Review: American Gods by Neil Gaiman

neil gaiman american gods

Find this book here!

This is the first book that’s taken my breath away in a long while. This book conjoined reality with fantasy in a dazzling and frightening manner. This book is awesome. It genuinely fills me with awe. The depth of research and innovation needed to create such a complex and illusive plot is perplexing. I tip my hat to Neil Gaiman and his craftsmanship.

Shadow is a grounded, humble, mucky character. Not mucky in the physical sense but his life is filled with realistic turns and twists which makes his story all that more believable to me. Compared to Wednesday’s mysteriousness that makes him so unbelievable to balance the mind.

At no point did I find myself guessing what would happen next with each page a new surprise took over and a new plot was unveiled. The plots that, despite starting off so loose, were tightly woven by the final part of the book.

I especially loved the chapters that were unrelated to the main plot. The little side stories about other Gods and humans, that weren’t anything to do with the overall book but in a sense provided evidence for all the claims made my Wednesday throughout the book.

A thoroughly delightful read. I would recommend this to anyone looking for an engrossing world to pour themselves into.

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Spoken Word: How different is it?

I’ve often debated about the concept of spoken word poetry. I’ve watched a few performances over the past year and become more open to the idea. I had never read any of my poetry aloud or even contemplated it. But the other day I finally decided to change that. I recorded my first attempt at spoken word poetry. Granted the video was of a poem I wrote over a year ago, but I felt the poem had a sense of intimacy from the speaker that didn’t translate as well when read. This is the video:

For my first attempt, I’m pretty happy with it. Though I doubt I’ll be going to any open mic nights any time soon. I really enjoyed getting to add my personal touch to the voice of the poem. As a person who studies English and has a particular interest in speech and voice I really enjoyed considering each line and how to enunciate them.

I’m definitely considering doing more spoken word, but mostly to get feedback on what people think of my … I guess you would call it a performance. So if you would like to give me any feedback I would greatly appreciate it.

Some of the major differences I found between writing poetry and attempting to read it aloud were as follows:

1 – Syllables:
I always knew syllables where important to poetry. Finding you’ve managed to remember the difference between iambs, trochees, dactyls and anapaests, can feel like quite the achievement when writing. Sonnets make this feat particularly evident. I especially found this noteworthy when reading aloud because I had set the poem to a structure of 3 stanzas, 22 lines a stanza and 10 syllables in the first stanza decreasing by one syllable each stanza. I thought this came through very well when spoken because the lines became shorter and more intense as the poem continued. This reflected in my speech as I spoke the stanzas progressively faster.

2 – Syntax:
Some of the lines of the poem seemingly flowed well when written such as “That are embedded
forever, n’er to be shredded;
of a lust so blind that it burns
backstabbing like a branch from firs.”
This section of the first stanza I thought read quite well. However, in reality when I spoke this section it seemed quite irregular. A lot of the time poetry does deviate from regular syntax because it creates an interesting and emotive perspective but I felt this section didn’t really work the way I had hoped it would.

3 – Change of Voice:
In the second stanza we hear a couple of lines for the object of the poem. The male past lover. This is a bit more difficult to pick out when you’re speaking because there’s only really two ways you could go about it; change your appearance or voice. I did neither of these because it was only after I uploaded the video that I really noticed this part.

So I’ve decided I’m definitely going to make more of these videos and I’m looking forward to developing my spoken word style as well as start writing some more poetry because its been quite a while now since I wrote a poem. I went from writing one every day to writing none at all. I think I’ve taken a long enough break now to try and get myself back into a creative mindset. That is, before university comes and stomps all over it again.

Take care people!

Kyra xx

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Many Things


So things have been pretty hectic the past few weeks. I’m trying to get on top of a lot of things and because I’m working full time, I’m finding that I don’t really want to do much when I get home on a night-time. I also try and occupy my weekends by visiting people because I know when University kicks off again, I won’t have as much free time to do so.

My editing process is going slower that I thought, I have about 33 pages edited so far out of 100 already written. I will be happy though if I can finish editing before I go back and then begin the new academic year by continuing to write.

I’m keeping up pretty well with vlogging at the moment. I have a fair few ideas I want to try out so I’m looking forward to putting them into action! I’m trying to post about 2 videos a week currently which is going well so far. When I go back to Uni, I might have to decrease the number to 1 but I’m waiting to see how busy I am!

NaNoWriMo will soon be coming around (I know what you’re thinking it’s still 3 months away, but I’m debating with my time currently) so I have started to write down a couple of ideas, but I don’t want to get too excited incase I don’t have the time. I may consider doing the camp next year around June time though, if I can’t do it this year.

Some of my friends are saying goodbye to a close friend, David Boulton, I would just like to say that we may not have known each other very well but he will be dearly missed by all his friends and family. My heart goes out to all those close to him.

Kyra x

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Short – Death of Fear

This is a short story I wrote for my AS Level Coursework.

Death of Fear


The smell.
The sound.
The shadows.
It was enough.
A long, gruelling day at work always left Juliana tired, but today felt even worse as she stumbled up her stairs to get to the bathroom, leaving her front door wide open. Pushing the bathroom door lightly, she walked up to the sink and turned on the hot tap. She sighed, as a tear rolled down her cheek,
“Five years today. Five whole, sluggish years, I worked my tail off, and what do I have to show for it,” She sobbed, slamming her fist on the basin. “No husband. No family, and now no job. No nothing… pathetic.”
She looked up into the mirror, not that she could face herself, but merely to look at the face of a pitiful, plaintive, workless, existence. How she hated that worn-down reflection. She could see the tears streaming down her face; auburn hair mixed with steam and mascara.
                She wondered, ‘Do I really deserve this? Could the old me really have damned the rest of me?’
                But Juliana already knew that answer was yes.
                Staring at the bathtub, memories came flooding by the dozen. Scenes of past experiences like a whirlwind of emotion, floating through her mind within seconds, one moment she saw herself; the next Henry and then again Tracy. Juliana had been sixteen when she moved in. She could remember it perfectly.
She walked over to her bedroom, picking up a cased photograph of a middle aged woman. Short black hair, petite frame, wearing a tracksuit, stood next to a teenager clad in leather trousers; dark corset, and large bulky leather boots and a jacket that draped across the floor.
She opened the wardrobe and pulled out a now withered version, rough and broken, much like herself, that fabric was ripped in places, purposefully, but each left a small tear in her heart. It read ‘Midnight Wolverine’. It had been Henry’s, which he had given to her. It still smelled of fuel and smoke, something that at this particular moment, she craved.
“From tattered teen, to smoking, to sniffing poppers, to marijuana, then ecstasy, before the clean, rehabilitated, seventeen-year-old me. You really did wonders didn’t you Tracy? Then it all went down hill.”
After skipping from foster family to foster family, someone had finally wanted to adopt her. Juliana hadn’t had a good life necessarily, but she lived. She went to school and got, to say the least, decent grades. She wasn’t stupid; she just didn’t see the point. She didn’t make friends well, but when she did, it did nothing for her.
“You helped me get clean, Tracy, but you screwed it up again didn’t you? And you just had to go and have a bath for a change.” Tears poured down her face, running down the photograph.
Before she met Tracy she became involved in drugs and alcohol. Totally indulged her focus became the high and how it was so outlandish to her. It made her feel so unique, yet accepted, which was something she had never quite felt before. Despite her being completely off her head, she’d never been so down to earth.
She remembered that day too well. The day she lost the most important person in her teenage life.
“I’m so sorry to have to tell you this Juliana, but I’m afraid we did all we could to resuscitate her. Unfortunately she didn’t make it.”
‘I can’t breathe, I can’t…’ She began hyperventilating, and in the end managed to inhale after a few minutes, and several failed attempts at breathing.
“Ca… can I … see her?” She spluttered. The paramedic simply replied with a nod.
                Juliana slumped onto the bed. Not bothering to turn on the light, she lay there amidst the sanctuary of darkness. Through the corner of her eye she could see a street light flicker. She slid across the bed and leaned against the window watching the light. On. Off. On. Off.
                “Yes. No. Yes. No! Which is it Juliana?” She always called her by her full name when she shouted.
                “Tracey honestly, I’m still clean! That’s not me anymore!” the seventeen year old screamed, “Hand on heart, I can say, I haven’t seen, let alone touched a needle, since I moved out of The Wheeler’s place. It’s been six months and you still don’t trust me?” And that was the honest truth. She still saw Henry from time to time but they weren’t together anymore, and he certainly wasn’t her dealer. She rolled her tongue piercing, while playing with a small piece of rope that fell from her bag, while she waited for Tracy to speak.
                “Jules, you know that it’s not that I don’t trust you but because of everything you’ve worked for. I’m being careful, because you can’t afford to slip back into your old ways. All of your effort would be wasted in one useless act and I would hate that.”
                Such simple words, yet they drove themselves in so deeply, she couldn’t take it. Tears spilled down her face as she dove into Tracy’s shoulder, desperate for affection.
                “Honestly Tracy, after that one scare, I couldn’t do it to myself, let alone to you!”
A bright light poured onto her face. Juliana was brought back to her surroundings as a silhouette ran past the street light. ‘Probably just a night runner,’ she assured herself, and continued down the stairs. She carried herself gently and sturdily as she meekly returned to the kitchen. She put the kettle on and looked in the fridge for something to eat, before retiring to the living room. She sat, and island amidst the sea of half-lived promises and torn dreams.
After the death, Juliana continued living in Tracy’s house.
There were three places left untouched, Tracy’s bedroom, the bath, and a small desk, in what used to be a third bedroom, which had been re-decorated into a studio for Tracy’s art.
Juliana began to fall back into her web of drugs. Henry often visited her trying to prise her from her state, to no avail.
                “Juliana, you can’t keep yourself locked away forever! Tracy would hate what you’ve become, what you’ve lost after all she did for you.” A wisp of smoke escaped as the front door was wrenched open.
                “What she did for me! She left me, that’s what she did. All this…” She emphasized the joint in her hand, “…It’s all because she left me.”
No one could help her.
She was unreachable.
The flickering light of the battered street lamp glimmered. “Something doesn’t seem right?” She whispered “Either I’m losing my vision or is it getting cloudy in here?” she questioned. She talked to herself quite a lot, a futile attempt to banish the solitude she felt she deserved. ‘It smells familiar… like something musty,’
Then it hit her. It wasn’t cloud; it was smoke, crack cocaine smoke, to be exact.
“I haven’t smoked in so long, so why?” she spoke. It smelt like she had had seven or eight in the past hour.
Going back into the kitchen she poured the water into her mug. But … that intoxicating, tantalizing, smell; her hands were shaky and she missed mug catching the back of her hand. She winced in pain as she placed it under the cold tap.
But she managed to pick herself up.
She was miserable. That was fact, but she knew Tracy would have wanted something for her. She got herself some help, and got a job, she wasn’t particularly fussed just something to get money.
Getting off the drugs was on another universe completely, she attained help, yes. However, the battle of the urges was something only she could fight.
It was then it started.
Before Tracy died, Juliana had a near death experience of her own. That was partially why Tracy’s death came as such a horrific shock. It happened not long before, Juliana never admitted it but that was the real reason she even though she’d promised Tracy to stop it wasn’t until that day that she actually did.
It began with a quick visit Henry’s after almost 3 months of not seeing him or any of her old friends.  He opened the door and behind where a living room used to reside now only placed a small coffee table that reminded Juliana of the tables at the Japanese style bistro in town. Around it were four plump pillows and placed on top a lone bong; a size meant to be shared.
“Expecting company are we?” She nodded to the table.
“You could say, to what do I owe the pleasure my dear?” He was already high. Wasting no time, Juliana thrust a box into Henry’s arms.
“Thought you might want your things back, I have no use for them anymore. I kept the jacket though, didn’t think you’d mind since it was too small for you anyway.” She began walking away however Henry grabbed her arm,
“Come in for a bit Jules,”
“Don’t call me that, you lost the right to call me that.” She shrugged his arm off.
“I have some things for you too. Come on, Jules, just for a minute.” Wearily, she stepped in the house.
Subtle at first, but growing louder and more obvious by the moment. Sharp, short, stamps marching across the floor, with no feet to make them. Juliana, confused beyond all recognition, stood listening to the constant. Tap, tap, tap…
 Tracy’s picture, that usually stood proud, shook along with the rest of the furniture in the house. Juliana’s head moved, twitching out of place, as the noise danced about the floor, her hands shaking uncontrollably, a cold, howling creeping in from outside. That; was when she noticed it. The gaping door at the front of her hallway. It was wide open. Anyone could have strolled in. Panicking, she slammed the door shut, and ran. She ran to where she thought most secure and the best shelter, below the stairs.
She couldn’t remember much else after that, as she awoke later in a hospital bed, and after throwing up copious amounts, she began to realise were she was. In taking her surroundings, she realised Tracy sat by her bed. Her expression blank, almost lifeless.
“I’m so disappointed. You have no idea how much you’ve put me through, not only did you lie, but you almost died.”
She gathered what was left of her shattered and disarrayed mind. She couldn’t think for the noise! The sound of feet, tapping on the floor! And then, when the tapping halted, there was something worse, the small creaking of steps above her, coming down the stairs.
‘Theres someone in the house,’ she thought, ‘What if they’ve been here all along? Could they be watching me? Does that mean they know I’m here?’ She couldn’t take anymore anticipation; she would make a run for it.
She breathed heavily, closed her eyes, and prayed she would make it. She opened the door and ran through the living room straight to the door. Pulling at the locked door, she fumbled with the catch. But still it would not open.
“Shit.” She said. She couldn’t get out, and she was going to die. With no where else to hide, she had two options, die or fight. But the truth was she was tired of fighting, something she had done all her life,
‘Huh life, bitch that’s been.’ She thought, as she pulled the chair beneath her lampshade. She braved the hallway once more to grab an object from below the stairs. Trembling, she gingerly walked back into the lounge. Standing on the chair, with rope in hand, she threw it around her neck, hands still shaking, head still twitching, as she listened for the steps, that never came. ‘No more smoke? No steps? No noise? … Why am I doing this?’ he began to step off the chair, just as she did so looking through the front window.
“Who?” She gasped.
The same silhouette from earlier stood, staring straight at her. Eyes, blood thirsty. Juliana was drawn aback so much that she jumped back. Enough to push the chair and send her flying, leaving the noose tight around her lifeless body. With her last moments, slowly withering, she quickly glimpsed out of the window, to find no figure and no silhouette. Not near, not far. Not anywhere.
I’d love to know what people think!
Kyra x
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Novel Notions: Reviewing my 17-year-old self.

Novel Progress

Word Count: 54,133
Chapters: 9
Pages: 99
Pages Edited: 15
Aim by 20th July: 25 pages edited and Prologue released.

It’s a bizarre experience to look back at your own work from years previous. I’m sure many writers would agree with the statements I’m about to make. In this case, I started writing a novel in 2010, as part of National Novel Writing Month, and have recently found the time to continue it. I’ve tried several times to continue writing, but I found that I had to concentrate on exams, essays and other deadlines and just didn’t have the time to really commit to working on it. So I decided that while I’m working and I don’t have any University work to do, I would set aside some time to work on it.

I quickly realised that after having such a limited amount of contact with the novel that some of the finer details had escaped my memory so I decided I would re-read what I’d currently written. This was when I realised that the current 19-year-old me and and the then 17-year-old me, had totally different writing styles. So I would have to edit the whole thing before I could even begin to write any further.

This is currently the stage where I’m at with regards to progress, as you can see at the top of this blog. My aim in relation to how my blog will relate to my writing is to update either once or twice a week on my progress and give you guys a bit of information about characters and some snippets of prose too, when I’m feeling generous.

One of the first things that I found that will need some severe hacking and re-wording was my love of run-on sentences and I will endeavour to fix them all within the first draft. It’s mostly odd because, even though I know no-one will read it until I let them, while reading certain parts, I’m almost embarrassed by my writing. I would still say in no way are my grammar and spelling perfect or near that, but I can say with confidence that my progression in the two aspects have improved since I was 17. So its almost like I don’t recognise my own writing at some points.

Another thing I discovered when reading through is that some parts didn’t make complete sense. What I mean to say is that I made sense when I wrote it, though looking back it doesn’t. Meaning that I’m either missing something as my current-self or my then-self just forgot that conveying meaning through writing is an essential skill for a writer. Here’s an example; I started a paragraph with,

“Now I had no idea what would happen,” 

then two lines later, referring to the same thing,  had written this;

trust me, I know what happens.”

The whole thing just confused me. So I deleted it. It wasn’t intrinsic, so I felt a slight cleansing feeling as my finger fixed itself to the backspace button.

So, I will update again with Novel Notions on the 20th if not before, it will depend on my progress. Keep you eye out though because I will be adding some Character Bios and hopefully the Prologue so you can get a sneaky preview of the Novel. Since I realise that I’ve not actually told you anything about it then it should be quite the opening to the world of my writing.

Take care!

Kyra x

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A Week Without the Internet

A week without The Internet

This week has been particularly interesting for me, not simply because I moved into a new house, but because I’m currently without the internet and will be for a few more days at least. I have the internet at work and on my phone, but somehow it doesn’t seem to be the same. I’ve spent time doing various other things, such as watching TV (I’ve watched a lot of TV compared to the normal amount I watch), painting and reading. These are things that I do enjoy doing, but never seem to find the time to do.

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