Monthly Archives June 2015

Author Interview: Gwen Wilson

I Belong to No One is the memoir of Gwen Wilson. The story of her life, from family violence, teenage pregnancy and forced adoption, how she dealt with all of that and became the woman she is today. The book is published on June 30, 2015. I hesitate to use the word ‘gritty’; although Gwen’s story is harsh and at times difficult to read about, at the same time her flowing writing style makes the pages turn. How many years did it take you to write your book, and what was the trigger that made you start? The initial trigger was my 50th birthday party, way back in 2005. Part way through my speech, it dawned on me that each of the guests represented a distinct part of my life. Family, friends, and colleagues – it was like a map of my life’s journey. The fact that I was even there – well-dressed, financially secure, a successful career woman, with a supportive husband at my side – was a source of wonder. My life could so easily have gone a different way. As I spoke, I felt the spiritual presence of those people – particularly the women -who had supported
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Categories: Adoption, Book Love and Family history research.

The ‘Allergic to E’ Challenge

I’m not allergic to anything, except penicillin, and when I was a child I was allergic to wasp stings. So thanks – perhaps, not sure what I’m getting myself into here – to Lizzie at My Little Book Blog for nominating me for the ‘Allergic to E Challenge’. When I saw the incoming tweet I was a little perplexed, but once I read Lizzie’s post I realized what a clever little challenge this is.  The idea is to construct and write a paragraph that is between four and six sentences without using the letter E once. Here is my attempt:- Darya thought of Sasha, as boy and girl, at school, as companions in January snow and August rain, and thought of his ultimatum: to splash big, splash grand, splash wild, to splash again and again. Today, Darya is 80 not 8, but Sasha is not. Still, a thrill of holding hands with him, jumping from pond to pond, is as strong as now painful arthritic joints.  This paragraph is based on a writing exercise about Darya, a Russian character in Connectedness, the follow-up novel to Ignoring Gravity. Darya has early dementia, and surrenders to her childhood memories of playing with her neighbour,
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Categories: On Writing and Writing exercises.

Great opening paragraph 74… ‘The Last Juror’ #amwriting #FirstPara

“After decades of patient mismanagement and loving neglect, The Ford County Times went bankrupt in 1970. The owner and publisher, Miss Emma Caudle, was ninety-three years old and strapped to a bed in a nursing home in Tupelo. The editor, her son Wilson Caudle, was in his seventies and had a plate in his head from the First War. A perfect circle of dark grafted skin covered the plate at the top of his long, sloping forehead, and throughout his adult life he had endured the nickname of Spot. Spot did this. Spot did that. Here, Spot. There, Spot.” ‘The Last Juror’ by John Grisham Amazon Try one of these 1st paras & discover a new author:- ‘Death in Summer’ by William Trevor ‘The Impressionist’ by Hari Kunzru ‘Lord Jim’ by Joseph Conrad And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: THE LAST JUROR by @JohnGrisham #books via @SandraDanby http://wp.me/p5gEM4-1Fv
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Categories: Book Love and On Writing.

Try this Summer Sampler

Looking for a new e-book to read? Try samples of 10 new books in this Summer Sampler by Books Go Social authors. The 10 books are:- Acid Asset by MH Vesseur How Blue is My Valley by Jean Gill In the Name of the Father by Allyson Olivia Of Foreign Build: from Corporate Girl to Sea-Gypsy Woman by Jackie Parry The Child of the Terrace by Virginia Winters The Mansion’s Twins by Rose M Channing True Calling by Siobhan Davis Veil of Time by Claire R McDougall Wizard Bound by Adam and Christian Boustead and… Ignoring Gravity.  Buy Summer Sampler now for 99p at Amazon UK and for $1.12 at Amazon USA. Click here to search for more books at Books Go Social.
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Categories: Book Love and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

Book review: Something to Hide

The beginning of this book introduces three characters who seem ordinary people, living everyday lives, facing challenges which we or our family/friends/neighbours are facing every day. What is there about them that could possibly be of interest to me? But Deborah Moggach draws me into their stories until I read late into the night. The Prologue is set in Africa, the plot revolves around Africa though not always in an obvious way. Don’t read the ‘Dear Reader’ letter from Moggach at the front of the book, save it until you’ve finished reading. That way, you will turn the page, drawn into the story of each woman – Lorrie in the USA, Jing and her husband in China, Petra in London – wondering how they can possibly be connected. Their situations are universal and Moggach demonstrates how globally connected we are these days, globally similar despite our assumptions and generalizations about things we know nothing about. But at the end of the day, it is a book about those universal things: love and lies. This is a thoughtful book, with dramatic settings. I can certainly see it as a film. Click here to read about Moggach’s novel These Foolish Things, later
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Categories: Book Love.

Book review: All My Puny Sorrows

This is a novel about depression, suicide, death, broken families, love and music. Yes, it is sad, but it is also laugh-out-loud in places. Canadian writer Miriam Toews drew heavily on her own experiences in the writing of All My Puny Sorrows, and that depth of empathy shines from every page. Do not ignore this book because you think it will be depressing: it is uplifting, and you will feel sad to finish it. The story centres on sisters Yolandi and Elfrieda von Riesen. Elf, the elder, is a concert pianist. Yoli writes the Rodeo Rhonda teen novels. Elf’s story – and that of the family of women surrounding the two sisters, their mother, their aunt, Yoli’s daughter, their friends – is told by Yoli. “When we were kids she would occasionally let me be her page-turner for the fast pieces that she hadn’t memorized. Page turning is a particular art. I had to be just ahead of her in the music and move like a snake when I turned the page so there was no crinkling and no sticking and no thwapping. Her words.” We do not hear Elf’s inner voice except in excerpts from letters and poems. What
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Categories: Book Love.

Book review: Shroud for a Nightingale

This is the fourth Adam Dalgliesh book, published in 1971, and the first I read. It was the beginning of a love affair with PD James and following her recent death, I decided to re-read them all. The Nightingale in question is not Florence but Nightingale House, a nursing school at John Carpendar Hospital, Heatheringfield. At a student demonstration of patient feeding by intra-gastric tube, the nurse who substitutes as the patient dies a ghastly death. It is assumed to be an accident. When a second student nurse is found dead in her bed, her whisky nightcap the assumed culprit, Adam Dalgliesh is called in from Scotland Yard. Like all James detective books, this is a complex mixture of observation of human behaviour, intricate plotting, detailed description, and totally believable characters. This is how Alderman Kealey is introduced, he, “looked as perky as a terrier. He was a ginger-haired, foxy little man, bandy as a jockey and wearing a plaid suit, the awfulness of its pattern emphasized by the excellence of its cut. It gave him an anthropomorphic appearance, like an animal in a children’s comic; and Dalgliesh almost expected to find himself shaking a paw.” The brooding Victorian pile
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Categories: Book Love.

Authors, obsessive?

Scratch an author and you are likely to find an obsessive beneath the skin. Someone who would rather be writing than doing anything else… and if not writing, reading, or thinking about writing. And it seems to make no difference if the author is published or unpublished, just trawl WordPress and you will find authors, learning to write a novel by writing a novel, who talk about ‘needing’ to write, ‘wanting’ to write. Donna Tartt says she only feels happy if she is writing, and if she doesn’t feel happy writing the book then it’s most likely her readers won’t feel happy reading it. If this is the case, it doesn’t matter how long it takes the write the book. Tartt’s first, breakout, novel, The Secret History, took eight years to write. Her second, The Little Friend, took 10 years. The Goldfinch, her award-winning third novel, another 10 years. Read my review of The Goldfinch here. Click here to read the full interview with Tartt in the Telegraph. Joseph Heller apparently wrote the first line of Catch-22 in 1953, and used it as inspiration to plan the characters and story. The novel was published in 1961. Read the first paragraph
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Categories: On Writing.

The Baking Bookworm reviews ‘Ignoring Gravity’

“This book deals with a lot of issues: adoption, family bonds, infertility but I wouldn’t say it was an overly heavy or complex read either.  I could see it being an enjoyable, easy weekend read,” says book reviewer Laurie at The Baking Bookworm [below]. Read Laurie’s review in full by clicking here.   To read what other readers are saying about Ignoring Gravity, click here. Want to know more about Ignoring Gravity? Watch the book trailer. ‘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 @bakingbookworm http://wp.me/p5gEM4-1C7 via @SandraDanby
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Categories: Book Love and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

Book review: We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

If you can, read this book by Karen Joy Fowler without reading any reviews or comments beforehand. There is a mammoth twist, which is best avoided. I am one of the lucky few who didn’t read a spoiler before I started reading, I knew only that it was about sibling love. But even so, I did spot the surprise way before it happened, and consequently then read on waiting for the ‘twist’ promised on the cover. Which left me a little deflated. I don’t know why, I expected the twist to be near the end. This is a very clever story, packed with philosophy, contemporary references such as Star Wars to Korean vocabulary. Rose is a student, looking back at her childhood and the disappearances, at different times, of her sister Fern and her brother Lowell. The story darts around the timeline and Rose tells different versions of her life story as she comes to terms with her life so far. Mostly this method of storytelling worked for me, but on a few occasions I admit to losing patience with Rose who I found an irritating unreliable narrator. I kept reading because the story is unusual, but my incredulity was
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Categories: Book Love.

Book review: The Girls

It’s a long time since I read a Lisa Jewell novel. I loved her first, Ralph’s Party, which still sits on my bookshelf along with four of her other books. I gave up reading somewhere about Vince and Joy, turned off by the pink chick lit branding and feeling that I had grown-up beyond the subject matter. Then I heard that The Girls was ‘something different’, and it is. Satisfying dark, mysterious, unspoken danger lurks above the heads of the girls – Grace and Pip. The setting is outwardly comforting: a communal garden surrounded by houses and apartments, where residents mingle and have barbecues together, where children roam safe from roads and strangers. But are they safe? And what is the threat? The two girls and their mother move to an empty apartment after the family home is burnt down by their father. He is now in psychiatric care, they lost all their belongings and walk cautiously into this cliquey community where everyone seems to know everyone else. Grace and Pip unknowingly trample onto secrets and the dynamics of teenage relationships, their mother Clare stumbles around the edge of tangled adult relationships, struggling to be there for her daughters while
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Categories: Book Love.

Word Gurgle reviews ‘Ignoring Gravity’

“It took me a little bit to get into the book, but once I did, I could not put it down. I loved that this book brought some often-difficult issues: infertility, adoption, family relationship, and identity to light. An overall delightful read,” says book reviewer Hope Sloper at Word Gurgle. Read Hope’s review in full by clicking here. To read what other readers are saying about Ignoring Gravity, click here. Want to know more about Ignoring Gravity? Watch the book trailer. ‘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 @WordGurgle http://wp.me/p5gEM4-1Bh via @SandraDanby
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Categories: Book Love and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

Book review: Wilderness

A blizzard, wild Scottish countryside, bleak landscape. A disappearance. Old rumours. This is an accomplished debut crime novel by an experienced journalist. Campbell Hart has written a novel set in Glasgow, a place he obviously knows well as it comes alive off the page. His policeman, Detective Inspector John J Arbogast, fits the profile of detectives in crime novels today: he drinks, is politically incorrect but has his soft side. When he goes to a lap dancing joint, little does he realize he will be back there shortly. On duty. The story opens with a bitter winter, -14 degrees Celsius and a snow storm. A bus is diverted off the motorway. The last two passengers on board – a woman and young girl – and the bus driver, go missing in the blizzard. And then a local farmer and his son, clearing the road with their tractor, trying to help the stranded bus, find something they didn’t expect. Wilderness explores the world of trafficking and paedophilia as the story traverses from Glasgow to a remote farm and to Turkey, in 2010 and back in time when three young Turkish teenagers are on the cusp of adulthood. An accomplished debut. If I
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Categories: Book Love.

Book review: Unnatural Causes

A body washes ashore, its hands missing. A rather gruesome start to Unnatural Causes by PD James. We are introduced to a small Suffolk community comprising writers and literary critics. There are no secrets in this bitchy community, or are there? Into this maelstrom walks Adam Dalgliesh, arriving for a holiday with his Aunt Jane. This is one mystery where I didn’t guess the murderer correctly, the modus operandi of the first murder [yes, plural] is complicated and I didn’t connect the clues. Slightly irritating. Adam Dalgliesh is not the officer in charge which means the story felt at times remote from the detecting; he observes from outside and we are not privy to the thoughts and discoveries of Detective Inspector Reckless [what a great name]. First published in 1967, this novel offers a glimpse of pre-computerisation – authors dictating novels to a secretary to type, taking carbon copies etc. The clique of literary characters seemed at times a little clichéd, but perhaps that is the passing of time. Read my reviews of the first two Adam Dalgliesh mysteries here:- Cover Her Face #1 A Mind to Murder #2 If you like crime fiction, try:- ‘Dead Simple’ by Peter James
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Categories: Book Love.

What a great idea: audio book tasters

I’ve just discovered the ‘Listen Inside’ podcast by Readers in the Know, tasters of books which I can download and listen to while I’m on the train. A great way of trying a new author or new genre. Read by RITK’s Simon Denham, they are curiously hypnotic. He has a great reading voice. I think my ‘to-read’ shelf is going to fill up again, after making a concerted effort to get it under control. Read more about the podcasts from Readers in the Know here. Or subscribe in iTunes, you’ll find it in Podcasts under the ‘New & Noteworthy’ listing. Readers in the Know is a great way of finding new books, searchable not just by genre but by format. Ideal if, for example, if you only love audio books. Once you’ve created a wishlist, it also highlights the books which are on promotion or free with links to buy.
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Categories: Book Love and Book publicity.

Book review: Marking Time

September 2, 1939: Germany has invaded Poland and, for the Cazalet family in London and Sussex, war seems imminent. The story is told from 1939 to 1941 from the viewpoints of three Cazalet cousins, teenagers Polly, Louise and Clary. Marking Time is second in the five-book series The Cazalet Chronicles by Elizabeth Jane Howard. We see them growing up quickly, forced to face war and death before their time, watch their parents struggle with ordinary life and relationships and health crises which continue despite the fighting. One day a German bomber crashes into a nearby field and Christopher, a pacifist, runs out to prevent the local men from shooting the injured Germans. Afterwards, Polly and Christopher go for a walk. Polly thinks “how odd it was that when one wanted everything to be good with somebody, one started not telling them everything.” They come to understand that their parents are not just parents, but people too with their own feelings and worries. Polly wonders if “concealment and deceit were a necessary part of human relationships. Because if they were, she was going to be pretty bad at them.” Louise is at acting school but struggles to play a character ‘in
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Categories: Book Love.