Archives for books

If books were real, Katniss Everdeen…

Katniss Everdeen… would work as a park ranger at Sequoia National Park.     ‘The Hunger Games’ by Suzanne Collins [UK: Scholastic] How would other fictional characters behave, if they were real? Hermione Granger in ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’ Jean Brodie in ‘The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie’ Adam Dalgliesh in ‘Devices and Desires’ And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: If #books were real, Katniss Everdeen would be a park ranger THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins via @SandraDanby http://wp.me/p5gEM4-l1
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Categories: Book Love and If books were real....

New books coming soon….

Three new novels from fantasy writer Joe Abercrombie. The first, Half a King, will be published by Harper Collins next year and is a coming-of-age tale aimed at young readers. It is the story of Yarvi, youngest son of a warlike king, and is set in an alternative historical world akin to the Dark Ages. Yarvi, born with a crippled hand, cannot live up to his father’s expectations. The three new novels are standalone stories, but are inter-connected and aimed at 12-16 year olds.   The Judas Scar by Amanda Jennings will be published in June 2014 by Cutting Edge Press. Her debut novel, Sworn Secret, published by Canvas, has high ratings on Goodreads as a difficult and emotional read leaving some readers in tears. Faber will publish Hanif Kureishi’s new novel in February 2014. The Last Word tells the story of Mamoon, an Indian writer in his seventies, based in England, who faces falling book sales and a wife with expensive tastes. Harry, a young biographer, commissioned to write a book which will revitalise Mamoon’s sales, prompting a struggle to tell the truth. Later this year a film will be released, written by Kureishi, called Le Weekend and starring
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Categories: Book Love.

Book Review: The Man Who Disappeared

Felix Kendall longs for a family, as a boy he lost his own. From the first page where Felix stands in a dark street watching a family illuminated in their dining room, curtains open, you know Felix must be the ‘man who disappeared’ but you don’t know why. The characters are believable and the pages turn quickly as we follow the stories of Felix, his wife Kate, son Rory and daughter Millie as they come to terms with what has happened. I expected this to be a slow indulgent read, lyrical, beautifully written, which it is, but I raced through it in the way I am accustomed to do with thrillers. Clare Morrall is one of my favourite authors, I’ve been a fan since her first book Astonishing Splashes of Colour was shortlisted for the Booker. Read my reviews of other Clare Morrall books:- After the Bombing The Language of Others The Roundabout Man If you like this, try:- ‘The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy’ by Rachel Joyce ‘Housekeeping’ by Marilynne Robinson ‘Ghost Moth’ by Michele Forbes ‘The Man Who Disappeared’ by Clare Morrall [UK: Sceptre] And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
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Categories: Book Love.

Aah Snoopy, you are so right… 2

I’m not sure that Snoopy won’t discover that writing about kisses is more complicated than writing about gunshots. ‘Snoopy’s Guide to the Writing Life’ ed by Barnaby Conrad and Monte Schulz [UK: Writer’s Digest Books] And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: Suddenly a shot rang out: advice for writers from @Snoopy http://wp.me/p5gEM4-p1 via @SandraDanby
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Categories: Book Love and On Writing.

Great Opening Paragraph 31… ‘Bel Canto’ #amwriting #FirstPara

“When the lights went off the accompanist kissed her. Maybe he had been turning towards her just before it was completely dark, maybe he was lifting his hands. There must have been some movement, a gesture, because every person in the living room would later remember a kiss. They did not see a kiss, that would have been impossible. The darkness that came on them was startling and complete. Not only was everyone there certain of a kiss, they claimed they could identify the type of kiss: it was strong and passionate, and it took her by surprise. They were all looking right at her when the lights went out. They were still applauding, each on his or her feet, still in the fullest throes of hands slapping together, elbows up. Not one person had come anywhere close to tiring. The Italians and the French were yelling, ‘Brava! Brava!’ and the Japanese turned away from them. Would he have kissed her like that had the room been lit? Was his mind so full of her that in the very instant of darkness he reached for her, did he think so quickly? Or was it that they wanted her too, all
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Categories: Book Love and On Writing.

Book Review: Dominion

You know that feeling, it happens once in a while, when you finish reading a book that was so good you want to go back to the beginning and start again? Well, it was like that for me with CJ Sansom’s Dominion. It was the premise that caught my attention as soon as I read the pre-publication reviews: an alternate history set in Britain in 1952, peace is made with Hitler in 1941 which changes the direction of World War Two. An alternative world. Previously I had read one Sansom novel, Winter in Madrid, which I enjoyed; three of his Matthew Shardlake mysteries sit on my to-read shelf. After Dominion, I will turn to them quickly. The story focusses on four main characters, a scientist, a civil servant, the civil servant’s wife, and a Gestapo officer based at Senate House in London, the tall university building being the Gestapo’s London HQ with torture cells in the basement. This is a different Britain, where Jews are being rounded-up and transferred to camps in the country, where the Isle of Wight is occupied by the German army [which is still fighting in Russia], and where it is rumoured in Berlin that Hitler is either
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Categories: Book Love.

I agree with… SJ Watson

SJ Watson “Write every day even if it’s rubbish. Bad writing can be improved, but a blank page will always be a blank page.” [interview with Grazia magazine, November 2011] This is advice to new writers from Steve Watson, author of the sleeper hit Before I Go To Sleep. He is quite right. Nothing is whiter and more empty than a blank page staring at you. The only way to make it not-white, is to put some words on it. So many people say to me ‘I have an idea for a book.’ The difference is, I’m writing mine. Are you? Before I Go to Sleep is now a film with Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth. If you agree with SJ Watson, perhaps you will agree with:- Chris Pavone – put ordinary people into extraordinary situations Joanna Trollope – e-books are leased Deborah McKinlay – the lean years focussed me on what I really wanted   ‘Before I Go To Sleep’ by SJ Watson [UK: Black Swan] And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: Write every day even if it’s rubbish: I agree with… @SJ_Watson http://wp.me/p5gEM4-op via @SandraDanby #amwriting
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Categories: On Writing.

If books were real, Bella Swan…

Bella Swan… would be a vampire and live in Forks, she… would wear edgy Chanel make-up and… Victoria Beckham dresses every day.   ‘Breaking Dawn’ by Stephanie Meyer [UK: Atom] How would other fictional characters behave, if they were real? Mr Wickham in ‘Pride and Prejudice’ Sarah Burton in ‘South Riding’ Torak in ‘Wolf Brother’ And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: If #books were real, what would Bella Swan wear? BREAKING DAWN by Stephanie Meyer via @SandraDanby http://wp.me/p5gEM4-no
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Categories: Book Love and If books were real....

If books were real, Mr Wickham…

Mr Wickham… would lie on his Facebook page about his connections, his achievements, and his fortune. He would find Linked In a little more difficult, as no-one would want to link themselves to him. ‘Pride and Prejudice’ by Jane Austen [Penguin] How would other fictional characters behave, if they were real? Bella Swan, vampire, in ‘Breaking Dawn’ Jamie Fraser in ‘Cross Stitch’ Torak in ‘Wolf Brother’ And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: If #books were real, Mr Wickham would lie on social media PRIDE AND PREJUDICE by Jane Austen via @SandraDanby http://wp.me/p5gEM4-nM
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Categories: Book Love and If books were real....

Great opening paragraph 29… ‘The Murder Room’ #amwriting #FirstPara

“On Friday 25 October, exactly one week before the first body was discovered at the Dupayne Museum, Adam Dalgliesh visited the museum for the first time. The visit was fortuitous, the decision impulsive and he was later to look back on that afternoon as one of life’s bizarre coincidences which, although occurring more frequently than reason would expect, never fail to surprise.” ‘The Murder Room’ by PD James  Amazon Try one of these 1st paras & discover a new author:- ‘Lucky You’ by Carl Hiassen ‘The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn’ by Mark Twain ‘Lord of the Flies’ by William Golding And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: A 1st para which makes me want to read more: THE MURDER ROOM by PD James #books https://wp.me/p5gEM4-ny via @SandraDanby
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Categories: Book Love and On Writing.

Aah Snoopy, you are so right… 1

Sometimes, the words of Snoopy are spot-on about writing.   ‘Snoopy’s Guide to the Writing Life’ ed by Barnaby Conrad and Monte Schulz [UK: Writer’s Digest Books]     And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: Sticking with a formula: great advice for writers from @Snoopy http://wp.me/p5gEM4-nZ via @SandraDanby
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Categories: Book Love and On Writing.

Great opening paragraph 28… ‘The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle’ #amwriting #FirstPara

“When the phone ran I was in the kitchen, boiling a potful of spaghetti and whistling along to an FM broadcast of the overture of Rossini’s ‘The Thieving Magpie,’ which has to be the perfect music for cooking pasta.” ‘The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle’ by Haruki Murakami  Amazon Try one of these 1st paras & discover a new author:- ‘A Change of Climate’ by Hilary Mantel ‘The Pelican Brief’ by John Grisham ‘Sophie’s World’ by Jostein Gaarder And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: A 1st para which makes me want to read more: THE WIND-UP BIRD CHRONICLE by Haruki Murakami #books https://wp.me/p5gEM4-lZ via @SandraDanby
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Categories: Book Love and On Writing.

If books were real, Bella Swan…

Bella Swan, if she was still human… wouldcontinue to live in Arizona… teach English… … and drink a Starbucks coffee Frappuccino every day.           ‘Twilight’ by Stephanie Meyer [UK: Atom] How would other fictional characters behave, if they were real? Elizabeth Bennet in ‘Pride and Prejudice’ Jo March in ‘Little Women’ Bella Swan, vampire, in ‘Breaking Dawn’ And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: Imagine, if Bella Swan were real: TWILIGHT by Stephanie Meyer #books via @SandraDanby http://wp.me/p5gEM4-ne  
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Categories: Book Love and If books were real....

Great opening paragraph 27… ‘The Inheritance of Loss’ #amwriting #FirstPara

“All day, the colours had been those of dusk, mist moving like a water creature across the great flanks of mountains possessed of ocean shadows and depths. Briefly visible above the vapour, Kanchenjunga was a far peak whittled out of ice, gathering the last of the light, a plume of snow blown high by the storms at its summit.” ‘The Inheritance of Loss’ by Kiran Desai Amazon Try one of these 1st paras & discover a new author:- ‘Possession’ by AS Byatt ‘Middlesex’ by Jeffrey Eugenides ‘The Hunger Games’ by Suzanne Collins And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: A 1st para which makes me want to read more: THE INHERITANCE OF LOSS by Kiran Desai #books https://wp.me/p5gEM4-nB via @SandraDanby
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Categories: Book Love and On Writing.

Book review: The Lady of the Rivers

Yet again, Philippa Gregory brings history alive. Her story of Jacquetta of Luxembourg, from her first encounter with Joan of Arc, kept me riveted. She is so attuned to the period and the language that her writing is seamless. At no point does the research show itself. And there is a lot of research, Gregory herself admits she does four months of solid research before starting to write. She also says that she often finds the idea for a different novel when she is researching another. It may seem to the outsider that Gregory re-invents the same story – ‘what another Tudor woman?’ But this could not be further from the truth. Witchcraft is an intriguing story thread throughout this book, something introduced in The White Queen about Jacquetta’s daughter Elizabeth Woodville. Women are obliged to hide their knowledge and skills in order to survive, knowledge that today we would think of as alternative medicine and gardening by the phases of the moon. My knowledge of the period, the Wars of the Roses, the various kings and factions, is definitely improving though I was concerned that the reverse-telling of the Cousins’ War series would eliminate some of the tension. After
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Categories: Book Love.

Memoir: Istanbul

“From a very young age, I suspected there was more to my world than I could see: somewhere in the streets of Istanbul, in a house resembling ours, there lived another Orhan so much like me that he could pass for my twin, even my double. I can’t remember where I got this idea or how it came to me. It must have emerged from a web of rumours, misunderstandings, illusions and fears. But in one of my earliest memories, it is already clear how I’ve come to feel about my ghostly other.” So opens Orhan Pamuk’s poetic portrait of his childhood in Istanbul. Istanbul and its people comes alive in Orhan’s imagination. The fronts of cars resemble noses, his classmates look like animals. “The boy with the pointed nose was a fox, and the big one next to him was, as everyone said, a bear, and the one with the thick hair was a hedgehog.” The reason the opening paragraph of his memoir connects so much with me is that I remember having the same feelings as a child. I would lay in bed in my attic bedroom, wondering about the other Sandra out there in some parallel world:
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Categories: Book Love and On Writing.

New books coming out this autumn

William Boyd’s ‘Solo’. James Bond is 45 and in Africa. Stephen King’s ‘Doctor Sleep’. Danny Torrance from ‘The Shining’ is now middle-aged. ‘The Story’ is a compilation of 100 short stories, written by women, and edited by Victoria Hislop. A ‘whydunnit’ from Mark Lawson, ‘The Deaths’ combines social commentary and crime. Jhumpa Lahiri’s ‘The Lowland’ is about two brothers growing up in Calcutta.
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Categories: Book Love.

Great Opening Paragraph 26… ‘Midnight’s Children’ #amwriting #FirstPara

“I was born in the city of Bombay… once upon a time. No, that won’t do, there’s no getting away from the date: I was born in Doctor Narlikar’s Nursing Home on August 15th, 1947. And the time? The time matters, too. Well then: at night. No, it’s important to be more… On the stroke of midnight, as a matter of fact. Clock-hands joined palms in respectful greeting as I came. Oh, spell it out, spell it out: at the precise instant of India’s arrival at independence, I tumbled forth into the world. There were gasps. And outside the window, fireworks and crowds. A few seconds later, my father broke his big toe; but his accident was a mere trifle when set beside what had befallen me in that benighted moment, because thanks to the occult tyrannies of those blandly saluting clocks I had been mysteriously handcuffed to history, my destinies indissolubly chained to those of my country. For the next three decades, there was to be no escape. Soothsayers had prophesied me, newspapers celebrated my arrival, politicos ratified my authenticity. I was left entirely without a say in the matter. I, Saleem Sinai, later variously called Snotnose, Stainface, Baldy,
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Categories: Book Love and On Writing.

My Top 5… fictional heroes to follow on Facebook

Everyone has their favourite fictional heroes, the ones we want to read about again. We watch them in films, debate the casting, but always remain loyal to the book. Mr Darcy Rejection in the first place does increase mystique. In the films he comes over as one-dimensional whereas in the book there is always the hint of hidden layers, plus Austen’s delicate inferences that Lizzie’s assumptions are a little presumptive. ‘Pride and Prejudice’ by Jane Austen [UK: Penguin]   Edward Cullen Rejection [see Mr Darcy], plus golden eyes and that olden cadence of speaking, manners, loyalty, the way his mouth crinkles when he smiles. Something about speed too, his athleticism, his ability to run without crashing into trees. Ilyana Kadushin, the actress who reads the audio CD, has a most unnervingly sexy voice for Edward. ‘Twilight’ by Stephanie Meyer [UK: Atom]   Mr Rochester Rejection again [Mr Darcy, again]. This is the same story curve as The Sound of Music – Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer – the unwilling governess with no other employment alternative, the handsome but flawed older man, the authoritative boss, the emotional connection. ‘Jane Eyre’ by Charlotte Bronte [UK: Penguin]   Jamie Fraser Where do I start? Strength
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Categories: Book Love and My Top 5....

If books were real, Jean Brodie…

Jean Brodie… would agree and disagree with Michael Gove [below] when he was the UK’s Secretary of Education. She would deplore his plan to build a free school on playing fields in Brighton, and celebrate his U-turn this week… … but support his focus on spelling, grammar and punctuation. “Deep in most of us is the potential for greatness or the potential to inspire greatness.”     ‘The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie’ by Muriel Spark [UK: Penguin] How would other fictional characters behave, if they were real? Elizabeth Bennet in ‘Pride and Prejudice’ Sarah Burton in ‘South Riding’ Adam Dalgliesh in ‘Devices and Desires’ And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: If #books were real, Jean Brodie would not be a fan of Michael Gove: THE PRIME OF MISS JEAN BRODIE by Muriel Spark via @SandraDanby  http://wp.me/p5gEM4-kT
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Categories: If books were real... and On Writing.