Monthly Archives November 2020

There’s still time to order a paperback for #Christmas

Don’t worry… there’s still time to order Christmas presents for your book-loving family and friends. If you know someone who loves stories about family mysteries, sagas and secrets with a touch of romance, why not give them a signed paperback copy of ‘Ignoring Gravity’ or ‘Connectedness’? Simply click the link below to order at my website. Payment is quick and secure by PayPal. Using the online form, it’s simple to specify your personalised dedication. It couldn’t be easier! Available in the UK only. ORDER ‘IGNORING GRAVITY’ ORDER ‘CONNECTEDNESS’ And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: Give a signed copy of IGNORING GRAVITY or CONNECTEDNESS as a #Christmas gift https://wp.me/p5gEM4-4Vh via @SandraDanby
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Categories: Book Love.

#BookReview ‘The Diabolical Bones’ by Bella Ellis @brontemysteries

If you’ve never read a novel by one of the Brontë sisters, it doesn’t matter. There is plenty to enjoy about the Brontë Mysteries by Bella Ellis without figuring out the innumerable references to Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. The Diabolical Bones is second in the crime series after the impressive first, The Vanished Bride. This one is better, and darker. When bones are found interred in the walls of a local house on the moor, the three detecting sisters and reluctant brother Branwell set out to confirm the child’s identity so it can be respectfully buried. There are few clues; the location of the find, the father and son who live in the house, the age of the child, and a medallion found with the bones. Top Withens, the remote house concerned, is said to be Emily’s inspiration for the house of the Earnshaw family, Wuthering Heights. Ellis has constructed a convincing world for the sisters; the parsonage, their blind father, housekeeper Tabby, the villagers in Haworth and wider circle of acquaintances. The charm of this portrayal of the Brontës is the strength of the series. Branwell’s presence is key as in 1852, lone
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Categories: Book Love.

#BookReview ‘How to Belong’ by @SarahEFranklin #contemporary

How to Belong by Sarah Franklin considers what it is to belong – in a place, and within a family – and how not belonging affects one’s wellbeing. Like Franklin’s successful debut novel Shelter, How to Belong is set in the Forest of Dean, an at times stifling woodland location where community seems set beneath a magnifying glass in which everyone knows everyone else’s business and they rub along together. Except, they don’t if you don’t belong. This is the story of two women who don’t belong; one believes she does, the other thinks she is too different. Jo Porter grew up in the forest, daughter of the local butcher, and close friends with Liam whose single mum sometimes struggled to cope. Liam grew up learning to recognise his mum’s good and bad times and what to do when the bad periods happened, knowing there was always sanctuary provided by Jo’s parents. When Jo leaves the forest for university and then to work as a lawyer, Liam stays at home, marries Kirsty and has two daughters. Tessa is a farrier, loving her solitary job in the open air, working with horses. When her romance in Bristol with Marnie turns sour, Tessa retreats to
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Categories: Book Love.

My Porridge & Cream read… Ian Gouge #books #writerslife

Today I’m delighted to welcome poet and novelist Ian Gouge.  His ‘Porridge & Cream’ read is EM Forster’s A Passage to India. “My ‘Porridge & Cream’ novel is perhaps an unfashionable choice: EM Forster’s A Passage to India. I first read the novel in 1976 when, having dropped out of school two years earlier, I enrolled at a sixth-form college to study A Levels before going on to take English at university. A Passage to India was one of the set texts, and – along with Auden and Yeats – responsible for kindling my love of literature. “I don’t re-read it that often, although I have done so this year – and, to be frank, was a little shocked by how dated it now seems. But for me it’s one of those books (like Heart of Darkness, which ran the Forster a close second!) where it is probably enough to know that it’s there should I ever need it. Perhaps my attachment to it is more about memory than anything. The images of the caves, a fantastic passage about wasps and heaven, the way Forster makes the landscape and environment resonate with the characters’ emotions – yes, it’s all of
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Categories: Book Love, On Writing and Porridge & Cream.

#Bookreview ‘Trio’ by William Boyd #humour #Brighton

It is 1968. In Paris, students are rioting. The Vietnam war continues while in America, Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King have been assassinated. This is the timeframe of Trio, the very readable latest novel from William Boyd. Set in Brighton where a film crew is shooting Emily Bracegirdle’s Extremely Useful Ladder to the Moon, the leading lady, Anny Viklund, is in bed with her co-star, pop singer Troy Blaze. The director’s wife, Elfrida Wing, is partaking of vodka from her secret stash in a Sarsons white vinegar bottle, rather than getting on with writing her next novel. The producer, Talbot Kydd, lays in his bath and tries to remember the dream he was having about a young man, pale and limber. The story follows these three characters, each of which is living a life of pretence. Talbot has a wife in Chiswick and a secret apartment in Primrose Hill. Elfrida, once lauded as ‘the next Virginia Woolf’, writes lists of book titles but no more. Anny has an unfortunate taste in older men and when her ex-husband goes on the run, she finds herself questioned by the FBI. Day by day, Boyd weaves together the twists and turns of
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Categories: Book Love.

First Edition ‘The Heat of the Day’ by Elizabeth Bowen #oldbooks #bookcovers

First published in the UK by Knopf in 1948 [below] and in the USA the following year, The Heat of the Day by Elizabeth Bowen is one of the ‘must read’ novels about London in World War Two. Written during the war and highly regarded for its authenticity, it is both a spy story and a mystery. Time is a theme running throughout the novel both in the sense that war has severed the connection between the present and the past, and that time is precious and every minute is essential. Bowen liked to lift the lid from orderly life to see what lurked beneath. My dog-eared Vintage Classics paperback is the 1998 edition [above]. My favourite cover is probably the 1986 Penguin edition [see ‘Other Editions’ below] with its striking sketch of a young woman with her coat collar turned up. Read my review of The Heat of the Day. The current edition by Vintage Classics [above] is available as paperback and Kindle. BUY THE BOOK The story The story starts at a concert in a London park during The Blitz. Stella and Louie are displaced women in the city, both are unfaithful in their relationships. The main focus
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Categories: Book Love.

#Bookreview ‘The Tuscan Contessa’ by @DinahJefferies #WW2

The Tuscan Contessa by Dinah Jefferies is a story of women at war where trust, between women, between strangers, is at the core of everything. Although the book’s title refers to Contessa Sofia de’ Corsi this is also the story of Italian-American Maxine, recruited by English special services to the fight against fascism in Tuscany. Once there and charged with assessing the ability and armaments of Italian partisans, Maxine she finds the fight is not only against the Germans but between Italian groups suspicious of each other. It is 1943 and in the exquisitely beautiful Tuscan countryside, trust is in short supply. Strangers may be spies or escaping Allied soldiers, the penalty for helping enemies has been followed by retaliation – massacres of villagers by the Nazis. Maxine, with her odd sounding Italian accent, must prove her worth if she is to do her job. She must also learn who to trust. When Maxine’s radio engineer James is wounded, he is sheltered by Sofia in her isolated castello. And so though very different characters, Maxine and Sofia find themselves on the same side; one is young, energetic and full of zeal, the other more cautious and concerned with protecting her
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Categories: Book Love.

#Christmas is coming… give someone a signed paperback

Are you planning your Christmas present list yet? If you know an avid reader who loves the touch and smell of real books, why not give them a signed paperback copy of ‘Ignoring Gravity’ or ‘Connectedness’? I’ll write a personalised dedication of your choice. Simply click the link below to order at my website. Payment is quick and secure by PayPal. It couldn’t be easier! Available in the UK only. ORDER ‘IGNORING GRAVITY’ ORDER ‘CONNECTEDNESS’ And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: Give a signed copy of IGNORING GRAVITY & CONNECTEDNESS as a #Christmas gift https://wp.me/p5gEM4-4Vc via @SandraDanby
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Categories: Book Love.

#FlashPic 48 Wet Leaves #writingprompt #amwriting

Today you are going to prepare the place where an action scene will take place. It is a wet day, everything is dripping. It is outside, perhaps in an isolated wood, a city park, a garden. Underfoot, the fallen leaves are drenched, soggy, squelchy. Describe the sensations of the wetness – the sounds, the dripping, the raindrops, is it windy, warm or cold? Consider every point of the physical surroundings that occur to you, develop each one in detail. Think about words that recur, the overlying atmosphere of your day. This is a writing prompt from the Writers’ BLOCKbusters series. Introduce your action into this carefully imagined place. Make the place a part of the action. You have spent a lot of energy developing your place, don’t forget about it now. How can the wetness, the squelchy leaves, the dripping raindrops, affect the action? Does someone slip and fall. Are footsteps heard as someone tries to approach by stealth. Write your action scene then edit it – write one version where the place has a strong presence and affects the action lightly; write a second version where the influence of the place has a muted effect. Which do you prefer? ©
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Categories: On Writing and Writers' BLOCKbusters.

#BookReview ‘Machines Like Me’ by Ian McEwan #literary #AI #scifi

Machines Like Me by Ian McEwan is an awkward book to review. Some elements jarred and dragged me off the page but curiosity drove me on to the end. When I finished it I realised I felt let down because I’d been waiting for a twist that didn’t come. Ultimately this book is out of the same drawer as Nutshell, a single clever premise which promises more. Charlie works from home, living in a rented flat, making money by dealing money online. From a distance, he loves his upstairs neighbour Miranda. They are brought together by Charlie’s purchase of a robot; synthetically human, the male robot is one of the very first batch commercially available. Miranda agrees to ‘share’ him. Once Adam is plugged in and charging, his personality can be selected online. Charlie and Miranda share this equally, neither knowing what features the other selected. Adam is part child, part flatmate, soon co-worker and asker of awkward questions. He also becomes an inconvenient love rival. As Charlie and Miranda share the ownership of Adam, in parallel they also become involved in the life of a neglected human child, Mark, first encountered in a local playground. The setting is an
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Categories: Book Love.