Book review: Shelter

This book is full of trees. The Forest of Dean to be exact. Shelter by Sarah Franklin is the story of two outsiders who find themselves in the forest during World War Two. As they struggle to survive, to learn about their surroundings, how to get by from day to day, each finds a way to live the rest of their lives. Early in 1944 in Coventry, Connie Granger’s life is changed in the course of one night. Escaping the bombing, city-girl Connie takes a job with the Women’s Timber Corps. Unable to follow her dreams, she resents the change
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Book review: I Found You

Alice Lake sees a man sitting alone on a beach in the rain and invites him into her home. He has lost his memory. When Lily’s new husband doesn’t come home from work, she goes to the police for help and discovers he has a false name. A family from Croydon take a traditional English holiday by the sea. These are the three storylines in I Found You by Lisa Jewell. The common denominator is location: a northern seaside town called Ridinghouse Bay. Two inter-connected themes run throughout I Found You. Memory – the fugue of the man on the
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Book review: The Orange Lilies

This is a novella, a short book which I wanted to be longer. Set at Christmas 2014 it revisits Christmas 100 years earlier, the first year of the Great War, and follows the story of one man in the trenches with the Royal Sussex Regiment. Third in the series by Nathan Dylan Goodwin about his forensic genealogist Morton Farrier, it is a little different from its predecessors in that it focusses on Morton’s own story rather than that of a client. Morton knows he is adopted but has recently discovered a complicated family secret. So in an effort to build
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My Porridge & Cream read: Lev D Lewis

Today I’m delighted to welcome debut crime novelist Lev D Lewis. His ‘Porridge & Cream’ read is Rogue Male by Geoffrey Household. “Confession, at the risk of being branded an imposter and ritually kicked off your blog: I don’t really have a Porridge & Cream read; the last thing I feel like doing when I’m ‘tired, ill, or out-of-sorts’ is staring at words. If anything, I find those states more creative than consuming; I just want to bury myself under the duvet and let my mind take over. I do have a long list of books I want to re-read, headed
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FlashPIC #23: Deckchairs

Dialogue is a writing technique which rewards practice, patience and observation. Reading aloud helps too. So today’s writing tip is a two-hander, two characters only, pure dialogue. As part of the Writers’ BLOCKbusters series, here is a FlashPIC photo to kickstart your conversation. There are two alternative ways to start this exercise:- 1 Choose your two characters. They could be based on someone you know, a character you have already created, a character you are working on, or celebrities. Mis-matched personalities yield the most conflict and liveliest dialogue. Do not pre-judge whether their conversation will be funny, quickfire, sparse or argumentative.
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Book review: Deerleap

One day Grace Chalk sees her boyfriend standing at the other side of the street. Except Alex is dead. And so starts Deerleap by Sarah Walsh, a combination of love story [Grace and Alex], detective story [is Alex really alive, if so where is he?] and the nature of blame [marriage breakdown] and grief. Walsh has written an assured story, handling the emotional complexities with a gentle touch making the twists and turns even more surprising when they arrive. When the story opens, seven years have passed since the car accident in which Grace’s father and her stepmother Polly were
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First Edition: A Passage to India

EM Forster was born in 1879 and was the author of a number of hugely successful novels. Many were turned into films including Where Angels Fear to Tread [1991], Room with a View [1985] and Howards End [1992]. A Passage to India was his last, and most successful novel, but he was to live on. He died in 1970 at the age of 91. This portrait [below] of Forster by Dora Carrington is dated 1924. This hardback first edition [above] is one of the rare examples which still has its dust jacket. Published in 1924 by London Edward Arnold &
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Great Opening Paragraph…100

“You don’t know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; but that ain’t no matter. That book was made by Mr. Mark Twain, and he told the truth, mainly. There was things which he stretched, but mainly he told the truth. That is nothing. I never seen anybody but lied one time or another, without it was Aunt Polly, or the widow, or maybe Mary. Aunt Polly – Tom’s Aunt Polly , she is – and Mary, and the Widow Douglas is all told about in that book, which is
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My Porridge & Cream read: Carol Cooper

Today I’m delighted to welcome romance novelist Carol Cooper. Her ‘Porridge & Cream’ read is Please Don’t Eat the Daisies by Jean Kerr. “My ‘Porridge and Cream’ book is Please Don’t Eat the Daisies by American writer Jean Kerr. First published in 1957, it is now out of print but a few copies are still available. I first read it in the 1960s, when I was perhaps about twelve. While I don’t remember the exact circumstances, it was my mother’s paperback copy, costing a princely 35 cents. I do recall that my mother and I had recently arrived in the United
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Book review: Only the Brave

A dead body, a bag of money, and a group of people all lying to the police and each other. Only the Brave by Mel Sherratt is third in the DS Allie Shenton books set in the Midlands city of Stoke-on-Trent. The sub-plot is a strong storyline here and it weaves in and out of the murder investigation throughout the book: Allie’s beloved sister Karen is expected to die within days. With a head full of grief, guilt, regrets and love for her sister, Allie confronts the underworld of Stoke to find the killer. Is the city’s crime lord Terry
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