Mapping the Stars: The Girl of Ink and Stars

*Mild Spoilers Ahead*

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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.

Valentine

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.

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. 

 

Living to the full: Everything Everything

*Mild spoilers ahead*

One thing I will tell you to do either before, during or after reading this novel is to do something you have never done before (even if it is something you are frightened of). The reason why I am telling you to do this is because if you do, then you will truly feel how Madeline feels in Everything Everything.

 

Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon is a love story, but one that differs to others that are on the market. Madeline is a young girl that has never been outside, she is kept indoors with filtered air because she has the rare condition SCID which means she is allergic to everything. It never bothered her that she did not live like normal teenagers until she met Ollie, whom she soon falls in love with and wants to do all the things her mother stopped her doing before, even if it means she loses her life.

 

The ending is especially surprising and I certainly wasn’t expecting it, though it is satisfying for the reader. Whilst I will not give it away, you will not be disappointed and you will cry (just a fair warning).

 

Madeline is a protagonist you can genuinely feel for and not due to the usual trivial thing you find in novels. As though you may not have her exact condition, you can relate because most of us have some condition (be it mental or physical) that restricts us to doing something. Which is why I told you to do something new, exciting, and or scary that you may or may not have wanted to do before. Ollie is also a character which you can appreciate, understand, and sympathise with, but for different reasons.  The other characters are minor and few but they add their own dimension to the story in subtle but great ways.

 

Nicola Yoon has presented this story in a unique way that I have never seen before. Instead of it all being in prose, she has added in ‘pictures’ in a sense. She added the IM conversations between Madeline and Ollie, the hospital records among other important documents. Whilst it may confuse you to begin with, you soon learn to understand, enjoy and love this style.

 

Overall, the book will make you cry, smile and feel things you may never have experienced or wanted to but in the end, you are happy you went on this journey with Madeline. The story leaves you hanging and wanting more. So all in all, it is another must read.

One Shot

This was a short story originally written for my year one composition class at university and was later published in the The Wells Muse.

I remember that day. The day I wanted to make her feel beautiful, loved and special. I woke her up with kisses all over, sex and of course some toast and tea. Then I made her wash and get ready. Once she was done I blindfolded her and guided her down the long and winding corridor into her study. After spending the night on it, I had transformed it into a makeshift studio for the day. My old camera and lights were set all around, though unfortunately I could not afford the white screen. Maybe that was why she turned into a miserable bitch. Maybe it was all my fault.

When we began the shoot she was all smiles and laughter as we utilised the room and the beautiful, smooth ivory canvas. Yet as the day progressed and I could not quite click the right pose, her lovely grin faded to be replaced with a frown and misery. Maybe she got bored. Maybe that was the moment she fell out of love with me. Or just maybe that was when she realised she would rather be shagging him. All I know is my favourite photograph from that day was her naked body and face, a flower in her hair and her face as miserable as sin.

Her long physique was in his tall and muscular one. Their lips were so closely intertwined as they were slowly eating each other’s faces off. He hurriedly unzipped her dress as it fell to the sand revealing her bare shoulders and red lacy underwear. I could see the shiver that travelled down her spine but instead of showing it to him, she had removed his shirt and was un-zipping his pants. No sooner had he unhooked her bra and removed her knickers. I could see the breasts that once belonged to me, the ones I used to caress and kiss to make her moan so passionately by doing only that. Now he kissed and caressed them. All whilst I looked from a distant dock. My heart was ripped open in two. I rose the gun up that was by my side and shot twice.

The naked bodies were removed by noon. Her outline was drawn out on the sand and the coppers had put police tape all around the place. But yet people came that did not really know her, only the brutality that had befallen upon them, they had placed roses in her outline, claiming they were her favourite flower. Yet I knew the truth. Her favourite flower was a lily, not bloody roses. I knew she was meeting him to shag him. I knew she no longer loved me. I knew that it was me that fucking killed that whore and her playmate.

When I got back to the flat, the gun was left by the door, I went in. As I gathered all the pictures together from that morning, I emptied the bag I brought back with me on the table though most of the glass had smashed. Yet I still placed the photos in the broken frames. While I collected the hammer and nails from the closet I heard sirens, I carried on with the task I started. I ended up whacking my fucking thumb a couple of times as my ears were pierced with the coppers shouting “Come out with your hands up.” I ignored them and carried on hanging the pictures up until the entire room was full of them. Her face was all around me. Once done I slumped back on the sofa. My entire body felt numb. Before I knew it the coppers had broken down the door and somehow, I was in the back of their car but still I felt nothing.

This was a short story originally written for my year one composition class at university and was later published in the The Wells Muse. It was created by looking at a series of photos and writing a small paragraph on each and then mashing them together and adding a few bits in to make it flow more. I was really happy with this piece because it was out of my comfort zone and something I have never written before.

Rambling Man

This was another piece written for The Wells Muse, issue 5 (https://madmagz.com/magazine/971515#/), however I did start it last year with just the idea. But when I knew I needed a piece or the issue I decided to finish it for it.

Suitcase in hand, he bent over her sleeping form. Her long red locks that were usually straightened, covered her perfect face and began curling from the day’s intense heat. As he smiled softly to himself, he knew she would hate the fact that her hair was curling, she would die for straight hair.

 

He watched her chest that was modestly covered by the thin silk sheet rise and fall with each shaky breath she took, a bad dream he thought to himself as he sighed. Yet, he continued to watch it rise and fall as he caught his own breath. Why are you doing this? He whispered to himself as she turned over, facing him but with her eyes still closed as her breath steadied. As he let out a long, drawn breath he kissed her forehead and straightened up. She smiled softly in her sleep at his touch. Leaving a folded piece of paper on her drawer, he reached for the handle and exited the cheap motel.

 

The click came quick and strong to stop the snow seeping in, her eyes opened slowly and adjusted to the early morning light. However, she realised that it was too late. The rambling man had left as the bright lights came through the icy windows.

 

Sitting on her bed, she was rereading the letter again, she had thought her love would make him stay this time. Her naivety got the better of her again as she read the letter out loud,

I’m sorry to do this again, but we both know I’m not much of a lover, I’ve always been a runner. I promise if I ever come round again, I hope that I can be the man you want me to be, although I understand if you find the right man before then. But please, babe, remember I will always love you.

 

Crumpling the letter in her hand, she placed it in the drawer. A stack of letters already there.

 

A few days had passed when he sat in a motorway diner, sipping the frothy hot coffee he had just been served. He thought of her and could not help but let that small smile play on his lips. He took one long swig of his drink as he rose from his chair and strolled over to the payphone. Putting the money in, he dialled her number. It rang a few times before it cut to voicemail. Sighing, he said what he should have said in the letter,

“I know you must hate me again, but let me tell you that whilst I may have a gypsy soul, you are the only one that has ever made me want to build and stay. And while it’s not yet, we’ll soon be together and I cannot wait. Please hold on, I feel that we belong.” He placed the receiver back on its cradle while he rested his head against the wall. He knew he must have messed up really big this time.

 

This was another piece written for The Wells Muse, issue 5 (https://madmagz.com/magazine/971515#/), however I did start it last year with just the idea. But when I knew I needed a piece or the issue I decided to finish it for it.

Sorry for not posting this past week, I was away on holiday in Malta. I shall try and be more frequent from now on until University begins next year. Thank you for bearing with me.