Mapping the Stars: The Girl of Ink and Stars

*Mild Spoilers Ahead*


Isabelle is a young girl which you both love, and despise at the same time because she is portrayed as the hero of the story throughout, but ultimately, she is not. She tries to stay true, but in due course, she endangers the lives of everyone she loves which makes you despise her. In my mind, it is the villain’s daughter that saves Joya for she sacrifices herself to anoint her for her father’s sins, similar to the story of Arinta which is a continuous motif repeated throughout the novel.


The book opens you up to a world of mystery and new possibilities in the shape of cartographer, an archaic term for map making by the stars. Isabelle is the daughter, and only surviving family of the last cartographer in Joya, a town bullied by its governor. Her best friend is Lupe, the governor’s daughter who is oblivious to the wrong doings by her father. The build up to the climax is a little slow but when it happens you are thrown into a world which is unknown and you’re left wanting more. You fear for the characters as if they were real people facing these monsters and do not want any of them to die, whilst the stories Isa and her Da tell others feel as though they are real and part of our own history.


Whilst I feel this book is directed to teenagers, I believe that it could be enjoyed by all ages, especially young adults because it has the childhood feel packed with action and adventure that young adults and adults alike can enjoy.


Kiran Millwood Hargrave’s first novel is a great debut to her writing career and I cannot wait to read more of her work.


This piece was my GCSE English coursework from year eleven. We were given a choice of titles to choose from to create a third person story based upon it

As her man walked away from her, Eliza knew her life would change forever. Clasping tightly onto the ruby ring which was a symbol of their immortal love. The warmth of his tender kiss lingered on her lips in the cold night as she watched Jack, become a silhouette in the near distance. Eliza stood in a trance like state as the sharp wind chilled her to the core. She watched in hope Jack would return to her.


It was autumn of 1914 and Jack had volunteered to fight for his country in the Great War. He was eighteen with a maturity beyond his years. A handsome man with warm burgundy hair, soothing caramel eyes. The young Eliza bewitched him. Her beautiful, open smile and pure heart captured his heart. They were perfect together; like two peas in a pod. However no one believed their love… Particularly as it was a forbidden love. A forbidden love that was seemingly condemned to end in tragedy.


Eliza now sat by the lake. She could see her reflection in the depths of the clear water as she remembered Jack. Her long auburn rested on her shoulders while her icy blue eyes threatened to spill. Deep in her soul she knew he was always with her. Water ebbed lightly at the banks of the lake, like her mind; it was so calm yet powerful. Eliza was lost deep in her thoughts; water has the capacity to get everywhere. From the smallest ravine to the biggest ocean. Water in the right amount creates, but too much can cause destruction. Eliza was jolted back into reality at this point. She thought would their love last through thick and thin?


At this point, she wearily rose to her feet and with a heavy heart, she walked back home. The front door creaked open; Eliza was filled with optimism and hope. This was a special day. It was February 14th, the day Jack and Eliza shared their first meal so many moons ago. Every Valentine’s Day was a bittersweet reminder of that moment. Apprehension and excitement had filled the once empty air. Eliza carefully spread the white linen table cloth, which draped softly around the largely shaped legs, with red trimmings. The candlelight soothed the room as the flames danced in tune to the melodic sounds which echoed from the gramophone. Jack’s favourite meal took pride and place. The aroma of real chicken pie gave the room a warm and welcoming feel. Jack was coming home – Eliza knew it. She had waited so long for this day.


Sitting down to the meal, the excitement still filled her up, even threatened to spill out of her. At the first mouthful, her mouth was savouring the taste, Jack’s favourite. As she kept taking mouthfuls, each as different as the next, her plate was soon clear and she was full. Slowly, she rose and walked over to the sink placing her plates in to wash up later. She sighed. He eyes began to feel heavy, causing her to walk over to the living room. It had peachy walls and the burgundy three piece gave it a warm feeling. She lowered herself into the comfiest one, closest to the fire, sitting there for a few moments. She looked deeply into the roaring flames, right into the ebony embers. Slowly her eyelids closed over her icy blue eyes, engulfing her into darkness. She soon found herself slipping away.


A mere few hours passed when Eliza was awakened by the last flame dying out, leaving the room in dim lighting. It took her a few moments for her feeble eyes to adjust. That was when she saw him. Him in all his finery, looking just the same as the day he left. She gasped, shocked at first. However she soon understood. Steadily, she rose to her feet. He smile expanded as she edged towards him. The laughter lines from the past sixty years faded into insignificance. He engulfed her into a strong embrace as she turned into the seventeen year old she once was. Jack was home – Eliza knew it.

This piece was my GCSE English coursework from year eleven. We were given a choice of titles to choose from to create a third person story based upon it

Disney Miracle

A short poem I wrote for my first year of university.

Life never turns out how you expect it too.
Thirteen years old,
that’s how old I was,
when my life took an unexpected turn.

Woken up in the middle of the night,
‘my mind is spinning,’ she complained.
In the next moment,
she was laying on the floor,
shaking and unconscious.

Several months had passed,
several more rides in an ambulance.
And we were hopefully going to get some answers.
Yet life never does follow your plan.

One final ambulance ride,
she had another fit,
this time it was accompanied by pneumonia.
It was worse this time.

We had spent a month,
hoping and wishing that she’d pull through.
But we needed a Disney miracle.
She never woke back up.
She never woke back up.

Beast Within: Monster

*Mild spoilers ahead”

If you want a young adult novel full of humour (mostly Harry Potter related), suspense and shock, then CJ Skuse’s Monster is for you. The book follows a group of young girls who are stuck inside their boarding school at Christmas time with the local ‘monster’ lurking around outside.


Whilst the book takes it time to build up its suspense and really get into, when the action begins you are thrown into turmoil and shock by what comes next and who the bad guy really is.


The main protagonist Nash is fiery but also a goody two shows who is doing everything she can to become the head girl at Bathory Girls School. However, when her brother has gone missing, that all changes, especially when she is antagonised by her arch nemesis Clarice. This whole storyline, whilst it sets the scene, adds more depth to the story, and gives Nash character, it takes away from the action and loses some of the actual story. I think Skuse should have moulded the character build up into the actual action instead of showing them separate.


The primary character adds to the story and furthers the enjoyment and adds a little more depth and human side to the story but not by much.


Overall, if you like to read plenty of backstory before you get into the minor action (most of the action being in the last couple of chapters) then this is the book for you. I feel that it is more for young readers (teenagers) to get them into reading and to begin enjoy reading again. Though I do not regret reading the book as it helps me as a writer, as I know that I should add a little more backstory to novels but ensure that it is included in the action.

Extract from Dark Woods

This is a small extract from Dark Woods, another one from the collection of twisted fairy tales. This one is my version of Hansel and Gretel. Please let me know what you think and how I could improve.  

Somewhere in the deep, dark and lonely howling woods of Wurttemberg laid two infant children quietly crying in the root of a dying tree. One was a small girl of about 2 years with blonde, bobbed cut hair. She had what seemed to be soulless blue eyes which was a rare sort. Many blue-eyed girls had the brightest, happiest eyes known but I suppose she could be forgiven as she had just previously been abandoned by her parents. The young boy who seemed two to three years her senior had his arm wrapped tightly round his little sister, was the complete opposite to his sister. His hair was a striking black with deep, dark but caring brown eyes. He looked to be of five or six years but his eyes beyond their years.

They say you can learn a lot about people from their eyes and that theory looks to be true.

His arms tightened around her shoulders as he heard of what he only thought were in storybooks… A wolf’s howl. Her sobs got heavier as she buried her small head into the crook of his shoulder, fingers tightening his torso as she too heard the howls. Kissing the top of her blonde hair, he whispered quietly to her, “Shhhh,” Pausing briefly to re position himself so they were both more comfortable, “Shhhh. it will be fine. I will never leave you.” Tears continued to fall down her now rosy cheeks from the cold biting at her fair skin. The intense and nearly ear screeching began to subside which also seemed to comfort the wolves as their howls died too. He looked down to her, smiling as sincere as he could and whispered “You see? They have gone now.” She smiled softly up to him whilst he dried away her tears still trailing down her cheeks. Soon she was nestled against his chest and soft grumbles from her sleep filled the little cave like place they were in. Yet, the young boy could not quite fall asleep. He had an uneasy feeling in his stomach, one which he felt somebody was watching them.


This is a small extract from Dark Woods, another one from the collection of twisted fairy tales. This one is my version of Hansel and Gretel. Please let me know what you think and how I could improve.

Broken Friendships: Beautiful Broken Things

*Mild spoilers ahead.*

Three girls, different but alike.

*Mild spoilers ahead.*


Three girls, different but alike. There is Cadnam, or Caddy as she is more commonly known as she lives a ‘boring and uneventful life’ in her words. Then there is Rosie, a young girl who always has, and always will be Caddy’s best friend and the most interesting person Caddy has met. That was until Suzanne showed up. A girl who was a mysterious thing to her, that was until she did some undercover research and found out more than she bargained for when she did.


Beautiful Broken Things is about friendship, love, adolescence, and discovery. It shows three diverse ways of being a teenager and how they shape you as a person; be it that you come from a broken family, Or had a few horrible things happen you and your family, Or if your family is ‘beautiful’ or in Caddy’s perspective, uneventful to her.


The story is told from Caddy’s perspective when she first gets introduced to Suzanne. With her character, we see the growth of her from the young, and somewhat naïve, to slightly grown but adventurous girl who realises that there is a lot more to life than she knows. Caddy is thrown from her boring, uneventful life into a world of adventure, mystery, and danger. It is another book aimed more at young adults to begin reading but can still be enjoyed by older readers as it discusses both young and adult issues in a mature and well written nature.


It’s a surprisingly light read due to the issues surrounding mental health, abuse, and teenage curiosity that Sara Barnard has delicately written and I would recommend it as a summer read.

Bittersweet Yesterdays

This is the first draft of one of the ‘memories’ in a collection made for a novel I am working on. I plan extending on this particular memory but wish to get some feedback on what I have so far. Sorry for such a short post but I am working on both this and my reviews. Should be longer next and please, let me know what you think. 

Memory #20

It was the last Christmas in that house in a small town which held all the memories. In the morning, I decided to give her the taste of her own medicine and wake her up before the sun rose. However, when morning came, the medicine tasted bitter to her and she waited a few more hours before getting up. In the hours before the sun went down, this Christmas was the best because it was just us. But it was also the worst Christmas because it was just us. The house with all the memories seems bare and small now.

I can still remember the smell of her perfume like it was yesterday, the sweet scent of cinnamon always filled the room when she entered.


This is the first draft of one of the ‘memories’ in a collection made for a novel I am working on. I plan extending on this particular memory but wish to get some feedback on what I have so far. Sorry for such a short post but I am working on both this and my reviews. Should be longer next and please, let me know what you think.