Monday, 20 April 2015

Book Review: Matt Sumell's Making Nice

Making Nice
By Matt Sumell
Published by Harvill Secker
Available in hardback and ebook
Forthcoming in paperback

Making Nice, Matt Sumell's debut novel is going to be a novel that you're either going to like or you're going to instantly dislike. Sumell's novel tells the story of Alby and the way he is coping or rather not coping with his mother's death. Alby must quite literally fight his way through his loss and love.

Alby drinks, has sex, fights his way through his grief with no regard for anyone's feelings. On one hand he will protect a baby bird who he nurses but will spew out insults to young children and punch his sister.

Making Nice is an enjoyable book with an irritating main character.  This shambles of a character who can't appreciate the people around him or the life he has. At times, Alby reminded me of Hannah, the main protagonist from the TV show, Girls. I know it's becoming a cliche comparing books and films to Girls but Alby could have walked straight off the set. He has been pampered with a comfortable upbringing, doesn't seem to care about real life by walking away from jobs and responsibilities. The things that matter in life have become invisible to him.

Alby is a selfish character but seems to have lost his way in life, and it is this fact that makes this book an interesting read - he meanders from job to job, situation to situation. Everyone at some point of their life loses his or her way, forget the things which are important. I can guarantee that you will read this book and realise your life isn't as messed up as Alby's life.

So, read this book and decide if you like it or not. I think you're either going to like it or loathe it. Good luck! Making Nice is available from your favourite bookshop.

I was kindly sent a copy of Making Nice by the publisher.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Reading Round Up: March

The A-Z of You and Me isn't pictured
March was the month I may have read my book of the year, and also read books located in America, Haiti, New York and good old England.

Matt Sumell's debut novel, Making Nice, tells the story of Alby and his spiral of decline since the death of this mother. This book very much reminded me of Girls except with a male protagonist. I'll be reviewing this in more detail over the next few weeks.

God Loves Haiti by Dimitry Elias Leger tells the story of a love triangle, before and after the Haitian earthquake. Ledger's novel looks at the after effects of the earthquake on the people of Haiti, and they way they try to find ways of coping and surviving. I'll also be reviewing this soon too!

The A-Z of You and Me by James Hannah was the second book for the Curtis Brown Book Club. I really enjoyed the rhythm and pace of this book, and at times found my self re-reading parts aloud so I could hear the rhythm. You can read my review here.

Jenny Offill's Dept. of Speculation is one of those books that comes along just at the right time in your life. This is an amazing book, and I know I'll be going back to this book for a re-read very soon. If you like Charles Lambert's With a Zero at its Heart then you will absolutely love this!

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Book Review: The A-Z of You and Me

The A-Z of You and Me
By James Hannah
Published by Doubleday
Available in hardback and ebook
Paperback forthcoming

James Hannah's debut novel, The A-Z of You and Me seems rather depressing on the surface - Ivo, in his 40's, is in a hospice, refusing visitors, waiting to die. Yet, this book is full of life and life affirming.

Ivo is full of regrets, as he stares out the window of the hospice, watching the garden and life carrying on without him. His carer, Sheila suggests he plays the 'A to Z game.' This involves making your way through the alphabet, thinking of a body part and a story associated with that part of the body.

Through a series of flashbacks, we see why Ivo's life is full of false starts, broken relationships with friends, lovers and families. He has drifted through life, not appreciating the relationships and life around him and in behaving like this he has lose the love of his life. Hannah creates characters with flaws making blunders, trying hard to fix problems but finding themselves spiraling away from an ideal they hold in their head. Yet Hannah makes sure there are sprinkles of comedy.

One of favourite things about The A-Z of You and Me is the rhythm of the sentences. I found myself on several occasions reading it out loud because the pace and the rhythm galloping along, whisking me up into the story.

There is no happy ending. There are no perfect characters. This is a novel where the protagonist stays in bed, refusing to let go of the past, wanting to stew in the tragedies in his life. This is a book that makes you realise that you don't want to end up like this character.

You can The A-Z of You and Me from your favourite bookshop.

This was the second book in the Curtis Brown Book Group.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Guest Post: Hannah Fielding's Imaginary Bookshop

Today Hannah Fielding, as part of her blog tour for her new novel, Indiscretion, has popped over to answer the Imaginary Bookshop Q&A.


Hi Hannah, congratulations on the publication of your novel, Indiscretion and thank you for popping over to Writer’s Little Helper and becoming the latest author to take part in the Imaginary Bookshop series.

What would be the name of your imaginary bookshop?
The Book Emporium: I’ve always loved the connotations of ‘emporium’ – sort of magical and olde worlde.

Where would your imaginary bookshop be located?
In the village near my home in Kent (because an imaginary bookshop doesn’t need to worry about location in terms of commercial viability). In a beautiful old building with lots of quirky historical features and little nooks and plenty of light cast from higgledy-piggledy windows overlooking fields stretching all the way to the sea.

Would your bookshop have any special features?
Oh yes! Plenty of comfortable armchairs to read in. A log fire crackling away in winter, and a courtyard garden at the back open to all in the summer. Artworks inspired by works of literature – from paintings to book sculptures. Gentle acoustic music. The smell of freshly brewed coffee and baking cakes emanating from the little cafĂ© onsite. A dedicated events space continually humming with activity: signings, readings, talks, meetings, screenings of big-screen book adaptations. A second-hand book-swapping programme.

What would make your bookshop different from all of the other ones?
It would be a true destination for book lovers – a place to visit and stay for an hour or more.

What sections would you have in your bookshop? And what sections would you ditch?
I’d have every kind of book, to attract every kind of reader – a fully inclusive shop. But I’d have one creative area where I departed from the usual approach to sectioning by genre, organising by theme, perhaps, or style, or cover. It would be the ‘discovery zone’ – a place a reader would go to find a new writer’s work, rather than just sticking to browsing the usual genres.
Every bookshop needs a display table. Which books would you have on your display table? Why?
An eclectic mix, changed daily to accommodate plenty of authors and encourage readers to visit the shop often. I’d have one table with books I chose, and another that visitors to the store were encouraged to place their own choices upon.

If you could run only one author event who would you have? You can pick a living or dead writer. What sort of event would they run?
A reading from Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. To hear Cathy and Heathcliff’s story from her own lips – I can imagine how silent the events space would be as the guests hung on her every word.

A customer comes up to your till with a copy of your novel, Indiscretion and asks you to give them a reason on why they should buy it. What would you say?
Well, there’s plenty I’d love to say, but I wouldn’t want to scare them off with a long speech. So I’d simply say, ‘It’s a passport to another time and another country and a whole host of emotion – most of all, love.’

What sort of cake would you offer when launching your book in your bookshop?
Chocolate, definitely, and plenty of it! Romance novels and chocolate cake go together like sunsets and dreams.


Hannah Fielding was born and grew up in Alexandria, Egypt. Her family home was a large rambling house overlooking the Mediterranean where she lived with her parents and her grandmother, Esther Fanous, who had been a revolutionary feminist and writer in Egypt during the early 1900s.

Fluent in French, English and Arabic, Hannah’s left school at 18 and travelled extensively all over the world. Hannah met her husband in England and they lived in Cairo for 10 years before returning to England in 1989.  They settled in Kent, bringing up two children in a Georgian rectory, surrounded by dogs, horses and the English countryside. During this time, Hannah established a very successful business as an interior designer renovating rundown cottages.

With her children now grown up, Hannah now has the time to indulge in her one true passion, which is writing. Hannah has so far published two novels Burning Embers set in 1970s Africa and The Echoes of Love set in 1980s Venice. Her romance novels are adored by readers all over the world.

Friday, 27 March 2015

The Crappiest Eclipse Picture...Ever

In the UK, we had a solar eclipse last week. There was lots of hype because the last one we had back in 1999 was fantastic but it was in the middle of the summer. They even did a special solar eclipse Eastenders special. I'm not sure if they did a special episode this time as I don't watch soaps.

This eclipse, however, was mostly concealed behind the clouds and we only got a small glimpse. Below is my picture, taken on my phone, standing on the roof at work.

You're going to need a magnifying to see the little speck but trust me it does show the moon starting to move across the sun...