Tuesday, 20 March 2012

A Busy Weekend and More Reviews

Well with Paddy’s Day and Mother’s Day following on from each other, last weekend was pretty full on and was topped off yesterday with a trip to Liverpool to renew my son’s passport.

It turns out that although on the website it says that Check and Send takes two weeks, apparently this is not guaranteed.  The lady in the post office also said that I only had twelve working days, so not quite two weeks.  Does this mean the passport office works on a different time zone to the rest of us? I wonder.

It was an hour and a half round trip (which could have been a lot worse!) but the application process took a maximum of two minutes, oh, and I had to pay double.  I’m determined to be a lot more organised about renewal dates in future!

Anyway, on to some more bookreviews.  The next on the list is

Christmas At Tiffany’s by Karen Swan

 This was another Christmas present but not one I had anticipated and it was an unexpected delight. This was chick lit for grown ups, and very Jilly Cooper esq; but not her latest stuff, more in the good old days of RCB. It’s set in the fashion world and is the story of a woman whose marriage comes to a sudden end.  In the course of a year she goes to live with friends in New York, Paris and London.  The descriptions, especially of Paris, made me want to take off and start afresh in a city I've never lived in before.  Not sure husband and kids would approve though.  The narrative was page turning and engrossing and I can’t wait to get my mits on more of her books.

We Need to Talk About Kevin - Lionel Shriver
I had debated whether or not to read this book for a long time but when it came up as a choice in the book club I am part of, the decision was made for me.  It’s not a book I thought I would enjoy and I was right about that. If it wasn’t for the book club I don’t think I would have persevered with it. I’m glad that I did though because it did get better towards the end and at least I can say I’ve read it.

I found it a hard book to read.  None of the characters were particularly likeable and the narrator, I felt, tended to wallow in self-indulgent waffle.  In saying that though, it sparked a lengthy debate at the book club which was unusual (we normally spend 10 minutes discussing the book and the rest gossiping and drinking wine). 

The next three books I read were much lighter (thankfully)

They were:

Summer Loving by Allie Spencer, One Minute to Midnight by Amy Silver & Monday to Friday Man by Alice Peterson


These were all books which were sent to me to review as nominees for the Melissa Nathan romantic comedy award.

I don’t want to say too much about these except to say, that although they were three very different books, I enjoyed them all and I wish the authors all the best for the award. 

It was the first time I’ve done anything like this and I felt honoured to be part of it. Now we’ll just have to wait and see.

The last book in this round up is

A Place of Secrets by Rachel Hore

This is the story of Jude who is trying to come to terms with the death of her husband. She is asked to value a collection of scientific instruments and manuscripts belonging to Anthony Wickham who was an 18th century astronomer, and who lived near to where she grew up and still has family.   As Jude unravels the secrets of the past, she finds a startling connection to her own family.

I really enjoyed this story, I loved the description and was quickly drawn into the atmosphere and Jude’s character.  I really do like these types of stories where someone from the present uncovers a family secret from the past, but for me there were a few too many coincidences to make it truly pleasurable.  It hasn’t put me off reading the author though, and I’m looking forward to reading the next book I have of hers which is A Gathering Storm

Well, that's all for now, but I've a few more up my sleeve which I'll blog about soon.

Take care


Thursday, 15 March 2012


Finally managed to book a holdiay over Easter. To Tunisa.  I've never been there before and I'm hoping to be pleasantly surprised.  It does wipe out most of the time over the bank holidays where I would normally catch up on things around the house, but I don't care, I can't wait to get a break.

It's a really early flight - have to be at the airport at 4.30 in the morning (which I hate) and we get back at tea time the day before the boys go back to school. My eldest is going on a 3 day activtiy trip with school the next morning, so he is going to be shattered. And I am going to have to be ultered organised to manage it all (oops). 

The only downside is that this morning I realised that my eldest son's passport runs out in June so I'm going to have to get it renewed before we go. (Good job I decided to check this morning).  If I check and send then it should come back in two weeks - keep your fingers crossed for me or we won't be going anywhere.

Off to the post office now!

Take care!

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

What I've Been Reading

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve been reading quite a lot recently so over the next few weeks I’m going to post some reviews.

Firstly though, today I’ve submitted my entry for the Novelicious Undiscovered competition – up to 3000 words of an opening chapter of a chick lit novel.  It’s a novel I’ve been working on for a number of years now, so fingers crossed.  It would be wonderful to be selected but I know there will be huge competition and I’m not counting my chickens.

Now, onto the reviews.   A while ago (well last year actually!) on my usual trawl through Amazon (I don’t need any more new books to topple over the tbr pile, or clog up my Kindle, but I’m afraid I’m addicted), I came across the Little Women Letters by Gabrielle Donnelly.

I was intrigued to find out how the writer would bring the original into the present day.  In the modern version, the great granddaughter of Jo finds her ancestor’s letters in the attic and uses them to help her deal with her dilemmas in the present day.
I love these kind of stories which delve back into the past so it seemed like a winner to me. And then I realised that although I had seen the film, I had never actually read the original book. With a free download available on Kindle I decided this was an error I must rectify immediately
Well, to all you Louisa May Alcott fans, I’d like to say that I was enthralled by this classic. But I can’t. To be honest, although I loved the sisters, I found the story a little patronising towards women. Now, I do realise this was written when male and female attitudes were vastly different, but I found the idea of Jo curbing her temper, as her father had taught her mother to do, a little difficult to wear.  I also found the authorial point of view, which kept butting in, nothing short of irritating.  Compared to, for example, Jane Austen, which despite the difference in attitudes, translates much more readily to a modern day audience, I found Little Women a little tedious.  I apologise to all you die-hard fans, this is just my opinion.
As for The Little Women Letters, well, I found it an interesting enough read.  I loved the way the family came together, and despite their differing lives, always made the effort to meet up for Saturday brunch.  More families should make the time to get together like this, I think.  I loved the atmosphere this created in the story, but I’m afraid the reading of the book didn’t really live up to the anticipation of it.  I felt the story and the lives of the characters were too contrived and tried too hard to mirror the pattern of the original, and for me it fell a little flat.

The Help – Kathryn Stockett
In contrast, this was a book I had been putting off reading.  Despite the fact that a very good friend of mine had recommended it, I wasn’t sure it was the book for me. Guilt that I had held on to it for so long though, forced me to pick it up and, oh, am I glad that I did.  It is an amazing insight into Jackson, Mississippi during the early 1960’s and just how the racial divide affected the inhabitants of the area. I challenge any woman to read it and not be enthralled. For me I couldn’t but help keep turning the pages.

The Honey Trap – Julie Cohen

I have recently become an avid follower of Julie’s blog and as such am keen to read her backlist. As an aspiring writer of women’s fiction, her advice is invaluable. A while ago I stumbled across Spirit Wiling, Flesh Weak, and was delighted to find The Honey Trap in the library.   I completely devoured this book.  A love story with the edge of a thriller, aromatherapist meets rock band, it was a delight to read. A top rating from me.

And finally …

Home for Christmas – Cally Taylor
This is Cally Taylor’s second novel and one I made my husband buy me for Christmas. And whilst I read it in the few spare moments when I wasn’t entertaining between Christmas and New Year, lying on the sofa eating Quality Street and drinking wine (for isn’t that the true meaning of Christmas?) I didn’t feel that that the book reflected the Christmassy element suggested buy the title. Despite that, it was an enjoyable read and I loved the cinema setting, which almost became a character in its own right.

That's all for now, but I'll be back with some more reviews soon.

Friday, 9 March 2012

BBC Radio 2 500 Word Short Story Competition

I forgot to mention in my last post - last week my youngest entered Radio 2's 500 word short story competition.  Out of thousands of entries, I doubt he will stand a chance of being in the top 25 for his age group, but I'm so proud that he finished his story.  500 coherent words is a lot for an 8 year old to write and to see him diligently tapping away at his laptop was the equivalent of a sugar rush.

Even more encouraging was the fact that, with a little encouragement, he was prepared to edit his first draft until he was happy with his entry.  He's chuffed, I'm chuffed and we've both learnt a lot.   So it's win, win all round I think.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Apologies For Absence

Things have been a bit tricky recently, not that that is much of an excuse for my failure to blog.  

I’m not used to being ill, it doesn’t come naturally and so when I am, I don’t deal with it very well.  In saying that, I haven’t been the kind of ill which incapacitates you, there were times that I wished I was, but for most of this year so far, I’ve been feeling under the weather, and generally lacking in energy and inspiration.

The cause has been a series of colds and, of course, the dreaded abscess on my gum. Several courses of antibiotics have managed to keep it at bay, but its still there, niggling under the surface.  Sometimes at night it comes out to play, jarring my teeth and making me feel like a hamster with swollen cheeks, but then by morning it goes back into hibernation.  I suppose I should be grateful for the reprieve but I feel like its dragging me down.

But of course I keep going, I have a job, a house and two children (three if you count my husband) to look after.  I don’t have time to wallow in my exhaustion.  Oh dear, I am in a bad way aren’t I? I don’t mean to depress.

So, I’m going to fill my glass half full, not leave it half empty. It’s March, the days are getting warmer, we have daylight for longer, and nature is beginning to wake. Just like in Chaucer’s prologue, only its March’s sweet showers which is bringing the world to life again, not April’s.

And, next week I have an appointment to see a dental surgeon.  I’m not looking forward to what might follow, but if it solves my problem, I promise I will be truly grateful.

On the writing front, well, I haven’t been writing much, but I have been trying to do some editing (more of which later) and I have been doing a fair amount of reading.  So, for my next blog, I feel a few reviews coming on.

I will be back!