Book Review – Red Sparrow, by Jason Matthews

Image Source: https://www.framerated.co.uk/red-sparrow-2018/

I recently finished both reading and watching the film adaptation of ‘Red Sparrow’, written by Jason Matthews. The main character; Dominika Egorova, played by Jennifer Lawrence, and Nate Nash played by Joel Edgerton.

Like many of the books I own, I had this book on my ‘TBR” (To Be Read) pile for a while. I first heard of it, and I hate admitting this, when it came out at the cinema. And, I refused to watch the film before I read the book… which I now slightly regret!

Warning: Book/Film spoilers!

What’s the synopsis?

The story is about a young Russian woman called Dominika who is sucked into Russian Intelligence by her uncle. She has a devistating injury which stops her dream of being a ballerina and due to her mum’s ill health, she ends up taking a job her uncle organises and gets sucked into the life. She is forced into a special school, and becomes what is called a ‘Sparrow’; trained in sexpionage. She is then put to work to uncover the mole in the Russian Intelligence, this is where she meets Nate Nash; CIA.

What did I think about the book?

My first impression, when I think back to the book, and how I would describe it to someone else; difficult to read. Although I do find the story interesting; a mixture of spy-thriller and romance (to a point), I actually had difficulty going back to finish it.

I would find myself putting it down after reading it, and sometimes I would take a few weeks to get back to it. This happened a few times, so much so that it took me quite a few months to finish it. And yes, okay, I was completing a MSc at the same time, and then moved house, and had other commitments and hobbies around that. But I found myself wanting to do other things rather than reading that book. Although, I found myself conflicted on occasion because when I got back to reading it, I did enjoy it in some ways. I did find myself wanting to know what happened next.

But the writing style seemed a little… off. At first I didn’t know how to put my finger on it. Some sentances didn’t flow right, or I struggled to understand what was going on. I then realised after getting quite a way into the book that there was a lot of ‘and then this happened, and then that happened, and then… and then…’ which really put me off.

I also felt a little nervous about the author’s portrayal of Russia, especially since President Putin was actually mentioned in it. I have a few international friends and I felt guilty reading the book and worrying what any Russian friends (and fans) might think of me for reading such a book. I understand there is a lot of ‘bad blood’ with Russia, and Putin in particular, but I felt like it was deliberately attacking Russia needlessly. Saying that, I did speak to one Russian person while reading it and they were actually interested in reading the book themselves.

As for things I did enjoy, I did like the depth to Dominika’s character, her motivation to do well and support her mother, and her conflicting relationship to her own country. I also enjoyed the relationship she started to have with other characters; including Nate. Their relationship was clearly more than business, yet complex, like most relationships should be, especially in their situation.

I also enjoyed the little chapter endings with recipes. I started to realise that they were based off what was mentioned in the chapter and then I started to look out for the different foods, to see what would next be mentioned at the end of the chapter. Some even sounded interesting enough for me to want to try them. Although, I will admit, they were a little weird at first, and I found them a little pointless, but I grew to like them, figuring it was just the author’s little quirk.

And I enjoyed some of the clever ideas within the story, such as the diversion stories that were used to find the mole in the Russian Intelligence and how that played out further in the book and the way Boucher, the US Chief of Staff/Senator was killed.

What did I think about the film?

Personally, I was actually dissapointed with the film. More so than the book.

‘We are making a film of the book.’

Earlier in my post I said how I slightly regret reading the book before watching the film, and this is because there was so much that was both left out and changed! A friend once said to me that he prefers watching the film first, then reading the book, because then you get to see all the extra bits that you didn’t see in the film. Although, a part of me worries that I wouldn’t be committed to reading the book because I already knew what happens.

Every bookaholic’s nightmare is having things missing from the film, but I personally understand some things need to be left out because it isn’t possible to fit it all in to a 2-3 hour movie. But due to some of the things that had been left out, the plot had not only changed, but the film didn’t seem to flow right.

One of my favourite parts (mostly because I actually understood what was going on, as the book was so difficult to read!), the little diversion stories, wasn’t in the film! Boucher’s death was also completely different, I mean, yes there were American CIA operatives there (in the book they closed in on her too quickly), in the film she was hit by a truck, but in the film she used a specially adapted pen to administer a poison. She took control of her own death in the book, which I feel was an integral part of her character.

I also noticed that Dominika bleaches her hair (I won’t even go into how difficult it is to bleach your hair that blonde without a professional…). In the book, she doesn’t change her hair colour; she is always her natural brown self. I think, in the film, she does it because she realises that Nate likes blonde women, and what better way to get his attention in the beginning but be the woman he is attracted to.

But I personally think that is a little discriminating; suggesting the age-old belief that men only like blonde women. I feel offended on behalf of men. Why change this in the film, when it’s not in the book? I’m going to assume it had something to do with Jennifer Lawrence and the fact she is a natural blonde.

One of the things that I was really looking forward to seeing portrayed in the film was Dominika’s synesthesia (basic way for me to explain it, she was able to see colours like it was another sense). I found it a really interesting twist in the book; she was able to work out when people were lying to her, when they were being honest, etc. It’s one of the reasons why she was such a brilliant spy. But it wasn’t even mentioned in the film. I know it could have been a difficult thing to portray, but I felt like it was a key part to her character.

And lastly, the ending. In the book, the end was when they made a deal to swap Dominika with the mole; MARBLE, but the Russian’s never intended to let MARBLE go and thus killed him, leaving the ending on a cliffhanger, what happens to Dominika? But, in the film, MARBLE wasn’t anywhere to be seen and instead Dominika ratted out her own Uncle as the mole, which lead to him being killed. It was a clever ending, I will agree. It gave Dominika the look that she was in control, she was a powerful and clever woman. You could argue it was better than the book, and I agree, thinking back at it, but at the time I was deeply disturbed at the change… I just hope that the author was quite happy with this change! I also wonder how this change will impact the next book/film (yes, there are other books, but I’m unsure if they’ll make a second film!)

However, I enjoyed Jennifer Lawrence’s portrayal as Dominika, I thought she was a really good fit for the character. Some scenes were also done really well, such as when Matorin found Nate and Dominika, the little double-agent scene even had me fooled for a few minutes. I also warmed up to Joel Edgerton as Nate in the end, although I feel as if other actors probably would have been a better fit as I felt Joel was a little too stern. I know he was a spy and had to be professional, but I felt his character in the book was a tiny bit softer.

How many stars do I give it?

The book, I give 3.5 out of 5. Although it was refreshing to have well developed characters, and an interesting plot, but the style of writing really let it down.

The film, however, I give 3 out of 5. The changes in the story let it down, making it confusing, and I dislike that they thought it a good idea to change the character’s hair colour when the book doesn’t have this.

References:
Food Picture: www.woodenspoonskitchen.com/2013/01/08/food-photography-backgroundnatural-lighting/

Book to Film cartoon: www.cartoonstock.com/directory/f/film_adaptation.asp

Jennifer Lawrence Picture: www.bustle.com/p/in-jennifer-lawrences-red-sparrow-a-woman-must-be-raped-before-she-can-be-strong-8342129

Gold star cartoon: www.vippng.com/preview/oohxJR_star-smiley-face-cartoon-stars-with-faces/

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Please do give this post a like, and feel free to comment. What did you guys think of the film and/or book? Do you have any suggestions of book/film adaptations?

And, don’t forget to check out my other posts.

I did another book review a while ago, please check it out here!

Don’t forget to check out my own books!

And have a look at my travel blog!

Ender’s Love – Chapter 2

Hello, my little Demons! I posted Chapter 1 to Ender’s Love a while ago now and I feel you’ve been waiting long enough for Chapter 2!

Click here to read Chapter 1 if you haven’t read it already

Note: May contain strong language!

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Chapter 2

I sat trying to busy my hands and focus my attention on my laptop. That was most important to me. So what if I just royally embarrassed myself? It was a moment. It would pass. I’d walk out of this bar and that guy would never see me again. My laptop, however, had all of my university work on it and I had not yet had the chance to back it up.

But as soon as I took the laptop out of my bag, cursing slightly as I saw the wetness had unfortuantely seeped through slightly, a figure loomed over me. I jumped slightly and turned around. But my face went bright red as soon as I saw that handsome man was standing there waiting for me to see him.

“Why did you do that?” he asked, when I noticed him. His voice was deep, it matched his masculine features perfectly.

Panic swelled in my chest as I stared at his stupidly handsome face. I noticed for the first time he was actually wearing a suit. I hadn’t noticed before, mainly because I only noticed a white shirt. But now he was in front of me, I could see he was wearing suit trousers and a deep navy tie hung undone around his neck. I also noticed he was a little big around the arms. I gulped.

“Sorry?” I asked, having to put the laptop down as I hadn’t even put it on the table yet. It was a little too heavy in my hands, holding it up in the air.

“The drink. Why did you give me one?” he asked again, scanning my face. I noticed now that he had beautiful green eyes.

I shrugged. “I didn’t have any change and needed to boost up the bull to over five pounts so I could pay for it,” I explained.

He frowned at me and went to open his mouth to say something else when panic coursed through me and I cut across him.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to intrude! I just saw you drinking whisky or something and it was nearly empty, you looked like you needed one. You were frowning at your work laptop like someone had just given you bad news. I didn’t really want to drink another one. One is enough for me. I’m not a huge drinker. So, I figured you could do with it more than me. Don’t feel like you have to drink it, I won’t be offended,” I blurted.

As soon as I stopped talking, the guy rose his eyebrows at me. So much for approaching men first. I should have started with someone else, rather than a guy who looked busy. I had clearly jumped in the deep end without learning to swim first.

“I’m sorry, I don’t normally do that sort of thing!” I continued nervously. “Normally I’m quite considerate of people being busy and I leave them alone. Clearly I’m having an off day today!” I gave a small nervous laugh.

The guy suddenly snorted in amusement but then turned on his heel and walked off back to the bar.

I started at him in amazement, suddenly annoyed at his attitude. He just walked away? I shook my head and looked back at my laptop. He wasn’t worth getting annoyed about. I did a nice thing. Yeah, okay, it might not have been the best idea I’ve had. I wasn’t very good with this sort of thing. Guys like that were usually popular and I always imagined there was a way to speak to them; a code of conduct around the stupidly handsome men or something. Unlike me; there was no code to speak to me. I was usually friendly with anyone.

But as soon as I put my laptop on the table in front of me, a shadow loomed over me again. I looked up and the guy was back. But he was standing next to the seat in front of me, leaning on it slightly. Anger welled up inside me.

“Look, I said I’m sorry, I—”

“Oh no, you don’t need to apologise! I was just shocked, that’s all. I’ve never had some random chick buy me a drink before without actually wanting something in return.”

I felt my cheeks go warm at what he said, I had an image suddenly of a beautiful woman going up to him and wanting sexual favours from him after buying him a drink. I noticed at this point he had brought the glass of whisky with him and was holding it in his hand.

“I’m not after anything from you,” I said. I wanted to say I wasn’t like those women; trying to just sleep with the hottest guy at the bar.

“I figured,” he said, giving me a small nod and then taking a sip of the whisky. I noticed for the first time that his access wasn’t Scottish, he was English like me. “I also have to thank you for introducting me to Dalwhinnie, I’ve never tried it before. Good choice not to have ice too.”

I raised an eyebrow at him, curious to know why he was being so nice to me. Or was he just being polite?

He suddenly shifted his weight and I saw a small twinge of pain run through his face.

“Are you okay?” I asked. He frowned at me, so I added; “You look like you’re in pain or something.”

“Oh, yeah, it’s nothing, just a bit of a bad back.”

“Lower back?” I asked as I turned back around to my laptop bag and dug my hands into it.

“Yeah, how did you know?”

“You look like a business man, my guess is you sit around on a laptop or computer all day in an office and you probably sit in one of those cheap seats with poor lumbar support,” I said as I managed to find what I was looking for; a heat patch. “Here, take this.”

The guy looked at what was in my hands and then looked up at me curiously, before taking his left hand out of his poket and taking the clearly soggy box. I scanned his hand again out of habit, noticing there certainly was no wedding ring on his finger, not even a white mark where one might have been.

“Thanks,” he said, although sounding a little hesitant.

“Keep the box, there’s only one left.” I smiled. “Sorry it’s a little wet, my laptop bag clearly isn’t waterproof! But the heat patch will still work.”

I was expecting him to just wander off at this point, I didn’t expect him to stand around too long if he had a bad back. But to my shock, he sat down on the seat opposite me, placing the whisky on the table between us and looked right into my eyes. I gulped again.

“Is your laptop wet?” he asked and then looked down at my laptop in front of me.

“Err… yeah, a little.”

“Do you want me to have a look at it?”

“Oh, no, it’s fine. I’m just going to clean up most of the water and let it dry out. If it’s too wet I’ll just take it home and take it apart, make sure no water got onto the motherboard and hard-drive.”

His eyebrows rose again. I felt a small smile creep involuntarily on my face.

“You know computers?” he asked.

I nodded. “A little, dad was into his computers.”

I was suddenly aware of how warm I was, although I was sure it was because I was still sat in my leather jacket, but it could have also been the gorgeous man talking to me and looking quite at peace doing so. Either way, I decided to take off my jacket before I started to sweat and smell.

“You know you can void the warranty if you take it apart?” he asked as he took another sip of the Dalwhinnie and eyed me taking my jacket off.

I smiled, hoping he hadn’t noticed that I was extremely nervous raound him, especially after seeing him eye me curiously. “I think I voided the warranty a long time ago, after my hard-drive decided to fail on me and I had to replace it.”

“You are full of surprises.” He smiled at me and suddenly leaned his arms on the table.

I smiled back and nervously took the glass of whisky that was sitting next to my hand and took a large sip. I felt I needed to have a bit of alcohol in me to calm my nerves.

“So, do you know anything about these heat patches?” he asked, before I had a chance to say something myself.

“Sorry?” I asked, trying desperately not to cough as I had accidentally taken a large sip of the Dalwhinnie and it had decided to catch the back of my throat with its harshness.

“The heat patch,” he said, holding it up in his large bear-hand. “I’ve never used one before.”

“Oh!” I said and let out a small laugh. “It’s easy, the instructions are on the box, but you basically just strip back the plastic protection and place it on the area that’s sore. It should stick and peel off easily afterwards.”

“You say that, but knowing me, I’ll end up messing it up,” he said, leaning back as he pulled out the remainder heat patch from the soggy box and took it out.

I laughed. “You sound like me. Put m e in a room with a computer and tell me to get on with analysing data and I could do it with my eyes closed. But any simple instructions like that and I’m useless. If someone was to give me instructions on how to make porridge, I’d still find a way to fick it up.”

He laughed. “I’m curious to know how you can fuck up porridge?”

I felt the heat rise to my face when I heard him laugh and curse. “Where there’s a will, there’s a way, with me. Once I had the heat up too high and it burnt to the bottom of the pan, I had to throw it all away.”

“The porridge?”

“Well, obviously that, but I meant the pan too.”

He nodded and I felt like I was being studied. I was just concentrating on trynig to smile politely enough but not too much to look creepy, and act normal around him; say the right thing, do the right thing, sitting up without slouching… I didn’t understand how someone could have a conversation like this and be so calm. It was exhausing trying to look normal and confident.

“Did you want anything for it?” he said suddenly, breaking me out of my musings.

“Sorry?”

“You’ve given me your last heat patch, did you want me to give you some money for it, or maybe buy you another drink?”

“Oh, no.” I smiled and shook my head. “Don’t worry about it, I have more heat patches at home, and I shouldn’t really drink any more than the one glass of whisky.”

He nodded. “Well, I had better go put this on.”

“Did you, err… want a hand?”

He raised an eyebrow at me and smiled, it sent a shiver down my spine. “I think I’ll be okay.” He winked.

I inhaled suddenly and coughed as if trying to cover up the fact he had a strange impact on me. “Sure, just let me know if you change your mind, they’re a little tricky to put on your back.”

“Sure,” he said, and then stood up from the booth. “Thanks again.”

“It’s not a problem.”

He stood there for a few short seconds as if he had something else to say, but he clearly thought better of it. Instead, he turned around, walked back to the bar where his laptop was left forgotten, put down the glass of Dalwhinnie I had bought him and muttered something to the barman. The barman nodded while he was drying glasses and the handsome man vanished into the toilets. I sighed and looked back at my own laptop while trying to calm my shaking hands.

I did it; I had spoke to a guy first and managed to survive. I blew out my cheeks as I took out the paper towels and started to clean up my laptop. Although, absentmindedly, as all I could think about was that guy trying to apply that heat patch to his back, wondering what his body was like underneath that white shirt.

Click here to read the next chapter!

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My Normal – A Short Story by Penny Hooper
Rose Garden Sanatorium – Prologue
No one likes you! – A short story.

Ender’s Love – Chapter 1

Warning: Strong language!

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Chapter 1

“Oh, for fuck sake!” I grumbled, as a passing car drove through a puddle and splashed me. I looked down at myself, just as a fellow walker on the path shot me a disgusted look. Probably at my language. I didn’t care. I was instantly hurdled into a bad mood. But I was glad to see I wasn’t that wet; the water had mostly got my boots and—

“Shit!” I exclaimed. The reason I was mostly spared from the dirty puddle water was because the majority had splashed on my laptop bag. I had been carrying it in my hand as it had moments ago been hurting my shoulder. But I didn’t hold much hope that the bag was waterproof.

I wiped it down as much as I could with my bare hands and hoped and prayed to a God that I wasn’t even sure I believed in that the laptop tucked safely inside hadn’t gotten wet itself.

I sighed and looked up to see a bar just a few feet away, right next to a rather lovely Mediterranean restaurant with a few bamboo plants outside. I made a mental note to check it out one day. The bar itself was just as elegant—just lacking the plant-life—with a lovely bold black and red sign which read; Da Vinci’s, which looked quite new. I huffed and decided to go get a well-deserved drink and check my laptop was still working.

The door was a little too heavy, but I tried not to show how heavy I found it. I didn’t want any men to think I was weak and could take advantage. I then trudged up to the bar confidently. Fake it ‘til you make it, I had heard once. It was my new motto in life.

“Excuse me,” I said to the barman. He was quite a good-looking guy, with dark brown hair, a small stubble of a beard, and wearing a white shirt, black trousers with a black waist-coat. Although a little too young for me, so I tried my hardest not to smile or stare too much and give him the wrong impression. I had a habit of attracting men who got the wrong impression.

But just as he moved to wander over to me, I saw a guy behind him that instantly caught my attention. He was handsome. Very handsome. Much more my type. Although, he was undoubtedly way out of my league. His black raven hair short and slightly standing up, a little ruffled as if he’d run his hands through it in frustration, a strong masculine hand resting on his handsome clean-shaven jaw, propping himself up as his elbow rested on the bar top. He appeared to be frowning at the laptop in front of him.

It suddenly felt a lot warmer in this bar than the first two seconds of walking in.

My attention went straight to his hand. It was a habit I had started doing lately. I was looking for a wedding ring. Nothing. That didn’t mean he was single though. Not that he’d ever be interested in me.

“Hi doll,” replied the barman, breaking my attention away from the devilish handsome man behind him. I was trying to will him to look up at me; I hoped if he looked up, I’d might be able to find out if he found me even slightly attractive or not. Maybe find that strange spark I hear about in films and romance books. I had a short-lived dream that our eyes would meet across the bar and an instant spark come between us, my world slowing down as he came over to introduce himself. But he was too engrossed in his laptop to even notice me.

“Hi,” I said, smiling at the barman suddenly, feeling my voice getting a little louder as if I subconsciously wanted to attract the attention of the other guy, but being as nice as possible to the barman, so if he did look up, he’d see I was friendly at least. Although, deep down, I hoped the barman hadn’t caught me goggling at his only other customer in his bar.

“I, err—” I’d suddenly forgotten what I was going to ask for. My mind drew a blank.

Wet laptop, that was right!

“Do you have any paper towels? Some inconsiderate buggar just drove through a large puddle and got me wet.” I felt myself flush at my own comment. I had too many male friends who would have heard that comment and found a hidden sexual innuendo in it. I just hoped neither men at the bar; the one behind the bar and the stupidly handsome one still staring intently at his laptop with his frown creating a rather curious line on his forehead, would have noticed.

I had also noticed with a slight twinge of embarrassment that my voice not only was a little too loud, but my stupidly southern English accent had accentuated the way I said buggar.

“Oh, damn,” said the barman, looking genuinely remorseful. “Sure, let me get you some!” He suddenly took two steps away and drew out some green paper towels before he brought them over to me. I just tried to keep my eyes on him and not the guy behind him who was now typing away at something with an indifferent look on his face.

“You know, you can always use the hand-dryers in the ladies,” the barman continued, after passing me the towels, “my girlfriend is always spilling drinks on herself, she says using the hand-dryers is better.”

I mentally found myself sighing in relief at the thought of this guy already having a girlfriend—although hoping it wasn’t too evident on my face. An ex-boyfriend had once told me my face was expressive. He didn’t mean it in a nice way either. At least there was less chance of the barman trying to hit on me; the one man in the bar I didn’t want to hit on me.

Although, a small part of me wanted to challenge myself to that unspoken agreement I had with myself only a few days ago. I had told myself that it shouldn’t be up to the men to make the first move. Women should make the first move. More importantly, I should make the first move.

“Oh, thanks, but it’s for my laptop, not me.” I smiled, but I suddenly felt myself blush, as the handsome man staring at his laptop suddenly looked up. Our eyes met only briefly as he took a sip of a drink that looked a lot like whiskey. His eyes were back down on the laptop in mere milliseconds. It was over so quickly that I could have just imagined it. I didn’t even manage to get what colour they were.

I suddenly felt deflated. He didn’t even smile at me. His eyes didn’t even linger enough to suggest he was attracted. There was no Hollywood spark. Nothing. Well, there goes the idea that he might even be in to me.

“Oh, sure!” the barman smiled. I looked back at him, trying to keep my eyes fixed on this man instead, as well as trying to keep my face straight and not frown in my disappointment. He didn’t seem to have noticed, and he certainly didn’t seem interested in hearing my story about how my laptop got wet. “Do you want a drink?”

“Yeah, might as well!” I nodded and sighed, feeling tired and sore now that I thought about it. Well, I had just trudged from university with my laptop over my shoulder, heading towards my bus stop before I got splashed. “Do you have Dalwhinnie?” I asked, feeling a little defiant and wanting to drink something that might impress. I didn’t want either of the men thinking I was just a silly woman who also was a bit accident prone. Although, I didn’t really want a glass of Dalwhinnie, I actually just fancied a glass of coke. I felt a little thirsty after trudging out of my class and carrying around my laptop everywhere. A glass of whisky wasn’t going to quench that thirst. But I had somehow convinced myself whisky was the better choice in my situation.

I noticed the barman lifted a curious eyebrow at me and I felt a small inward triumph. Although for a split second, doubt creeped through me that that eyebrow signalled something other than being impressed. “Of course. You want a glass of that?”

“Please.” I nodded and smiled sweetly as I started to unzip my leather jacket and loosen my small black scarf around my neck. It wasn’t that cold outside. It was spring. Nearly summer. But it was the Scottish weather; it was a little cold for me. I preferred warmer weather.

“Ice?” the barman asked as he wandered over to the glasses and picked up a glass very similar to what the handsome man had. I noticed then that the handsome man was looking up at me again and I felt my cheeks flush again. My hopes skyrocketed, but my self-doubts kept them from going too high.

I just gave him a raised eyebrow and smiled at him before deliberately cutting off the eye contact myself this time and looked back at the barman, who I playfully frowned at and said, “And risk diluting it with water? No, thanks.”

The barman looked up at me curiously again but smiled when he noticed I was smiling at him. He nodded. “Good point. That’s three-ninety, please.”

After the barman placed the whisky on the bar top, I shifted my laptop shoulder strap over my shoulder and reached into my pocket of my leather jacket, bringing out my bank card to pay for it. “Thanks,” I muttered politely and was about to hand him my card when he spoke, and I stopped in my tracks.

“We only accept payments over five-pound, love, sorry.”

“Oh!” I felt panic rise in me. I felt instantly stupid. I should have asked that they take card first. As soon as my face fell into sheer shock, I noticed the handsome man was back to looking at me again, a small wicked smile on his face. I felt a little small compared to him as if he was mocking me. But I suddenly had a brilliant idea. “In that case, make it two Dalwhinnies.” I smiled triumphantly.

The barman raised his eyebrow at me again but held a strange frown on his face. This time I was sure he wasn’t impressed. Maybe he was worried I was going to get too drunk and needed to be escorted out of the bar. But I wasn’t going to explain and ruin the idea I had.

He seemed to reluctantly make me another Dalwhinnie and placed it on the bar top while watching my face curiously. It was as if he was waiting for the answer to appear on my forehead. But he finally passed me the card reader so I could pay for the drinks. I was grateful to pick up the two glasses, the paper towels shoved into my jacket pocket carelessly and walk passed the bar towards the back of the room.

I had deliberately aimed for the large booths at the back. There were three large booths with large built in seats. The deep red leather looked inviting and comfortable. Plus, more importantly, it meant having to walk passed that exceptionally handsome customer at the bar.

As I walked past him, smelling a wonderful masculine yet probably expensive fragrance, I stopped and placed one of the Dalwhinnies next to his hand. “That one’s for you,” I said, with the sweetest smile I could muster. He looked round at me in surprise, just as I caught a glimpse of an email account open on his laptop with what looked like a lot of unread business emails. But he frowned as if I had just invaded his personal space and I added quickly: “With that frown on your face earlier, you look like you need one just as much as me.”

I then wandered off while taking a sip of my own glass, without even waiting for him to say anything. I was sure I could feel his eyes staring at the back of my head in amazement. I didn’t want to give him chance to brush me off; I wanted him to know that I was just being polite and friendly, not coming onto him. I imagined a lot of women hitting on him, being as handsome as he was, and that was the last thing he wanted if he was busy with work stuff. But at the same time, I wanted him to take notice of me and not as the silly girl who didn’t carry change around with her.

It’s not like I was expecting him to be interested, I just wanted to feel a little in control. I knew a guy like that wouldn’t be interested in me. I was short, looked young for my age and always seemed to look like I was scowling at everyone. I didn’t even think I was that attractive. Not like most of the girls I’d seen in bars. Plus, guys seemed to like the girls with thick make-up and blonde hair. My hair was a dark shade of red—natural of course—one side would flick out while the other flicked in, and if it was too wet outside it would go frizzy. I had stopped dying or bleaching my hair a long time ago, realising that I should just love who I was, my unruly red hair, stupid button nose and all. I was a bit of a rocker-chick too, with my dark eye make-up and leather jacket, rather than a sweet girly-girl, and I was proud of that.

I had also made a promise to myself. After having terrible luck with men; having dated what seemed like only manipulative men or desperate men who just didn’t want to be alone. Then I had a deliberate two-year single spell. I realised that not only was I worth more than the low-life men I had dated in the past, but I wasn’t going to settle for a guy just for the hell of being in a relationship. I wanted a decent relationship. Hell, I wanted a best friend to spend my life with. If I couldn’t find that person, then I was happy enough just being single and making the most of life.

But in those two years, I had a lot of time to realise that I hadn’t really had chance to meet any decent men. I wasn’t sure why it was. Maybe it was because I was unattractive? Maybe it was because I looked too young? Maybe it was because I prefer to wear jeans and t-shirts instead of wearing a dress and getting uncomfortable and cold? I moved to Scotland, it was a little cooler than England. But I also thought that there was another possibility; after speaking to my male friends, a lot of them had admitted they don’t like to approach attractive women in fear of being rejected. So, somewhere in my head I decided that, why should it be men that approach women first? More importantly, why didn’t I approach men first? Rather than waiting for them to approach me? Not that I thought I was attractive! That was another problem; I was sure it was because I was unattractive that men didn’t approach me. But I was going to fake confidence and test it out.

That handsome guy at the bar; he was just a test to see if I could do it. Seems I could. Although, with a ridiculously fast beating heart, stupidly sweaty palms, the thoughts of doubt quickly creeped into my head as I settled into the seat.

Why did I just give a guy a glass of Dalwhinnie? What if he didn’t want it? What if he didn’t like Dalwhinnie? What if he thought I was stupid? Oh god!

Click here to read the next chapter!

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Don’t forget to check out my other works!

New Story idea! – Butterfly House

Rose Garden Sanatorium – Prologue

New Story Idea – “I fell in Love with a Psychopath”

13 days to go!

The count-down begins!… Well, it began the moment I got a release date, but I haven’t used that line yet…

13 days left until I fell in Love with a Psychopath is released!

E-book will be available here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/893044

If you would like a paperback copy, watch this space! 🙂

Coming 29th September!

I’ve enlisted help! I have a marketing manager!

So, after the 1st of October, I will be super busy (super hooper!) with university work, so yesterday I asked my very good friend Robert (Checkers) to help with marketing my work.

He will have access to my Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and website and will be, not only be researching new ways to get exposure, but he will be posting on my behalf.

Hopefully it’ll work out well!

And after the year doing my Masters Degree, I will look at building myself a real writing business, I will invest in more advertising, and attend book events!

If you have any other suggestions, please do let me know, I might not have already thought about it!

Copy of Rose-Garden-Sanatorium-full

Subscribe and get 50% off!

Did you know….

 

If you subscribe to my newsletter, you can get 50% off my e-book ‘It’s My Mistake’.

 

Subscribe here!

 

Don’t forget to check out my new book trailer on my website!

~Penny.

 

P.s. 20 days until I Fell in Love with a Psychopath is out in e-book and paperback! Have you ordered your ecopy yet?

Coming 29th September!

Tired today, the rejection took it out of me…

…I think I need time to recoop and recover.

Yesterday, I got my first rejection letter. If you’ve not seen my previous blog post, read it here.

And although, at the time, it didn’t bother me, as I was expecting rejection, so it wasn’t too much of a surprise… I have however, had a few bad days with my writing now.

First, the fail with the Watty Awards 2018 knocking my confidence, then this rejection letter… and to make matters worse, I don’t have a lovely large support network. To keep it brief; a lot of my friends have drifted away from me since I have moved away (literally moved to the other side of the country!) and as such, I don’t have a large support network of friends and family picking me back up again. So, I have to pick myself up, just takes a bit longer.

Anyway, today, I am exceptionally tired. And, I think it’s because of the last few days of negativity.

Current mood:
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On the plus side, I read through a ‘favourite’ chapter of mine from my book; Rose Garden Sanatorium last night, before I went to bed, to cheer me up a little (as well as watching 2 Guns for a bit!) and I was surprised with myself at how well I had written it. Perked me up a little.

I’m also planning on looking into a few new ideas on marketing myself and my work a bit more. Using Instagram more (if it would work for me, currently not working on my mobile!), blogging more, might even look at submitting a short story.

Or… I might just take a break. When my Master’s Degree starts in October, I don’t think I’m going to have much time for anything other than university work and working part-time!

*Wishes on a miracle*

 

Fighting for Rose Garden Sanatorium!

Yesterday I got some ‘bad’ news. It wasn’t bad in the sense that I was faced with criticism, it’s more that I didn’t get through to the long-list on the Watty Awards 2018… I know it sounds silly, it’s just WattPad… and now that I have had time to evaluate everything, I do find it silly I was so upset, but let me explain…

When I was a young girl, I was very shy. I was so shy, in fact, that I was bullied at school. It affected me so much that I refused to talk. I’m not entirely sure why, but I think it was a ‘cry for help’. This issue spread into my life at secondary school and the only way I was able to communicate with people was to talk quietly. I didn’t like to be heard, in case I was bullied.

I began The Girl Who Whispered.

Because of this, I had many issues, and my confidence was one of them. I lacked confidence. Long story short, I am forever trying to improve my confidence… becoming an author is EXTREMELY nerve-racking for me. I’m basically putting myself out there for criticism and when I’m faced with criticism, it is so much harder for me to bare.

Alongside this, I always doubt myself, I always think I’m not good enough, and when I don’t get a lot of ‘support’, I become quite despondent… I can also lash out and seem like I’m having a moan at people, when in reality, it’s not people it’s me. It’s my own insecurities.

Anyway, back to the WattPad Awards. If you don’t know what WattPad is, it’s an online community for writers and readers. You can read book for free, one chapter at a time, and writers can also use it to gain a fan-base for their work. It’s an extremely difficult platform to get recognition, and I’m slowly building up my ‘fan-base’ on at least a few of my works.

WattPad do awards, sometimes they’re little community driven ones from fellow WattPad authors/readers, but there are large awards that are run by WattPad themselves. The Watty Awards is one such large award.

I submitted my BEST work, Rose Garden Sanatorium to the award, I posted new chapters so that it had more chance of winning, I did everything by the book. I had a LOT of faith in it.

Yesterday, WattPad annonced their long-listed authors, those that go through to the next stage. Rose Garden Sanatorium did not make it. I was gutted. My confidence was knocked. I was doubting my abilities as an author. For me, this isn’t just a pin-pick in the side where I brush it off and get over it, my confidence was sorely hit, it felt like someone had slammed a door right in my face.

BUT… since a few people have been very kind, one person even said they’re surprised it DIDN’T get through, and another lady even said she was looking forward to it being published so she can have a copy herself to read… I’ve decided to push forwards and move on. I need to get this series done.

If JK Rowling faced lots of rejections… there’s still hope.

In the mean-time, my thoughts about WattPad aren’t the kindest right now… considering just deleting my account and focusing my attention elsewhere instead.

 

Copy of Rose-Garden-Sanatorium-full

Another 5 star review!

Admittedly it was a friend of mine who bought and read my book, but I am extremely thankful that he has taken the time to buy it, read it and review it. 🙂

Another 5 star review is on Smashwords!

review2

It’s currently up for sale at 50% off! 🙂

www.smashwords.com/books/view/744287

If you’d like a paperback copy rather than an e-book, you can do here:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Its-My-Mistake-Penny-Hooper/dp/1985376709

 

 

 

Penny’s Book Reviews

I have unconsciously decided that my new year’s resolution is to read more. Being a self-regarded bookaholic as well as a struggling author, I realised that I wasn’t reading as much as I should (I can’t really count my psychology books for my degree, that would be cheating!)

I have my excuses, of course; being ridiculously busy. But I decided that I shouldn’t make excuses and read those books I bought and get that To-Be-Read pile down. So, the next time I buy a load of books, I don’t feel so guilty!

Anyway, I decided that it would be a good idea to write a short review of what I have read so far this year. Give you my personal opinions of them.

The books I have read this year, so far, are:

  • This Savage Song, by V. E. Schwab
  • The Undesired, by Yrsa Sigurdardottir
  • The Catcher in the Rye, J. D. Salinger

 

This Savage Song, by V. E. Schwab

My first thoughts; brilliant, couldn’t put it down. Want to buy the sequel asap!

If you like YA in a dystopian / sci-fi / futuristic setting and monsters this is for you! The book is based in a world where monsters are real, they are real because of a ‘phenomenon’ where any act of violence, murder or genocide creates these monsters. There are three types, each getting even more deadly than the next. But it has a twist. The book is split into two views, a view of a girl and a view of a boy – but he’s not quite a boy, he’s actually one of the monsters.

I’m going to leave it there as I don’t want to give too much away and of course make this post too long. But one thing that struck me as a little far-fetched in this world was that one of these monsters, which feeds off human souls, do so by playing music. So one of the characters is always carrying around a violin. That was a little weird for me, but once you get around that, the overall book is really good.

Still going to buy the sequel.

Star rating, I’d say 4/5.

 

The Undesired, by Yrsa Sigurdardottir

This one, left me feeling a little weird. Like I was missing something. I’m undecided on this one, I have to admit.

I like the fact it was based in Iceland, I love reading books that are based in new places and I might learn a little bit about that place. Even if it might not be 100% true, it still gives me the element of wanting to learn more.

The book starts off really interestingly, it starts with ‘The End’ so you read the rest of the book wondering how the characters got to that point. Although I was a little worried it would ruin the experience of mystery, but it didn’t really.

I will admit, I had trouble putting the book down, as I found myself wanting to know more. But there were times where I could see what was going to happen. Sometimes these bits are fun, you get a sense of “I knew it!” and I don’t necessarily mind that. There were also times where I was left guessing. But when I got to the end of the book and I realised there was no more left – and yes, the ending was interesting and unexpected! – I still felt like I was missing something. Like there was parts in the story that didn’t really make sense.

Star rating; 3/5

 

The Catcher in the Rye, J. D. Salinger

Now, this one is a classic. And maybe I read it with high expectations because it was a classic. But I wasn’t overly enthralled by it.

I got this book from a friend, when I was going through a really REALLY rough time. I had just broken up with my boyfriend (whom I bought a house with) and I was extremely depressed. It was a lovely gesture from my friend, but I was left wondering ‘why’ when he bought it for me. Why this book?

At first, I found it a little difficult to get into. A few chapters in and I was wondering where the story was going. Feeling a little curious at the characters and they were going too. Until I got half-way through and realised that there wasn’t really a plot like we get in these days, there wasn’t a huge ‘Hollywood style’ adventure that the main character goes on and I was left wondering ‘why?’

I will admit though, that I did have trouble putting it down. I did want to know what the character was going to do next. And started to grow sorry for the boy and wanted to just climb into the book and help him.

And it wasn’t until the end of the book that I realised at least one point the book was trying to make; the boy was going through a rough time and was just trying to figure out his life. He was sixteen, he was starting to go from a boy to an adult.

I read reviews on Goodreads about the book and one person made a very valid point, that I can’t really agree or disagree because I don’t personally know the answer, but the book was apparently written in the time just after the war, and it was the first book of its kind; to show the true nature of what the world was like in those times, through the eyes of a boy trying to struggle to adulthood.

I think I gave it a 3/5 star rating on Goodreads, but I believe it is somewhere between 3 and 4, maybe 4/5 if I was being generous.

 

Now… onto reading my next book 1985 by George Orwell!