Monthly Archives: November 2016

Review Wednesday – A Reluctant Little Prince by Jean M Cogdell

Another book in this series and this time one for the little boys. I read this one on my kindle app for iPad which gave the advantage of a nice colour wash to the illustrations.

The story is very cute; – a little boy wondering what he will be when he grows up. The pages go through the various options each one nicely illustrated. There is a lovely feel of happy family life with this series and of fun. A really nice, easy read to share with a little one cuddled up on your lap! img_1919

Review Wednesday – The Selfish Act by Rosen Trevithick

img_1922In this short story, a newly engaged young woman, struggling with mental illness, makes her way to a railway line. The story is both thoughtful and thought provoking. Illustrating very simply but masterfully the gulf between those who suffer from mental illness and those trying to help and understand them.

Speaking from the viewpoint of good health it is impossible to know the processes that leave the mentally ill in such anguish. We feel that we should be able to reason with them, to apply our own thought processes to them but that is neither possible nor fair.

The author has made a bold statement here within a few pages and I, for one, applaud her.

Review Wednesday – Revival by Stephen King

img_1920A new minister comes to town and young Jamie Morton soon strikes up a close bond with him and his amazing experiments in electricity. It is a relationship that is destined to last a lifetime.

Life, as it turns out, throws a few spanners in the works for both Jamie and the minister (Charles), both move away from the small town where they first met, but they are destined to meet again. The tragedy in Charles’ life and the relationships in Jamie’s bring the two men back together in a final grand experiment.

This was an enjoyable read for me, not outstanding but Stephen King always entertains no matter what the outcome of the actual story. Revival is a long and far reaching tale of damaged lives, told in King’s unforgettable style.

Review Wednesday -All Good Stories by Linda G Hill

img_1918This is lovely, little gobble-up-in-one-go novella. It is the second book this week that I have reviewed that is definitely out of my genre but it is also the second that I thoroughly enjoyed. This story is light and fluffy, not too sweet, slightly quirky.

Xavier and Jupiter are just very good friends who support one another although Xavier would like things to be a bit more serious. When Jupiter begins an internet relationship with Bob, Xavier is immediately suspicious and wants Jupiter to end it. He is worried for Jupiter and also for himself. This new relationship makes him realise just how much he cares for her.

The story takes a couple of unexpected turns before this romantic comedy ends as it should. The suppporting characters are unusual and memorable and the writing is fluid and assured.

A very nice, little break from longer, grittier novels.

Review Wednesday – Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch

img_1917It seemed like a while ago I was seeing this title and it’s fantastic cover everywhere, but it took me a while to get around to reading it because this is definitely not my genre.

Peter Grant has just completed his police training and is waiting to be assigned to a dept. Things are not looking good for Peter; it seems like he might be destined for a desk for the rest of his working life. But out on patrol he questions a witness to a bizarre murder (the witness is pretty bizarre too!) and his career path is suddenly set. There is a whole branch of the Metropolitan police that Grant has never heard of and he is their newest recruit.

I did struggle a bit with the story; as I had thought I would. There were just too many ghosts and fantastic figures for me. However, I did very much enjoy Peter Grant’s great ‘voice’ his dry, witty observations and the tour of London into the bargain. There were laugh out loud moments from some great lines. It is a fantastic book, just maybe a little too fantastic for me but obviously won’t be for many readers.

Strangely, I think I will read more book in this series and that is a great compliment to this author because even though I am not comfortable with this genre he has created a truly memorable character with a wonderful voice. Oh, and the Audible narration was outstanding.

Review Wednesday – Reaching Down the Rabbit Hole by Allan Ropper

img_1916This has been an interesting extra-read for me, spotted on one of the book bargain sites last week. I am always interested in the workings of the brain and what can go wrong and expected to perhaps just pick and choose those chapters here and there that interested me most. However I was surprised to power right through the whole book as each section was equally interesting.

Dr Allan Ropper(the author) comes across as the doctor we would all want to have if the chips were down. He seems very approachable and concerned for his patients on the basic, human level as well as treating their illnesses.

This neurologist deals with the diseases we have heard of such as stroke and motor-neurone disease and Parkinson’s and also other conditions that often seem to mimic these diseases and, as such, can be more difficult to diagnose in an environment that is also, often, quite time critical. Indeed (putting aside the grouchy nature and limp) I could almost imagine the author as Dr House, laying out the facts, examining them with razor-sharp accuracy and coming to his conclusions.

But this book tells real stories, some of them awe inspiring both from the point of view of the dedicated hospital staff and the courageous patients. Some are simply heartbreaking. Some patients present with bizarre symptoms as the brain struggles to function normally. Through it all Dr Ropper talks about how vital it is that doctors listen to their patients. Having gone through such a situation with a close family member I would say that this is what patients want most, to be really heard in an atmosphere where they don’t feel hurried or pressured. It was good to hear this doctor’s words on that particular aspect of consultation.

There is a brief and interesting section about Michael J Fox, a very high profile Parkinson’s sufferer and massive  fund raiser, but Dr Ropper’s patients seem to come from all walks of life.

This is a very frank, sobering, heart warming and, at times, heart breaking account of working in this very specialised field of medicine. I am glad that I read it.

Review Wednesday – Who Took My Banana? By Sally Huss

img_1915Mummy orangutan wakes to find her banana is missing and so off she goes through the jungle asking each creature she sees if they know where it is.

This is a classic story format for very young children, each page quite repetititous but fun as the different animals say they have no idea where the banana might be. In my experience, children who are just beginning to hold their attention long enough for a whole book, like this undemanding and predictable style. The illustrations are simple but effective.

What I didn’t like about the book was the presence of so many creatures that , in the wild at least, an orangutan would never encounter. Whilst the age-range that the book is aimed at would not know or care about whether a toucan is found in Borneo or not, I think it is important that all books should be accurate. The orangutans natural range is very limited but there would have been plenty of animals and birds to choose from that do live in the same region. A pity because, for me, this spoiled the story just as it would if it had been about a tiger in Africa,  but in other ways this is a lovely book.

19 Self-editing Tips

From Jacqui Murray at Wordreams a useful and (for me 😊) Perfectly timed checklist for those of us in editing mode. Thanks for sharing Jacqui – I will be pinning this on my wall!

Help! Help!

Now that I’ve published my first novel, To Hunt a Sub, I can say from experience that writing it and editing it took equally long periods of time (and marketing is just as involved). After finishing the final rough draft (yeah, sure) and before emailing it to an editor, I wanted it as clean possible. I searched through a wide collection of self-editing books like these:

The Novel Writer’s Toolkit by Bob Mayer

Self-editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne

The Marshall Plan for Novel Writing by Evan Marshall

…and came up with a list of fixes that I felt would not only clean up grammar and editing, but the voice and pacing that seemed to bog my story down. Here are ideas you might like:

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The Business of Writing

img_1910As I have mentioned a few days ago here my mind is awash with plans and resolutions. I have a lot I want to do in the New Year and I don’t want to arrive at the start line unprepared.

For ten years I worked for an adult training company. It was all about system management. Virtually all of our courses were run ‘off site’ many in the company offices of our clients who had employed us to train their staff in health and safety or first aid. Even more of our courses took place in woodlands and muddy fields; Tree surgery, tractor driving and the art of dry stonewall construction. These courses were potentially dangerous for our attendees; proper pre-course instruction, suitability of the site and personal protective clothing were paramount. So too was making sure the candidates were fit for the course and the right instructor was selected.img_1908

It all boiled down to meticulous and timely planning. I loved it.

Writing was always in the background, always has been; a luxurious guilty- pleasure, an escape and a desire to create.

When I finished my first novel, in that rush of excitement that I had actually done it, I knew that this wasn’t just it. I wanted more. But I still hadn’t latched on to the idea of writing as a business. I uploaded the book to Amazon and look around with a glorious feeling of, ‘Ah, what next?’

The many books and posts ( thank you fellow bloggers!’) I have read on the various aspects of producing and marketing books have made me realise just how much work there is to do. My Systems Management Brain has finally kicked in. There has to be a plan. Any time is a good time for a plan but the beginning of a New Year is an especially good time.

Resolution No1 – Make A Plan

I believe a lot of writers will agree, this is not an easy thing to do. Following a plan is hard, but even devising and making a plan that can work for you, as an individual, is no piece of cake. So I am breaking it down into digestible chunks, just like I would when planning a training course.

  • writing
  • Blogging
  • Marketing
  • social media
  • Reading

… and I will be breaking down these topics much further as I go into them.

As a new blogger, I am still looking for ways that I can add something to the blogging community. When I very first started this I knew there were already many experienced people out there who can speak with much more authority than I. What could I add to all that expertise? It seemed a bit daunting.

But there are many people starting too, so I want to document what works and what doesn’t for me, what I enjoy and what is just hard slog! I want to share what I have learned about writing andmaybe ask a few questions too

Talk to you soon… Back to the plan!


Happy Thanksgiving – A day of love, family, friendship and laughter

Today is an ordinary working day for us folk on this side of ‘The Pond’ but I wanted to take a moment to send good wishes to everyone celebrating Thanksgiving, wherever you may be and I couldn’t have put it better than this – Thanks Sally!

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Although we do not officially celebrate Thanksgiving, we all need that one day that we come together to say thank you for all that we have. Our online community is so International now that it is inevitable that we will share each other’s special days in some way.

Happy Thanksgiving and I hope you have a fabulous day and if you are spending it alone then drop in to say hello to your friends online…you will be welcome.


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