Monthly Archives February 2015

Book review: The Ship

London: an alternative world in which resources have almost run out. This is the world of The Ship by Antonia Honeywell. Sixteen-year old Lalla lives in a sheltered world managed by her parents. Her time is spent in safety, in their flat, or wandering the corridors of the British Museum, anything to avoid the danger, the shortages, the violence of this alternative London. People without homes camp in public buildings and parks, but they are a drain on the scant resources and are bombed, murdered in the name of preserving resources for the few who are ‘registered’. If you don’t have a card, you don’t exist, cannot get food or shelter. Lalla has never eaten a fresh apple, and she begins to dream about what a real apple feels like, tastes like. On ‘The Ship’ she finally is given an apple. But like most things on The Ship, the apple is not what it seems. Lalla’s childhood has been governed by her parents’ political arguments, how best to make a life for Lalla, punctuated by her father’s mysterious disappearances. He is building something, gathering things, people, but Lalla does not know what. Until the day arrives when her father takes
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Categories: Book Love.

Author-to-author interview: MM Jaye & Sandra Danby

“How do you intend to celebrate writing “The End” on your draft?” interviewer MM Jaye asks author Sandra Danby. “No celebration planned, the end of the first draft is the beginning of the next stage of the writing process for me. I find it useful to take a break from the work in progress though, so at the end of the first draft I will write shorter fiction, perhaps some flash fiction, and get out more. Go to art galleries and the theatre! It’s also a great time to research the next book. I am always thinking ahead.” MM Jaye is curious about Sandra’s desk [above], her celebration plans, and how she plots her novels. Read the full WIP [work in progress] interview with Maria Jaye at MM Jaye Writes here.   ‘Ignoring Gravity’ by Sandra Danby [UK: Beulah Press] Buy now And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: How do your celebrate writing ‘the end’? #authorinterview by @MMJaye http://wp.me/p5gEM4-1qD via @SandraDanby
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Categories: Book Love, My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity' and On Writing.

Book review: A Spool of Blue Thread

What do you think of when you think of novelist Anne Tyler? For me, it is The Accidental Tourist, Breathing Lessons, Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant. It is quite a list. So I enjoyed the anticipation of reading her latest, A Spool of Blue Thread. What do I expect? Family, no-one writes about family like she does. I became wrapped in the story of Abby and Red Whitshank and their four children Denny, Stem, Jeanie and Amanda. Abby was the character that fascinated me, we see her first as a mother in 1994 when Red takes a strange phone call from Denny who is living who knows where. They don’t know whether to believe Denny, whether to worry about him, Abby tries to empathize, Red says there is such a thing as being ‘too understanding’. And so the Whitshank story slowly unfolds like a dropped spool of blue thread running across the floor. We hear the story of Red’s father, Junior, a carpenter, who built the house Abby and Red now live in, we hear about Linnie Mae, Red’s mother and her love affair with Junie. The history of this family is in their bones, and in the bones of
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Categories: Book Love.

I agree with… Joël Dicker

Joël Dicker, on his characters, they are: “…like friends: some of whom you see all the time, some you see only occasionally but are still really close with and some, like your roommate or colleague, that you see all the time but really can’t stand. The question I asked myself all along is: ‘Could the book work without them?’, and if the answer was yes then they had to go.” [Joël Dicker, in an interview with ‘The Bookseller’ magazine, March 21, 2014] Dicker is talking about the secondary characters in his debut novel The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair. Killing surplus characters, or merging them together, is something discussed on every creative writing course. As an author we take great time and care creating our characters so they become real to us, and hopefully in the end to the readers. But often a character resists, just doesn’t work on the page, and it’s difficult to work out why. This is a character to cut. I remember an old piece of writing advice.  I can’t remember who said it: what’s the purpose of this scene? If it doesn’t have a purpose, cut it.’ It’s the same with characters. They can’t be
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Categories: On Writing.

Book review: The Lightning Tree

Ursula grows up in a house of mirrors and though she tries to avoid looking at her reflection, she cannot. So it is apt that she is the chameleon of this story, changing her appearance, her style, her clothing, so that as the years pass she seems a different person. The Lightning Tree by Emily Woof is the twin story of Ursula and Jerry. She lives in Jesmond, a nicer area of Newcastle, and through her childhood she passes close to Jerry, who grows up in a flat at the rougher Byker Wall. When they do meet, there is a connection. Their lives run in parallel, twisting and turning, sometimes together, other times far apart. It is a love story, and an un-love story. How it is to fall in love as an adolescent and then see that love challenged into maturity, changing priorities, changing values, changing circumstances. Jerry, his nose always in a book, goes to Oxford and seems destined for politics. Ursula, less academic, goes to India where she undergoes something of a ‘Marabar Caves’ experience which is not really explained and which I still didn’t understand at the end of the book. Interwoven with Ursula and Jerry’s stories is
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Categories: Book Love.

What is an Identity Detective?

Rose Haldane, heroine of Ignoring Gravity, is a journalist. When she discovers she was adopted as a baby, she uses her journalistic skills to research her own identity. In the sequel, Connectedness, to be published later this year, she puts these skills to use in helping a birth mother trace her lost baby, and in doing so becomes a detective of identities. Book blogger Lizzy Baldwin asks, ‘what is an identity detective?’ “Rose has never solved a crime, visited a crime scene or interviewed a murder suspect,” explains Sandra Danby. “She researches family history and adoption secrets, trying to unite relatives separated by adoption. It is an emotive subject surrounded by secrets and lies.” Read the full interview at My Little Book Blog by clicking here.   ‘Ignoring Gravity’ by Sandra Danby [UK: Beulah Press] Buy now And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: IGNORING GRAVITY #bookreview by @littlebookblog1 via @SandraDanby http://wp.me/p5gEM4-1vb
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Categories: Book Love and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

Book review: An Uncertain Place

If you ever hear anyone say ‘plog’, then you know they have read this crime novel. Totally different to any other crime novel I have read, this is my first Fred Vargas and will not be my last. It is the tale of fear, passed on from one generation to the next. Inevitably the tale is embroidered a little along the way, misinterpreted, but still half-believed. Believed enough to act on it, to prevent the fabled terror from continuing. The trail starts in London: shoes are found outside Highgate Cemetery, with the feel still inside them. Next, two gruesome murders. Many unrelated strands come together and finally the pieces fall into place in a tiny wooded village in Serbia. This is my first Commissaire Adamsberg book. I love discovering a new author, knowing there are many books just waiting to be read. Fred Vargas has created a quirky policeman – I particularly liked Adamsberg’s relationship with his one-armed Spanish neighbour Lucio. Plog. To read an interview in The Daily Telegraph with the intriguing Fred Vargas, click here. If you like ‘An Uncertain Place’ try reading these other authors in translation:- ‘Snow White Must Die’ by Nele Neuhaus ‘Doppler’ by Erlend
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Categories: Book Love.

Chicklit Central reviews ‘Ignoring Gravity’

“I really enjoyed all of the twists and turns that accompanied the characters in this book,” says Sara Steven, book reviewer for Chicklit Central. “Just when I thought I had everything figured out, and knew who Rose’s parents were, the plot would take a sharp detour. I really felt as though I was with Rose on this journey of self-discovery, and when she finally unravels the secrets that have been decades in the making, I was as shocked as she was.” To read Sara’s review in full, click here for the Chicklit Central website. To read what other readers are saying about Ignoring Gravity, click here.   ‘Ignoring Gravity’ by Sandra Danby [UK: Beulah Press] Buy now And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: Following Rose’s journey of self-discovery #bookreview by @chicklitcentral http://wp.me/p5gEM4-1wG via @SandraDanby
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Categories: Book Love and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.