It’s Aliiiiiiiive! S.E. Berrow is back.

itsalive

Well my friends, it has been — as my Texan friends say — a hot minute since I last updated this here blog. Around about half a year ago, I officially went On Hiatus with both my writing and blogging because reality became too much to cope with.

Well, I’m pleased to say that I am now BACK! In fact, I’ve been mentally ‘back’ for a couple of months now — I just haven’t gotten round to telling you about it. Reviving this blog was waaaaaaaaaaay down the priority list, but I have a bit more time and brainspace now, so I want to change that.

Life updates coming your way, bam, bam, bam, bam!


New Digs

At of December 2018, I finally — finally — moved house! Yes, it’s true. I am now living with my boyfriend of 4½ years and our menagerie of animals. The entire moving process was hella stressful, I must say. 1/10, would not recommend.

For the first month or so I feared we’d made a dreadful mistake. Everything was still in boxes, we had no internet or sofas, and it was pretty clear that certain parts of the house weren’t in quite as good nick as we’d initially thought.

Things only got even worse in January when one of our cats — poor, lovely, beautiful Flick — died suddenly and unexpectedly. You’ll recall I did a little teaser post about my imminent return at the beginning of January? Well… that’s why nothing came of it ’til now; Flick’s death really threw us for six.

But! I’m pleased to report we’re now much more settled in our new home and are taking serious steps to improve it even more! Our furbabies are very happy and we all feel much more at home. Hooray!


Writing

It’s official: Draft 2 of The Mayor is underway! As you may have seen from my website’s Compass during the month of April, I took part in Camp Nanowrimo (failed miserably, but whatever) to make headway with it. More than a decade has passed since I wrote the original first draft of The Mayor‘s first half — and whoa boy, it shows — so I’m having to rewrite large chunks. I’m really pleased with the results so far though. I find it very satisfying to compare my terribly worded, awful first draft to my brand new shiny draft. Editing in general is a renowned pain in the arse, but nobody told me how awesome it would feel to make things good, guys!

I don’t think I’ll meet my goal of finishing Draft 2 by the end of this year, but I’m definitely going to try. At the very least, I’m hoping to take part in the Curtis Brown First Novel Prize which ends at midday on the 1st August. 10,000 words? An 800 word synopsis? Adult novel of any genre? Doesn’t have to be completely finished? That’s me! I can do that! Wish me luck!

I have to say, just giving myself something to work towards has been a real motivator, so regardless of how I place in the competition, that alone makes the whole thing worth it.


Fitness

I’m doing Tough Mudder again this year (after deferring from last year), so I need to get fit again. Exercise, much like writing and blogging, had to take a backseat last year in the face of overwhelming depression and anxiety. As such, I’ve taken up running and thus far, have been very disciplined in sticking to it. Hell, I’d actually go so far as to say I’m enjoying it! I’ve got new running shoes, a running belt for keeping my phone in, saw a physio on Friday to check I hadn’t done myself an injury… Oh yeah. I’m taking this very seriously.

I’ve been following the NHS’s Couch to 5K programme, which is excellent, and I have Zombies, Run! ready to go when I finish it. I already feel so much better! My resting heart rate has decreased by 7 bpm in less than a month. I just feel more like myself again.

Need to get myself back up to half-marathon standard. Then I guess I’d better start weight-lifting to tackle those obstacles…


Currently reading: The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin (second book in The Broken Earth trilogy… go read the first book, The Fifth Season, if you haven’t already; it’s glorious)

Currently listening to: I just finished listening to the excellent Binge Mode: Harry Potter (an analytical podcast covering all 7 books, all 8 films and the wider Potter canon), so now I’m catching up on all the music I’ve missed over the last three months whilst listening to that.

Currently watching: Nothing at the moment. Game of Thrones, I guess? Even though these last couple of seasons have pissed me off royally. I just finished watching Season 4 of Outlander (what a wild ride that was) and Season 8 of Taskmaster starts tonight!


That’s all for now. Phew! It’s good to be back. I’ll post here again very soon and hope not to leave it so long next time! I still intend to finish the #AcresofInk blog challenge and I have a couple of other things cooking over there as well. Watch this space…

Take care!

S.E. Berrow

Advertisements

Demon Road by Derek Landy: Book Review

Derek Landy | Demon RoadDerek Landy, author of the fantastically funny, dark and gritty Skulduggery Pleasant series, kind of set himself up for a fall. Demon Road is an entirely new book series with entirely new characters set not only in a different country from Skulduggery Pleasant, but also amidst a new supernatural underworld with a completely different set of rules. After three trilogies, one novella and several short stories chronicling the escapades of everyone’s favourite crime-fighting skeleton, I felt nervous about venturing into such new and unfamiliar territory. Derek wrote Skulduggery Pleasant for so long… Surely this new book wouldn’t be anywhere near as good? Surely I wouldn’t be able to keep myself from comparing the two? What if I didn’t lose myself in the world as much? The Skulduggery Pleasant series took over my life for several weeks. How on earth could Demon Road match up? I feared the ‘Casual Vacancy Effect’, for what is Demon Road to Skulduggery Pleasant if not the equivalent of J.K. Rowling’s follow-up to Harry Potter?

This book was such a fantastic surprise. A hilariously subversive take on the bleak sense of loneliness and entitlement felt by Generation Y vs. the sheer greed and selfishness of Generation X, Demon Road follows Amber, a lonely sixteen-year-old girl, who one day not only discovers that there’s a bit more to the family tree than she first realised, but that her parents also want her dead. In order to escape she must first strike a deal with a Devil and then clamber into a vintage Dodge Charger – that also happens to eat people – with a complete stranger – who may or may not be a serial killer – and drive across the black roads of America, fighting killer psychic children, vampires and lovesick ents along the way.

Packed absolutely full to bursting with classic American-Horror set-pieces, drawing inspiration from the likes of Stephen King, Alfred Hitchcock, John Carpenter, Wes Craven, H.P. Lovecraft and – seemingly, bizarrely – Are You Afraid of the Dark?, the end result is a rip-roaring gore-fest with some genuinely spectacularly creepy moments that is essentially one long love letter to the road trip and horror genres. It is well-written and tightly plotted, and somehow manages to meander from one horror trope to the next without ever venturing off the main point. Throw in Derek Landy’s trademark wit and humour plus some truly brilliant characters – such as the endearingly awkward Amber and the dangerously reticent Milo… Hell, even the weirdly pet-like Charger – and you’ve got a recipe for a really great book. The novel’s one weak point I would say is the character of Glen, who unfortunately does read a bit like a slightly more irritating carbon-copy of Fletcher from the Skulduggery Pleasant series. He did however grow on me in the same way he probably grew on Amber and Milo, like an overly-talkative Irish fungus.

Undoubtedly one of the best books I’ve read so far this year. I absolutely can’t wait for the follow-up, Demon Road: Desolation, which is due for release in March next year. Skulduggery Pleasant may be gone for good, but Derek Landy is most definitely back.

Verdict: 5/5

S.E. Berrow


For more information on Derek Landy, Demon Road and the Skulduggery Pleasant series, please check out the below links:

http://dereklandy.blogspot.co.uk/
http://www.skulduggerypleasant.co.uk/