Ode to Summer

I was complaining about summer on Twitter this morning. I am, at heart, a winter girl. Winter is my favourite season for a number of reasons. However, it occurred to me that complaining about summer wasn’t really the right attitude. There are lots of things I like about summer, so, in the interest of positive-thinking, I thought I would list a few of my favourites.

First up, it’s Pimms:

 

Is there anything better than sitting in the garden on a sunny day enjoying a nice tall glass of Pimms? It’s refreshing, it’s tasty, and it’s served in a glass chock-full of ice and fruit and sprigs of mint.

Invisible Stockings:

 

My new summer must-have are these invisible stockings from Tess Daly’s beauty range at Marks and Spencers. Not only are all the products in this range reasonably priced and beautifully packaged, but the invisible stockings are scented with jasmine and sweet vanilla. For someone like me who has naturally pale skin but no desire to sunbathe, this product is perfect. Not as heavy as a fake tan, it just adds a little bit of bronzed shimmer to legs whilst making them smell really good at the same time. A bronzer and a body butter all in one.

 Tortoises:

 

 

My third reason for loving summer is that the tortoises come out of hibernation. You know summer has arrived when you see them stumping about in their pen, mashing up their food and getting it all over their faces. Pompey and Hannibal are both in their sixties – and very grand old men they are too.

Minx pedicure:

Clearly, there is no point paying out to have your toes look like this if they are hidden away in slipper-socks and boots the whole time. Summer, with its flip-flops and open sandals, is the perfect excuse to get a Minx pedicure. It would be a shame to ruin an outfit with plain feet, after all.

 

Bubbles with Moose:

Anyone who follows me on Twitter will know that I love my Great Dane very, very much. And during the summer we get to spend more time playing bubbles in the garden. They’re a little hard to see in this picture but the bubbles are there, and she is catching them. Bubbles is Moose’s favourite game – she never really got the hang of chasing balls, and will give me an evil look if I throw one of her toys across the lawn. The only downside to the bubble game is that, sometimes, after I’ve blown them for her, the wind changes and they come right back towards me. And Moose doesn’t really see me when she’s intent on the bubbles. You can get knocked right off your feet that way . . .

Summer Reads:

 

 

You know the books I mean. Something that’s fast paced and easy to read. Something to take on holiday with you. Something to read whilst drinking Pimms. These books are sheer, unadulterated pleasure that has nothing to do with anything. I usually read novels for a reason – like I’ve heard good things about the author and want to see what the fuss is about, or I’m trying a different genre, all the time with my own writing in mind. But, during the summer, it’s nice to treat yourself to a book you know you’re going to enjoy. There’s often an element of guilty pleasure in this as well. My top summer read indulgences would be anything by Victoria Holt, Madeleine Brent or Deanna Raybourn.  

Travel treats:

 

You know when you go on holiday and decide to buy yourself some little thing that you don’t need but really, really want? This hydrating face spray by Evian was my holiday purchase this year. Yes, I know. It’s a little bit much. I acknowledge the foolishness. But it’s the perfect size to take on the plane with you and it has a pink lid and pink bubbles on the packaging and it did make me feel more refreshed after the long flight. And pure mineral water is much better for your skin than hard tap water. Go ahead and laugh at me – I don’t care – I will still love my dinky tube of face spray and I will still take it with me every time I travel.

And, finally, Starbucks frappucino:

A little piece of chilled blended heaven in a cup – ahhh! My favourite is the peppermint mocha frappucino. I could drink it all day.

So – there are some of my favourites. Now that I think about it, there is quite a lot I like about summer. So perhaps I will focus on the good stuff and try to make the most of it rather than wishing summer away.

Tags: , , , ,

Crawlers

As part of our ongoing plan to Take Over the World, I have recently read fellow Chainsaw Sam Enthoven’s book Crawlers:

The cover, I believe, tells you what you most of what you need to know about the book – there’s a dreadful, spidery thing attached to his neck! Arghh! Nightmare-inducement commenced! Crawlers is the story of four boys and four girls who find themselves trapped in the Barbican Theatre when a horde of these horrible, squidgy, slimy Crawlers (and Mr Enthoven is immensely skilled at describing, in exquisite detail, just how nasty these things are) descend upon the building. Once attached to the back of the neck of the people there, they are able to control them and make them do their bidding zombie-style. Thus a kindly teacher trying to help the protaganists one minute might be trying to bash their heads in the next. And the real killer of it is that the Crawlers don’t have to attach themselves to a person’s neck. Meaning that anyone in the theatre, no matter how normal they might appear, might have a Crawler on them somewhere – which makes for a lot of mounting paranioa within the group.

The action is all confined to a theatre, which is very well-utilised as a creepy Doom-esque setting – disconcertingly quiet and deserted when it shouldn’t be. This also contributes to the increasingly claustophobic atmosphere, especially as the paranoia and terror mounts. In parts it’s almost a little bit reminiscent of a classic Twilight Zone episode: ‘ Four boys and four girls are on a trip to the theatre. Little do they know that they will never see the play. They’re about to be plunged into a nightmare. Beneath the theatre lies a secret. And now she has been released…’ There’s also a good dash of classic horror films, video games and old-school Goosebumps in the mix as well. This is a very visual book that feels more like a film – in an enjoyably, toe-curling horrible, way. If you like your horror creepy, freaky, fast-paced and a little bit gross, then Crawlers is definitely the book for you.

This is Sam, looking rather sinister:

 

And here’s his take on the Chainsaw questions:

1. What’s your favourite book?

No: impossible. The effort of narrowing it down to one would make blood
hose out of my eyeballs. But I’ve listed my favourite five hundred at
www.librarything.com/profile/othersam if that’s any help.

2. What’s your favourite monster?

The Thing, from John Carpenter’s The Thing. Everything after the husky’s
muzzle peels like a banana: now. /that/’s a monster.

3. Who’s your favourite bad-ass monster slayer?

Monkey’s been kicking &rse in China since the sixteenth century and he
shows no signs of stopping now. Have you played Enslaved: Odyssey to the
West? That transplants him and his story to a post-apocalyptic future
USA. Monkey fits right in, smacking robots instead of demons, just as if
he’s lived there all his life.

4. If you could make a pact with the Devil, what would you want in exchange for your immortal soul?

The original Sam Enthoven, the fool, swapped his paltry soul for mine
long ago. We wrote a story about it, you can read if you like, here:
www.theblacktattoo.com/thenewdeal.html

5. The Chainsaw Gang are all trapped on a desert island with no food. Who would you eat first and why?

I would eat myself: a leg first I think – mine are reasonably well
toned. I don’t like strange meat, and it doesn’t come much stranger than
The Chainsaw Gang.

Finally, if you haven’t heard about it already, we’re offering one lucky winner the chance to win a complete set of latest signed books from every single one of the Chainsaw Gang in our Blog Tour Competition. 

Here’s how it works:

To win the Chainsaw Library you need to score votes. Each vote goes into a vast hat at the end of the competition and one winning name will come out. The great thing is you can enter per blog: that’s nine chances to win! So make sure you visit each and every blog on the tour. Votes are scored as follows:

+1 if you link the blog/website to yours

+2 if you stick our Chainsaw banner up somewhere

+1 if you’re a Facebook fan/friend – here’s the link to my fan page.

+1 if you comment on this blog post

+1 if you reTweet this competition.

+1 if you follow us on Twitter – here’s a link to my twitter page 

The closing date of the competition is Friday 5th November and the competition is open to UK residents only.

Finally, the Chainsaw Gang will be out in force at the Crystal Palace Children’s Book Festival tomorrow. Myself, Sam Enthoven, Jon Mayhew, Alexander Gordon Smith, Steve Feasey, Alex Milway and Sarwat Chadda will all be there so come along and say hello to us if you can. We don’t bite. Much.

Tags: , ,