. I felt too old to still be in school. I was 19 when I rented a room with some friends, and moved out of my parent’s house.

Describe yourself in three words?
Brandon Hal Zenner . . . Is that a copout? Yeah, I know, but I can’t think of anything.

That’s cheating!
Okay, what is the last book you read?
Galveston, by Nick Pizzolatto. I’ll be putting a review on goodreads soon. Good book.

If you had to sing a song on a talent show, what would it be and why?
I think it’s safe to say you will never find me singing in a talent show. Not even karaoke. I can’t sing.

If there was a autobiography written about your life, what would the title be and why?
Oh man, I have no clue. It’s too early in my career to even think about that. I don’t think I’ve done enough in my life yet to warrant an autobiography . . . although, I do have more than enough stories from my 11 years bartending.

Feel free to share those stories!!
If you were a superhero, what would your superpower be?
If I could have only one, probably telekinesis. Moving things with my mind, and flying, is pretty cool. However, if I could be only one superhero, I would be superman. He’s got just about everything.

Okay. So, there’s a zombie apocalypse and you can only use the item to your left to survive. How long would you live?
Finally, a serious question. I would probably not last long. I live in a very populated town, and only an hour or so from New York. I think there would be an overwhelming amount of zombies in these parts.

I’m deadly serious about zombie attacks!
If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not, living or dead, real or fictional, who would it be and why?
Off the top of my head, maybe Thich Nanh Hanh, or the Dali Lama. They are both extremely enlightened individuals, and have led amazing lives. I’m not a Buddhist, by any strict standards, but I find their practices to be largely beneficial. I think 20 minutes a day of meditation could calm the world down on a gigantic scale, if people were willing to do so.

Thanks, Brandon!
To see the serious interview with the interesting Brandon Zenner, along with ‘where to buy’ links please click here.

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I’m back! Also, a massive thank you to all of you (:

Hello again,

I’ve been away this week, in case you didn’t see my earlier post. I had an amazing time and I’m quite sad to be home again! Now that I am home, though, I can get back to reading and reviewing

Tomorrow, I will be posting another author interview (as I do every Saturday morning) and will start reading from then on (6 hours on the train is exhausting, so an early night is definitely needed!).

I also wanted to say thank you to all of my followers. There are now 62 of you! That just blows me away. When I started this blog, I didn’t think I would have any interest other than family! So, a massive thank you to all of you who check in and took the time to follow me

You’re all amazing! Feel free to chat at any time. I’d love to hear from you!

~Katherine