Book Blogger Hop – 10/08/18

I am a part of the Book Blogger Hop, a weekly blogging exercise that is hosted by Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer! This is a chance for like-minded book bloggers to reach out and find each other by answering a weekly question.

 

This week’s question (Elizabeth from Silver’s Reviews) is…

Q: Can you say this about yourself? Nothing makes me happier than sitting down with a good book.

Well, I know that I probably should be able to say that about myself (I am a book blogger, after all, and I do study English at university, where I have to do a whole lot of reading just to pass my degree). I’m not sure that I can, though. Sure, there are times when nothing can make me happier than sitting down with a good book… but that’s only sometimes.

Sometimes, a box of chocolates would make me happier than anything else, or sometimes I would rather just snuggle up under a blanket and watch a film. It all depends on my mood, and that’s just me being honest.


Well, that’s it for this challenge (I can’t seem to find a link to sign up to or anything). So, thank you for reading and please do let me know your thoughts on this question!

 

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A Forgotten Past | Short Story

The eyes that had once glistened with suppressed laughter had grown misty over time. The bright blue had faded into a dusty grey and, as ivy grows around forgotten doorways, the lashes had become tangled, webbed by the many woes of age. Around them, deep crevices ran up and down the withered skin, crossing one another and then joining into older, much deeper cracks.

As I gazed into my grandfather’s wasted face, I felt a pang of remorse ring through me. I would give almost anything now to pull back the years and reveal the joy that had once radiated from him. I know that I should have talked to him more. I should have learned all that I could of his past, but it was too late now. Those memories were lost.

face-984031_1280.jpgI clasped his feeble hands in mine and, as he turned his head towards me, I thought, just for a moment, that a spark of memory had stirred behind those clouded eyes. In the very next moment, however, it was gone, and he returned to staring placidly into space, his expression empty of emotion.

Sighing, I pushed myself up from the floor beside his bed and placed a hand on the door, wishing I had more to say. During my time with him, I had opened my mouth to speak almost a dozen times, but I had no words. I wanted to offer comfort, as my mother did, but how do you comfort a man who does not know you?

As I pushed the door ajar, however, a slight scuffling sound made me pause. Glancing back at my grandfather, I saw, to my utter astonishment, that he was sitting upright, suddenly alert. His eyes were wide and his left hand was wrapped tightly around his bedsheets, the knuckles white from the effort of sitting up. His right hand, meanwhile, was held out in front of him, pointing towards one of the boxes at the end of his bed.

I took a few steps towards him, hesitating. A part of me wanted to run downstairs to fetch my mother, but my curiosity held me back. I instead followed the line of his pointing arm and pulled out, from the end of his bed, a heavy, dirt-encrusted box. I set this on a side table and, as I did so, my grandfather’s arm followed its progress through the air. I attempted a swift smile, but the urgency in his wide eyes seemed to wipe it from me.

The box was made of a dark wood that could have been oak. Around its corners, thick pieces of a soft, golden metal had been nailed in place, preventing, I supposed, the wood from wearing away. At its centre, sat an ornate lock that was made of the same metal as the box’s edges. My fingers stroked their way along this lock, feeling the history that seemed to emanate from it.

I tried raising the lid, but the lock only rattled, and I stopped, looking at my grandfather. He was still sitting bolt upright, his hand still directed at the box.

“I can’t open it, grandfather,” I said, pulling his hand back to the sheets. “I need a key.”

It was as if I had uttered some kind of a password; at the word ‘key’, my grandfather’s wizened hand shot to his neck, where he fumbled at a golden chain. I had seen this chain many times before. My mother had told me that it had belonged to my grandmother, and I had never thought to ask more. After all, I had never known my grandmother.

open-box.jpgShaking slightly, he lifted the chain from around his neck to reveal, hanging from its end, a small, golden key. He handed it to me,  nodding with an enthusiasm that I had believed to have left him many years ago. I took it, my hands shaking almost as much as his, and inserted it into the box.

Inside, I found a crimson cloth that was nearly folded around…

I stopped, staring at my grandfather.

“What is this?” I asked, my voice strangely high-pitched. My grandfather only nodded in the same, desperate fashion, gesturing towards the box.

My heart thumping wildly in my chest, I took a few steps back. Wrapped neatly inside that crimson cloth, lay a bundle of bright white, tightly bound, bones.

For the second time that evening, I considered calling my mother. My hand was actually on the door when, once again, I stopped myself. There was nothing to be gained from scaring her.

I stepped back up to the box, and, trying not to look at the bundle, I pulled it out and tried to hand it to my grandfather, but he shook his head.

“Look,” he croaked.

It was the first time that he had spoken in almost three years.

I blinked away the tears that had risen at the sound of his voice and returned to the box once more. Underneath a second layer of the crimson cloth, sat two feathers. They were so large that they filled the entire underside of the container, bright gold and shining. I picked one up, and my grandfather clapped his hands together, his eyes shining.

“Grandfather, what bird is this from? The colour… it’s so bright. Are they painted?”

He shook his head distractedly, now pointing again at the bones. Returning to them rather reluctantly, I unbound the course leather that tied them and allowed them to tip onto the carpeted floor.

Most of them were thick and heavy, as though they had belonged to some large mammal, like a horse, or even a human. Alongside them, though, lay a thousand tiny bones that could easily have been suited to the wings of a bird. I glanced back at my grandfather and, to my surprise, I saw that he was smiling.

“Not a bird,” he croaked. “Graiathan was my friend.”

“Gr-Graiathan?” I repeated. “Grandfather, these big ones… they’re not human bones, are they?”

He really laughed then – powerful, joyous laughter that seemed to fill the whole room. He threw back his head and laughed so loudly that, if I hadn’t been in the very process of witnessing it, I wouldn’t have believed any such sound could issue from my grandfather’s mouth.

“No, not a human,” he gasped once the laughter had subsided. “Graiathan was my griffin.”

***

My grandfather passed away two weeks after our exchange. It was quite peaceful; he died in his sleep, my mother sat by his bedside. He never spoke again, but he didn’t need to. In the weeks that followed, I had spent my time pulling out more boxes and revealing strange drawings and objects that had taken many hours to understand.

I will never truly know the adventures that my grandfather once had, but a griffin feather now sits upon my desk, and a smile is painted across my heart.


Word Count: 1153.

Believe it or not, the events depicted in this little story were based roughly on a dream that I had last night. I very rarely dream, but when I do, they feature locations and characters that are completely unrelated to me. People often tell me that this is my ‘storyteller’s brain’ at work, but I think it more likely that my imagination is just a little overactive.

I hope that you enjoyed this story. It is one that I really enjoyed writing, especially as it is the first longer piece that I have written for some time. Thank you for reading!

Picture Credit: Pixabay.

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Book Blogger Hop – 03/08/18

I am a part of the Book Blogger Hop, a weekly blogging exercise that is hosted by Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer! This is a chance for like-minded book bloggers to reach out and find each other by answering a weekly question.

 

This week’s question (Maria from A Night’s Dream of Books) is…

Q: Have you ever had a bookish, nocturnal dream? If so, please share the story. If not, have you ever had a daydream related to books? If so, please tell us about it.

I suppose that the closest I’ve come to an actual nocturnal dream about books was when I was quite young. My favourite film always used to be Disney’s Beauty and the Beast – Belle was such a strong female lead and an inspiration to any child bibliophile. Well, there’s a couple of libraries in this film, but I used to dream, not about the mansion-sized library provided by the Beast, but about the one right at the beginning of the film. It is old, rickety and falling down in parts, but there are books everywhere, stacked up against the walls and falling over the desk.

So, yeah. I used to dream about that library and imagine that I was there. It may not be the most exciting dream, but it was most certainly real.


Well, that’s it for this challenge (I can’t seem to find a link to sign up to or anything). So, thank you for reading and please do let me know your thoughts on this question!

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From the Heart Award

Last week, I was nominated for the “From the Heart Award” by the wonderful the Haunted Wordsmith. This award is a really lovely gesture and I am absolutely delighted to have been nominated! It’s so nice to think that my posts are actually being read and appreciated by all of you – my incredible followers!

From the Heart

What is it?

This award goes to bloggers who primarily focus on personal writing. These posts are often from the writer to the world at large, or from the writer to the writer themselves and they just allow us access to their mind.

Rules:

There are no rules, no questions, no participation requirements for this award. It is given from bloggers to other bloggers. It was designed by the Haunted Wordsmith and is given to other bloggers as a gesture of thanks and appreciation for their work.

Thank you, the Haunted Wordsmith! This is honestly such a lovely gesture and I am so grateful!

My Nominees:

  1. Pensivity101.
  2. Tales from the Mind of Kristian.
  3. But I Smile Anyway…

To my nominees: there is absolutely no obligation to take part in this award if you do not want to. If nothing else, just see it as an appreciation of your wonderful work!


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Book Blogger Hop – 27/07/18

I recently decided to join the Book Blogger Hop, hosted by Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer! This is a chance for like-minded book bloggers to reach out and find each other by answering a weekly question.

This week’s question (provided by Elizabeth from Silver’s Reviews) is…

Q: Do you agree or disagree with this statement: A blogger’s first name should be in a prominent place on his/her blog.

I absolutely disagree. There are no set rules when it comes to blogging. You can be as personal or as anonymous as you want, and that’s fine, because it’s your blog. I mean, I suppose it can add a personal touch, and if you’re writing a personal blog then it might be a little unusual not to reveal your name, but that doesn’t mean that your name has to replace your blog’s title or anything. Just do what feels right for you – isn’t that the point of blogging, after all?


Well, I think that’s it for this challenge (I can’t seem to find a link to sign up to or anything). So, thank you for reading and please do let me know your thoughts on this question!

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“The Case of the Mahjong Dragon And Other Russell Holmes Stories”: Review

A few days ago, the very talented James McEwan asked me if I would review his collection of short stories. Since then, I’ve been reading through these tales, all of which are based on the adventures of Sherlock Holmes.

My Review

I have a lot of mixed emotions when it comes to reviewing this short story collection. Firstly, let me just say that I absolutely love the idea of bringing the adventures of Sherlock Holmes into the present day. McEwan also did a good job of making links to the original stories, whilst still putting his own spin on the narrative. After all, this modern-day Holmes – Mr Russell Holmes – is Scottish.

The Case of the Mahjong Dragon: And other Russell Holmes StoriesMost of my issues with this collection stem from the fact that I didn’t enjoy all of the stories, but I can’t work out whether this is due to personal preference, or due to something more noteworthy.

My favourite story was second in the collection, “The Case of the Murder at the Falls”. I really liked the setting in this one and thought that the narrative flowed really well, but, at the same time, I didn’t really get on with the opening tale, “The Case of the Mahjong Dragon”. There were a few typing errors and I honestly found the case quite confusing. Having read this first story, I assumed that I wouldn’t like the rest of the book, either.

Yet as soon as I started the second story, I found that I was wrong. James McEwan is a fantastic writer, and this really comes to light as the collection goes on. Holmes’ character is fascinating – he is like the classic Holmes but is also completely original – and his sidekick Wilson is always there to lend a hand, too. The stories are loveable in the same way that the original stories are; they’re familiar, presenting a repeated pattern that always involves a triumphant cracking of the case.

There are twists (particularly in “The Case of the Asylum”, where we come to question Holmes’ past), turns and intellectual victories that are all bound up in this wonderful narrative. As I’ve already mentioned, there were certainly parts of it that I didn’t like, but, to be fair, I don’t like all of the original Holmes stories, either. So, whilst I do recommend this book, I would suggest that, if you’re like me and you don’t take to the first story, that is not a reason to put this book down. I also think that it would probably be easier to appreciate these stories if you have already read the original Holmes stories. That way, you can see some of the clever links McEwan has made.

Regardless, I am glad that I have read this book and am very grateful to the author for sending it my way in exchange for an honest review.

You can click here for an A-Z list of all my reviews (so far)!


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My Monday Message – 23/07/18

Welcome to another of my Monday Message posts! Our quote for this week is another one from Bram Stoker’s Dracula, which I finished rereading last week:

These friends – and he laid his hand on some of the books – have been good friends to me, and for some years past, ever since I had the idea of going to London, have given me many, many hours of pleasure.  – Bram Stoker, Dracula.

My Monday Message 3Like many of the quotes from Dracula, these lines could be seen in a sinister light. They appear within the first few chapters of the novel when Count Dracula is revealing to his guest, Jonathan Harker, that he gained all of his knowledge of England from books. In the novel, this seems a bit invasive and is sinister due to the Count’s less-than-honourable intentions in England.

Nevertheless, I think we can find an uplifting message in the Count’s words. He reminds us of the value of books. Whether we are writing them or reading them, books are something dependable. They can be sources of information or ways of escaping reality, but they’re also constant. I wouldn’t go so far as to call books my “friends”, but they certainly are important. So, that’s my message for the week: remember to appreciate the written word. It’s a powerful thing, and is not something that should be forgotten about.

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