Thursday, 31 March 2011

My Holiday Reads

OK, I know its ages since my holiday (desperately in need of another one) but I wanted to post about the books I read while I was away. So here goes
The first one was:

Hothouse Flower by Lucinda Riley
I saw this book in Tesco’s just before Christmas and put it on my Christmas wish list (actually, no I didn’t – I put it in my husband’s hot little  hands and told him to go and buy it for me – sometimes there’s no point in just wishing!)
One of the first things which attracted it to me was the cover.  It reminded me of two of my favourite books by Kate Moreton – The House at Riverton and The Forgotten Garden.
I love historical novels but I love them even more when the characters in the present day are delving into their family’s past. In fact I love it so much that this is one of the genres I am trying to write and one day hope to publish.    I’ll never be as good as Kate Moreton but there’s no harm in having aspirations.
Later I learned that Hothouse Flower was nominated for the Richard and Judy Book Club and my interest was sparked even more.
It’s a hefty tome and I wanted to read it when I had plenty of time, so decided to sequester it away for my holidays.  It was temptation waiting in the wings but I resisted.  And I’m glad I did and after all that build up, it certainly wasn’t an anti-climax.
I loved the description of the run up to WWII and I loved the two main present day characters too.  The story had plenty of twists and turns and kept me guessing right up until the end.  I was a bit disappointed that the main character from the past seemed to fizzle out a bit after the war and one of the twists I found a little incredulous, but on the whole I thoroughly enjoyed this book and was glad I had saved it for my holiday.
I was sad when I finished the book and had to say goodbye to the characters and I wished that I had been the author of it – so I think you’ll agree that there’s no better recommendation than that.

Just after Christmas I was asked if I would like to become a member of a reading group organised by the mum of one of my youngest son’s friends.  I’ve always wanted to be in a reading group so was delighted to be included in one on my doorstep.
We were all asked to come along to the group with a book to recommend. I knew a few members of the group but not all and I wanted to recommend a book which was sufficiently literary without being too dry.
I’d read quite a bit about Kate Mosse, author of Labyrinth and Sepulchre, and liked the sound of her new novel – The Winter Ghosts, so I recommended this and it ended up as one of the first reads.

I have to say that I was sadly disappointed by this book.  She writes incredibly atmospherically and I could imagine myself physically in the setting.  Parts of the book were completely absorbing too.  But as a book as a whole, well sadly, I didn’t feel there was enough plot to keep a full length novel going. .  I found myself in the first half of the book waiting for something to happen and in the second half waiting for it to end.  Perhaps it’s just me, perhaps I just didn’t get it, perhaps I’m just not literary enough, and it’s more about feelings that things happening. The middle bit was good though.
The next book is by the lovely Kate Harrison, and is the second in the Secret Shopper series, Secret Shopper Unwrapped .

Oh my, Kate, you’ve done it again.  I loved the first book and I loved this one just as much.  Revisiting the characters of the previous book felt like putting on a favourite old jumper.  I didn’t have to work at who was who and what was there background and I fell in love instantly with a new character – Kelly.  At the end of the book I read the first chapter of her third book in the series – The Secret Shopper Affair and wished I could get stuck into that too.  It’s just come out and has gone straight to the top of my wish list – can’t wait.

Oh dear, for some reason the blog won't let me add the images of these books - sorry.

Well that's all for now, more books to follow shortly.


Wednesday, 23 March 2011

On A Lighter Note

Sorry for my ramblings of Monday - hope I didn't depress you all too.

The black fug has lifted and I'm back to normal now.  The messy house is still the same but I'm just trying not to either notice it or let it get me down.

A while ago I entered a competition in Candis to become their next blogger.  You had to write something amusing that happened to you in 200 words.

Today I found out that I didn't get anywhere with the competition, not that I expected to really, but at least its given me a new blog post. 

So please see below my entry to the competition. Hope it makes you smile.

As my fingers fumbled uselessly in my handbag, I realised with rising panic that I had forgotten my door key. My mouth went dry, heart began to thud and my palms were sweaty.  I was later than I’d planned to be, well you know what it’s like when you get talking, and my husband had obviously decided to have an early night.  To make matters worse the battery on my mobile was dead. 

I rang the doorbell, risking waking the children, but no one stirred in hibernation house.

All the other doors to the house were carefully locked so, as panic resurfaced, I stood below our bedroom window and shouted.  My voice echoed around the neighbourhood but my husband slept on. 

Spotting a ladder lying idly along the side of the house I heaved it up and leant it against the extension roof.  Trembling in high heeled shoes I climbed slowly up, step by step. Shaking even more, I negotiated myself onto the flat roof and up to the bedroom window.  I rapped on it loudly. Eventually Lazarus rose and with a frown on his face opened the window.
            “What are you doing?”
            “Trying to get in,” I replied. “Obviously.”

Since that day I have never forgotten my key!


Monday, 21 March 2011

In A Black Fug

I have to confess, I had a bit of a meltdown yesterday and it's left me feeling a bit downhearted.  Not about my writing especially but just about life in general.  I have two children, a husband, a house and a job, I'm also a part time unpaid secretary for my husband's business. And I'm trying to write. 

No matter what I do, there are never enough hours in the day.   My kids are involved in all sorts of sporting activities after school and at the weekend.  They are popular children and have lots of friends.  My husband plays golf.  And in my spare time I, well I wash, iron, cook, clean and most depressing of all I pick up the used detritus of their everyday lives that they just can't be bothered to put away because that's what's mum's there for.  I have tried to train them, honest I have, but the only thing I have achieved is to turn myself into a nag.  A friend of my son's summed it up on Friday when he said that my youngest son reminded him of his cat - that only had a memory of about 3 seconds too!

I know I shouldn't complain, I know that my life is charmed compared to others, I know I'm  not living in Japan or any other disastor ridden country.  I'm not poor (I'm not rich either) but you know what I mean and I have my health and a family who loves me (when I'm not shouting at them that is).

Normally I can cope with a busy life, it may dishearten me from time to time but it doesn't completely floor me.  Perhaps it was because my husband had kept me awake most of the previous  night with his snoring (he should be thankful that all the sharp implements are kept downstairs) or it could be this combined with the good old hormones.

Men may laugh at hormones, or blame them for everything that is wrong with the woman in their lives, but I think they should be just damn grateful that them don't have to experience them from the inside.

Yesterday my husband did the best thing he could. He made a tactical retreat and took himself and our sons out of the firing line.  What he actually did was leave me feeling lonely, unloved and unloveable, but lets face it, he wasn't going to win either way so on reflection it was the right thing to do.

And whilst I felt as though the whole world was painted black, deep down I knew it would pass, and I would wake up soon wondering what all the fuss was about.

Depression is a terrible thing and I thank God that whenever it crosses my path it is only fleeting.  When I think of people like Marianne Keyes who have or who are still suffering from long term depression I admire them enormously.  The tenactity just to keep living when every day is surrounded by the black fug is a strength that can only be commended.

So moan over, sorry to bore you all, but sometimes you just need to get it out of your system. 

Now, back to real life, where did I put that broomstick?

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Normal Service Resumed

It's been a while I know, but we had a fab two week holiday in Lanzarote and its taken me a while to catch up - especially with the never decreasing pile of ironing!

The weather was brilliant while we were away and it was wonderful to think that we were lying by the pool in winter.  It really cheered me up and made me wonder if I had actually been suffering from SAD syndrome.

In contrast to the laziness of being on holiday my real life is considerably more chaotic.  I've often wanted to make my life less busy but with two young boys who are mad on sports and joining every club going its impossible - Mum's taxi is always in hot demand.  I'll just have wait for another another ten years until they can drive themselves - or better still drive me.

Normally when I'm on holiday I scribble like mad in my notebook and usually manage to write a substantial amount of the current WIP.  But this year I'm about to go into edit mode and inspiration deserted me.  I did manage a very rough draft of two short stories but apart from that gave myself a holiday and spent most of my free time reading.  I'll be posting reviews of my holiday reads in another post.

This week saw the start of Lent.  I  can't say that I'm very good at giving up things I like, so was quite surprised when my youngest child decided he was going to give up chocolate for the duration.  On the first morning he came downstairs and asked if giving up chocolate meant that he couldn't have Cocoa pops.  When I said yes he would have to have something else instead he went away to think.  Five minutes later he came back to me and said, "Mummy, I've decided not to give up chocolate for Lent, I'm going to give up the Wii, instead."

I wonder how long that one will last.

Back soon.