UPDATE!

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

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World Book Day

I genuinely think a book can alter the course of your life.  For children uninterested in reading, the right book can open up an infinity of worlds, trigger new emotions and enable children to think outside the parameters of their own life and their parents’ views.

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A book is a companion to those who find it hard to socialise. You simply don’t feel lonely when you’re reading quality books. There’s no pressure to respond; to say the right thing.  Even the super confident can struggle conversing in this climate of political correctness. The older generation are under pressure to remove vocab and phrases they’ve used for decades. Their language might be narrow, racist, sexist; unacceptable but not easy to delete when you’ve been fed it from infancy. So I could see some of the elderly losing confidence and relying on books as company. A book accepts you regardless of your disabilities, struggles, insecurities and prejudices.

helperI’m unsure if YA books were around when I was a teen. I’m losing my memory and my faculties because I feel like I progressed from The Famous Five to P D James. I can’t remember any books in between, other than difficult English Lit books.  Chaucer? For goodness sake what were the examining boards thinking of. A teen is not going to develop a love of books when faced with The Canterbury Tales at fifteen/sixteen.  They need novels that captivate, with characters they identify with. Adults might love reading YA but that’s not automatically reciprocal.  I have four children and Mice and Men and An Inspector Calls four flippin years is a killer. Some contemporary books please!

I introduced The Famous Five to my children and Gerty, Tom and Paddy stalled. They  couldn’t connect with the kids, they were too far removed from their reality…but Kitty was well in there and funnily enough Literature emerged as her career path.

yaFrom my first born to my last, YA has sprouted like dandelions.  I was literally salivating each time I took my kids to Waterstones. I loved touching the books, feeling the covers, especially when titles were embossed.  I wanted my kids to be swept up in fantasy or on a knife edge or gooey over kissing.

A Series of Unfortunate Events, Harry Potter, Darren Shan, Martyn Pig, Shadows; some fantastic YA literature was emerging.  I fell into a habit of reading my children’s books probably to justify the cost but also to make it a shared experience. Just like we watched Disney together, Dr Who, X Factor, Buffy and now Love Island

Alongside I’d be reading Val McDermid, Stephen King, Mark Billingham, Jilly Cooper.

I can easily reel off my three favourite books:

  • Killing Me Softly by Nicci French
  • The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter
  • 13  Reasons Why by Jay Asher

I don’t read for reading’s sake; I’d rather watch NetFlix. I’m not someone who can read any genre, in any style.  I avoid overly descriptive novels with a plethora of multiple syllable words. Not because I don’t understand them but because the author showing off can effect the flow of a book and the depth of the characters. My only exception to this is Donna Tart; I’ll happily engage my brain there.

I can’t help think how fortunate I am to have access to so many books. When I’ve a little spare cash spending £7.99 on a book is worth it. Consider the cost of the cinema or any activity that takes an hour or more and you’ll see it’s a bargain. When I’m broke (regular occurrence) it’s the library and the charity shops for me.

As a teen, living on a council estate, in a flat charged with emotion, I would escape to the library.  I actually remember resting my head against a row of novels, silently crying. It was my refuge; here I could be anyone and go anywhere. Libraries need to flourish, to connect with the kids that aren’t coming to the library.  We, the people of Britain, debate no end why children turn to antisocial behavior? Millions is probably spent analysing and procrastinating when the answer is simple.  Children need free facilities: school breakfast clubs, social clubs, swimming and libraries; lots of libraries. Ones with cafes and I don’t mean Costa, I mean a hot chocolate for 50p, a bag of crisps for 50p, a coke for 50p.  There should be sofas and cushions and a free book section where a kid can take a book without being a member.  Let’s be fair, unfit parents don’t sign you up to the library.  I was terrified joining the library. I thought they wouldn’t want someone like me.  I never understand how, surrounded by amazing literature, some librarians can be unwelcoming and unapproachable. Jolliness should be on the person spec and there should be book recycle schemes.

As an author I love that my book is on a journey, from one reader to another, one home to another. I’m more than happy for my book to be passed to a hundred people.  I count myself lucky if  someone has purchased my book and liked it enough to pass it to a friend. I just hope I didn’t disappoint…but it’s good to know…I’d like to think being new to writing I can improve.  That the girl holding a book in front of her face to hide the tears can learn to put a smile on a similar kid, forty years later.

I hope every reader and writer has a lovely WORLD BOOK DAY.

 

Hard To Please

I’ve dwelled a lot this week. I was at  book club on Friday; the food was tasty, I had a glass of wine, I listened to tales of South Africa, safaris, vineyards; which I enjoyed…but there’s traces of bitterness running through my veins. I had a career, a good wage, holidays. People are struck down all over the globe with illness that’ll alter them, their lives, their loved ones.  My disability could be significantly worse. It’s just so unreliable and tedious that I want to scream until my bones rattle. Being fit, healthy, swimming, dancing was at the core of my being and my core’s been extracted  during key hole surgery. I won’t be going on safari; a lion bar’s the nearest I’ll get.  My body is so squishy I’m a gummy bear. My point is to explain I have a lot of dips and lows. My writing; Random Attachment and The Rebirth of Henry Whittle is a constant source of comfort. Every day I wake with the purpose of connecting with readers.  My audience is an extended family. Only yesterday Lynne gave my book a plug and I felt shiny all day.

So when I pick up a book, I want to love it.  I want the writer to draw me out of my front room and into some macabre darkness with characters so brilliant…even if they’re boring I need them to be amazingly boring. I don’t expect to find reading a chore, or stereotypes, or the wheel reinvented. 

fridgeSo my first book this week was Alice Kuipers Life on the Refrigerator Door. I loved the concept, very original, which is hard to achieve.  It dealt with a difficult subject incredibly well…the P.S. Letter got me. As a mum you can’t bear not to be there for your child. As a daughter losing a parent is devastating.  I loved the doodles, reminds me of my kids books.  I would have liked more distinction between the two voices; a few times I had to stop and think. Perhaps this was deliberate in that Claire was so independent whilst supporting a working mum. Being disabled myself, with my children often caring for me, sometimes I wonder who’s the child and who’s the adult.  Putting illness and death aside, it struck me as sad how one of life’s most influential, meaningful relationships (good or bad) was reduced to rushed notes and mundane tasks.  I’ve been a fulltime working mum myself; relying on childminders and nurseries so this isn’t judgemental it’s an observation.  I guess it’s an alarm bell that life is fragile; we need to be in the moment and make time for loved ones.

My song of the week is the amazing Billie Eilish who I’ve had on my playlist for a while.  I feel I absorbed Billie’s music, mixed it with my history, added a bit of Kitty and Gerty and  from that Mia’s voice merged.  Billie is a 2019 Sia and Mia is so many girls out there.

I’m apologising to Tana French now for my lopsided review of In The Woods.

I have all the time in the world yet I resent my time being wasted. My quality of life is often poor so I don’t want to waste a minute of wellness.  There are so many amazing books to discover, debuts and favourite authors, that if I get a quarter a way through a novel and it’s not offering what I need, I set it on a new path to someone more appreciative. As a reader I remember that loving a book is subjective, I can’t place all the responsibility on the writer.  As a writer I know the importance of telling your story; never be too led by editors.

Before I charge in I want to commend Tana for her talent; it far exceeds my own which is what I look for in a storyteller.

I’m a little cranky. It’s not often I get cross with a book…but last night I was bristling with irritation.  As an author I have this code; if a reader invests time in your book you need to give them what they want.  For me that means no stone left unturned. Yes a cliffhanger is a literary tool to keep the reader on the edge of their seat but five hundred and ninety-two pages later I was unprepared for being discarded as thoughtlessly as Rob dropped Cassie. Sorry…but I really am peeved. I know that they’ll be a critically acclaimed second and third book where the mystery will be picked up but I don’t want to spend over twenty pounds to find out what happened to two kids.

IMG_0986I’m thinking back to Sarah Hilary’s debut. A murder’s committed. In the background lurks this interesting back story of a brother killing parents. It’s cleverly touched on but the murder is centre stage.  The murder is solved and the reader knows in future books Marnie’s history will unfold. It’s a well-known recipe, a trusted structural device and Sarah Hilary does it total justice.

Every so often a book comes around that has you immediately asking questions…as a reader you are deliciously in the dark.  Three children, two go missing, one remains; his shoes filled with blood that isn’t his.  Brilliant!

tanafrenchPerhaps it’s because In The Woods had so much potential that I feel let down.  The balance between the past and present was off.

Actually it didn’t start well.  I thought the prologue was overly descriptive and wordy; trying far too hard to create a foreboding that we didn’t need because the circumstances of the children’s disappearance was unsettling enough. The Times’ review; ‘A terrific debut,’ kept me reading. The writing style in the body of the book was dynamic and filled with intrigue.

I’ll continue with what Tana did brilliantly. She invited us into a tender, honest relationship; bordering on my favourite crime team ever.  I loved Cassie, I loved Rob. The first few lines of chapter one were genius. They hinted that Detective Ryan wasn’t who he appeared to be…but this failed to materialise…yes his name was false and he withheld a chunk of his history…but he was not a dark protagonist…he wasn’t even particularly troubled by his past until later events.  In fact he demonstrated character flaws shared with the psychopaths Cassie regularly described. But he was so damaged, so charismatic, so vulnerable it was impossible for Cassie not to love him.  And fierce, loyal Cassie gave him all the space he needed; she opened up to him and SLAM.  I’m not sure if Rob’s freaking out over consummating their relationship was believable or not?  Perhaps an initial discomfort or regret but I certainly didn’t believe days later he could turn nasty.  Lock her out yes, be embarrassed, be disappointed, grieve for a possibly a lost friendship but flip into a cruel, bitchy, shallow cad…I’m not sure?  Again he was exhibiting signs of dissociation and lacking in empathy but the writer was so spot on emotionally I felt sick for Cassie.

I liked that Dublin was in touching distance; it could have been Templeogue; it felt that familiar to me.

I didn’t like the subplot of the motorway and the uncle.  It made the book far too long and I care about characters and missing children not about corruption.  The interviews, the wiretap felt very disconnected from the main crime.

I wasn’t far into the book when I knew who the murderer was, the writer wasn’t subtle in that respect…but I was so wrapped up in Rob and Cassie that it was fine.

Back to the very first mystery. I was on tender hooks trying to formulate an explanation for Jamie and Peter.  Being Irish descent and having grown up with mystical Irish folk law I’m not taking the hint on that one…that would be a cop-out.

Lastly I’ll explain why I won’t buy book 2.  I think introducing a unique, unfathomable mystery of missing children and not giving closure was poor.  Anyone came come up with some elusive missing person, Jonathan Creek type scenario, it’s solving it that’s complex.  In reality how many readers of book 1 have died before book 2 without knowing what happened to the kids? I’d haunt the author. It would have been sufficient to leave readers wondering about a reconciliation between Cassie and Rob; professionally and personally; to have me purchase book two.

So that’s a wrap for this week. One thing that made me happy was someone on Kindle Unlimited is reading my book. I keep telling myself, be patient, reviews will come. Imagine if I reviewed my own book. Crap! I think I might be in trouble! Shit! I’m not patient either!