Sorceresses, Fools, White Rabbits and Jules: World Book Day Shenanigans

As I mentioned in my previous blog post, on Thursday evening a few friends and I met up for a book-swapping party in honour of World Book Day. In addition to book-swapping, we also dressed up as our favourite literary characters just like hundreds of children across the country were doing for school, because we felt like revisiting our youth.

(I say this like it’s something I used to do as a child, but my school was incredibly boring and never hosted dress-up events on World Book Day. Thus I was super excited to be doing it for the first time!)

My character of choice was Valkyrie Cain from Derek Landy’s excellent Skulduggery Pleasant middle-grade series; a kickass young goth-sorceress who hangs around with a skeleton detective. Below is a picture of what she looks like. Being a kickass young goth-sorceress myself, I think it’s pretty easy to see why I chose her!

Here is what I managed to put together:

To create my Valkyrie look I used a fabulous real-feel synthetic black wig by YOPO Cosplay Wigs for Valkyrie’s signature long black locks. Makeup-wise I painted my entire face –including my lips — with Kat Von D’s Lock It Foundation (Light 42 Neutral) and used no blusher or face contour to get a pale, not-quite-human look. I also used Lipcote lipstick sealer for good measure to make sure the lips stayed pale and weren’t affected by any food or drink I consumed that night. For the eyes, I figured that as a young teenage girl Valkyrie might be more concerned with fighting bad guys than doing her makeup, so I kept it light with contouring shades from Kat Von D’s Shade & Light eye palette in Smoke and just a very sparing application of Buxom Lash Mascara on my upper eyelashes only. Lastly I used the ‘Define’ shade from the Kat Von D palette to darken my eyebrows to match my hair. Then I whacked on a pair of black jeans, black boots, a blood-red T-shirt and a black leather jacket, used a black hair-tie to make Valkyrie’s necromancer ring, grabbed one of my (many) decorative skulls for Skulduggery’s head and off I went!

Here is my book haul for the evening:

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Of the above, I’m most looking forward to reading V.E. Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic which I’ve heard such good things about. I was even more excited after I read the blurb to learn that some of it is set in the 18th century, the same time period that The Mayor is set in. My ‘TBR’ shelf grows ever heavier…

Check out some of the other characters my friends dressed up as below!

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From left to right: Maria is the White Rabbit from Lewis Carroll’s Alice In Wonderland; Kim is the Fool from Robin Hobb’s The Farseer Trilogy; I am Valkyrie Cain from Derek Landy’s Skulduggery Pleasant series; Cassie is Julian from L.J. Smith’s The Forbidden Game trilogy.

Did you do anything fun for World Book Day?

S.E. Berrow

 

A Few Things to be Excited About!

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Highlights from the beautiful Vatican City, Italy, including Michaelangelo’s Pièta, the Swiss guard and the simply gorgeous artwork in St Peter’s Basilica, all of which is mosaic.

I have just returned from my holiday – a rather swanky trip around Europe on the biggest cruiseship in the world, Harmony of the Seas, with my  lovely boyfriend Mark and my cruise-addicted parents. We set sail from Barcelona, stopping in Parma, Marseilles, La Spezia, Rome and Naples. It was bloody hot and extremely expensive, however there was much history to observe and lots of antiquity and culture to immerse ourselves in. My day on the Imperial Rome tour with Mark was without a doubt the best day, visiting such major sites as St Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, the Trevi Fountain, the Colosseum and the Roman Forum.

Alas however, the holiday is now over (which is probably for the best because Mark and I were spending a fortune…) and I am now back at home with my wee beasties Petra and Edgar, whom my writing partner, K.F. Goodacre has been looking after in my absence. I have to admit, it is very nice to be home! It’s just such a shame that my holiday can’t go on a little longer.

This also now means that I can crack back on with my Camp NaNoWriMo project, which I have extended by a week to make up for the time I lost whilst on holiday. Wish me luck! K.F. Goodacre promised to write me a torture scene if I meet my word goal.

In addition to looking after my cats and house, K.F. Goodacre also went to the Young Adult Lit Con (YALC) on Saturday and waited in line to meet Derek Landy for 50 minutes just to get my first-edition hardback of Skulduggery Pleasant and a flyer for #SPX signed by the man himself! Isn’t she wonderful? Thank you so much, Kimothy!

Finally, more exciting news, Epica’s new track ‘Universal Death Squad’ dropped on Friday and pre-orders have been opened for their upcoming album The Holographic Principledue to be released 30 September later this year!

Of course I immediately downloaded the song as soon as I got home, listened and then treated myself to this baby:

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THP Deluxe Boxet Bundle

First impressions of the song so far is that the instrumentals sound great. There is a stunning piano bit right in the middle that just blows my mind, with some stirring choir pieces and a real orchestra at last ♥ Initially I felt that Simone’s vocal melodies were quite weak, but after watching the full lyric video I’ve decided that they fit. Literally, the song is about a draconic takeover by a technologically advanced robotic race, however knowing Epica this undoubtedly has a double-meaning. Cyber and drone warfare? The internet of things? The zombifying effects of political apathy? Watch and listen below and decide for yourself:

And now, if you don’t mind, it’s been a very long day, I’ve been up since 4:30am GMT time, and I am absolutely knackered. Time for me to get some sleep so that I awake fresh and eager for a new working week tomorrow.

Goodnight and take care,

S.E. Berrow


For pics of my cruise around Europe, please feel free to visit my Instagram. See such wonderful things as a Whirling Dervish, molecular gastronomy, badly-assembled balloon animals and perfectly preserved porn from a Pompeii brothel:

https://www.instagram.com/sallyella79/

For more information about Derek Lady and #spx, visit Derek’s blog:

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

For more information about Epica, please visit their website:

http://www.epica.nl/

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/