Monthly Archives December 2019

#Bookreview ‘After The End’ by Clare Mackintosh #drama #literary

I read After the End by Clare Mackintosh in one day on holiday, it is compulsive reading. It begins in a courtroom as everyone awaits the verdict of the judge. Leila, and at this point we do not know what role she plays in this story, watches two parents hold hands as they await the verdict on their son’s fate. This is a book of two halves. The first is compelling, telling the story of how Max and Pip Adams find themselves in the courtroom described in the Prologue. Their two and a half year old son Dylan has a terminal brain tumour, surgery has removed only part of the tumour. Max and Pip are a strong couple, committed to each other and to Dylan. So far, they have coped. That is, until the hospital says it recommends no further treatment as Dylan has no quality of life. The reactions of Max and Pip to this advice are different and traumatic. Should Dylan be allowed to die peacefully without further painful, disruptive medical intervention? Or should he be taken to America for cutting edge medical treatment which his NHS consultants warn is not suitable for him? As the court case
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Categories: Book Love.

#BookReview ‘Spring’ by Ali Smith #SeasonalQuartet #literary

Spring is the third in the Seasons quartet by Ali Smith and the most experimental of the books so far. Set in today’s disorientating, chaotic times, Spring is at times both disorientating and chaotic. The most political of the three, it felt at times like the author was shouting. It left me feeling rather flat, which I didn’t expect as I am an Ali Smith fan. The book is rather difficult to summarize, partly because so soon after reading it the story disappeared from my mind. Two story strands start off independently, inevitably merging and impacting on each other. In between are passages of social media language, phrases listed, nasty, full of bile and hatred; I can imagine Smith trawling Twitter, pencil in hand, making notes. Richard Lease, a film producer, is contracted to make a film about Katharine Mansfield and Rainer Maria Rilke, but is struggling with the script. He holds imaginary conversations with his – professional, and sometime romantic – partner Paddy who died recently. Richard also holds conversations with an imaginary daughter. Both women test him with awkward questions about his behaviour. Brittany is an officer at an SA4A immigrant detention centre, a predictable, challenging job in a
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Categories: Book Love.

Merry #Christmas… no books under the tree this morning?

Don’t despair if the book you wanted didn’t materialise this morning. There are loads of great deals on books and ebooks over the Christmas period so go on, why not treat yourself. Try a new author, a new genre, or re-read an old favourite. Take the chance of a breathing space this week to start reading the ‘Identity Detective’ series from the beginning. The ebook of Ignoring Gravity is 99p at Amazon UK and 99¢ at Amazon USA. BUY THE BOOK And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: IGNORING GRAVITY 99p and 99¢ at Amazon #Kindle https://wp.me/p5gEM4-44c via @SandraDanby
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Categories: Book Love.

#BookReview ‘Touch Not The Cat’ by Mary Stewart #romance #suspense

Published in 1976 – around the time I was borrowing my mother’s copies of Mary Stewart’s The Moon-Spinners and My Brother Michael and reading them voraciously – I had never read Touch Not the Cat until now. Like all Stewart’s novels, there is adventure and romance with a slice of the supernatural. I can’t think of any other novels like them. The Ashley family in Touch Not the Cat own Ashley Court and have an unusual gift running through the generations: they are telepathic with each other. Narrator Bryony is working at a hotel in Madeira when she receives a telepathic message from her anonymous ‘lover’ to go to her father who is staying at a clinic in Germany. When Bryony arrives her father is dead, killed in a hit-and-run road accident. His last words to a friend, who wrote them down verbatim, are a warning to Bryony. ‘Tell Bryony. The cat, it’s in the cat on the pavement. The map. The letter. In the brook. Tell Bryony. My little Bryony to be careful. Danger.’ She returns home to Ashley Court in England to look for the answers but finds surprises and danger. I found the beginning an odd introduction to the Ashley family,
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Categories: Book Love.

First Edition ‘Lucky Jim’ by Kingsley Amis #oldbooks #bookcovers

Kingsley Amis’s comic novel Lucky Jim, his debut novel, won the 1955 Somerset Maugham Award for Fiction. First published in the UK in 1953 by Victor Gollancz, followed in the US a year later. Famous for its slapstick set pieces, Lucky Jim regularly appears on ‘greatest novels’ lists. The current edition by Penguin Modern Classics [below] dates from 2000. BUY The story Jim Dixon is a lecturer in medieval history at a red brick English university, he is on probation and afraid of losing his job. To establish his credentials he must publish a learned article but discovers that the editor, to whom he submitted it, has swiped it as his own and translated it into Italian. Jim’s on-off girlfriend Margaret tries emotional blackmail at a house party, a tactic which backfires when Jim takes a liking to another girl, Christine. The action climaxes at a lecture which Jim must give on ‘Merrie England’. Nervous, he has one too many drinks beforehand to calm his nerves, denounces arty pretentiousness, and passes out. Other editions And my copy? Here it is. Films Starring Ian Carmichael as Jim, the 1957 film of Lucky Jim was directed by John Boulting and also starred Terry Thomas and
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Categories: Book design and Book Love.

How Penny Vincenzi wrote #writerslife #amwriting #bestseller

Penny Vincenzi “I haven’t the faintest idea what is going to happen, ever. I just get the kernel of the idea, which in this case was supposing a company was about to go under, and then the characters wander in. I never have any idea what is going to happen at the end, I truly don’t, which is why they are so long.” [on writing ‘A Question of Trust’, in an interview with ‘The Telegraph’ on June 16, 2014]  Penny Vincenzi didn’t get writer’s block. And she didn’t plot. The first I understand and I think that is due to her journalistic background. But the second; no plotting? At all? It didn’t stopped her selling 7 million big books, her novels came in at around 300,000 words. Her first, Old Sins, was published in 1989. She died in 2018. On writer’s block, she said, “I don’t agonise. I do have terrible days when I realise I have gone down a completely blind alley and I’ve got to come back. The only cure is to press the delete button, I’m afraid. I once deleted 20,000 words, and I felt much better after that.” Read the full article at The Telegraph. BUY
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Categories: On Writing.

My Porridge & Cream read Clare Rhoden @ClareER #books #Regency

Today I’m delighted to welcome dystopian sci-fi author Clare Rhoden. Her ‘Porridge & Cream’ read is The Talisman Ring by Georgette Heyer. “I’m now onto my third copy of The Talisman Ring by Georgette Heyer. What’s that? There’s a copy in your local charity shop?! Let me at it! “I first read this book as a teenager, home from school with a bad case of something or other. My big sister assured me I’d love it. As usual, she was right. I have since read all Heyer’s Regency romances, and own most of them. My little library of happy, witty, female-centred adventure books followed me through several house moves. Then, after a somewhat uneventful decade, I was stuck at home for a long recovery after surgery. Time for The Talisman Ring again! “Imagine my surprise to discover that the book had changed. Well, of course it hadn’t changed, but I had. I recalled a dashing young couple diving headlong into adventure, assisted by an older cousin and a clever spinster. But no! Instead, thirty-year-old Sir Tristram and Sally Thane – unmarried in her late twenties – were actually the heroes in the story. I enjoyed it all the more. “The
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Categories: Book Love, On Writing and Porridge & Cream.

#Bookreview ‘The Pearl Sister’ by Lucinda Riley @lucindariley #romance

I really enjoyed The Pearl Sister, the fourth in Lucinda Riley’s Seven Sisters adoption mysteries. While Maia, Ally and Star have already investigated their birth stories, Celaeno, CeCe, has shown no interest in her own. She is feeling sorry for herself, alone now that Star has become independent. Until her curiosity is piqued. Pa Salt’s lawyer tells her about a bequest, a large sum of money, and a photograph of two unidentified men. He advises CeCe to investigate Kitty Mercer from Broome in Australia. On her journey to Australia, CeCe stops off in Thailand, staying at Railey Beach where she has holidayed in the past with Star. As she wonders why she is there alone, feeling envious of Star’s new home and new love in England, she meets a mysterious man on the beautiful beach. They bond over the morning sunrise, both are hurting – CeCe is missing Star and feeling betrayed by her sister’s newfound life, while Ace is hiding a big secret he cannot, or will not, explain. Riley hints that behind the beauty of Railey Beach there is a dark, sordid side. Could Ace be involved in drugs? Then when CeCe steps off the plane in Australia,
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Categories: Book Love.

#BookReview ‘Olive Kitteridge’ by @LizStrout #literary #contemporary

There are some books you read and as soon as you finish them, you want to go back to the beginning. Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout made me feel like that. Strout’s writing style is at once beautiful and expressive, economical and un-wordy. She tells you enough detail to create the picture, not one word too many. The structure is not a linear narrative, instead Strout tells the story of Olive in a series of inter-connected stories set in the small town of Crosby, Maine, where Olive lives with husband Henry. Some stories are told from Olive’s viewpoint, others by by neighbours and people whose path crosses hers; her dry irascible tone made me smile often, but also frown. Olive can be caustic, she tells it as it is. She does not suffer fools and believes she is always correct, though recently her vision of herself has been challenged.  Living in one place for such a long time means she has left a trail through generations of friends, neighbours, shop owners, passers-by and the schoolchildren she once taught. Strout has created a realistic character who is imperfect of whom you warm to because of her faults and because she is as
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Categories: Book Love.

#BookReview ‘Staying Afloat’ by @SueWilsea #shortstories

Staying Afloat, the first anthology of short stories by Hull-based writer Sue Wilsea, has as its sub-text her experience teaching English in schools, colleges, prisons, libraries and community centres and this breathes life into her stories. She writes about lost children, bereaved children, struggling parents and struggling teachers with sincerity and a touch of humour. I’ve chosen three of the 19 stories in Staying Afloat. You can read more of Wilsea’s stories in her second anthology, Raw Materials. ‘Shapes. Colours’ is the story of Stephen who loves his teacher Miss Anderson dearly but avoids her gaze every morning when she points to the thermometer chart and asks how everyone is feeling today. Stephen has a Worry that started “as just a tiny spider of anxiety, scuttling around in his head at night when he couldn’t sleep.” To avoid attention in class, Stephen usually chooses yellow or orange rather than a dark colour. In ‘Two Ophelias and Me’, first published in QWF magazine, an unnamed narrator thinks of two friends, Lin and Lyndsey, who jumped off the Humber Bridge. “I like to think of their hair and clothes streaming out like twin Ophelias (the three of us went to see Hamlet
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Categories: Book Love.