The Blemished Book Review

The Blemished (Blemished, #1)The Blemished by Sarah Dalton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Blemished is the first book in the Blemished series, following Mina Hart. She is one of the Blemished, a normal born girl as a pose to the GEMs who are genetically modified children to perfection. She lives in a world of complete segregation but it seems that she is not one to take things lying down and starts to bend the rules slightly before breaking them completely.

She knows she is destined for more than the Operation that will make her sterile and probably send her senile too at an early age and she is determined to fight for it. Going against everything the world stands for she makes friends among the Blemished and the GEMs, used a supernatural ability she has been hiding for many years and goes on the run.

The Blemished was a good first book in the series. It was well written and engaged me throughout leaving me wanting more. I did find that Mina’s character was a little annoying at times. She knew that she should be following certain rules to keep her and her dad safe but it seems that she has had enough and goes a little crazy with things. She is a very strongly feminist character which I really liked and she does things for herself and made up of her own actions and decisions. I think that this part of her character is really well developed and I enjoyed taking the ride along with her as she tried to escape.

The world is built up really well and fits in smoothly together with the storyline. I feel that the series is going to offer quite a lot and answer a lot of questions that have been left unanswered. It is a good read and I would recommend it.

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Inspiration comes in the most Mundane

I often find that inspiration can be lacking. I think all writers go through this at some point. Sometimes we are so focused and have so much to do, yet trying to think of a story idea to work on can lead to frustration and apathy. I have struggled with this from time to time. I always find that the longer I don’t write for, the harder it is to get back into the swing of it and generate new ideas.

Currently, I’m working on my no zero days policy which is going well. Some days I write thousands of words, sometimes hundreds, sometimes just enough to call it a no zero day. While those days disappoint me I always have to remind myself to take each day as it comes.

I’m trying to enter a lot of short stories at the minute as well as editing my novel and I find that my biggest source of inspiration for this is my partner. I bounce ideas off him or tell him what the call is and he’s usually really great at getting my brain sparked and getting me writing. We seem to be on the same wavelength and we both wonder at odd things and pose silly questions to each other, you know those ‘what if’ questions. It never fails to get me thinking and that’s what I need. That’s what everybody needs. Something–or someone–who sparks your creativity.

A couple of things I do to spark my creativity:

* talk to my partner.
* pay close attention to my dreams.
* ask myself and others and situations the question: what if.
* look at my everyday life and the people in it.

I keep a notebook of my ideas, things I might want to work on in the future, things that interest me but I don’t have time to work on. It means that even if that spark hasn’t worked for me at this point, I know it might in the future. Sometimes just going back through that notebook is enough.

Where do you find your inspiration?

The Minotaur – Barbara Vine

Ever read a book you’re skeptical about before starting? This was it for me. However, The Minotaur was pleasantly surprising.

The MinotaurThe Minotaur by Barbara Vine
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When I first picked up this book I have to admit, I felt a little reserved. I wasn’t sure what to think and when I realised that Barbara Vine was actually a pen name for Ruth Rendell, I felt a little more dubious having never read her work. However, I started the book and as soon as I read it I was around 50 pages in! This thing had me gripped.

The Minotaur is about Kerstin who goes to look after John, a man with a ‘mental illness’ as his mother, Mrs Cosway, continually reminds her and he simply needs to take his medication, have his walks and all will be well.

Kerstin meets John’s four sisters, all of which are so different from one another she can hardly believe. She is alone at Lydstep Hall and at times it becomes hard to bear yet she hangs on.

When Felix Dunsford arrives in the area most of the girls are smitten with him and it doesn’t take long for the sisters at Lydstep Hall to try to make their moves on him though it seems this is what will be the downfall of the family after all those years.

The Minotaur is a good book down in the typically gothic style. It’s a long, quite slow read but very enjoyable and had me wanting to read right until the end.

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Circle of Trees: the characters

A short while ago, I wrote a blog post telling you about my latest novel in progress which I call the Circle of Trees (for the moment). I haven’t done much editing on that in the past few weeks, mainly because I’ve been working on a host of short stories (and a novella) for submission to anthologies.

However, I’m getting back to the point of not being so over-run with shorts that I want to enter, that I’m going to have more time to go back and edit again and it got me thinking.

When the idea for the Circle of Trees was born, the idea of both Francesca and Bryony grew with it. Two female lead protagonists whose relationship develops over the course of the novel and yes, they do become partners. It’s the first piece of fiction of a substantial length that I’ve written whereby I have same-sex characters who become at item. I knew, as soon as I saw them in my mind, that they would come together. It seemed like a natural course of progression and they are so well suited to each other.

The story follows Francesca and her belief in the supernatural. When Bryony goes missing, the only thing she can think of doing is going after her and bringing her back. The two have a very natural love story that is both strong and passes through a lot of trials and tribulations. I have really enjoyed writing their story.

Francesca is a down to earth girl, a worrier and someone that takes things to heart. Bryony on the other hand is a little more carefree, loves to party and will cross boundaries all the time. They balance each other out throughout the story and their lives and when they come together, it’s a moment that won’t easily be forgotten.

Same-sex relationships, although becoming more of the norm in today’s society, will still face criticism. There are some that don’t believe in it, some that don’t agree with it and some that don’t mind. I’m of the mind that if two people are in love, why does it matter what sex they are? And Francesca and Bryony are perfect for each other, the way that Rose and Jack from Titanic were perfect for each other despite their difference.

How do you feel about having a relationship of two characters of the same sex in a novel? Would it put you off reading? Would it make you pick up the book? I’d love to hear your thoughts!