Monthly Archives February 2021

#BookReview ‘Yield’ by @ClaireDyer1 #poetry #gender

Yield is the third poetry collection by poet and novelist Claire Dyer. An essentially personal examination of a mother and son as the son becomes a daughter. Incredibly honest, Dyer conjures up scenes of private moments from birth to clinic visits, sorting clothes, tea at the Ritz, the parental pain of feeling unable to help, the parental pride in a child’s courage and honesty. The word honest is key to this experience, shared with us by poet and mother. When I finished reading this slim collection I was left with a sense of the overwhelming love of a family and individuals where gender at the same time matters totally, and not at all. What matters are child and parent. My favourite three poems? For exuberance, ‘Doing Cartwheels at the Ritz’. For heart-rending practicality, ‘Wardrobe’. For the goblin, ‘Body Clock III’. And the line that stayed with me for days afterwards… ‘If I’d been braver, wiser, kinder…’ which features in the series of ‘Clinic’ poems. Isn’t that the best of poetry, when it echoes in our thoughts, when it brings previously undiscovered perspectives on life, when it puts us into someone else’s shoes for just a moment. A powerful, moving, sometimes
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Categories: Book Love.

#Bookreview ‘The Killings at Kingfisher Hill’ by @sophiehannahCB1 #crime

Red herrings, twists and turns, lots of lies, confusing motivations and a long list of characters make The Killings at Kingfisher Hill by crime writer Sophie Hannah the type of book you need to read when fully alert. Fourth in Hannah’s series of continuation Hercule Poirot mysteries, I finished it with mixed feelings. Direct comparisons of Hannah and Christie seem unfair as these are continuation novels. Christie was a highly accomplished author who balanced likeable characters with dense but ultimately solveable crimes, while at the same time making the novels appealingly comfortable to read. If The Killings at Kingfisher Hill were a standalone novel featuring an unknown detective, it would be free of these comparisons. I enjoyed The Mystery of Three Quarters, third of Hannah’s Poirot novels, and will continue to read this series. It has also given me renewed impetus to re-read the Christie originals. The complications start at the beginning. Poirot and Inspector Edward Catchpool are about to board a char-a-banc for Surrey and the exclusive Kingfisher Hill development, when they encounter not one but two women passengers behave strangely. One fears she is about to be murdered on the bus if she sits in a specific seat.
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Categories: Book Love.

#FlashPIC 51 Sky on Fire #writingprompt #amwriting

Changing weather is a useful technique used over and again by writers of fiction, poetry and films. It can convey atmosphere, increasing or decreasing dramatic tension, signal turning points in the story and hint at the inner world of a character. Today’s #FlashPIC is Sky on Fire. This is a writing prompt from the Writers’ BLOCKbusters series. This is a brainstorming exercise. Consider each of the following, one at a time, and write a list of what this photograph suggests to you:- Weather, climate or environmental conditions; Atmosphere, the external feelings that come from the environment; Mood, the feeling this Sky on Fire creates in the reader; Man-made actions that could create a sky like this; A person’s instinctive actions and words, suggested by this #FlashPIC – thoughtful, considered, impulsive and rash; A character’s deeper emotions and motivations, hidden to others and perhaps unknown to the person himself – key in suggesting a conflicted character. Can you make connections between items on your different lists, what do they suggest to you? © ‘Writers’ BLOCKbusters’ by Sandra Danby Want more inspiration? Try these other FlashPICs:- Rocks, as if Split by an Axe  Plastic Bag  Lion Gatepost  What are ‘Writers’ BLOCKbusters’? I want to
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Categories: On Writing and Writers' BLOCKbusters.

My Porridge & Cream read… @JamesSteptowe #childrensbooks

Today I’m delighted to welcome children’s author James Steptowe. His ‘Porridge & Cream’ read is The Two Farms by Mary E Pearce. “It is a book I first read in 2018 on my honeymoon in Italy. My wife (who is Italian) and I asked our wedding guests to buy us a book that was special to them for a present. A close friend of mine from university gave us The Two Farms. He told us he had had to search hard for it as it was not in print anymore and inside, he left us a note saying, “the story in this book is very simplistic, but the sentiment behind it has a lot of meaning – love is the source of happiness”. We loved the thought he had put into it, so we packed it in our bag for our honeymoon. When I started reading it, I could not stop. It is not a long book and I think I read it in a day, on the beach, under the scorching Italian sun. The story is simple; predictable even, but so captivating and the description of the English countryside is enchanting. “I now live in Italy and it is
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Categories: Book Love and Porridge & Cream.

#BookReview ‘Death and the Brewery Queen’ by @FrancesBrody #crime

Death and the Brewery Queen, twelfth in the Kate Shackleton 1930s detective series by Frances Brody, is a story of two halves and two murders. As always, sensible Kate is on hand to bring calm and control to a messy situation. Kate and her sidekick Jim Sykes are employed by a brewery owner to sort out some business irregularities at Barleycorn Brewery in Masham, North Yorkshire. Is it a matter of employee pilfering, aggressive competitors, inefficiency or fraud? This is a low-key beginning, a gentle start which allows Brody to establish a wide cast of characters. The portrayal of the brewery and the town is the foundation for the series of linked crimes that follow. Threaded throughout the book is the story of Barleycorn’s wages clerk, Ruth Parnaby, and her quest to be crowned Northern Breweries’ beauty queen. The story is told in multiple viewpoints – Kate’s voice is first person, but in the voices of Mr Sykes, Harriet and Ruth we gather information that Kate doesn’t know. It does seem rather a long wait for the first death, after which the story speeds up and the false clues and connections begin to make sense. Kate is a memorable, admirable
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Categories: Book Love.

A poem to read in the bath… ‘My Father’ by Yehuda Amichai #poetry

I came across this very short poem – only six lines – in an anthology. The book has been on my shelf for quite a while and every now and then I pick it up and flick through at random. One day, the page fell open at this exquisite poem by Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai, translated from the Hebrew by Azila Talit Reisenberger. Written as an adult, in this scant lines Amichai captures the ongoing love of child for parent, caught in a tiny everyday familiar detail. Said Ted Hughes of Amichai, “I’ve become more than ever convinced that Amichai is one of the biggest, most essential, most durable poetic voices of this past century–one of the most intimate, alive and human, wise, humorous, true, loving, inwardly free and resourceful, at home in every human situation. One of the real treasures.” Amichai died in 2000. His poems, written in Hebrrew, have been translated into 40 languages. All poetry is political, Amichai told the Paris Review: “This is because real poems deal with a human response to reality, and politics is part of reality, history in the making. Even if a poet writes about sitting in a glass house drinking tea, it
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Categories: Poetry.

A Special Offer for you #contemporary #womensfiction #bargain

You know that book shop at the airport with bargain paperbacks to keep you occupied during a flight? Well that’s how this promotion works. Browse this selection of ‘Women’s Contemporary Fiction’ ebooks. Most are 99p or $1. It’s fun, it’s exciting and it’s a low-risk way of finding a new author. Why not buy more than one book? What have you got to lose? The selection features novels from authors including Roz Marshall, Rachel Dacus, Holly Stevenson, Gayle Leeson and Lily Baines. Click the LINK to see what’s on offer. https://books.bookfunnel.com/contemporarywomensfictionpromo/173h6tv0d8 Here are three I’m tempted by. THE RENAISSANCE CLUB by Rachel Dacus. May Gold is a frustrated young art historian traveling on the vacation of a lifetime, touring Italy, but with a heart full of troubles. Her career has stalled, her boyfriend won’t commit, and her vindictive boss is along on the tour. May’s only happiness is to daydream, imagining herself in the arms of her hero, 17th century artist Gianlorenzo Bernini. Love and a new world await May Gold. She just doesn’t realize it can exist in the rear-view mirror, the past she has studied so well. HIGHTAIL IT TO KINSEY FALLS by Gayle Leeson. Jade Burt can
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Categories: Book Love.

#BookReview ‘Slow Horses’ by Mick Herron #spy #thriller

Always on the lookout for a new thriller series to sink into, I am a late discoverer of the Jackson Lamb books by Mick Herron. Soon to be filmed as ‘Slough House’ and starring Gary Oldman as Lamb, it seemed a good time to start with book one, Slow Horses. Lamb is the quixotic leader of Slough House, the place where British spies go when they have messed up. They work in a scruffy non-descript building doing boring, repetitive, desk-based jobs and dream of going on ‘ops.’ The reason for each person’s banishment is not spoken by some pact of olvidado but they are all intensely curious about each other. Very much on the outside, they are derided at the Park, the Regent’s Park MI5 headquarters run by ‘dogs’ and ‘achievers.’ The book is littered with spy language, at first confusing, but soon accepted without a second thought. As always, the first book in a series can be slow to progress, given the need to establish characters, setting and world. And there are a lot of characters, some of whom were cardboard cut-outs with names. The action really gets moving with Hassan, a student who has been kidnapped by three
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Categories: Book Love.

#BookReview ‘A Prince and a Spy’ by Rory Clements #thriller #war #WW2

Rory Clements is fast becoming an author I turn to when I need a page-turning read to relax into. A Prince and a Spy is fifth in his Tom Wilde Second World War series and it doesn’t disappoint. Woven into true history of the conflict – the fatal crash in Scotland of the Duke of Kent’s plane, the holocaust – Clements adds real and fictional characters, intrigue and competing spies, to make this an enjoyable read. When history professor Wilde returns by train home to Cambridge he bumps into a former student. Cazerove seems distracted, distressed, munching on a bag of sweets. Before the train reaches its destination, Cazerove dies of poisoning. So begins a typical Clements thriller – strong characters, true history and a string of unrelated incidents. When the Duke of Kent’s plane crashes on a remote hill in Scotland, the public is told his plane came down in heavy fog when taking off for Iceland on operational duties. In the world of A Prince and a Spy, the flying boat was returning from a secret diplomatic mission in Sweden where the Duke met his German cousin, a former member of the Nazi party. Wilde, working for the
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Categories: Book Love.

#BookReview ‘All Our Squandered Beauty’ by @troutiemcfish #novella #grief

At 122 pages, All Our Squandered Beauty by Yorkshire writer Amanda Huggins packs a powerful punch. It is a sensitively managed novella of a teenager navigating young love, relationships and sex while pulled underwater by grief for the father who died when she was young. His disappearance at sea has never been explained, his body never found; but gossip is becoming history. Kara Bradshaw, believing he would never leave her, hangs on to memories of time they spent together, sure of his love. It is 1978 at Elmwick Bay in Yorkshire. Kara’s youth was punctuated by life beside the sea, gathering sea glass from the sand, identifying the birds flying overhead, watching stars in the night sky, tales of local legends and folklore. All occupations she enjoyed with her father. Now as a seventeen-year-old, Kara hangs out with bikers at Charelli’s café and the amusement arcade but fancies her art teacher, Leo. A thread running throughout the book is that all is not always as it seems, something Kara must understand if she is to accept the past and move on into adulthood. But first she must acknowledge her grief and let her father go. A promising artist, Kara cannot
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Categories: Book Love.