16 Oct 2018


For those of you who follow me on FaceBook or Instagram you may have noticed I've been participating in the 10 DAY MOVIE CHALLENGE in which, every day for ten days, I've posted a clip from a movie that had an impact on me with no explanations as to what the film is or why it had an impact on me ... until now. Yes! ...

... I can now reveal all.

DAY ONE ... THE BIRD CAGE. Hmm! So just what is it that makes a man; is it really that he smears? OK, so arguably a bit of a cliche but I admit to finding the above scene so thought-provoking.

DAY TWO ... PRIDE. The coming together of two seemingly very different 'minority groups' (that of a group of Gay men/women in London and that of striking Welsh miners) who came together to fight the common enemies (the then Prime minister; Margaret Thatcher, the press, the police) was soooo poignant.

DAY THREE ... THE ELEPHANT MAN.  Feared by most of Victorian England, the fact that the 'Elephant Man' came to know respect and kindness meant I came away from this film (and still do), my faith in humanity renewed. 

DAY FOUR ... ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST. First watched whilst I was at college studying for my PCSC (Preliminary Certificate in Social Care), blown away by the film to begin with; the lecturer then informed my fellow students and I that many of the extras were in fact actual mental health patients.

DAY FIVE ... THE HOMESMAN. A 'Western' that I actually enjoyed; surely reason enough to include it in the films that had an impact on me. Yes, there is that BUT, the story of three women rendered speechless in their madness by the hand life had dealt them, the fact that one of the characters went through most of the film with barely a word spoken was incredibly powerful.     

DAY SIX ... SONG FOR MARION (Known in the US as Unfinished Song). There is something compelling about 'everyday' love stories to begin with and this, the tale of a grumpy pensioner consumed by the pain of his dying wife, an estranged son and an unconventional choir is inspired.

DAY SEVEN ... THE RIOT CLUB. Perhaps of all of this selection this film had the most impact on me albeit for very different reasons. What may well be a fictionalised account BUT very well researched as MR T said in his review of it ... 'Watching the youthful moral meanderings of the future leaders of our country is simply a bit depressing.', I cannot remember the last time I came away from a film so, so angry, shocked, disgusted ... yeah, safe to say, this one had a HUGE impact on me.

DAY EIGHT ... THE SESSIONS. Who'd have thought, us disabled people have sexual urges! A film of one disabled man's journey to lose his virginity in his late thirties. It was the fact that the film was done with such honesty and sensitivity (albeit somewhat brash) that had such an impact on me.

DAY NINE ... THE FISHER KING. The second Robin Williams' film to make my list. The fact that here was the manic, the tormented, the sensitive, the funny all wrapped up in one amazing character aside, it was that Williams' played this character with such unbelievable depth; bringing to life the darker side of the character beautifully that left a lasting impression. Alas an impression that will doubtlessly be heightened by the fact that we now know Robin to be the tortured man he in fact was.

DAY TEN ... JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS. Not that I believe in a God (and I'm probably not expressing myself very well) BUT even as a girl watching this film for the first time it struck me that it did indeed sometimes feel like just as in this clip (approximately 1:42:37 until end of clip) we were merely chess pieces being toyed with for the amusement of some 'greater being(s)' that as Zeus declared 'For the moment let them enjoy a calm sea,'; that 'I have not yet finished with (insert name here), let us continue the game .. another day.'

Do you know I think it would be such fun if fellow movie buffs (maybe even those who have taken part in the Meme themselves) would do a guest post here on Pen and Paper about the film(s) that have had an impact on them and why. No pressure; it doesn't  have have to be 10 films, 1 will do. 

Anyone interested? Please feel free to contact me by email (you can find my details on my 'Review Policy') OR on FaceBook OR via Instagram ... I'd love to host you.

12 Oct 2018


THE HOUSE WITH CHICKEN LEGS by SOPHIE ANDERSON (Illustrated by Elisa Paganelli , the cover by Melissa Castrillon).

Marinka dreams of a normal life, where her house stays in one place long enough for her to make friends. But her house has chicken legs and moves on without warning.

For Marinka's grandmother is Baba Yaga, who guides spirits between this world and the next. Marinka longs to change her destiny and sets out to break free from her grandmother's footsteps, but her house has other ideas...
- Back Cover Blurb

I light the candles in the skulls at dusk.
- First Sentence; Guiding The Dead

I don't even notice The Gate is open until the man rises to his feet and helps his wife to hers, and they hobble slowly towards it. 

'What do take with you to the stars?' I ask, suddenly remembering my role in all this, rushing to pour the spirit trost.

'The warmth of companionship.' The woman smiles and the man nods in agreement. They drink the trost, kiss my cheeks, and hold hands as they step through The Gate together.

The death journey words flow from my mouth as they drift into the blackness.

- Memorable Moment; Page 147

SOURCE ... One of several books purchased with a gift voucher from Waterstones.


MY THOUGHTS ... Only vaguely aware of the Russian folk story that is Baba Yaga thus I came to this telling by Sophie Anderson with no preconceptions.

A middle grade read or Key Stage KS2/3E so ideally suited to those aged 8 to 11 OR 9+ respectively. Not that I'd let this put you off if, like myself, you happen to be a, err, more mature reader who just so happens to enjoy folklore no matter what its intended audience. And as for those younger, perhaps more sensitive readers? Well, as an adult you may well want to check the book out first (as if you'd need an excuse) as though very much life affirming, there is no getting away from the fact that there is the underlying theme of death and dying. That said ... I can think of worse ways of introducing the subject.


The cover, eye catching; the story telling, both spell-binding, thought provoking, bittersweet; the characters (yes, even the house itself), memorable; the world building, spot on; the illustrations, sublime. Way up there as one of my favourite reads of 2018, I'd even go as far as to place it in my top 3; there's just something so special about this book, something that makes me want to shout about it from the roof tops.

Not convinced? Read an extract here.

10 Oct 2018



1558: Twelve children, gifted far beyond their years, are banished by their Tudor queen to the town of Rotherweird. Some say they are the golden generation; some say the devil's spawn. But everyone knows they are something to be revered - and feared.

Four and a half centuries on, cast adrift from the rest of England by Elizabeth I and still bound by its ancient laws, Rotherweird's independence is subject to one disturbing condition: nobody, but nobody, studies the town or its history.

Then an Outsider arrives, a man of unparallelled wealth and power, enough to buy the whole of Rotherweird - deeply buried secrets and all . . .

Welcome to Rotherweird.
- Back Cover Blurb

One for sorrow: Mary Tudor, a magpie queen - dress black, face chill white, pearls hanging in her hair like teardrops - stands in the pose of a woman with child, her right palm flat across her swollen belly.
- First Sentence; Old History: February 1558. St James's Palace, London

It is the charge that catches his eye: theft of a book by night (A Miscellanie of Peculiar Weapons), and the defendant's demeanour. The squat, ugly young man fences with the visiting judge, showing more wit than sense.

'It is a serious business to assail a man's house in the early hours.'

'It is a serious business to leave a book shrouded in dust.'
- Memorable Moment; Page 64

SOURCE ... Purchased with a Waterstones book voucher.


MY THOUGHTS ... A book I stood with in my hands for ages. Did I like the sound of it? Hmm! Perhaps but, then again, perhaps not. 

Attracted by the front cover and black edging (what's that about never judging a book, I hear you ask) Mr T kind of made my mind up for me, declaring that he'd quite like to read this himself. Oh well, it was on special offer; buy two, get one free.

What I'd like to think of as the one I got for free, alas not not my kind of read; it turns out Rotherweird was something of a Ratherweird read.

Fantasy fiction? Science Fiction? Historical fiction? A mystery? Whilst I don't necessarily find the need to label any book as being this, that or t' other, for me the main problem was here was a novel trying too hard to be too many things.

Full of excessive descriptions and what I'm sure the author thought of as witty anagrams ... anagrams that I eventually didn't even take the time/lose sleep over wondering about let alone trying to work out. 

To be fair, as a reader more into characterisation than world building (though of course to have both is a bonus), whilst some of the characters names were fun (Sir Veronal Slickson, Jonah OblongMorval Seerit seemed to me as if more attention had gone into these and the character's initial creation; any character development coming a poor second.

With all the constant shifting of scene, jumping from one perspective to another,  one could argue that this was a book written from the onset with 'Ooh! This would make a good film' in mind. You know the type of storytelling; based on solid story structure, faster paced, the emphasis being on creative visuals.

In a nutshell, what I thought of as over ambitious, too convoluted, in need of a good editing ... 

... And as for it being dubbed 'Harry Potter for grown-ups'? Those like Mr T who aren't fans of the boy wizard are likely to be put off by the comparison and, as for those who are fans of Harry and co? Well, I think they may be left disappointed.

8 Oct 2018



Meet Skulduggary Pleasant: detective, magician, warrior. Oh yes, and dead.

With Valkyrie struggling to protect her dark secret, Skulduggery and the gang are more vulnerable than ever, just as a plague of body-snatching Remnants are released upon the world ...
- Back Cover Blurb

The doors swung open and High Priest Auron Tenebrae strode into the room, his robe swirling around his tall, narrow frame.
- First Sentence; Chapter 1, Wreath's Task

At the top of the stairs he turned and walked through the doorway, and that was when the skinny man with the Pogue's T-shirt came at him with a cushion. Not being the world's deadliest weapon, the cushion bounced softly off Wreath's shoulder, and the skinny man did his best to run by.
- Memorable Moment; Page 53

SOURCE ... A charity shop buy.


MY THOUGHTS ... I strongly suspect a series best read from the beginning. That said, a book I really rather enjoyed; my not having read any of the others in no way detracting from this, the back story (and my imagination) being pretty much enough to fill in most of the gaps.

What I felt as being ideal for those boys of a certain age for whom reading maybe isn't seen as cool. Summed up in one word, I'd have to say this was a fun read.
  • Deliciously witty 
  • Great characters (some of the names alone had me quietly chuckling to myself); I adored Sulduggery's sarcasm
  • Plenty of adventure 
  • Gory; for the most part what I'd describe as cartoon-like and yet, as the story progressed, I did have my niggling concerns that things were turning really rather dark. I can quite see some parents of perhaps pre-teen, more sensitive children having their doubts about this one whilst devouring it themselves whilst said children are at school/in bed
  • Cinematic in scope - it has 'movie in the making' written all over it so to speak ...  
.... So, yeah, I'm guessing, perfect for adolescent boys.

What then was the appeal for me, far from adolescent and female?

In need of some light relief (laughter really is sometimes the best medicine), it was, without question, the humour. Take that away and I'd not have enjoyed the book nearly as much as I did.