Thursday, 12 October 2017

September's Reading

Not many books read in September...

But I finished redrafting my novel, and I've sent it to a few agents (cross your fingers and toes for me), and I've finally cracked the shell of short story that has been driving me around the bend for two years. Yes, two bloody years - the structure and the voice was wrong but I think I'm now on the right path.

I'm now having a crisis of 'what if I can never write another novel again' - it's really fun. The same thoughts go around in my head, one minute saying that I can still write and then there's the other side telling me that I'm done and I should stick to reading. Tell me you all have inner voices and that I haven't cracked? Please?

Anyway, books read in September....

Madame Bovary of the Suburbs - Sophie Divry (translated by Alison Anderson)
Sophie Divry, author of the fantastic The Library of Unrequited Love, tackles Madame Bovary with a modern retelling of a woman who moves through life, successful with a job, family, children and friends but is frustrated and bored told in the second-person narrative. Divry uses this narrative to pull the reader into the story, implicating them into the affairs of the narrator. This is a book full of dark humour and compelling.

Snow Falling on Cedars - David Guterson
On the surface this is a courtroom drama, telling the story of the trial of Kabuo Miyamoto who has been accused of the murder of Carl Heine on the small island of San Piedro, Puget Sound, Washington but this is more than a who done it. This is a book about a the conflicts in a small, close-knit island community, tenses between the Japan and America post WWII. This book is full of rich details and characterisation.

The Little Book of Hygge - Meik Wiking
I've been dipping in and out of this book for several months, and I've finally finished it and it turns out hygge was 'so last season' - must read faster. This stylish little book is full of ways to live a happy life just like the Danish. Blankets, cosy nights, candles, comfort food - all of the things I already enjoy. Turns out I've been 'hygge' for years and I think I'm going to celebrate this fact with buying yet another candle.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Book Review: The Easy Way Out by Steven Amsterdam

The Easy Way Out
By Steven Amsterdam
Published by Riverrun
Available in paperback & ebook

Steven Amsterdam's latest novel, The Easy Way Out, is in interesting novel looking at the end of life care and the right to die. Using his experiences as a palliative nurse, Amsterdam explores the choices people make to stop the suffering from horrendous diseases.

Evan is a suicide assistant, a legal job, where he provides support and care needed for someone ready to die on their own terms. He hands the patient their last drink, being supportive to the patient's family, offering advice, standing on the sidelines for the patient's final moments. He keeps his job a secret from his friends, mother and lovers to escape the people he loves from judging him.

Evan pushes at the limits of the law and his own morality for the patients he cares for. All he cares about are the patients rather than his boss's concerns on Evan's approaches. But more and more he starts to wonder who might be there for him, when the time comes... and life starts to unravel for Evan.

This is a bleak novel about the way people choose die if they had a choice, and the way these types of decisions can leave family and friends left behind wondering about this life choice. Amsterdam has written a sensitive novel about end of life care, and it will leave you wondering about your end of life choices (if you could have a choice). Yet, it isn't all bleak - this book has plenty of warmth and humour.

This book is full of compassion and sad but with dashes of dark humour. This is a sensitive topic for many people and won't be suitable for everybody. The Easy Way Out is available from your favourite bookshop.

I was sent a copy via Bookbridgr.

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

July & August's Reading

This month's catch up is a bumper edition, covering July and August.

I'm trying to come up with a witty excuse for not blogging as much at the moment but it's simply that I'm trying to juggle several things at the moment. I'm currently painting each room and I'm not the world's fastest DIYer. I'm also trying to do a few craft projects as I want to have some homemade pictures up on my walls.

I've been reading too but the writing has definitely fallen off the radar. I've finished the redrafting of my novel, and have started to research agents and also sending out to few too! I've already had two rejections but I really do believe there's an agent out there who would be the perfect fit for my novel.

Here are the books I've read over the summer:

Various Pets Alive and Dead - Marina Lewycka
Serge grew up on a commune but shunned its values and lifestyle to work in the banking section in the city. However, his previous life has started to catch up with him. Sometimes you need a book full of dysfunctional families and this book will deliver on this! this is a witty and wise novel.

Little Black Book - Otegha Uwagba
This small book has really big ideas about being a woman, having a career, trying to achieve your dreams. This book is amazing. This book has already motivated me to re-think my finances, getting better deal with my mortgage, using my time to do the things I want to do. Buy this book, read it and then buy it for all of your friends.
This is a novel full of laughter, fashion, hissy fits and ambition. If you like Devil Wears Prada, Bridget Jones or even Ugly Betty then you will love this book. You can read my review here.

Yesterday - Felicia Yap
If you're looking for a book with twists and turns then this is the book for you. This is a novel about memory, lies and deceit. What if you are the unreliable narrator of your own life? You can read my review here.

Whispers Underground - Ben Aaronovitch
This is the third novel in the Peter Grant series, a supernatural crime series. There's something horrible happening in the tunnels under London and Peter has been called in to work alongside the police to find out the cause of all of these mysterious happenings. This is an entertaining read full of witty characters that make you want to read the next book in the series as soon as possible.

The Easy Way Out - Steven Amsterdam
This is a interesting read looking at end of life care. Evan is a suicide assistant, a legal job, where he provides support and care needed for someone ready to die. This book is full of compassion, sad with dashes of dark humour. Look out for my review soon.

Bleaker House - Nell Stevens
Nell Stevens has been given a writing grant to spend three months to write a novel in a location of her choice. She picks Bleaker Island, Falklands. But this book is not that novel. Instead this is a book about a woman realizing a novel doesn’t lie in total solitude and a clear plan. Nell wants to teach herself the art of loneliness and then she’ll know if she is a proper author. This is a great book, full of great details and funny insights.

True Love at the Lonely Hearts Bookshop - Annie Darling
I really needed a sweet book with the ability to give you a hug and this book did just this which was needed when I went on my first ever spa day. Verity Love works in a bookshop, is obsessed with Jane Austen and also has a fake boyfriend. Yet, her fake boyfriend doesn't seem to behaving and their promise not to fall in love seems to have cracks appearing in this guarantee to each other.

Monday, 28 August 2017

Book Review: Yesterday

By Felicia Yap
Published by Wildfire
Available in hardback & ebook
Paperback is forthcoming

You know how Samuel L. Jackson's character is Jurassic Park says 'hold on to your butts' well that's what you need to know before reading this book. Felicia Yap's debut novel, Yesterday, is an addictive psychological drama with twists and turns and you'll find that you might not be able to put this book down.

There are two types of people - those who can only remember yesterday (monos), and those who can also recall the day before (duos). Each night events of the day are recorded - all the things that matter or you need to remember. Every morning your diary tells you where you were, who you love, what you do each day.

Yet, those diary entries can turn against your future self....

Claire believes she has the perfect life - living in Cambridge with her author husband who has a new political career on the horizon - she doesn't need to work, enjoying her garden. Yet, the police are at her door, saying that the body of her husband's mistresses was found in the River Cam.  They think her husband killed her... yet her husband is telling her another thing. All of the evidence is suspect and she has no idea who is telling the truth.

This is a story of betrayal, love and deceit where it's hard to trust the people around you and quite possibly you are the unreliable narrator to your own life. Yap taps into society's fears of losing our identities, memory and love. Who can be trusted?

This story will keep you gripped until the end. So grab a copy soon but don't blame me if you can't put the book down! You can buy Yesterday from your favourite bookshop.

I was sent a copy by the publisher.

Monday, 7 August 2017

Frances Gapper's Imaginary Bookshop

Today Writer's Little Helper welcomes Frances Gapper to the Imaginary Bookshop to celebrate her new short story collection, In the Wild Wood.

In the Wild Wood has had fantastic reviews from Helen Oyeyemi and Paul Magrs. Some of the biggest names from your bookshelves. Plus look at this fantastic book cover!

Over to Frances...


What would be the name of your imaginary bookshop?
The Dream Palace

Where would your imaginary bookshop be located?
In a beautiful and surprisingly accessible part of the UK that hasn’t yet been discovered. The bookshop would have sea views from its many bay windows (with window seats), nearby woodland walks and a lovely river also within easy walking distance.

Would your bookshop have any special features? E.g. a performing stage, a cocktail bar, etc.

It would have lots of very comfortable sofas and other lounging-around types of furniture. Also fountains, verandas, covered walkways.

What would make your bookshop different from all of the other ones?
My bookshop would be very different indeed from all the other ones. The emphasis would be on relaxation. Women over 60 would be invited to stay over free of charge for as long as they liked in private book-lined bedrooms with large bathrooms and writing tables.

What sections would you have in your bookshop? And what sections would you ditch?
Plenty of fiction, poetry, biography and nature writing, plus a lot of odd and unusual books that don’t really fit into any category. I’d probably ditch anything too technical, apart from gardening books with a strongly autobiographical bent.

Every bookshop needs a display table. Which books would you have on your display table? Why?
On the display table I’d put old editions in great condition and very reasonably priced, eg Pan paperbacks from the 60s, vintage Penguins and leather-covered classics. Well bound and printed on good paper. The sort of thing I look out for myself in second-hand book shops.

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?

Emily Dickinson. She would read aloud selected poems, her personal favourites plus a few new ones we’ve never heard before, and some of her letters to friends including the expurgated bits. She’d then answer questions from the audience in her inimitable fashion.

A customer comes up to your till with a copy of your novel and asks you to give them a reason on why they should buy it. What would you say?
My novel? I’d say, did you know you can get this for £0.01 plus postage on Amazon Marketplace? As for my book of short stories, if it had gone missing I’d suggest they order a copy direct from the publisher Cultured Llama. They could look on the CL website to see what Helen Oyeyemi and Paul Magrs say about my book and view the cover picture, Night Tree by Jane Eccles. If that doesn’t persuade them to buy it, nothing will.

What sort of cake would you offer when launching your book in your bookshop?
I never thought I’d see myself saying this, but cake without any nuts or seeds, so there’d be no nasty surprises for diverticulitis-prone intestines. Nb I love nuts and seeds – or used to.


You can either buy In the Wild Wood directly from the publisher or from Amazon.

You can visit Frances's website here