Lavinia’s Book of the Month: January 2017

From Chapter and Verse Reviews, my Book of the Month: His Bloody Project!

Chapter and Verse Reviews

His Bloody Project – Graeme Macrae Burnet

Hello 2017! Very excited to be writing up my first Book of the Month – especially since I couldn’t recommend this book more.

Now, I know this isn’t a very daring choice – His Bloody Project was shortlisted for The Man Booker Prize 2016, so I’m not very far off-piste here – but this book was so brilliant that I couldn’t keep quiet about it.

Graeme Macrae Burnet - His Bloody Project.jpgHis Bloody Project is a sort of murder mystery where we know who the killer is from the start (and in fact he is constantly protesting his guilt) and no one can agree on anything about the version of events that led to the killing, other than on who the culprit was. The culprit, one Roderick Macrae, is a young man from the Scottish Highlands who has brutally bludgeoned three members of the same family to…

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Top 10 Medieval News Stories of 2016

Oh my god how did I not know that this blog existed until now? Strongly recommend to any and all medieval lovers!

Megan's Medieval Museum

DECEMBER 31, 2016 BY MEDIEVALISTS.NET

These last twelve months have seen more discoveries and great research about the Middle Ages. However, in keeping with the theme that 2016 is the worst year ever, our most important story is a depressing tale for medievalists.

1. #Femfog

Allen J. Frantzen is considered one of the leading scholars in the field of Old English / Anglo-Saxon studies, having written several important books and articles. However, it seems after retirement, he turned his words towards attacking feminism and complaining about the treatment of men in today’s society. On his personal website he wrote a post on ‘How to fight your way out of the feminist fog’, where he encouraged readers to “Grab your balls (GYB) and be the man you want to be…” (the blog post has since been deleted, but can be read via Archive.org).

While the post was online for…

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I watched Passengers so you don’t have to (no, really)

So I know I’m late off the bat here and there have already been tons of reviews trashing Passengers, and opinion pieces on what’s wrong with it, but here I am, adding my voice to the chorus. I’d already seen some of my more politically outspoken facebook friends pledging to boycott it because of the subject matter, but I’m ashamed to say that the beautiful beautiful people (Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt) lured me in, I caved, and several weeks after its release I went. Spoilers ahead – here’s my review. 

Passengers started off well for me. I bought into the concept and into this version of the future. Chris Pratt alone in a luxury spaceship was just the right mix of terrifying and wish-fulfillmenty. This went on for long enough, too, that I whispered to my date (knowing what was going to happen) if I were in his shoes, I’d probably wake someone else up, too. I was on side. I could see that, alone in the vacuum of space, someone could do something crazy. 

But the problem is, Pratt’s character doesn’t do something crazy in a moment of desperation. And that’s where it lost me. He stares at Jennifer Lawrence’s character’s unconscious body for ages and plots to wake her up. He watches videos of her. He has several false starts, but he still decides to wake her. When they finally have sex, it is one of the most uncomfortable and unpleasant watches I’ve had. He has violated her by waking her early, and then he violates her again by lying to her. 

Jennifer Lawrence is spectacular. The best part of the film is her anger, after this moment. Which is quickly dismissed when a crew member wakes and tells her people do crazy mad desperate stuff. 

In the end, we are expected to accept their romance, and I couldn’t. 

The film has failed to meet its expectations at he box office, and to be honest I can see why. It’s disappointing to see the issue of consent half-raised and then dismissed. Audiences aren’t going to take that any more, and films need to be better and smarter. It’s such a shame because in many ways the film was so promising. But ultimately I just couldn’t buy into the human side of it. 

Lavinia Goes Local

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16143300_10211702934358415_211032749235995893_n.jpgThis is a very exciting week for me. As someone who’s lived a life online and who, until now, has only had my books for sale online, this is a watershed moment for me. A small, independent bookshop in Topsham, a gorgeous seaside village in the south-west of England, is now stocking my books. (Don’t worry, they’re still available on Amazon!)

If you happen to be in the area, make sure you check it out. The Topsham Bookshop is an absolute treasure-trove of second hand and indy-published books with everything from old favourites in those adorable pre-loved volumes to, well, me!

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always loved a bookshop. I could lose half a day in there, and often I’ve lost my weekly budget. My local station has a Foyles, which means that every time I miss my train (which, I confess, is relatively often – timekeeping is not my forté) I find myself in there, contactless card in hand, a victim of their three-for-two book offer.

I can’t quite fall in love with a place without a bookshop, and somehow bookshops are always wonky and rickety (apart from I suppose my temptation location, Foyles) and have that gorgeous dusty smell.

Bookshops are wonderful places. It’s something about seeing all of those titles lined up and thinking there’s a world inside each of these. I hope that someone browsing in The Topsham Bookshop will have the same feeling when they see – and pick up – one of mine.

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Author AWOL

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Regular readers of the blog might have noticed I’ve been very quiet recently. I used to post relatively regularly once a week or so, but it’s been quite the last couple of months.

I have a good reason, I promise! I’ve been finishing off my thesis, and last week I successfully defended it (hooray for me) so now that my life has returned to teaching and getting on with my corrections, I have space to return to normal.

become-a-writer.jpgBeing a writer is a surprisingly time-consuming thing, and most of us aren’t lucky enough to be able to rely on it as our main (or even supplementary) income. There’s always more I need (and want) to do. Not just updating the blog or running my twitter and facebook feeds, but also reading friends’ books (hi Karen!), keeping up with reading current releases, and (if there’s time left at the end of the day after the 9-5 and everything else) actually writing new material.

49d9da07acf06ad615ae099ac4177a66And that’s what’s been so sad about this last busy period of my life. No time to write. It’s a strange thing, I think, the life of someone who needs to write to feel like themselves. The more firmly rooted I am in reality (rather than spending all day in my own head in a fantasy land) the further away from it I feel. The further away from myself.

So, to the future! I have a huge ‘to read’ pile, but it’s all scrummy stuff I can’t wait to get my (metaphorical) teeth into. And aside from that – the WOP to think about. Wish me luck!

Don’t miss your chance to get #1 Arthurian Bestseller THE WITCHES OF AVALON for a bargain 99p!

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#1 Arthurian kindle bestseller The Witches of Avalon is available for just 99p for a short time only!

Click here to get your copy for 99p! 

Reviewers say:

“As always, Lavinia Collins doesn’t disappoint. This first book sees Morgan grow from an innocent child to a young woman who discovers betrayal, the cruelty of a men’s world, and sex.
[…]
Once again, Collins has created complex, intriguing characters, and a vivid world that makes you forget the Arthurian legends are just that, legends. They seem real. It’s also refreshing to see them told, for a change, by the female protagonists who are often relegated to one-dimensional characters in the background. Here, Morgan comes forward to tell her own story. And it’s a very compelling one.
If you like the Arthurian legends, or even just a good story, check it out.”
Read the review in full here.

Readers say:

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Find out for yourself!

Merry Christmas, Medieval Style

First I would like to say this is not my own work. This is the work of the Gawain-poet, and of course the greatest genius of our own time, Mallory Ortberg, one time editor of the greatest online magazine there has ever been, The Toast. 

sggk

But Christmas can be a tough time, family-social-wise, and everyone needs a good tale to tell. My gift to you this year, is the tale of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Mallory’s version pretty much hits the nail on the head in terms of the general wackiness of the original, but if that’s not enough for you, why not treat yourself to the baffling film version, which features a half-shirtless, green glittery Sean Connery in the role of the Green Knight. None of it makes sense, but then again, none of the original does either!

sword-of-the-valiant-movie-poster-1984-1020363538Sir Gawain and the Green Knight has everything. Conflicting promises, dubious bets, a psychotically sexually aggressive woman who doesn’t even get her own name, and our hero’s assertion, in his final hour, that every mistake he has made is the fault of all women. What more could you want at Christmas? Gratuitous sex(ism), gratuitous violence and a pair of magic pants – the medieval world is weird, wacky and beautiful, and Gawain and the Green Knight makes every Christmas a merry one.

In Praise of the DIY Launch Do

I’m often grateful to be signed to a small press publisher. I like having a close relationship with my publisher and editor, I like the freedom that comes with being low-key. I like how fast the small-press kindle-publishing word moves, and I’ve found it suits me very much.

A week ago, I held a very jolly launch for the paperback of Morgawse: Queen of the North

The other advantage, is that I do my own launch do for the books, which for me means copious amounts of aldi prosecco and crisps, a room full of balloons and good friends, and a jolly old time getting tiddly enough not to be too shy to read my books out loud.

As a somewhat shy author (though I know I don’t seem shy on the blog – I’ve talked about this before), this works really well for me. Just me, my close pals and a good laugh. Everyone who already knows everything.

It’s also great sharing this kind of achievement with your closest friends. The people who have been with you all along. Who read your first draft, who promised you you could do this, who always tell you your stuff is worth reading when you start to doubt. I love that, I rely on that, and I’m so lucky to have that.

So here are the merry old pics of the day – enjoy!

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Having a read.

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Loving that new book smell!

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Essential to celebrations: wine and balloons.

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Reading a scandalous scene.

*NEWS* MORGAWSE Completely free for your kindle! *NEWS*

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Morgawse: A Medieval Fantasy romance is free for a short time only for your kindle! Grab this fantastic deal while you can.

A young noblewoman is caught in between warring factions in dying King Uther’s realm.

The life of the Queen of Lothian explored for the first time in fiction in depth since Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur.

MORGAWSE features all three books in the trilogy, previously published in single volumes on Kindle, as part of Lavinia Collins’ fantasy chronicles exploring the lives of Arthurian women. Look out for GUINEVERE and MORGAN.

The three books collated here have been described as “stunning”, “gripping”, “simply beautiful” and “enthralling”. Try this volume today and see what all the fuss is about!

Reviewers say: 

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Lavinia’s Book of the Month: October

Chapter and Verse Reviews

The Butcher’s Hook – Janet Ellis

butchers-hookI’ve actually recommended this book before, by accident. When I was in the bookshop (yes, a real bricks and mortar shop filled with books – can’t beat ’em) and I saw it, I said, “Oh look at this! It looks like a bodice ripper but with murders” and the sixty-something-year-old man beside me picked a copy up too, and said, “I’ll have one of those.”

And I am very happy to report that it was well worth it. Very entertaining, darkly comic and completely gripping. Just a wonderful tale, told with wit. After I had got over the fact that our romantic hero is called ‘Fub’, of course.

Anne, our heroine, is a young lady who knows what she wants, surrounded by people in her way. She’s a wonderfully engaging narrator, and you’re (or I was) completely on her side as she goes from wilful…

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