Archives for Book Love

#BookReview ‘The Inheritance of Solomon Farthing’ by @mspaulsonellis #WW1

A group of Great War soldiers is waiting for orders. During the last skirmishes of the war, men are still dying. Will the men receive orders to retreat or advance? Who will live or who will die? There are two strands to The Inheritance of Solomon Farthing by Mary Paulson-Ellis and the title refers to the second. A contemporary man in Edinburgh, an heir hunter, finds a pawn ticket amongst the possessions of Thomas Methven, an old soldier who died alone. This is a detailed story with many layers and many characters introduced as the two strands are told and hesitantly connected. At times the detail became confusing with so many descriptive repetitions I found myself skipping forwards. Paulson-Ellis writes scenes so well – the soldier’s gambling scene with the chicken is totally believable, and her portrayal of the foundling school in NE England is heart breaking. As Solomon tracks the life story of the deceased soldier, we see flashes of his own story, orphaned at seven and sent to live with his grandfather. Though interesting I found this distracting, it took me away from the story of the soldiers and added even more characters and family trees to remember.
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Categories: Book Love.

First Edition ‘It’ by @StephenKing #oldbooks #bookcovers

Published in 1986, It was Stephen King’s 22nd book and the 17th written under his name. His first published novel, Carrie, appeared in 1973 though it was actually the fourth he wrote, on a a portable typewriter belonging to his wife. It tells of seven children as they are terrorized by an evil entity that exploits the fears of its victims to disguise itself while hunting its prey. I have read it once, in my twenties, and it terrified me. I was unable to sleep for days afterwards and have not seen the films, though I still own the paperback. My paperback [above] is the 1987 New English Library edition with the cover line ‘The Terrifying New Bestseller’. The first edition [above left] was first published in the USA by Viking on September 15, 1986. King first thought of the story in 1978 and began writing it in 1981. His original concept was that the title character would live in the local sewer system, inspired by the Norwegian folk tale Three Billy Goats Gruff, who lived beneath a bridge. The current UK edition [above] is published by Hodder. BUY THE BOOK The story During a heavy rainstorm, six-year-old Georgie Denbrough
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Categories: Book Love.

My Porridge & Cream read… Jessie Cahalin @BooksInHandbag #books

Today I’m delighted to welcome romance novelist Jessie Cahalin. Her ‘Porridge & Cream’ read is Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. “Wuthering Heights appeared in my life when I was eleven years old in 1983.  Following my English teacher’s recommendation, I saved pocket money to buy the novel. ‘The air made me shiver through every limb’ as I entered Heathcliff’s kitchen and lost myself in the language. This was my first taste of one of ‘the important authors’ and she was a Yorkshire lass to boot. I still remember the picture of the withering tree on the front cover and the delicious new smell of the fine pages. “The tiny writing meant I had to concentrate and there were delicious new words to savour. Even then, the rhythms of the language and the powerful setting captured me, and I read them aloud. I stood on t’top of t’world with my new book. Bronte inspired me to enjoy the power of words, and I would spend hours painting my own scenes with language. I marked pages in Wuthering Heights and would re-read them constantly. My parents took me to Howarth to visit the parsonage, and I knew Jessie had gone home. Wuthering Heights was my
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Categories: Book Love.

A poem to read in the bath… ‘Out Chasing Boys’ by Amanda Huggins #poetry

Recently published is this small poetry chapbook, The Collective Nouns for Birds by Amanda Huggins, with 24 poems. Huggins is an award-winning writer of flash fiction and short stories, so knowing her skill with the short form I looked forward to this first poetry chapbook with anticipation. And I wasn’t disappointed. I’ve chosen the first poem in the book as it struck a chord from my own childhood. I can smell the salt in the breeze, hear the lapping of the summer waves on the shore and taste the tang of vinegar as I lick my fingers after eating haddock and chips. This poem is subject to copyright restrictions. Please search for the full poem in an anthology or at your local library. A ‘poetry chapbook’ is a slim pamphlet of poems, usually no more than 40 pages. ‘Out Chasing Boys’ We spent summer on the seafront, two stranded mermaids killing time. We rolled up our jeans, carried our shoes, blew kisses at the camera in the photo booth. Always out, chasing boys, as if we had forever. BUY THE BOOK Read my reviews of Brightly Coloured Horses, and Separated from the Sea, both by Amanda Huggins. Read these other
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Categories: Book Love and Poetry.

#BookReview ‘Home’ by Marilynne Robinson #classic #literary

Home by Marilynne Robinson is the story of two adult children who return home, coincidentally at the same time, who feel the shame of not living up to the standards set by their minister father, Reverend Robert Boughton. It is a profoundly sad book; the slow winding tale towards the inevitable ending is curiously addictive. It is a three-hander, concentrating on father, son and daughter. Glory and Jack Boughton grew up in a clerical family home in Gilead, Iowa. We learn of their country childhoods, quite different as siblings go, from their conversations and the memories prompted by visits from neighbours Reverend John Ames, his wife Lila and son. The story is told from Glory’s viewpoint. Jack takes lots of ‘dark nights of the soul’, long solitary walks in the dark to which we are not privy, and his true thoughts remain a mystery to the end. Just when you think you have worked him out, he confounds you. Robinson draws a picture of rural America at a time of great change. There are demonstrations in Montgomery, but Gilead seems insulated from the outside apart from occasional telephone calls to their father by Glory and Jack’s siblings, and news reports of
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Categories: Book Love.

#BookReview ‘59 Memory Lane’ by @CeliaAnderson1 #romance #contemporary

59 Memory Lane by Celia Anderson has a cozy tone reminding me immediately of MC Beaton’s Agatha Raisin series, but without the crime. Anderson has created the sort of feelgood destination you long to live in, to get away from it all. Pengelly is an isolated seaside village in Cornwall with an infrequent bus service. When a local do-gooder starts an Adopt-a-Granny scheme pairing people together, 110-year old May Rosevere is paired with her eighty year old neighbour Julia. Except unbeknown to everyone else, these two women harbour a long held grudge against each other. The central premise of the novel is that May’s long life – and she is free of the medical complaints experienced by other older characters in the book – is thanks to her magical ability to collect other people’s memories and extract energy from them; this is described as a kind of frission, naughtiness, a buzz. May, determined to reach her 111th birthday, steps up her ‘thought harvesting’ and so is delighted to learn that Julia has discovered a large collection of family letters going back decades. This book has two major storylines spliced together – the feelgood seaside life in Pengelly and the adventures of the community,
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Categories: Book Love.

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

Fifth in the Seven Sisters series by Lucinda Riley, The Moon Sister is the story of Tiggy, wildlife conservationist and warm-hearted introvert. Each of the D’Apliese sisters is different with diverse skills, interests and hugely varying birth stories. Tiggy’s story alternates between a Highland estate where she is managing the rewilding of Scottish wildcats, and the flamenco world in Spain during the 1930s. The Kinnaird Estate is a beautiful, isolated, wild place. The four wild cats move into their custom-built enclosure and Tiggy moves into a shared estate cottage with fellow worker Cal. Riley builds the Kinnaird community quickly and skilfully from new Laird Charlie to housekeeper Beryl and old retainer Chilly. It is Chilly – speaking in a muddled mixture of English, Spanish and Romani – who introduces the first hints of premonition, seeing and herbal remedies. He tells Tiggy she has healing hands. Caught up in the twists and turns of the Kinnaird family, the frictions in Charlie and Ulrika’s marriage and their tempestuous daughter Zara, Tiggy grieves for Pa Salt and is curious about her own birth family. In his farewell letter, Pa Salt tells her she comes from a gifted line of seers. She must go to Granada in Spain,
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Categories: Book Love.

Great Opening Paragraph 123… ‘The Ashes of London’ #amwriting #FirstPara

“The noise was the worst. Not the crackling of the flames, not the explosions and the clatter of falling buildings, not the shouting and the endless beating of drums and the groans and cries of the crowd: it was the howling of the fire. It roared its rage. It was the voice of the Great Beast itself.” ‘The Ashes of London’ by Andrew Taylor, #1 Fire of London BUY THE BOOK Try one of these 1st paras & discover a new author:- ‘Personal’ by Lee Child ‘Back When We Were Grown Ups’ by Anne Tyler  ‘The Sense of an Ending’ by Julian Barnes  And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: THE ASHES OF LONDON by Andrew Taylor #books https://wp.me/p5gEM4-3Jn via @SandraDanby
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Categories: Book Love.

#BookReview ‘The Museum of Broken Promises’ by @elizabethbuchan #books

The Museum of Broken Promises by Elizabeth Buchan is a disjointed story of Cold War romance and its lingering after-effects decades later. Promises are made and broken, by everyone. The title is misleading, as the sections at the museum in present day in Paris act as bookends to the crucial story in Eighties story in Czechoslovakia. It is 1985, Prague. After the death of her father, student Laure takes a job as an au pair in Paris moving to Prague with her employers. It is the Cold War and the once beautiful city is shabby and grey, an unsettling place to live where the threat of imprisonment or violence always lingers. Laure cares for two small children while their father Petr works, he is an official at a pharmaceuticals company and in a privileged position enabling him to bring a foreigner to work in the country, and their mother Eva is ill. Gradually Laure explores the streets and finds a marionette theatre. There she is enchanted by the folklore tales of the puppets; and she meets Tomas, lead singer in a rock band. Resistance against the repressive regime in Czechoslovakia is low key, expressed through the arts. In this way, the book reminded me of
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Categories: Book Love.

#BookReview ‘Mudlarking’ by Lara Maiklem @LondonMudlark #Thames #archaeology

Lara Maiklem is a mudlark. She can be found at low tide walking the beaches and mud of the River Thames, foraging, searching, collecting bits and pieces. And in the course of her memoir Mudlarking, she tells the history of the river. This is a personal history, not a novel. Starting at the tidal head near Teddington and heading east to the Thames Estuary, Maiklem has written an anecdotal guide to London’s river, the treasures which can be found buried in the mud, and tells the stories of the people [real and imagined] who once lived there. From the discarded Doves Type to broken clay pipes and glass bottle stoppers, she describes the objects she has found, their place in her collection, her methods of cleaning and preserving them. Along the way she consults experts and historians and forages with fellow mudlarks who each have their favourite places, their specialist objects to collect. ‘Modern mudlarks fall into two distinct categories,’ she explains. ‘Hunters and gatherers. I am one of the latter. I find objects using just my eyes to spot what is lying on the surface. Eyes-only foragers like me generally enjoy the searching as much as the finding, and
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Categories: Book Love.

My Porridge & Cream read Rosemary J Kind @therealalfiedog #books

Today I’m delighted to welcome historical novelist Rosemary J Kind. Her ‘Porridge & Cream’ read is Under Milk Wood  by Dylan Thomas. “I was brought up on books. Both my mother and grandfather were great readers of literature and our house was full of books. I don’t know if I first fell in love with Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas, reading it myself or on one of our family holidays, boating on the River Thames, when we’d all curl up in the evening and Mum would read to us all. Many of the passages we knew by heart and would quote them to each other, adding lines where the other finished. To this day my favourite scene is the one in Butcher Beynon’s kitchen. The humour is so dry and so cleverly done that it never fails to make me laugh.” “I must have read it for myself at about the age of ten, and when stuck at home a couple of years later with glandular fever, listened to the Richard Burton recording of the book over and over. It is a book in which poetry and prose intertwine like lovers. Where the musicality of the language coupled with the keen observations
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Categories: Book Love and Porridge & Cream.

#BookReview ‘The Confession’ by Jessie Burton #romance #contemporary

The Confession by Jessie Burton is her third novel after The Miniaturist, her successful debut. The Confession is a contemporary romance about relationships; mother/daughter, romantic, between friends. Are daughters destined to repeat the mistakes of their mothers, even if they have never met? This is a dual timeline novel. In 2017, Rose Simmons never knew her mother, who left when she was a baby. Rose’s father has always been tight-lipped until now when he tells Rose that the famous but reclusive novelist Constance Holden may have the answers. Frightened of scaring off Constance with awkward questions, Rose instead gets a job as maid/companion for the reclusive novelist, now in her seventies and crippled by arthritis. Unexpectedly Rose comes to like and admire Connie so the longer she works for her the more impossible it is to admit to her deception [she is known to Connie as Laura Brown]. And all the time she wonders if Connie can see her mother’s face in her own. In 1982, we see the story of her mother and Connie. Part-time waitress and artist’s model Elise Morceau meets the enigmatic Connie on Hampstead Heath. When Connie’s first novel is made into a film, the two women
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Categories: Book Love.

#BookReview ‘The House at Silvermoor’ by @AuthorTracyRees #historical

Expectations and generalisations are an odd thing. When I first read the the blurb for The House at Silvermoor and saw it is set in a South Yorkshire mining community, I hesitated. But I decided to place my trust in the author, Tracy Rees, because I read and loved her Amy Snow. What a good decision it was. Inspired by her grandfather Len, Rees researched coal mining at the turn of the century. This research informs every page but never interferes with her story of Tommy Green from the mining village of Grindley and Josie Westgate of nearby Arden. When they are twelve they meet in a country lane, talking over a dropped bunch of bluebells. Rees is excellent at world creation: the hard grind of the mining families, the lack of options, the durability and sense of inevitability of the families, the autocratic families that rule the mines, the temptation of the unknown. Tommy is destined to work in the pits of the Sedgewick family of Silvermoor where his father and brothers work, where his brother Dan died in an accident. Josie’s father and brothers work in the nearby pits owned by Winthrop Barridge, where standards are lower, the work
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Categories: Book Love.

#BookReview ‘Our Souls at Night’ by Kent Haruf #love #loneliness

Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf is a simple, straight talking, touching book about loneliness, love and longing late in life. One day Addie Moore suggests to her neighbour Louis Waters that he visit her house each night and sleep in her bed. Both are in their seventies, widowed, lonely and don’t know each other well. Acknowledging Addie’s bravery in asking the question, Louis arrives with his pyjamas and toothbrush in a bag. And so starts this touching novel about relationships, family and morality. Addie and Louis sleep side-by-side, not touching. They ignore the glances of neighbours, fearing censure. But the townsfolk nod and smile at them, while their own children disapprove. And so one generation seeks to control another. When their new dynamic is disrupted by the arrival of Addie’s six-year-old grandson Jamie, Addie and Louis’s relationship enters a new stage. Jamie’s parents have separated and he is distressed. Addie’s son Gene has asked his mother to help. This new three-person family begins to slowly to heal itself, starting slowly by visiting a family of new born mice in Louis’ shed. This is a short read, manageable in one sitting. The language is beautiful. Addie’s suggestion does not contain
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Categories: Book Love.

#Bookreview ‘Miss Austen’ by @GillHornby #JaneAusten #historical

What a delicious first chapter there is to MISS AUSTEN by Gill Hornby. Elderly Cassandra Austen arrives unannounced to visit a family friend in Kintbury, endures a parsimonious supper and a difficult evening without much conversation. Why, I wondered, is Cassandra there. And then at bedtime, comes a hint at her reason. Cassandra visits Isabella, a family friend who is grieving the death of her father. Cassandra’s objective, is to retrieve any incriminating letters between her sister Jane and Isabella’s mother, Eliza, before Isabella leaves the family vicarage. With both letter writers dead, and knowledge of the novelist Jane Austen more widely sought than ever before, Cassandra is anxious to protect Jane’s legacy. What follows is a gentle telling of the sisters’ relationship as Hornby pieces together the real letters of the Austen sisters and the known biography of the family, combined with events and dialogue of her own imagination. This is a meandering read without a real focus, there is the imagined threat to Jane’s reputation as Cassandra searches for the missing letters under threat of exposure by her sister-in-law Mary. But this threat is not wholly formed and the story goes back and forth between Cassandra reading the
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Categories: Book Love.

#BookReview ‘Howards End is on the Landing’ by Susan Hill #amreading

I selected this book off my to-read shelf where it has sat for at least two years and, on reading the first paragraph, knew I must read on. Howards End is on the Landing by Susan Hill is a gem of a memoir, a year in the life of a crime novelist who decides to read only the books on her bookshelves. But this is more than a review of books – it can be dipped in and out of, the chapters are conveniently short which makes you want to read ‘just another’ – because Hill attaches a personal story to each book, each author. I have always felt an affinity with Susan Hill; she was born eight miles from my own Yorkshire birthplace, and I was intrigued to learn about why she writes. I learned so much more; how her first novel was published when she was only eighteen, how she lives an ordinary life but mixes with some breath-stopping names. She met and/or knew TS Eliot, EM Forster, Cecil Day Lewis, Penelope Fitzgerald, Ian Fleming, Iris Murdoch, Elizabeth Bowen; it is a mirror image of my reading list at university, except for the Bond. Above everything though, the book
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Categories: Book Love and On Writing.

Celebrating Romance #RomanceReadingMonth #freebooks

2020 is the 60th anniversary of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and, to celebrate, February has been named #RomanceReadingMonth. Since joining the RNA and meeting so many romance novelists, I’ve redefined my idea of ‘the romance novel’. If you still think its simply Mills and Boon romances between nurses and doctors, then think again. Romance crosses every single fiction genre from sci-fi to historical, crime to thrillers, horror and vampires to the genre I write – character-led contemporary women’s fiction. So this week I’ve partnered with a small group of authors to offer FREE EBOOKS to you. These are character-led dramas and not strictly romances though they may have romance sub-plots [as my books do]. Simply click the link above and scroll through the free novels on offer, Mobi and ePub files are available which work on Kindle, smartphones, tablets and ereaders. Offer ends February 10 so don’t delay! Planning activities to celebrate #RomanceReadingMonth has made me think about my favourite romance novels and why I re-read them. I’ve realised that in the books I enjoy romance is a part of the plot, but not the be-all-and-end-all. My favourite classic romance is Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, my most recent favourite
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Categories: Book Love.

#BookReview ‘The Pursuit of Love’ by Nancy Mitford #romance

A slower, more meditative pace inhabits The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford, less frenetic than her earlier novels. More fond, less satirical. Fanny Logan narrates this story of the Radlett family and, in particular, her cousin Linda’s pursuit of love. The teenage Linda and sisters, and cousin Fanny who visits the Radletts at the fading freezing family pile, Alconleigh in the Cotswolds, want to grow up now. They are obsessed by sex and romance whilst being woefully ignorant of the practicalities. The reality, however, is more difficult and less romantic than they imagined. They form a secret society The Hons. When not out hunting, The Hons spend hours in a large warm cupboard gossiping about love and Fanny’s disreputable mother, ‘The Bolter’, who abandoned her daughter to pursue love. Fanny, raised by her Aunt Emily and stepfather Davey, spends all her holidays at Alconleigh with Uncle Matthew and Aunt Sadie and their family. As with all Mitford novels there are many laugh-out-loud moments. Alconleigh is an eccentric world where Uncle Matthew rules his staff and family; he despises foreigners, Catholics, the nouveaux riche and people who say ‘perfume’ instead of ‘scent’. Desperate to find true love and not follow the
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Categories: Book Love.

Great Opening Paragraph 122… ‘The Heart’s Invisible Furies’ #amwriting #FirstPara

‘Long before we discovered that he had fathered two children by two different women, one in Drimoleague and one in Clonakilty, Father James Monroe stood on the altar of the Church of Our Lady, Star of the Sea, in the parish of Goleen, West Cork, and denounced my mother as a whore.’ ‘The Heart’s Invisible Furies’ by John Boyne BUY THE BOOK Try one of these 1st paras & discover a new author:- ‘The Garden of Evening Mists’ by Tan Twan Eng  ‘The Children Act’ by Ian McEwan ‘Couples’ by John Updike And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: THE HEART’S INVISIBLE FURIES by @john_boyne #books https://wp.me/p5gEM4-3Jk via @SandraDanby
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Categories: Book Love.

#BookReview ‘The Girl at the Window’ by @RowanColeman #paranormal #mystery

The Girl at the Window by Rowan Coleman is a glorious mixture of ghosts, grief and the Yorkshire moors of the Brontës. With three timelines to juggle, the novel’s structure is held together by a real house, Ponden Hall, and its true links to Emily Brontë. Mixing historical fact with flights of imagination – the letters of a 17th century servant Agnes – there is a lot going on. Central are the themes of grief, the different types of love and mother/child relationships. Trudy Heaton’s husband Abe is missing presumed dead after a plane crash in South America, so she takes their son Will to her childhood home, Ponden Hall in Yorkshire. Tru’s return is wondrous and difficult, a return to the old house and moors she loved near Haworth, home to the Brontës; but also an awkward reunion with Ma, with whom she has not spoken for 16 years. When Tru finds a loose page from a diary written by Emily Brontë, who visited the house and used its library, and some 17th century documents by an Agnes Heaton, she starts a hunt for the truth. At the same time she must renovate the almost derelict house, and help Will negotiate his new life
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Categories: Book Love.