Troy by Stephen Fry

Well, he’s done it again, so there’s not much to say really: if you loved the first two (Mythos and Heroes) then there’s no reason why you’re not going to get the same thrill and the occasional sly smile out of Troy. It’s the same characters we travelled with (in varying depths of detail) in the first two outings, but transposed to the decade-long battle to break the city of Troy.

If you don’t know the story then it more or less starts with a prince called Paris, who judges a contest of goddesses to decide who is the fairest of them all (that never ends well). In return for choosing Aphrodite, he is ‘given’ Helen, thought to be the most beautiful woman on earth, and takes her to his bed behind the walls of Troy. (It should be noted that Helen was under the influence of Aphrodite, so none of this is really her fault). As you can guess, there are handful of kingly-types who are none too pleased about this, one of them being Helen’s husband, Menelaus who, with more than enough help from his bigger, angrier brother Agamemnon, raises an army to take her back.

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Book review: Luster by Raven Leilani

I finished reading Luster on new year’s eve, then I had sit down for a couple of days to think hard on what I thought about it.

I mean I liked it, loved it in fact, but I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. Is it literary fiction, literary erotica, commercial literary erotic fiction?

Anyway, I have hard enough job genrefying my own work, so I probably shouldn’t worry too much about pigeonholing someone else’s . . .

The story is told from the raw, stream of consciousness of Edie, an editorial coordinator for a children’s book publisher. She has no money, her dreams are worn hollow, and she can’t see a future any different from the life she has now. So Edie tries to fill the void in her life by having semi-casual sex with just about every man (and one woman) in the office (even with someone who works in the IT department if you can believe it). After she’s fired (it was always going to happen) she focusses her energies on the affair she’s having with Eric, a middle-aged man with a strangely accommodating wife, Rebecca, and an adopted daughter, Akila. How far does this affair go?

Well, far enough that she moves in with them . . . 

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Vellum: a list of wants without the tantrum

I have a strange relationship with Vellum. It’s one of the most expensive apps I own (or rather license), and it’s the app that I probably use the least. And yet it’s one of the few apps I wouldn’t be without, because when I do get round to using it, it saves be a bucketload of time and churns out professional quality results without me pulling out what little hair I have.

So for the uninitiated, Vellum is sort of like a word-processor … though not really. You can load a file (.docx, .rtf) into it, or type your book straight in, and Vellum will churn out beautifully formatted ePubs for a handful of mobile platforms such as Apple Books, Amazon Kindle, along with PDFs that be dropped into CreateSpace or Ingram Spark.

Yes, I know that I can do the same thing in Word and Scrivener, but even Scrivener can’t deliver such a clean, well-dressed output without some fiddling afterwards. Vellum will space out your text to make sure all the pages are balanced without leaving those niggling single lines on a page before skipping off to the next chapter.

I’m not a believer in the one-stop-shop kind of an app, but Vellum is so easy to use and so well thought out, I find myself wondering what would it need so I could use it more.

So here’s is my list of wants for Vellum, based on nothing more than my own sense of entitlement (there’s a lot of it about after all).

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