Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Shrinking Rooms, Book Piles, Redrafting and Stitching

I feel like I haven't been here for ages. I have been really, really busy with submitting some of my writing, worrying over selling our house and living with boxes piling up, shrinking every room!

I have been reading and writing reviews for books that will be published soon. Here's my current to-review pile on my desk.

I am currently reading The Vacationers by Emma Straub and enjoying the summery scenery as an escape from the rainy days in the UK.

Recently, I have read Kerry Hudson's Thirst and Lee Rourke's Vulgar Things. I will be reviewing both of these in the coming months. Plus I read The Future for Curious People last week and really enjoyed it as it reminded me of Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind. This book is what I would expect a the sequel to be. I will be reviewing this one soon.

I am going to be reading and reviewing the following over the coming weeks and months:

Remember Me To The Bees - Judy Darley
No Harm Can Come To A Good Man - James Smythe
The Lying-Down Room - Anna Jaquiery
The Axeman's Jazz - Ray Celestin
The Great And Calamitous Tale Of Johan Thoms - Ian Thornton

Today Charles Lambert's With a Zero at its Heart turned up. I have heard lots of good things about this book on Twitter so I'm transferring it to top of the pile!

I have been redrafting my novel, still. It's going very slowly especially chapter nine. I added an additional two thousand words and the next day I chopped them all back - my heart didn't want to as two thousand words is quite a few pages but it was needed - I sliced from the beginning, middle and end - I'm hoping this chapter works but I'm not going to worry about it until the next round of redrafting and editing. Its one step forward and two steps back with this novel but I don't mind - this one seems to be behaving more than my previous novel - it took a long time to get that one right. I have also been editing the first three chapters for a competition too.

I am currently working on chapter ten. This chapter has big gaps on the pages as I was originally planning on treating my future-self to add in new sections. Thanks past-me. There are more gaps than there are words!

As well as trying to find time to pack all of my books, ready for moving (I have been ready since November but thats another story) I have been getting back into doing cross stitch. I am hoping to finish Monet's Poppy Fields before the end of the summer - I have been doing it for a couple of yeras! It was a present from work for my birthday. I am looking forward to hanging it up in my new house!

Yesterday we took my sister and her two little ones to the farm and this is what Mollie said afterwards to my sister:

I asked Mollie "what did you like at the farm"
Mollie reply was, "the mud and puddle."
Me- "did you like any animals?"
Mollie- "no they smelt and were dirty and standing in poo." 

Me- "I think the poo was mud"
Mollie- "still it was disgusting." "But I love jumping in the puddles."

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Book Review: Black Lake by Johanna Lane

Black Lake
By Johanna Lane
Published by Tinder Press
Available in hardback and ebook. Paperback is forthcoming.

Johanna Lane's debut novel, Black Lake, is an atmospheric and compelling story of family tragedy and loss.

Lane fully immerses the reader into the idyllic Dunlough estate surrounded by wild Irish countryside and storms coming off the Atlantic Ocean. The imposing house has had a tight hold over the Campbell family for many generations.

The reader knows there is a family tragedy by the end of the first chapter. Lane stops there and rewinds, showing the reader the events leading up to the tragic incident and also beyond through the different perspective of each family member. This is a beautifully written character-driven novel full of complicated family drama and the impact of hidden secrets

The house is crumbling and is in need of repair with secrets locked behind doors - all hidden from public view. Lane uses the house as a metaphor for the Campbell family. The Campbells' have no money left and they must move out of their huge space into a tightly packed cottage so that the Government can open their home to the public. Nothing is private, leaving each family member exposed. Just like the house they must develop a split life - one for the tourists and another for their private life.

Lane uses Black Lake to explore the way people are deeply connected to their homes and the way surroundings can consume your life. In a space shared by tourists, each family member tries to snatch back their own privacy some where on the estate and they all must come to terms with their new life by mourning their privacy.  Each family member carves out their own space so they can keep a lifeline to their old self - the father keeps his office and is surrounded by secrets from generations before him, the mother has her garden, the son builds a hiding place to tuck away his treasures and the sister finds her space is away from the family home. There is a thin layer of polished smiles for the public but there are simmering resentments and secrets lurking.

This is a fantastic novel. I found myself thinking about this book several days after I had finished read it! I'm looking forward to reading Lane's next book.

You can buy Black Lake from your favourite online or even offline book retailer.

I was kindly sent a copy by the Publisher.