BOOK REVIEW.

 

The Little Bookshop of Love Stories

Written by Jaimie Admans.

Take a good look at the title. How can any book-lover resist? I for one could not possibly pass by this or even just give it a second glance. Everything about the title screams ‘buy me, buy me now.’

However, my friends, it is now confession time. This was one of three books that my like-minded daughter Anna-Lisa gave me as part of my Xmas gift this year. The year of the lockdown, World war three brought about by microscopic organisms we cannot reason with.

Such a perfect time to lose oneself in a beautiful fantasy world of a country village with a bookshop filled with fascinating second-hand books that contain heartfelt messages.

The village in question has the delightful name of Buntingorden and just to get my imagination firing on all four cylinders, it is in The Cotswolds: a picturesque English location that conjures up everything quaint and perfect about my favorite country in the whole world.

In my mind’s eye, I see a village with colourful bunting gently swaying in the summer breeze, a quaint bookshop, which of course I would find hard to resist and wait for this. The most perfect name for this bookshop ‘Once-Upon-A-Page.

Oh! This is the stuff that my dreams are made of. Owning such a bookshop and winning it in a raffle gets my heart racing that little bit faster.

This is exactly what happened to the protagonist Hallie in this well-crafted magical story. Though as with all good story-lines, everything is not rosy in the garden. For one thing, the shop is in financial difficulties and the sharks are at the door. This particular shark is called Drake who we later discover is not just a shark, but has a little more significance in the story. (No spoilers.)

I will come to the love stories in a moment, for now, can I say that the author has created the most delightful man I have ever met on a page. Simply my perfect guy. Kind, bookish, talented, and simply gorgeous, Dimitri is the perfect match for me, whoops I mean Hallie.

When they find hidden messages of love inside some old books, they begin to investigate and discover some very intriguing information.

If you are a romantic and a lover of books, then this is one I recommend.

HAPPY READING.

The Other People.

Book Review.  The other people by C. J. Tudor.

My attention was first drawn to this author when I learned that she lives in Nottinghamshire like myself. At the time, I was researching local authors to write an article in the monthly column I write for The Mansfield And Ashfield News Journal, titled Mansfield Bookshelf.

In the 2019 spring edition, I featured The Chalk Man and, in the Autumn edition, I featured The Taking of Annie Thorne. Both of these are five-star reads of the highest quality.

This brings me to my review of the third book written by C.J.Tudor

I was unable to put this down. Cliché I know, but the truth no less. I devoured this book over two afternoons, completing it in the early hours of the morning with gritty tired eyes.

This is a story of grief, loss, hope, and intrigue. I love the fact that the main character Gabe is determined to find his daughter, no matter what he has to suffer in his quest for the truth.

There is a lot going on in this story, each character is well developed and integral to the outcome of this intense story which kept me tense and on edge throughout. There was never a point, where the writing did not grab my attention.

Here is a taster from the blurb.

Driving home one night, Gabe sees the face of a little girl he knows in the rear of the car in front. She mouths – ‘Daddy’. He never sees his five – year old daughter again.

The police believe she’s dead. But three years later, Gabe still drives the roads, searching for the car that took Izzy.

Intriguing! Yes, I think so too.

 

The things I learn from playing Trivial Pursuit

The things I learn from playing Trivial  Pursuit.

During a recent game of trivia with my husband (a bonus to our lockdown situation I might add). A particular question involving literature caught my attention.

Aimed at me, for a pie no less this was the question.

‘What is Widseth, written in the 6th century, England’s first known version of?

  

Well, I had no idea at all and as my husband smugly announced the answer, ‘A Poem’, I vowed to myself that this was one piece of trivia that I was going to investigate.

As a lover of poetry and the author of my own collection, how could I not be intrigued about Widseth.

The following day my old friend and teacher Google directed me to a mass of information which it is my pleasure to share with those who are interested.

I soon discovered the true spelling is Widsith.

Apparently, it is the title of an old English poem probably from the 7th century, although the trivia answer says the 6th. Whoever wrote this answer was probably playing safe because the content of the poem suggests the protagonist, a minstrel makes a number of claims pertaining to have occurred between the 4th and 6th century.

Interestingly the modern English meaning of Widsith is far traveler.

Could this minstrel have traveled in the Tardis?

Even more fascinating is that this poem is preserved in the oldest book of English Literature in the world. The Exeter Book.

Now have I got your attention, my fellow book lovers?

Widsith is a wanderer of far and wide. He tells of his travels and speaks of the feudal halls he sings in. He tells of how the men loved his songs and gave him gifts. He sings of war and of the art of telling stories through his songs.

 

 The Exeter Book a 10th-century anthology of poetry is a literary manuscript of international importance secured in the Exeter Cathedral Library.

Also known as the Exeter Dean and Chapter Manuscript 3501 what adds to this remarkable story is that it was written down by a single scribe, most likely a Monk. Even more fascinating is the fact, that this monk chose to scribe in Anglo – Saxon (Old English) as opposed to the more traditional Latin.

So now I have learned a little more poetic knowledge I can go forward with confidence that in the unlikely event that this question will pop up when I sit in the millionaire chair and answer that final question. I won’t have to worry about selling any more books.

 

 

 

Book Review. The Testaments. Written by Margaret Attwood.

The Testaments written by Margaret Attwood.

I was late to the parade with the Handmaids tale which I confess I did not read, instead, I watched the emotional and gripping drama on Netflix, becoming almost addicted to the series.

Desperate to know what became of Offred, her daughter, and husband I ordered The Testaments from my local library and was thrilled to be presented with my copy one day before lockdown.

I anticipated long days when I would curl up and devour this award-winning novel.

Oh, how disappointed I was. To be honest, I struggled at times, constantly searching the narrative to take me back to the Handmaids Tale.

For the most part the narrative was from three women Agnes, Nicole, and Aunt Lydia. The only narrative I found interest in was Aunt Lydia. To discover the grassroots of her journey to Gilead was what made this book worth reading.

Reading about the impending downfall of Gilead was somewhat satisfying and at times Margaret Attwood’s prose was equal to her writing in The Handmaids tale.

As an author myself, I know how hard it is to write a successful sequel, so it must be difficult to follow on from such an amazing introduction to the world of Gilead.

A steep learning curve

A steep learning curve my friends is what I and every new or potential author have to navigate in the world of publishing. Not that I’m complaining you understand. No, I am just reminiscing the time before my debut novel Alice was published, and in reality, how little I knew of this complicated and competitive world.

By the time I published my second book ‘Love, Secrets and Absolution, I was less naïve although still a long way from keeping up with the fundamental aspects of publishing. A world that has changed significantly in the past few years as traditional publishers are now competing with indie publishing.

With bookstores closing down it can be difficult to physically market books. The digital world and social platforms are accessible to everyone and although at the beginning of my journey from writer to author this was new to me, I soon realized the value of advertising my books this way.

That does not deter me from valuing the many published articles in magazines, journals, and the press. I value these very much and always navigate to the book club pages and the book review articles.

Since the publication of my debut novel, I have had the pleasure of writing for The Mansfield and Ashfield News Journal a local monthly edition that is distributed locally and available digitally.

This month for the first time, my article titled ‘Mansfield Bookshelf is featured in another journal,’ The Newark and Ashfield’ News journal. This gives me the opportunity to promote both local and well-known authors.

Please take a peep at the link below.

 

 

https://newarknewsjournal.co.uk/past-editions 

Writing down your problems can help to solve them.

 

For those of you who have been following my blog posts since I began in 2017, it will come as no surprise to learn that during 2020 with all of its uncertainty I have continued with my journal writing which has become more important than ever.

With life in limbo and currently no sign of this changing it can be difficult to remain positive and focussed. With more people than ever feeling anxious and stressed it is important to realise that life can be and should be simple. Sometimes we can make things more complicated than they actually are. Trying to please everyone can get a bit exhausting so try and embrace who you really are. Be true to yourself.

Write down what’s on your mind, this way you can transfer all of those emotions that are doing a loop – the -loop in your head pushing up your adrenaline and cortisol levels. It doesn’t have to be a Moleskine journal or a top of the range hardback diary. No, just keep it simple and write down those thoughts, feelings, and emotions that are trapped inside of your mind. Release them as though releasing trapped birds from a cage. Allow the negativity to fly away.

Writing down your problems really does help to solve them.

 


Writing a journal is therapetic - k.l loveley

Welcome to the Autumn.

Welcome to the Autumn months known as The Fall in the United States. Personally, I love this time of year, particularly early autumn when the leaves are gradually turning into the most dazzling shades of red. orange and yellow.

The autumn equinox that took place on 22nd September was the turning point in the seasons when the long nights of winter begin. It is a season rich in folklore and celebrations inspired by nature. It is the season of hedgerow fruits and nuts. I clearly remember the fun I had as a child under the horse chestnut tree searching for the perfect conker while trying to avoid the spikey thorns of the fruit that contained this shiny mahogany-colored nut.

Country markets selling seasonal produce, craft wear, and artisan products are well worth a visit at this time of year and a good way of getting out in the fresh air. I recently enjoyed the pleasure of spending a weekend at one such market. The Newark Literary festival which originally should have taken place in the summer months was rescheduled for the last weekend in September and stood alongside the country market.  I thoroughly enjoyed my two days at Newark marketplace in Nottinghamshire meeting other authors and promoting my books.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Newark is a quaint market town on the River Trent in Nottinghamshire. Famous for historic connections with Oliver Cromwell and the civil war. A fascinating point in our history.

One of the many interesting authors I met at the literary market was Mark Turnbull, who was suitably dressed in his civil war costume to promote his book Allegiance of blood. A fascinating fictional story set during the civil war.

The protagonist Sir Francis Berkeley faces many trials during the civil war and his allegiance to King Charles 1. If you are interested in historic novels then check out his Facebook page where he sells his book. Facebook.com/markturnbullauthor.

Although I did not dress in costume like Mark, I did dress my market stall to compliment the theme of a country market. To my surprise, I won an award for the best-dressed stall on the market.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now I really must work harder at trying to win an award for one of my fictional books or my collection of poetry which now stands pride of place on a bookcase that I renovated during the lockdown. I live in hope!  Take care everyone.

 

 

 

 

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Book review. Before The Rains.

My interest in the work of Dinah Jefferies began after reading ‘The Tea Planter’s Wife.’

On my first visit to the library following lockdown, my eye was drawn to the exotic book cover of Before The Rains written by Dinah Jefferies. Without hesitation, I chose the book in the full knowledge that this would be a great read.

I was not disappointed.

From the first chapter, I was transported to 1912 India. I could almost see the vibrant colours and smell the aromas of India. I loved how she built up an image of the exotic beauty of the palaces and the contrast with rural locations.

The reader gets more from this story than the heart-wrenching tale of love against the norms and traditions of society. The protagonist Eliza is a determined young British woman who carries with her a lot of emotional baggage which has its roots in India where she witnessed the murder of her father during political unrest. When the British Government send her to India as the official photographer to the royal family, she is determined to be successful and make a name for herself.

However, not all members of the Royal household are pleased to have her at the palace. Filled with secrets, intrigue, underhand behaviour and romance, the palace even with all of its exquisite beauty becomes a dangerous place.

Added to this is the relationship between members of the royal family and the injustice of British rule which is responsible in part for the poverty of the people.

On her arrival at the palace, Eliza meets Jay the handsome brother of the prince who is more interested in the lavish lifestyle his position brings him than his interest in his role as the Maharajah.

Jay, however, is cut from a different cloth and when Eliza awakens him to the poverty of his people and introduces him to the idea of providing water to help irrigate the lands around his palace, they begin a forbidden romance full of passion.

Eventually, they have to choose between what society expects and what their hearts tell them.

The descriptions of this amazing country and the way Dinah Jefferies has brought them to life has reinforced my desire to one-day travel to India and witness these sights for myself.

Bookaholic and proud of it.

Today Saturday, September 12th 2020 I stepped foot inside of my local Library in Mansfield Woodhouse Nottinghamshire. It is no exaggeration to say that for me it was like going home.

Lockdown and COVID -19 have reinforced my love for this great institution. The familiar smell of books and the beautifully arranged shelves. I was like a child in a sweetshop. I kid you not, the first bookshelf I went to I picked up the first three books that took my eye, and such was my excitement.

 

 

Did you know that the first library to operate a free lending library without subscription was in Campfield Manchester in 1852 and the first purpose-built public library opened in 1857?

Today we take the library for granted but just imagine how amazing it must have felt in the late nineteenth century to be able to borrow books freely.

Recently I read a delightful book written by Salley Vickers, titled ‘The Librarian.’ Set in 1958 in post-war Britain this is a story about a young devoted Librarian Sylvia Blackwell. She tries desperately hard to fire the enthusiasm of the local children, but as in all good stories, there are other things at play. It is a story that reinforces the power of books as a tool of inspiration and how reading can change and inspire anyone.

 

 

 

Love and Respect.

Remember that love and respect for others will provide strength and understanding.

Around the world, relationships blossom while civil unrest and senseless wars rage on. Climate change resulting in fires, floods and extinction affect the everyday lives of populations. We read of the tragic effects of these events and now as the pandemic of corona-virus sweeps the world, it is important to remember that love can provide courage and strength to face these catastrophic events.

This month I take you to such places, where amidst the turmoil love not only survives but thrives. Through the stories of great authors, readers can learn how the path of love and friendship sometimes has many twists and turns.

The stationary shop of Tehran.

Author Marjan Kamali in her novel ‘The Stationery Shop of Tehran ‘explores themes of love and loss amidst the turmoil of Iran in the year 1953.

Known as the Iranian Coup d etat, when the United States of America and the United Kingdom sought to overthrow a foreign government during peacetime, this beautiful, well-written novel describes the shocking violence that changed Iran forever.

In a small Tehran stationery shop, a young couple meets for the first time. Roya loves everything about the shop. The translated books from around the world, pens and inks. Most of all, she loves Bahman who enters the shop one day with his energy and burning passion for justice.

Through the action of family and friends, their lives together as man and wife are not to be. Despite moving to Canada and married to a wonderful, kind man, Roya never stops loving Bahman and he her.  The ending of this tragic novel is bittersweet, to say the least.

The Kite runner.

In the Kite Runner written by Khaled Hosseini, the love is of a different kind.

Set in Afghanistan this book is filled with many personal tragedies involving the destruction of a nation brought about by war. The author skillfully takes the reader through death, rape war, torture, fascism and destruction. Two young friends, Amir and Hassan are the main characters in this heartfelt story. When they are twelve years old their worlds change. Written in the first-person narrative, Amir takes the reader through his kite-flying years in Afghanistan, through to his period of exile in the United States with his father, who successfully provides a satisfactory standard of living.

After the death of his father, Amir discovers a very painful truth about his father and friend Amir, making for an incredible storyline.

Although unable to help Hassan in the past, Amir against all odds and at great risk to his own life finds a way to help his friend and to redeem himself in the process; making for a very satisfying and emotional ending to this exceptionally well-written b

The little coffee shop of Kabul

Remaining in Afghanistan, I wish to draw your attention to author Deborah Rodriuez who has written a novel set in Kabul against the backdrop of political power and unrest at the hands of the Taliban. The little coffee shop of Kabul is owned by Sunny an American citizen who arrived in Kabul to follow his  love. The little shop is the backdrop to several characters within this setting which provides a different perspective from the media-driven images of Afghanistan. Skilfully, Deborah Rodriuez spins a human touch to a war zone filled with fear and bloodshed.

This story contains multiple protagonists, however, two of the Afghan women who feature in this book Halajan and Yasmina are absolute powerhouses with their unexpected spirit and emotional strength.

The book contains several twists and turns as a reader would expect from a novel within this setting. To summarise, I would say that this is a story about true companionship and acceptance of life’s challenges.

 

 

 

 

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