My Review Policy

I thought that it was about time that I wrote out a review policy, just in case any of my author friends fancy getting me to write a review for them! So, here goes:

I am currently accepting review requests!

Formats I Accept:

  • Physical copies (I’m not fussy! Whether it’s a finished book or just a vague manuscript, I’m happy to review it for you).
  • Audiobooks.
  • E-Books (I’m more likely to turn down reviewing an e-book, just because my software for reading e-books isn’t too great right now. If I like the sound of the book though, I’ll be happy to review it!).

Genres I Accept:

I will accept pretty much any genre if I like the sound of the book, but here are some of my favourite genres:

  • Thriller.
  • Mystery.
  • Fantasy.
  • Contemporary.
  • Dystopian.

What I can do for you:

If I decide to review your book, then I will post about it on this blog (www.emilyweatherburnblog.wordpress.com), along with Goodreads and Amazon. I will also post pictures and quotes to my Twitter and Instagram pages, advertising your book further.

What to do:

If you would like me to review a book, you can hop over to my contact page or simply email me at writersbeginning@gmail.com.

In the email, please include:

  • The book’s title.
  • The author’s name.
  • A publishing date.
  • A brief synopsis (the blurb will do).

My book reviews are entirely honest. I am not paid or endorsed by any company; I just want to share my genuine opinions about your lovely books!

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Author Spotlight: Terry Pratchett

Author Spotlight

Terry Pratchett (1948-2015)

Appreciating literature in the modern age can sometimes be difficult. Jacobean and Victorian works may always draw more attention to themselves, for literature appears to gather more importance with age. However, this does not mean that modern authors should be neglected, particularly when their books convey the power and magic of Terry Pratchett.

Preachin’ Pratchett

Sir Terence David John “Terry” Pratchett was known for his fantasy works in the Discworld series. These forty-one novels, starting with “The Colour of Magic” in 1983, and ending with “The Shepherd’s Crown” in 2015, have spanned over thirty-two years. Their influences range from J. R. R. Tolkien, to Charles Dickens and Shakespeare. This diversity is reflected in Pratchett’s world, which is a flat disc, balanced on the back of four elephants, who stand on the back of the infamous Giant Star Turtle.

Some Inspirational Quotes

“Real Stupidity beats artificial intelligence every time.” / “I’d rather be a rising ape than a falling angel.” / “Stories of imagination tend to upset those without one.” / “Fantasy is an exercise bicycle for the mind. It might not take you anywhere, but it tones up the muscles that can.” / “It’s still magic even if you know how it’s done.” / “There are times in life when people must know when not to let go. Balloons are designed to teach small children this.” / “The entire universe has been nearly divided into things to (a) mate with, (b) eat, (c) run away from, and (d) rocks.” / “The truth may be out there, but the lies are inside your head.” / “Goodness is what you do. Not who you pray to.”

The Joy of Writing

Arguably one of Pratchett’s greatest traits was the genuine love he had for writing. He is famously known for having said that monetary rewards were “an unavoidable consequence”, rather than a reason for doing something.

Pratchett even went as far as to discredit the works of J. K. Rowling and J. R. R. Tolkien, claiming, whilst alluding to the Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings series, “fantasy isn’t just about wizards and silly wands. It’s about seeing the world from new directions”.

Although this may have horrified many of Pratchett’s fans, he remained honest, adding that he owed “a debt to the science fiction/fantasy genre which he grew up out of”, writing because it was what he loved doing, and writing about what he felt needed to be demonstrated and emphasised.

Pratchett’s Passing

On the 12th March 2015, Sir Terry Pratchett died “with his cat sleeping on his bed, surrounded by his family” (Larry Finlay, Pratchett’s publisher). At sixty-six years old, the author had lost his battle to Alzheimer’s disease and produced his very last book. Yet although his friends, family and supporters throughout the world mourned the loss of Pratchett, he, himself, retained the humour that he’d had throughout his life.

On the very day of his death, Pratchett had a friend access his twitter account, and tweet three things: “AT LAST, SIR TERRY, WE MUST WALK TOGETHER”; “Terry took Death’s arm and followed him through the doors and on to the black desert under the endless night”; and, finally, “The End”.

Whether Terry truly believed in his own characterisation of Death that he made throughout his novels, we will never know, but it is clear that he did not fear death, perhaps because he had written of it for such a long time.

It is also true that his death was a beginning as much as an end, as he tasked his daughter, Rhianna, with continuing to write his books after his death. Although Rhianna has since said that she cannot do as her father wished, she has revealed that she will be working on separate, add-on additions to the series, even if they cannot touch the excellence of her fathers’ works.

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My original article, published in “The Sixth Sense”


This article was originally published for a school newspaper that I established when I was in Sixth Form. You can check out my other Author Spotlight pages here.

Author Spotlight: Virginia Woolf

Here’s another of my mini author biography pages, which were originally written for the Sixth Sense Sixth Form Newspaper. The full edition of this February version is available through this link, here. Enjoy!


Virginia Woolf, one of the most reputable writers of the twentieth century, is renowned for her controversial and experimental ideas. More than anything else, though, she is remembered for the hardships that she faced in life, and the mental illness that she carried with her, leading to her eventual suicide at the age of fifty-nine.

Early Beginnings

Born Adeline Virginia Stephen, Woolf grew up in Kensington, London. Her father, Leslie Stephen, was a notable writer himself, known as a historian, author and critic, as well as being the founding editor of the Dictionary of National Biography, a work that later influenced Woolf whilst composing her biographical pieces. Julia Stephens was also an inspiring influence; after she moved to England from her birthplace in British India, she became a model for widely reputable Pre-Raphaelite painters such as Edward Burne-Jones.

3 Things that You Didn’t Know About the Real Virginia Woolf

#1 – Woolf’s first attempt to commit suicide was when she was only twenty-two. She threw herself from a window, but it just so happened that it was not high enough to cause any serious damage.

#2 – During one of her phases of insanity, Woolf was convinced that birds spoke to each other in Greek, and that King Edward VII was shouting curses from behind various pieces of shrubbery.

#3 – Woolf, being far from heterosexuality, once considered marrying writer, Lytton Strachey, purely because he was known to be homosexual and Woolf saw him as someone who could be her brother.

Woolf’s Feminism

Particularly in modern times, Woolf’s works have been examined with a focus on feminist approaches. Her non-fiction works, such as A Room of One’s Own (1929) and Three Guineas (1938), in particular, consider the position of women in society. Woolf wrote about the difficulties that female writers experienced, as they were seen to be inferior by critics and generally at a legal and economic disadvantage to male authors. In fact, it is from the first of these texts that one of Woolf’s most famous quotes of all time originated: “a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction”.

A Mental Illness

Woolf’s illness was labelled in 1992 as a “manic-depressive illness”. Aside from being a homosexual feminist living in a patriarchal society, she felt trapped inside of herself. However, having experienced incestuous sexual abuse as a child, and, even in her later life, was subject to much abuse, her illness was understandable. Meanwhile, her husband, Leonard Woolf, has often been accused of encouraging her insanity, some even believing him to be responsible for her eventual suicide.

An Abrupt Ending

Woolf fell into a deep phase of depression at the beginning of the 1940s. Her home in London had been destroyed by the Blitz of World War II and she had given up hope. She wrote one last note to her husband, Leonard, making statements such as “I can’t read” and “I know that I am spoiling your life”, before she drowned herself, filling her pockets with stones and walking into the River Ouse near her family home. Woolf died, but her legacy still lives on.

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My original article, published in “Sixth Sense”

“Accidental Damage”: Book Review

I was recently asked to review a self-published book by Alice May, called Accidental Damage; whilst this is not a genre of book that I have really explored before, this book really impressed me, and I have therefore copied my review below! Enjoy!


Alice May’s Accidental Damage offers a first-person account of the trials and incidents possible within everyday life; whilst struggling to raise four children and keep her house in order, the heroine of the story experiences her world, quite literally, crumbling around her, as her house begins to crack in two, and her insurance provider is unwilling to offer her aid. Blaming the misfortune on herself, the heroine fights to punish herself for the incident, as she dramatically burns her treasured art-works in the garden bonfire, and forces herself to give up her greatest passion for the sake of her family. This is a story about love, sacrifice and guilt, embodying a stream-of-consciousness narrative style to reveal the internal monologue of the heroine, as she fights to choose between her passion for painting, and the care and support that she feels honour-bound to provide.

The aesthetics of the book are very pleasing; the cover art, originally produced by the author, herself, dramatically represents some of the complex themes of the text; the swirling waters coincide with the disorder and chaos taking place inAccidental Damage the narrative, whilst also linking to the fluid nature of the heroine’s thoughts, as they are delivered to the reader exactly how they are thought by the character: constant and powerful, flitting from idea to idea as the heroine processes her various situations. As the author notes towards the end of the book, the painting also offers a glimmer of hope within the chaos, as the swirling waters are centred around a white surface to the depths, just as, within the chaos of the situation, there always remains that distant feeling of hope. The formatting of the book is also very interesting; as well as having short chapters that are grouped by numbered ‘parts’, which make the book more accessible, the author has included definitions following each chapter headings. These definitions offer a unique twist to the narrative, as they not only confirm the meanings, but hint at the content of the next chapter and thus urge the reader to delve further into the book. At the very end of the text, after the epilogue, the author has also listed “The Comforting Recipes of Chaos and Logic” and “Innovative Games for Bored Barbarian Boys”, which add a personal feel to the book and end it on a unique, pleasant note, as the reader is able to take something away from it. A further sense of intrigue is created by the book’s blurb, a series of questions helping to evoke interest about the story. These questions may not be perfectly executed, certain wordings within the content, such as “or has she?” may seem a little too cliqued, and yet, as this is a present factor within any blurb, this should not be treated too harshly. Overall, it is well-written, a small exert from the text providing an accurate insight into the main narrative, as well as revealing the harsh plight of the heroine, and how she was forced to live, with her entire, rather large family of six, in a tent at the back of her garden, until her situation could be resolved. If nothing else, this intriguing blurb could be a little longer!

The actual content of the book is superb; interwoven storylines of the past and present make it more interesting, for as the heroine reflects on her past, readers of the text are offered two separate narratives: the one of the nervous painter who cringes away from storms, and the one of the struggling mother, who camps out in her back garden and braves precarious buildings for the sake of rescuing her daughters’ makeup and her sons’ PlayStation. What must, arguably, be the most interesting factor about this book, however, is the presentation, and anonymity, of its characters. There are no real names mentioned in the text; the heroine always speaks in first-person, and gives nicknames to everyone she meets, even her Barbarian Horde of children, Chaos, Logic, Quiet and Small. These humorous, but descriptive nicknames, provide an entertainment factor, as well as a proximity to the characters that perhaps real names cannot. The existence of “Quiet”, for example, as an identity for the heroine’s eldest son, opens a narrative opportunity to discuss the characteristics of the boy through his quiet persona. These names also differentiate the children and give them bigger, more interesting personalities, through being labelled by such distinctive traits. The anonymity stretches further still, however; allusions such as “Structural Engineer Man” and “Loss Adjuster Number 1” provide what might be called a more honest view of the world. In moments of chaos, the workers would be only what their jobs made them, and their personalities would be ignored; their names are therefore insignificant details that, considering the nature of the crisis, are simply unnecessary.

The pacing of the book is also something to be commended; the use of short chapters makes the book easy to read and moves the pace of the main events on at a good, consistent pace. The same is to be said about the style of the work; due to the stream-of-conscious style of writing, where it is the heroine’s actual thoughts that are being presented to the reader, the short, snappy sentences that sometimes occupy entire paragraphs demonstrate the speed of human thoughts, and help to keep the story interesting as it progresses. This speed may be an issue in certain parts of the text, however, yet, due to the style of writing, is difficult to avoid; generally, the pace of any book would be much slower at its beginning, more than anywhere else along its narrative. This text perhaps deals with the opening passages too quickly, for whilst it is very effective how the heroine recovers her painting equipment during a storm, which arguably represents her inner chaos and personal crisis, the fact that she suddenly must recover the paints could be explored a little more thoroughly. Why does she do this at that moment? What really triggers her passion once more? Pivotal moments such as this could perhaps be slowed down a little to allow more textual explanations, allowing the text to seem more powerful and effective. At the same time, however, the fact that the pace of the book is consistent is one of its main strengths, as it does not allow the reader to become bored of the plot or too confused along its course.

Accidental Damage is well written, terms more complex than what may be known as the commonly spoken language, intermingled with standard terms, keep it accessible to a wide range of readers, whilst also allowing it to reach out towards a more sophisticated audience. If there is any issue to be had with the language and presentation of the narrative, it would be the existence of potential typing errors (such as those on pages 26, 127 and 218), where there are sentences such as: “The general consensus from all consulted was that it had stood for 350 years already it would stand for 350 more.” Arguably, this sentence may be missing an ‘if’ or a ‘because’. Overall, however, the writing style is erudite, working to create a very readable, concrete piece of work. Such small errors appear in most books, especially self-published books, if only because they have had less editors reading over them numerous times. Indeed, what this novel is, is very credible. The plot is not only interesting, but moving and haunting, particularly when considering the fact that it was based on a true story. What with the elegant mode of writing, the fantastic formatting and unique twists both within the narrative and its presentation, this is really is an excellent read. Because, when it comes down to it, it just is a good story: fast-paced, but relatable and genuine. It is therefore a book that I would happily recommend to anyone.

Author Spotlight: Charles Dickens

Here’s another installment of my author biography pages, once written for my Sixth Form’s Newspaper, Sixth Sense. The full edition of this November copy is available here. If you’re interested in reading more about Charles Dickens, you can check out my review of what is arguably his most famous novel, Great Expectations.


Charles Dickens was one of the greatest writers of all time, renowned, more than anything else, for the magnitude and diversity of his writing. In only fifty-eight years, he wrote fifteen novels, five novellas and hundreds of short stories and non-fiction articles. He also edited a weekly journal for over twenty years. These achievements would be remarkable in any context, but the most admirable thing about Dickens has to be the challenging circumstances that he had to overcome in order to pursue his passion for the written word.

He was born in Portsmouth to a middle-class family, the second of eight children, yet only six of these children survived to adulthood. This was because the Dickens family was thrown into poverty when Charles’ father, John Dickens, lost control of his own finances, in an apparent lack of organisation. Charles had been living a comfortable life in private education, but was pulled from this luxury when the family was forced to move to a much smaller house in Kent.

There, however, their poverty was only worsened, until, when Dickens was only twelve years old, his father was placed in a debtor’s prison. As custom stated in the Victorian era, the entire family then had to move to London in order to reside in the rooms of the prison that were specifically reserved for the families of the prisoners.

Dickens, still only twelve years old, was then sent to work in a blacking factory, where he spent eleven hours a day labelling an assortment of bottles. This continued until he turned fifteen, which was when he started his new job as a solicitor’s clerk. He had clearly been deeply affected by his time in poverty, and so fought to prevent this from happening to him again. It did not matter that he was young and still somewhat ignorant to the world, because he had a hunger for learning, and not just for the intellectual, but for the knowledge that would help to better his own life in the future, and, essentially, to prevent him from becoming his father.

Three years later, Dickens took up a different job yet again, but, this time, he had found something that he knew he genuinely enjoyed. He became a journalist, allowing him to explore the world through non-fiction writing. At night, however, Dickens would pursue his other interest; he would use the skills that he had learnt from his career to write his own fiction stories, creating characters and storylines that are now renowned for their intriguing natures. Many critics now argue hat this was because Dickens had already experienced the positives and negatives of human life, and so when he described it for himself, he had the power to make it seem real.

In the same year that he published his first novel, Pickwick Papers, Dickens met Catherine Hogarth, who he later made his wife. Just as his happiness reached its peak, however, it then began to deteriorate once more; rumours circulated, questioning his drunkenness, and potential admittance into a lunatic asylum. Society began to doubt his sanity, and it is not too difficult to imagine why. He kept a raven as a pet, named it Grip, and had it stuffed and mounted after its death. Large portions of his writing were also, for many of his readers and critics, grotesque, considering criminality as well the supernatural.

His marriage to Catherine ended when he met Ellen Turnan at the age of forty-five. She was only eighteen years old, but their relationship escalated to the point that he was forced to leave Catherine, even though his reputation decreed that he could not file for an official divorce. Dickens’ writing continued to flourish once again, all the time using his experiences to implement his own stories and characters.

Then, one day, Dickens and Ellen were travelling home, when their train crashed. Dickens himself helped to administer medical care to those most in need, but the traumatic experience deeply affected him. He only remembered at the last minute that a portion of Our Mutual Friend had been left in the wreckage. Although he saved the novel, however, his mind had been traumatised, and, a short time after, Dickens died of a stroke, fifty-eight years old.

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My original article, published in “Sixth Sense”

Author Spotlight: William Wordsworth

Here’s another article that I published in my Sixth Form’s newspaper, Sixth Sense, focussing on William Wordsworth and his connection to my home county, Dorset. This edition was the first official one that my team and I produced, available to read in full here: 2-september.


Born in the late 18th century, William Wordsworth helped to pioneer the way for the Romantic Age in English Literature. Wordsworth’s works such as the famous I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud, as well as his collection of lyrical ballads that he shared with his friend, Samuel Coleridge, are his most reputable pieces of literature, nature often being used as a motif for the complex emotions that he experienced throughout his life.

This use of nature was undoubtedly inspired by his early life, for, although Wordsworth completed his work with Coleridge in Somerset, his family home was in the Lake District, where he was raised along with his four siblings, beside the picturesque English moors. Wordsworth had a particularly close relationship with his sister, Dorothy, who is also renowned for, in particular, her diary writing, and so after Wordsworth’s time in Somerset, he moved back to stay in a cottage with her in Cumbria.

What most people don’t acknowledge, or aren’t aware of, though, is Wordsworth’s connection to Dorset; his home being far from this very Southern county, any connection at all would be unexpected. In fact, it has been noted that Wordsworth spend at least two years of his life living with Dorothy at Racedown Farm, near Pilson, Dorset. There, they appeared to have lived very solitary lives, only accompanied by three members of staff, one of whom did not permanently reside at the farm.

This meant that the Wordsworth siblings were almost completely cut off from society; despite being born into the upper class, they could not afford the London paper, and so couldn’t keep up with current affairs or news. They did, however, surround themselves with the local nature. William took to his hobby of “hill walking”, where he learnt about the local history and began to thoroughly explore the area.

It has been recorded that Wordsworth wandered down to the sea at Lyme Bay on more than one occasion. One time that this happened, he witnessed the Great Indies fleet sailing right past him in all its glory, before it was brutally destroyed by a sudden storm. Ironically, this was close to the time when Wordsworth’s younger brother, John, perished at sea; as a Sea Captain, his ship was destroyed in 1805, a little further to the east.

Wordsworth did greatly admire the Dorset countryside before his return to the North, though; he climbed to the highest point at Pilsdon Pen and allowed his passion for walking and writing to give him a different perspective of his beloved English countryside; arguably, his time in Dorset may have majorly affected his later writing.

 

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My original article, published in “Sixth Sense”