#Bookreview ‘Listening Still’ by @AnneGriffin_ #Irish #contemporary

Anne Griffin’s debut novel, When All is Said, was one of my favourite books of 2019. Listening Still is Irish writer Griffin’s second novel. It focusses on Jeanie Masterson, an undertaker who can hear the last words of the newly deceased. She finds herself a juggler of truth, obfuscations and lies as she tries to balance her commitment to the dead person to pass on a message to the ones left behind, with her own emotional need to soften harsh words that may hurt the recipient. This shaky balance of truth and lies is the theme of the book set
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#FlashPIC 53 Wheatfield after Harvest #writingprompt #amwriting

Imagine you are a teenager again, laying in a recently harvested field of wheat. Recreate those lazy hazy days of summer when school was out and days seemed endless. This is a writing prompt from the Writers’ BLOCKbusters series. Remember what it was to be a teenager when your life seems on hold, when days seem empty and infinite. Put a teenage character into this wheatfield and write a short piece in real time, minute by minute, dwelling on the slow passing of time. Not a lot may happen, the action is in the character’s thoughts – this moment, remembering something that
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#BookReview ‘The Royal Secret’ by @AndrewJRTaylor #Historical #Drama

The Royal Secret is another excellent instalment in the historical drama series by Andrew Taylor that started in 1666 with the Fire of London. I hesitate to call The Royal Secret a thriller as these books cross historical sub-genres and are consequently fulfilling on a number of levels. Crime, political intrigue, social commentary, architecture, strong characterization and a dash of romance all set in the post-Restoration excess, poverty and turmoil of Charles II’s rule. Every successful thriller needs a villain to hate and Dutchman [or is he?] Henryk van Riebeeck certainly gives James Marwood the run-around. Marwood, now working for
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#BookReview ‘Lean Fall Stand’ by @jon_mcgregor #contemporary

Jon McGregor is one of the most original novelists I have read and Lean Fall Stand doesn’t disappoint. It is a novel of three parts, beginning thrillingly at an Antarctic research station when a storm suddenly separates the three expedition members. We know tragedy happens, but not what or how. Surviving expedition guide Robert ‘Doc’ Wright suffers a stroke and is unable to tell what happened on the ice. Lean Fall Stand is Doc’s story as he struggles to recover his ability to do the smallest daily personal tasks, to choose the right word and pronounce it correctly, to make
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#BookReview ‘The Prophet’ by @MartineBailey #historical #mystery

When a dead body is found at the foot of an ancient oak, a tense plot begins. The Prophet is the second Martine Bailey novel to feature the characters of Tabitha and Nat De Vallory, first seen in The Almanack. The oak tree in question is not just any tree; it is the Mondren Oak, and nearby an evangelist preacher and his community have made an encampment in ancient woodland belonging to Nat’s father. Eighteenth-century England was a place of superstition and myth, of religious fervour and persecution. It was also a time of scientific study and enlightenment. The body
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#BookReview ‘Heresy’ by SJ Parris @thestephmerritt #historical #crime

Including touches such as secret messages written in orange juice, ciphers and hidden codes, Heresy is the introduction to the Giordano Bruno series of historical mysteries by SJ Parris. Set in 1583, this is the English Reformation of Queen Elizabeth I and her spymaster, Sir Francis Walsingham, as they steer the country from catholicism to protestantism. Meanwhile, catholics continue to worship in secret. Former Italian monk turned heretic and philosopher Bruno rides out of London on a horse borrowed from the French ambassador, to meet with a royal party bound for Oxford. Accompanied by his friend, courtier poet and secret
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#BookReview ‘Tainted Tree’ by @jackieluben #saga #romance

American Addie Russell was adopted at birth after her single mother died. Always happy with her adoptive parents in Boston, USA, advertising copywriter Addie starts to ask questions when she inherits a house from a stranger in England. Tainted Tree by Jacquelynn Luben is an adoption mystery combined with romance,  threading together genealogical search and US/English differences with the joy and abandonment of teenage love. Addie arrives in England at the house she has inherited. Glad to cross the Atlantic and escape her job and the boss which whom she had an affair, she is determined to find out more
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A poem to read in the bath… ‘Lark & Merlin’ by Tom Pickard #poetry #nature

Tom Pickard grew up in the working class suburbs of Newcastle upon Tyne and left school at fourteen. Three years later he met poet Basil Bunting and Pickard began his life as a poet. His background in the North East is the spine of his work, local words and slang inhabit his work, but two recent volumes have taken him to the isolated countryside of the Borders where England meets Scotland. Most magical of all this work is ‘Lark & Merlin’ is about the dance between a man and a woman; like the hunting/courting flight of two birds – the
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#BookReview ‘While Paris Slept’ by Ruth Druart #WW2

While Paris Slept by Ruth Druart is a World War Two story with a difference. It focusses on the lives of two couples and how one incident, a decision made in seconds, challenges the four people involved to define their own perception of true, selfless love and the heart-wrenching sacrifices this may mean. This is a dual-timeline story. It starts in 1953, California. One morning the police call at the home of Jean-Luc Beauchamp and take him in for questioning. He is unsurprised. His wife Charlotte and son Sam do not know what is happening. Interleaved with the story unfolding
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#FlashPIC 52 A Lion on a Tube Train #writingprompt #amwriting

Today’s writing exercise considers a surreal image – the juxtaposition of the mundane and the unexpected, an unconscious expression of fantasy, of the inner world of a character. Let’s explore how the surreal can be used to hint at a character’s conscious and unconscious mind, deepening the reader’s understanding of his motivation, perhaps misleading the reader about what a character is really like. This is a writing prompt from the Writers’ BLOCKbusters series. Consider this image of an everyday scene – a train – with a dreamlike image – the lion. Is the lion really there? If it is, write an action
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