Hi book friends, if you are looking for a fab YA thriller romance then THE REBIRTH OF HENRY WHITTLE on KINDLE is 99p for a limited time. An amazing dark romance with chills and thrills? YOU need this is your life. And you’d be making an indie author very happy 😃
Life is an obstacle course. Sometimes they’re fun and other times they seem insurmountable. My writing…self-publishing has put a spark in my life when I felt flat and pointless.
Now my head is buzzing with ways of distributing RANDOM ATTACHMENT and THE REBIRTH OF HENRY WHITTLE.
I so want you to read them and if you enjoy, please kindly rate on Amazon and Goodreads. If I can reach 50 reviews Amazon begin to promote.
In the meantime I’m selling book bundles on eBay. I’m trying to offer the best value for money because my motivation is getting my books reviewed. Please check them out.
Thank you 🙏
Great value book bundles for everyone Adults, YA, BAME and LGBTQ X XX. GET READING 😃😃
I see myself. I am an observer. An ordinary holiday maker laying stretched on a white plastic sunbed; my towel scrunched beneath me, my hot cheek stuck to my hand as my head rests upon it.
Marinating in Piz Buin my ears are filled with 80’s, 90’s, keep going, pop songs. A paperback; yesterday’s pages crispy, today’s pages damp, is visual on top of my beach bag – Primark – £6.99 – more than I’d wanted to pay for a throwaway but it has adorable pink pom poms dangling from the handles.
Sauntering toward the pool, in a fitted floral bikini, I’m not self conscious; I’ve had a full leg wax and Brazilian. I’m slim in a comfortable way. My hair is styled in a short wavy bob. I look down at my feet; my nails are painted in Russian blue. I love them.
I linger at the poolside appreciating the hot sun baking me nicely at 39 degrees whilst I search out my children among the bobbing heads. Caitlan and Paddy are negotiating a gigantic rubber ring; laughing, plunging, splashing; their factor fifty legs and arms entangled. With large green diving goggles suctioned to their faces they are the sweetest frogs I’ve ever seen. They wave madly at me. I return with an SOS wave, smiling so wide there’s no posing for cool selfies here. I like my smile; the sensation of its corners stretching up and outward. I don’t care if I’m inviting wrinkles. I want a face that’s lived, not a smooth, alabaster bust capturing a version of me.
Leisurely swimming, my arms stretch out wide in a circular motion and my knees come together propelling me forward. I feel the strength in my limbs. My stomach muscles tighten as I surge back and forth. Twenty lengths – easy!
At the deep end, folding my legs, I use my hands to wall walk to the pool floor. I resist my body’s instinct to float up. I sit cross-legged, holding my breath, enjoying a moment that’s completely mine. Until I see a set of Russian Blue toes that match mine. Submerged I pull Caitlan’s leg. Surfacing I meet her mischievous green eyes; she constantly looks like she rolled down a hill, she’s bursting with adventure. Paddy’s face pops up over her shoulder. His smile is totally disarming. A friend To Everyone states a school certificate on the fridge door back home. I hold my hand straight and stiff, the thumb resting against my forehead to form a shark fin. I hum the soundtrack to Jaws and the games begin.
They play water polo. My husband is ultra competitive. He lunges for the ball, throws it to Paddy who tosses it to Caitlan who scores; she is her father’s daughter.
Resting my back against the pool side, the tiles rough against my skin, I look up at the glorious sun; its heat rejuvenating. I want to bottle this moment. I could selfishly say I wanted this minute to last forever but then Caitlan and Paddy would be 14 and 13 eternally.
My husband swims toward me. I like how he looks in sunglasses, his hair wet. Putting his arms either side of me, we kiss. It’s slow and tells a story. A marriage, not made in heaven but made from sunshine and rain.
Reaching up to the handles of the pool ladder, I put my foot on the first step and feel the muscles in my arms tense as I pull myself up. Water falls from me. I run my hand through my hair, droplets race down my already hot back.
I’m running with my husband, to the beach, the kids up front. My breathing synchronizes with my stride. The grassy ground, hard-baked and cracked by the intense Turkey sun, is beneath me. Running is my thing; I fall into a comfortable rhythm. I’m connected to the earth, to the infinitely clear blue sky above me; In my own way I’m beautiful: my strength, my gregariousness, I make every day mean something.
My husband passes me, he becomes a dot in the distance, I can’t see the kids and I feel a tightness across my chest and a hoarseness in my throat. At the beach bar I’m breathing hard, bent over, puffing out a stitch. My family are in the sea, jumping over waves with frothy white crests. I look a little mad but I’ve an aura that catches the attention of the odd passer-by. For a brief, infectious moment they too feel carefree. My happiness is contagious.
Sitting at the beach bar, my throat a little raw from running, I enjoy a cappuccino. I recall the night before. Our early dinner to avoid the all-inclusive rush hour The amphitheater sipping mojitos and tequilas with rainbow umbrellas pierced through limes and oranges. Below us, the stage with twirling mini princesses. We played gin rummy, twenty one and traffic lights, serious stuff with Euros at stake. Something niggles. I hadn’t won a game. I couldn’t keep track of what card, what suit, went down. Me the master cards woman outwitted by teens?
After the entertainment, the kids meet up with their German friends and we follow them to the beach disco. They are not shy – I like that about them; there’s no awkwardness. They prank around and dance in a circle. Pop and Garage beats out, its base shuddering through my feet and upwards. The kids jump in unison, arms punching the air, singing along, chanting. I notice the tall blond boy; he’s playfully pushing Caitlan around. I see the first spark of attraction between them.
I glance nostalgically at my husband. His eyes reflect a nineteen year old girl, in a bright red dress, playing pub darts. She’s at the bar counting coins from a pink, soft leather purse she purchased in Greece. He cheekily chats her up. He’s confident; she finds him alluring. He’s says his name’s Tinker.
Hips swaying, shoulders shimmying I’m dancing and I feel on top of the world. I look above at the glitter balls and the pink and blue LED disco lights and WHAM and DURAN DURAN pop randomly to mind. Tinker pulls me to him and we move in unison. Thirty years and we’re each other’s shadow. My head nestles into his neck. I kiss it gently. I’m still in love.
I think I’m tired, too much sun perhaps. The music becomes an aural assault. The glitter ball stings my eyes. Walking to the chalet the kids tell me the night was bangin’ but their voices are distant. Their is a nagging persistence in my brain that all is not well; nothing it what it seems.
I see myself; the rose tinted glasses removed. I’m the same but different. Still the short wavy bob, but my frame is fuller, my poise diminished, my posture stooped but the easy smile flickering at the first glimpse of my family is me. My heart is still huge but my head is muddled. My body is awkward. I laugh; it’s warm and real and I feel comforted by that.
I’m putting sun lotion on Paddy’s back; it’s what mums do. My arms feel weakly heavy; they are alien to me but I continue to rub and I massage a little into his ears. He’s so gorgeous, I want to encircle him in my arms and keep him safe; always.
A member of the animation team spots us. He knows Cait and Pad. Yesterday they went paintballing with him. He’s a bit of a joker. He’s young, about 26, his nose is large but it suits his face. He has a six pack and is hench as Caitlan would say. I note a glimmer of interest in his eyes; he’s not sure what to make of me, of us.
“Hey Paddy, Katrin (he can’t pronounce Caitlan), hoopa hoopa it’s pool games.”
In unison Paddy and Cait scramble off their sun beds and join the forming crowd of teens and menopausal men.
Tink is already in the pool. Shit! Getting off the sun bed, without help, is a feat in itself. I turn onto my side and raise my outer leg toward the ground – my bottom is now upright and on full HD view; wide angle). Straightening takes a while. The muscle spasms, the rigidness at my joints, the pain that’s deep in the marrow of my bones, make moving exhausting.
“Yeahhhhhhh – I’m upright – independently; joy!” I’ve begun to talk to myself. It began as quick, motivational comments and now I mutter most of the day, often incoherently.
Squatting I retrieve my camera from my bag. It’s not lady-like but I can’t bend over; I get dizzy and fall. “But it’s hard getting up from a crouched position; very stressful on the knees.” See! I’m talking to myself again.
Chart music vibrates from a large speaker, it floats into my ears and beats in my heart, I feel light and elevated and young. I linger momentarily and embrace it. My hips sway gently. I yearn to dance so fucking much “But it’s difficult, my legs beat to their own drum now”.
I reach for my cane; my fingers are stiff, it’s hard to grasp. Walking slowly toward the pool, I consider each step, it’s a slippery surface, I teeter then regain balance. My gait is unusual. I see sunbathers speculatively watching me.
“What do you think is wrong with her?” they ask in hushed tones “MS, Motor Neurons, Stroke”; they’ll never guess; on holiday with little to distract I’ve become the center of attention. “I’m a celebrity. Cool!“
Sitting on the poolside, my legs dangle in the water; they are lean no longer – such a shame. My husband swims over and lifts himself out of the pool.
“You’re scaring the holidaymakers,” he says abruptly. He’s not impatient with me, his voice just always sounds abrupt, a little rude, He’s telling me I’m at it again. Giving a running commentary to my life.
I look straight ahead and feel the increasing pressure of keeping my head upright, unsupported, only a neck brace, between me and pain. Paddy is racing across inflatable stepping stones. He’s a whippet in neon orange shorts. The way his body moves, hia quick reflexes astonish me. He’s on video, I rewind and watch, again and again!
Caitlan is so cheeky. She was out first round but no one noticed. Now she’s in the final of the ‘Spoon Diving Competition,’ with two bulky Belgiums wearing inappropriate shorts. We all know only Daniel Craig does Speedos. I watch her, she’s got a killer look, her toes just touch the edge of the pool and she’s leaning forward. She has a glass hour figure; her legs are strong and tanned; her flamingo bikini is perfect; feminine but modest. She glances at me and I give her the thumbs up; she’s already a winner. I love her so much I can barely breath.
My husband assists me to my sunbed. I’m a disaster: my leg dragging, my fingers involuntarily flicking, my neck hunched into my shoulders. Sitting on the edge of the plastic bed, I’m withdrawn as he covers me in sun screen. I say something benign, to fill the silence of reality, of disability. Something about getting a full flush at cards tonight. He says something equally meaningless, yet his pause speaks volumes. We both know I’m not the wife he chose.
I lay stiff; an embalmed mummy unable to alter position. I lose myself in music: Latin, Maroon 5 and Eur. I retreat to a parallel universe. I’m the old me, gracefully leaping from one inflatable step to another. Paddy is behind me but I’m too fast, I stick my tongue out at him and leap for the sky and plunge into the water.
I’m plunging to the bottom of the pool, waiting for the bubbles and white water to settle. Where is that spoon? My heart is racing and I’m struggling to breath. My lungs are bursting but as I spot the spoon excitement oxygenates me and I grasp it tight to my chest. Resurfacing, the animation team clap and my husband gives me that look and I know in about ten minutes we’ll be naked somewhere…but it’s SciFi.
Walking from the pool to our room is wearing; the day takes its toll. Friends don’t always understand…that when I’m with them, that’s my best genre; Chick Lit. Behind the scenes I’m Drama, Thriller, Horror. Pregabalin, Amitriptyline, Tramadol, Naproxen, Oxycontin; my hand trembles slightly as I pop pill after pill. I’m a rerun of Trainspotting.
Our room in spacious with two sets of twin beds divided by a lattice partition. We take turns in the bathroom getting ready for dinner. I sit on the wall of our patio; the kids intermittently appear with a snippet of information about endangered animals (satellite T.V.).
“You look pretty mum.”
It true I’m wearing a green emerald dress that cups my breasts, comes in at the waste and floats round my legs. My skin is golden. I look a picture of health.
It’s still hot; we walk together toward the restaurant. It’s ironic that the hotel gardens are home to tortoise. I watch Shelly move, each step she plods is laboured. ‘Forest Gump’ comes to mind. The impulse to drop my cane, pull my arm free of my husband and run, strikes from nowhere but I swallow it. Instead I move closer to him shutting out the loud voice in the silence, “Run Alison, run!”
Dinner is always a success. I absolutely love all-inclusive. I sit at the table and Patrick places a dinner plate in front of me with tasty morsels from seven continents – of course noodles go with chicken tikka! I look at my son who thinks of me before himself and I feel joy.
Getting food from plate to mouth is taxing. I’m grinning because my meatball rolled across our table and onto the floor; oops! I look at Kitty, she spotted my misdemeanor and we share a secret smile.
Laying motionless in bed, my husband asleep long ago, I feel sad. I live a life I didn’t choose. I won it in a game of fate. My bones are hollow, dry, brittle, dusty. I was born with this malformed spine, with its missing discs and fused vertebrae, that sits in a spinal column that’s too narrow, where the cord is pinched and compressed. My heart tightens; my husband and children didn’t chose this life either.
Tomorrow we go home. We say goodbye to adventure, to a hot, burning sun, to soft golden sand, to pool games and teenage romance. I say goodbye to me.
Feel quite guilty that I haven’t blogged for a while, but this self promoting business is time consuming. However watch this space. 🌸 Or even better download my book so I can catch my breath. No refunds…couldn’t cope with the admin 🤣🤣🤣🤣 Just kidding, you’ll love it, RANDOM ATTACHMENT is WICKED, ACE, PENG, SICK, LEDGE
Recently I joined Instagram and my first thought was how perfect the images are…and those in them. If you check me out you’ll see a handful of snaps. I am a tidy, colour coordinated person so I should fit in here. And wanting to be followed and liked as much as the next person I spent an allowance of energy, I can’t really spare, on colour schemes, interesting juxtaposition and avoiding images of myself; a very ordinary, middle-aged woman, with unruly hair and a penchant for everything pink and flowery. But I realised I couldn’t compete, other book bloggers had images down to perfection and honestly I’m a mess. I’ve the spine of a centenarian; it’s weak and crumbling and my spinal cord is damaged and I can barely dress myself. So although this image above is an arrangement it’s more reflective of the person I am which is a struggling author, used to her own company, mad enough to read extracts of her book to her mutts.
I write two blogs one as an author and one as a sufferer of Myelopathy called My Hell Opathy. I haven’t a great deal to offer in terms of exciting places, holidays, clothes, restaurants so I strive for honesty…which doesn’t always look attractive. I want to be the kind of writer who looks for hidden gems: a good heart, fairness, grace, pure unprejudice. I am a total believer of, no matter what bad things you’ve done in your life you can change, maybe you can’t take it back, you should be punished, you may never be forgiven, but a new life is possible.
How we look matters; there is no escaping that fact. It seems to matter more when we’re young. We have this negative image of ourselves in our head which is out of proportion; our pessimism photoshops it, so we hate ourselves. Then we fall in love, and it’s like our dark bloom has flowered into something extraordinary until we are dumped. We are like Pandora’s Box with each crack that appears escapes: doubt, hate, anger and we do the most damaging things to ourselves and others because pain is sometimes unbearable.
Random Attachment is Mia’s story…but she shares it with a trillion young people. I don’t say girls or women because boys and men equally feel the same hurt; their self-worth, love, desire, hope is no less fragile. How do I know this? Well I’ve a husband and two sons and if that’s not confirmation enough there’s Lil Peep, XXXtentacion, Juice WRLD. These artists are part of the soundtrack to Mia’s self-hate, despondency, loneliness and heartbreak. I still listen to them now, whilst editing The Rebirth of Henry Whittle because they are as relevant to Phoenix Whittle as they are Mia. I scribble words, names of artists, doodles, my appointment for waxing. And I was about to change my sheet for a fresh one when I thought: this is life; imperfect, full of half-finished ideas, riddled with emotion. Then I checked my Insta. Why am I doing this to myself again? Trying to fit in, to be liked, to wondering why my post has 200 likes but nobody wants to see my profile. What effect does this have on a teenager. Especially one who feels overlooked, worthless, crap at school, never invited anywhere, struggling with their sexuality, their identity. Jesus, it’s terrifying, I can feel my heartbeat increase just by typing these words. So I’m rebelling, my house isn’t perfect, it smells of dogs and the kitchen light’s been out of action for three months. I’ve got the worst cellulite in history. I’m so tired all the time. Everyday I think about giving writing up. Everyday I want to curl up and sleep forever.
My emotion isn’t the raw, gut wrenching bleakness a teen feels but I’m not fooled by how damaging it can be. Music gives a relevant, bittersweet insight to the teen psyche. At 51, writing YA, this resource is probably as close as I’ll get to young adult thinking unless I become a councilor. I’m not pretending to know half of what’s being expressed. It’s almost a foreign language to someone like me who only swears when the banoffee tarts run out. But the emotion is there; this dark energy that I claim as once my own. There’s a brutality to emo rap that’s beautiful; a vocabulary that at first seems vulgar, violent, sexually explicit. But if you forget who you are, and listen, you start to understand who they are.
Mia is a dreamer…which sounds exciting and ambitious. If I had to colour dreams, they’d be soft hues of yellow, sky blues, light green…but what if your dreams twist like you’re wringing out a grey, stained dish cloth. What if they gnaw away at you? What if you desire something so badly is hurts? What if you think of a cold, damp, earthiness, six feet under? Mia’s desperate to escape, to be loved, to be lovable. But where’s the emotion in that? Where’s the taste of hurt so bitter even when you spit it out it lingers. Where’s the fucking loneliness. Why the fuck does Mia care about her mother. She’s a fucking bitch! Now there’s the hurt, the loneliness, the hate. So I listen to a lot of emo rap, it’s fuel for dark writing; for those emotions that can be destructive, that are born from every cruel or thoughtless word tossed Mia’s way; from how her mother picks her up and puts her down.
Beamer Boy is Mia; she feels like a nobody, like she’s a buffer for her mum, a gofer. So she dreams about boyfriends, being slim again, dancing, having friends…killing her mum…and she is a girl who doesn’t need a boy…but she desires Flynn; there’s a difference. So it’s my song of the week.
Lil Peep and many emo rappers are well tattooed up. Not the popular, well placed, top ten tats but totally random words and art work in visual places. Their stories written on their skin; their songs emotionally and intimately revealing. It’s hard to think this talent, this young man is dead.
We start judging so young. In the playground abusing one another. Hurting each other when there’s sandpits to play in and who doesn’t love paint?
“Sticks and stones might break my bones, but names will never hurt me.”
Chant it to yourself a million times; it’s still not true. Names hurt a lot; Trippe Redd says so, Mia agrees. It’s not just names its: texts, snapchats, facebook, instagrams, twitter; each mistake, each misplaced word, rejection is magnified through social media and the weight of people’s opinion is crushing.
We’re so susceptible to negativity when we’re young. Hearts aren’t bullet proof and minds do dwell on every word spoken, every wardrobe choice, the phone calls that never came. Pull yourself together, be strong, you’ve got this, you’re the better person, grow from it. It’s all bullshit. That’s advice for someone who’s lost their mobile or turned up to school wearing uniform on a non uniform day. When you’re dangerously low; imagining a darkness where all your pain disappears, you don’t want to grow from it, you want it over, gone, finished…you don’t want to be strong…you don’t want to be anything, ever.
Mia thinks – what’s the point? She doesn’t care about herself or school. She’s sixteen and a crutch for her mother. She barely exists…until she sees Flynn. It’s not a case of a knight in shining armour; that’s romantic but outdated. Flynn’s the spark, the catalyst, not the hero…why should he be under that pressure? Mia has to find what she needs from within.
They say write what you know. So what about Game of Thrones or Harry Potter? Whoever first gave this advice, I think they meant write what you feel. Like lyrics in a song. Like Lil Peep. Some writers, JK Rowling for instance, have an imagination that is boundless. Not me. My imagination is very much on earth, living in a head that can’t imagine past the high street. As a middle-aged women, my emotions’ sharp edges have become blunt from experience. I rarely cry, I find it hard to comfort others, I don’t care what people think of me. Yet when I write, I feel everything as fiercely as I did in my teens…but me, the woman recognises negative emotion as a trap. It’s like a vampire; you’re drawn in by it because you feel so shit about everything. It comforts you with this cloak of darkness that numbs you to the point you feel a sweet sense of peace that you want to hold onto…forever. So unlike the brilliant Thirteen Reasons Why my YA characters will never do the unthinkable…they might want to…they might be on the brink of…but I can’t let that happen because of the insight age brings. I know this:
- no matter how much you hurt pain dulls with time even when you don’t want it to
- around the corner is possibility: friends, lovers, achievements, adventures
- Life is hope and Death is hopeless.
One of my favourite films, WRISTCUTTERS, is the journey of three people who commit suicide and end up in a limbo for suiciders. It’s here they learn to value life and go on this mad adventure to get back to the living world.
I know from experience that when you’ve really hit bottom you don’t want to go back to living.
To put it like emo rappers we are all fucked up inside. Sometimes it’s our parents that fuck us up, sometimes it’s friends, boyfriends, complete strangers, events, abuse. Some of us will never fit in. What’s the saddest thing is some of us won’t make it. We’ll never know if love, friendship, acceptance, happiness was only around the corner. For Mia it had to be. For me? I’m not spending four hours putting my books in piles according to colour; my energies need to go on writing and not feeling sorry for myself.
I want to live till I’m a hundred, writing books and loving my family. I know some days I’ll forget this…but I’ll listen to Lil Peep and XXXtentacion and I’ll know we all feel like we are walking a tightrope between the living and the dead.
If I was in a room full of teenagers I’d give this advice. People will always judge you, let you down, hurt you, but that’s the life they are living, one of ignorance, bitterness, dissatisfaction, jealousy, competition. You need to LIVE YOUR LIFE; don’t let someone or something cut it short. And ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS tell someone how you feel, don’t be embarrassed, don’t be scared of hurting them, don’t think you’ll look like a dick or weak, don’t think people will blame you or that somehow you deserve it, or it’s your fault.
When I felt threatened, coz that’s how you feel when parents dump all their shit on you, I hadn’t anyone to talk to and I worried my mum would find a diary and use it against me and I genuinely loved her and didn’t want my words to hurt her so I wrote letter after letter to John Taylor (Duran Duran). My friend had seen him going into a house in South Kensington so I had the address (we think). It didn’t solve my problems but it lightened my heart. I hope you all find a way to lighten your hearts and LIVE!
My Channel: Ramblings of a Mad Woman…actually Gertrude T Kitty.
I listen to a lot of emo rap, it’s fuel for dark writing; for those emotions that can be destructive, that are bourne from every cruel or thoughtless word tossed your way, from how people pick you up and put you down.
“Sticks and stones might break my bones, but names will never hurt me.”
Chant it to yourself a million times and it’s still not true. Names hurt a lot; Trippe Redd says so, Mia agrees. It’s just so much worse insults, slurs are
Every mistake, misplaced word, rejection is magnified through social media and the weight of people’s opinion crushes.
We’re so susceptible to negativity when we’re young. I don’t think there is a recipe for healthy self esteem, for shielding yourself against bullying, for thinking positively. Pull yourself together, be strong, you’ve got this, you’re the better person, grow from it. It’s all bullshit. That advice is for someone whose lost their mobile or turned up to school wearing uniform on a non uniform day. When you’re dangerously low you don’t want to grow from it, you want it over, gone, finished…you don’t want to be strong…you don’t want to be anything, ever.
Mia sometimes thinks – what’s the point? Her trouble is her mum’s isolated her, relied on
Teens live now
They say write what you know. So what about Game of Thrones or Harry Potter? Whoever first gave this advice, I think they meant write what you feel. Like lyrics in a song. Like Lil Peep.
Yesterday was a fab Valentines. It’s not something my husband and I usually celebrate because over the years working with four children, three dogs and three cats we were always too exhausted. But the children are grown and my son’s girlfriend bought us afternoon tea for Christmas and immediately I booked it for Valentines.
It did not disappoint: cappuccino, mini banoffee tart, chocolate mousse, pear cake, quiche and tiny hot toasties. Umm delicious…And among them Random Attachment.
My book has given my husband and I lots to chat about; like all writers the dream of a bestseller lingers in the air. It’s probably a bit weird bringing my book with me when I go out; which is rare due to my condition. I sound like an old car; one with a blown engine. I like including it in my little excursions, finding photo opportunities. Letting readers know a bril YA awaits https://www.amazon.co.uk/RANDOM-ATTACHMENT-Gertrude-T-Kitty/dp/1790375347/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1550235599&sr=8-2&keywords=random+attachment
When I was twelve (forty years ago) I was already searching for that Disney magic; that charging hero with shoulders wider than a cinema screen. I was very much a child, not sassy or wise like pre teens are now. So much has changed in my lifetime, not just technology but identity and love.
I would have adored Skin Deep by Laura Jarratt when I was twelve; I loved reading it yesterday. This would be soft porn when I was twelve; easily a bestseller and like Grease the talk of the playground. I remember being madder than hell (internally – no way would my mum tolerate any expressions of anger) when she said I was too young to see Grease. Everyone was talking about the cinema scene and it was the first time I considered lying and seeing it secretly.
Now I’m the mum. This is not a criticism because the intimacy between Jenna and Ryan was mutual, tender, romantic. I’ve no doubt they were in love; it’s the sort of first love you hope for your daughters. Not the – flash in the pan I’ve had my way with you love. Or the – you’re not going out with friends because I own you love. Still…I can’t help wishing she were a year older. One might say what’s in a year but a lot at that age. If I was Ryan’s mum I’d be terrified he’d engage in a sexual relationship with Jenna because legally she’s under 16. If it ended badly there could be legal ramifications. I know it’s only fiction and the fact that I’m worried is because Lisa creatively formed real characters.
I think if Ryan was a nerd and not girl savy the age gap wouldn’t bother me but Ryan at sixteen is a young adult, he’s sexually active; Sadie wasn’t his first.
“That was the thing about the girls who chased me. They lived in their own little worlds in their heads. They made their own realities and I was just there to make them feel good. It didn’t bother me. I never got attached. It was just sex.”
He’s shaving, working, responsible for his mum. He’s functioning as an adult although his language and emotional struggles reflect he’s still young and needs supports.
But maybe his maturity is what led to his friendship with Jenna which blossomed into love…and if any girl needed to see herself reflected as desirable in a boy’s eyes…it’s Jenna that it’s now. We can’t always empower ourselves; sometimes we need to be told you’re beautiful.
I don’t want to get into the age thing deeply.
A quick music interval to put my one concern aside. Fav song at the moment is My Ye Is Different by OSH a Brit rapper from Croydon. I love the accent; it’s gritty and feels like home.
Back to Skin Deep. Firstly I love the novel’s Britishness; I’ve read so many American romances that sporadically I need a taste of England. I think Skin Deep is on par with my favourite YA American writer; Courtney Summers.
Laura Jarratt’s timing gently moves the romance along and I was engrossed in Jenna and Ryan’s lives and relationships. All the characters were relevant and I was glad the attack was a sub plot and not some – did he do it? dilemma because the warmth and trust between Jenna and Ryan would be compromised.
This novel is easily a one sit read; other than a dash to the kitchen for a cuppa and a walnut whip. I know what you’re thinking – she ate all that and still needed a walnut whip? D’on’t judge. I was not going to bed till I’d had my Valentine Disney moment when true love wins out and that required chocolate.
The line in the book that resonated with me the most was:
“I felt guilty for feeling suffocated again, but I hugged her back because I loved her. And I didn’t understand how those two feelings could sit in a person side my side.”
Because it mirrors a line in Random Attachment:
“Joslyn sat on her throne at the kitchen table, carmen rollers in, plucking her eyebrows. Noting the empty bottle Mia tensed, her mum had stolen Jesus’ miracle and turned rent money into wine again. Mia’s anger tasted all the more bitter because she had to swallow it. How do you tell your mum you love her but you hate her more.“
In one way I want to dislike this book (professional jealousy; a mild form). Electric Monkey (Egmont) passed on my novel The Rebirth of Henry Whittle, three years ago. The feedback was great:
“Henry Whittle, I think, is one of the most distinct novels I have read in some time and really enjoyed the noir Mean Girls element to if. For me it felt a little too adult focused…”
My novels are hard to place; I see that. Why? Because they’re books aimed at older YA readers 14+ and have crossover to women’s fiction but the voice is very much YA/NA. My books are contemporary romance; the characters do make love. There is a criminal sub plot so there’s violent content. And no matter how much publishers say they like the premise, the characters, the writing, they are uneasy with some of the content. So I self publish; that way it’s the story I want to tell, written the way I write.
So I’ve had an agent, I had my book edited, I’ve been passed over and that makes me even pickier. A novel needs to be better than mine for me to appreciate it so credit to Laura Jarratt…Skin Deep is a top teen read and so even though my blood pumps green envy it’s a
5 out of 5 ♥♥♥♥♥
I must make one last point. I’ve read two cracking adult thrillers recently Sweet Little Lies by Caz Frear and Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell. Two great reads, both books I’d recommend though I didn’t award full stars. I read across all genres even Andy McNab; I don’t have a rating guide, I simply tell you how I feel at the time I read the book.
Sending hugs to anyone who needs them xxxx
Reading can either be a learnt behaviour or an emotional journey. Don’t read one word after another. Instead infuse yourself between the cover with a girl that’ll have you hungrily breathing in the pages
The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants was my daughters’ favorite book. Now I’m introducing The Sisterhood of The Travelling Book because between the three of us we are giving my book exposure.
I began the day with a vlog. I’d previously researched how to connect with an audience. Apparently you need to bring the energy. Unfortunately me and energy haven’t been in the same room for some time. Instead I natter about my latest read Sweet Little Lies by Caz Frear which begun promisingly. I’m about a third in and I’m not riveted but I love the London feel and the insight to the characters. It has a flavour of Ian McEwan’s Atonement, in that, a child’s perception is often flawed.
I put this thriller aside for my husband’s and my Valentine Lunch. It’s quieter a few days before the actual date; I’m not great in restaurants with tight spacing and lots of diners because my spatial awareness dives.
I was pretty excited…they’d rhubarb crumble for dessert….and it’s not often we go on dates; money is tight and I get tired easily.
I’ve been married twenty-eight years; my husband was my first boyfriend. I’ve been with him more years than I’ve been without him. We still find plenty to chat and laugh about which is nice at our age. Particularly my diversion into writing and self publishing.
Arriving at the restaurant I’m a bit disappointed they haven’t put much thought into Valentine; there’s not an inflated, shimmering heart in sight nor a sprinkling of glitter hearts on the table. Anyway my novel comes out and I make a pretty arrangement and snap. The waiter comes over and I ask for two glasses of champagne; it comes with the Valentine set menu. It arrives for the next photo opportunity!
Next we’re offered the standard menu yet my booking clearly states Valentine Menu. The waiter looks uncomfortable then says it’s only available on 14th. My heart drops to my socks. I’m sure it was for a whole week, starting today? But I get so confused. Fibromyalgia brain fog and medication has me second guessing myself constantly. It’s been the basis of my depression. It’s why it’s easier to stay in. Don’t worry my husband says, we’ll pick from the main menu…but that’s going to cost. I check the pretty valentine menu for dates; in tiny writing it says valid from 9 Feb to 16 Feb. I feel more than annoyed when I point this out. I could accept Madam, very sorry, we’re not offering the Valentine menu but here’s a complimentary glass of champagne – instead a lie – which had my confidence plummeting. I knocked my cutlery off the table. Reaching for it, I dropped my novel on the floor. I sip my champagne and think f**k; this champagne’s now outside the safety of the Valentine price.
We play the disabled card. There are NO advantages to being disabled. Thoughtless people say:
- you don’t work anymore
- you can park easily
- you get a free ticket at the cinema
I want to run across the beach. I want to dance to Wiley at my son’s eighteenth. I want to enroll on SAS Who Dares Wins!
I digress. My husband told them about my condition, how much I’d looked forward to today, how exhausting this mix up is for me – it was all true – but not exactly low key or romantic.
The restaurant sees the error of their ways and throw champagne and pudding in for free. We relax. My husband picks my book and camera up, walks off and returns with this image. Ok it’s not as clean and pretty as my shots but The Sisterhood of the Travelling Book has it’s first male member.
On Valentine’s Day my book accompanies me to a patisserie where I’m known as Mrs Banoffee. For Christmas my son’s generous girlfriend bought my husband and I Afternoon Tea and I booked it for 14th Feb. During our marriage we’ve only ever celebrated our children’s birthdays so this dating business is like our early days, when we thought about what we’d wear, what we’d take off. I’m not the person either of us imagined I’d be at 51. I seriously thought with mind over matter I could cheat Myelopathy…not so. I’m pretty broken in some ways…I accept that but don’t ever think I gave up. Life for the disabled is like special forces training…it’s a mental game as well as physical. It’s about the team not the individual. When I was so weak I couldn’t turn the pages of a book my husband tore the pages from the spine and attached a few at a time to a clipboard; we called it the swindle (kindle for the poor). When days were painful and I had no distraction my daughters said write a novel, a few pages a day. Those pages became The Rebirth of Henry Whittle, the next Random Attachment, the next September.
Now I blog, vlog and Twitter. I might be pushy, maybe I’ll oversell my book, annoy people, but for me Random Attachment is:
- my FY to Myelopathy
- my message to every teen who feels less than they are
- my affirmation to my family that I will get through dark times because I’m a mother, a wife, a reader, a writer.
Thank you for reading and to the lovely ASH @FTLOBooks for inviting me to guest blog.