Recently while away on holiday, staying on the beautiful Island of Vir Croatia, I found myself in the unusual situation of having no book to read. My daughter was attempting to read this herself, but with two active children to care for and a number of projects on already, she kindly suggested that we share this masterpiece of work.
‘My story begins not with my birth but a murder; committed the year before I was born.’
Wow! what a brilliant hook. How could I not be intrigued?
Painting Mona Lisa was written by Jeanne Kalogridis published in 2006 by St Martin’s Press.
The story begins in the heart of Florence, April 1478 – The Renaissance Period. It is a tale of historical fiction and mystery.
The monk Savanarola was preaching of hell, fire, and brimstone against the Borgia pope with his evil decadence and lustful behavior. He preached that the rich citizens of Florence would suffer greatly if they did not repent.
The handsome Giuliano de Medica is brutally assassinated in the magnificent Duomo of Florence. This leads to the unfolding of events amongst which is the tale of turmoil for the family of Lisa Di Antonio Gherardini Giocondo. Known simply as Madonna Lisa. Her beauty is captured by the famous artist Leonardo from Divinci. However, there is more to his desire for the painting of Madonna.
This is a tale of love, passion and the worst kind of betrayal.
I am willing to put my hands up and admit that from time to time I check out my own books on the Amazon Book Store.
Having said that! It is purely for professional purposes you understand.
As is the case with Amazon searches, a number of books appear on the screen and from what I gather of the process the books with the most reviews or sales tend to pop up on the screen first. As is the case when I search for my debut novel ‘Alice’
‘Still, Alice’ written by Lisa Genova is always the first book to catch my eye. Recently while visiting my local library, I came across the said book and decided to review it using the Goodreads platform.
See below my Goodreads review.
I chose this amazing book from my local library where I am a member of The Book Club. The title of the book caught my attention due to my own debut novel having the title of ‘Alice.’ Both books about true to life events. One written by a neuroscientist and the other a nurse with a BSC in Biological Science.
‘Still Alice’ is a compelling account of the newly diagnosed world about the main character Alice Howland a cognitive psychology professor. Married with three children at the age of fifty she is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. The story follows her journey through a rapid downward spiral of disease progression.
Written in the first person Lisa Genova gives a well-written insight into the world of Alice. Having worked with dementia patients myself and conducted some of the cognitive tests, I was impressed by the way the author weaved these tests into the story without making it too medical.
Although heart-breaking, there are moments of humor within the story and realistic family dynamics.
I gave four stars because if I am honest. I was a little disappointed with the ending.
In terms of truthful fiction with accurate accounts of moving downwards through a spiraling health-related condition. ‘Alice’ written by myself and published by Austin Macauley publishers is still available to purchase from Amazon and other book retailers.
Autism Awareness Day
For those of you who have read ‘Love, Secrets And Absolution’ and got to know Alfie who was born in the early seventies, you will have realized that in terms of diagnosis we have come a long way towards recognizing the early signs of children on the Autistic Spectrum. However, there is still a long way to go with respect to raising awareness.
This week, the first week in April 2019, people all over the UK will be marking Autism Awareness Week. The fundraising event set up by the National Autistic Society (NAS) aims to raise awareness of the condition and encourage people to donate to fund campaigns that help those with autism.
For my small part, I wrote a fictional account based on a young boy from a working-class family based in Nottinghamshire during the well-documented miner’s strike of 1983 in the United Kingdom.
If you are interested, the book published by ‘The Globeflower Agency’ is available as an E-Book and paperback from Amazon and other book outlets.
Move over you Diva.
A few weeks ago I found myself in a recording studio. I was not singing you will be glad to hear. I was, in fact, recording the Audiobook for my collection of poetry ‘Chameleon Days’. It felt very exposing to be reading out my poems. As I was standing in the air- locked booth, headphones over my ears, it suddenly occurred to me that perhaps I should curb my dialect a little.
Also let me explain that in my opinion, unbiased of course! I believe that my voice can come across as perhaps a little shrill. However, luck was with me that day as I was just getting over a head cold and my voice miraculously sounded deeper and a little husky at times.
Spending hours speaking words I had written and listening to them reverberate in my head was an interesting experience. Needless to say, the constant talking – which some might say I should be used to, was more difficult than I had imagined.
As I said, I was in the latter stages of a head cold so as a consequence needed to take regular sips of water to lubricate the old tubes. This in itself caused a problem. The young technician informed me that the microphone was picking up my rumbling stomach sounds. He kindly pointed out that I would need to repeat part of the poems again. Of course, I happily obliged as I was beginning to feel like an important artist, a diva even; with the huge microphone in front of me and the over-sized headphones balancing on my small head. Although perhaps petite might be a better description.
My publisher from Globeflower Books who came along with me to the recording studio was a great support throughout the process – encouraging me with the tone and pace of reading.
It was genuinely a good experience. I am looking forward to listening to the audiobook although it may be a little disconcerting listening to my own voice.
Celebrating World Book Day in the United Kingdom.
I cannot think of a better gift for a child, than a book or a book token. Growing up, these were always my favourite gifts; and even now as an adult, I count book tokens and books amongst my favourite things.
On World Book Day, every child in full-time education in the United Kingdom is given a voucher to be spent on books. How amazing is that?
What could be more magical than reading to a child? Stories open up a world of wonder, feeding the imagination and educating at the same time.
My mum who is ninety years young at the end of the month remembers with great joy the books she read as a child- amongst them was Milly Molly Mandy , written and illustarated byJoyceLankester Brisley.
Friday night I had the privilege of going to The Motorpoint Arena Nottingham to see Professor Brian Cox present his Universal World Tour 2019, with special Guest Robin Ince.
Along with my brother David who has a keen interest in Astronomy and 7000 other enthusiasts I sat mesmerised listening to his lyrical, romantic approach to astrophysics. as he entertained the audience with his engaging presentation.
I have long been a fan of Mr Cox – an English Physicist who serves as a professor of particle physics in the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Manchester.
Probably best known to the public for his work as a science broadcaster and presenter of the popular BBC Wonders trilogy, Horizon and Stargazing Live.
His book Human Universe based on a BBC programme written with Andrew Cohen head of the BBC Science Unit and the Executive Producer of the BBC series takes pride of place on my bookshelf.
BE KIND TO YOURSELF AND TO EACH OTHER.
The latest buzzword that I have only just been made aware of is kindfulness. I’m a bit late to the game, having previously embraced mindfulness.
I also discovered that during early December 2018, Barnardo’s one of the many charities I support have developed a new fundraising initiative. Kindfulness week. How wonderful is that?
Intrigued I set about educating myself around this concept and discovered that a British Buddhist monk, Ajahn Brahm was named as the pioneer of the trend.
In a nutshell, it appears that while mindfulness encourages us to be gentle with ourselves, ‘Kindfulness’ is about directing our energy gained from mindfulness at others. Thereby being of mutual benefit. After reading this, the first thought that entered my mind, directed me back to my studies with the Open University while studying for a BSC in Biological Science. Rightly or wrongly, I thought about nature and symbiotic relationships.
Kindness needn’t cost anything but a second of your time. A smile to a stranger, a helping hand to someone in need and to be sensitive to, and concerned about the suffering of others.
The first step is to alter the way we speak to ourselves and others. Be kind to yourself and be less critical – think about what you would say to a friend or loved when they are having difficulties.
Create a more positive frame of mind and dare I say it? Love yourself, be kind to yourself and spread that feeling to others. Who knows it may be contagious?
Praise The Independent Book Shops.
It may come as no surprise to my regular Blog-Post readers that during my travels I cannot resist the temptation to venture inside every book-shop I pass. Much to the disdain of my ever- patient husband.
Quite recently, we decided to spend a few days in a cosy log cabin in Lincolnshire. Tattersall Lakes Country Park to be exact. Out of season, it may be, but non-the less we enjoyed our time in this delightful location.
Close to Tattersall, is Woodhall Spa a beautiful inland resort on the southern edge of the Lincolnshire Wolds. Despite the cold day, it was a pleasure to explore this lovely village.
Imagine my excitement when I came across a delightful independent book shop right there in the centre of the village. The Book Fayre located in Mathew Temple House on The Broadway a family run bookshop, owned by Katherine Fairs and Reggie. A husband and wife team: previously a primary school teacher and RAF pilot.
It is an Aladdin’s cave of both new and second-hand books. The children’s section is well stocked and beautifully enticing for young families.
With its close proximity to the airfields of Lincolnshire, there is an extensive range of Military and Aviation books. I for one, purchased a book about RAF Cranwell in readiness for my brothers seventieth birthday; it seems like only yesterday since I watched with pride as he attended his passing-out ceremony.
Praise to the Independent Bookshops. It has recently been reported by The UK Booksellers Association that for the first time in 22 years the number of independent booksellers has grown. It must be so difficult to compete with the huge outlets like W.H.Smith and Waterstones. I can only imagine the high rates and taxes which must be crippling.
Like most bookshops, The Book Fayre also has a coffee shop and sells gifts to the public, many of which are book related – Penguin merchandise, Gruffalo toys and Hungry Caterpillar to name a few.
So my friends let us support and embrace our Independent Book Shops.
National Story Telling Week begins January 25th until February 2nd.
Let’s celebrate the joy of story-telling, an art form that has existed long before recorded history; beginning with cave paintings.
The earliest form of storytelling discovered is from the Lascaux Caves in the Pyrenees Mountains, Southern France.
During my travels, I have been fortunate to visit many historical sites including Egypt where I was totally blown away when I saw the Hieroglyphic symbols engraved on the temples and the clay pottery. Ancient storytelling from 4000 BC.
Did you know that the earliest known record in the origin of oral storytelling also originated in Egypt? History tells us that the sons of Cheops entertained their father with stories communicating their life experiences.
Historically speaking, different cultures have communicated their stories in a variety of ways. For example, the wandering minstrels telling their tales through music and lyric. Stories are told with improvisation, theatrics and embellishment.
All varieties of storytelling impart information, messages and education. Myths, legends, fables and fairy tales have been part of the human social and cultural activity for generations.
The Power of storytelling I suspect will go from strength to strength. In our modern world with its digital explosion; the telling of stories through social media, film, television and the written word will wrap its arms around the world
So let’s celebrate National Story Telling Week and remember the origins of the gift passed down from our ancestors.