Books · Witterings

Book Club #3 – Fifty Shades of Grey – E.L. James

I cannot believe our book club has reached book 3 – and we had an almost full house this time round. The book to read for this meeting was the publishing phenomenon which is Fifty Shades of Grey.

So after the normal, hellos, cups of tea and delicious nibbles and also a phone call to chase C up for being late! (She actually lives opposite me!) We got on with the business in hand. We had all read the book, C had read all three, L was now on book 3 and S and S were on book 2. K and I had stopped at book 1. That was enough for us interestingly, though I am not sure perhaps months (or years) down the line I or K would want to read the others.

So the first aim was to try and focus on book 1. To do so, I had printed some discussion questions off a website and everyone picked one at random, to start the discussion off. I won’t repeat all of them here as that could get a bit tedious and boring, and with stuff going on, it is only nearly three weeks later I have got round to writing this post and my memory might not be what it was!

However, As more of his character and background are revealed, does your attitude toward Christian change? I think we all could feel for him as it was obvious that what had happened in the past was shaping his current and his future. Although we know from fellow readers, that you find out more in subsequent books. This question also applies to Ana, as well and I think we all felt differently about her at points in the book.

Discussion obviously moved on to the book portraying women in a degrading light. None of us agreed with this. And in fact most thought it was going to be a lot worse than it was including the description of the sex scenes. The quality of writing was an issue for some of us, the repetitiveness but as S pointed out she is not a reader and therefore found it easy to read, readily admitting that maybe it was because of both the storyline as well as the writing.

Many have described the book as a page turner – did you have trouble putting it down? What do you think explains the runaway success of Fifty Shades, first published as an ebook? What is the audience and who should or should not read the book? A group made up of mothers as well as daughters gives a very broad view on the subject of who should read the book. And as observation was made, there is nothing to stop anyone of any age going into a bookshop and purchasing the book. Would the bookseller stop the sale because for example the girl seemed to be only 10 or 11? I have not heard of a case of this? In fact some research from the BBFC (British Board of Film Classification) about book classification says

Publications in the UK, including books and magazines, are subject to UK law such as the Obscene Publications Acts and the Protection of Children Act 1978, as well as laws governing incitement to hatred on racial, religious and sexual orientation grounds. There have also been occasional attempts to block the publication of some books in the UK which have been felt by the Government to threaten national security.

When the film is made, what certificate will it get? Is 18 to high? Would a 15 be more appropriate? Would the audience be made up of more women than men? All questions that stemmed from reading the book, and to be honest I do not think any of us had the definitive answer to any of them. And as for who to play the lead characters…. perhaps when it eventually does come out, we will have a book club outing!

Those with young teenage girls, were certainly not going to let them read the book. The worry perhaps as discussion flowed that they would think this is ‘normal’  and is this book doing the rounds as an ‘underground’ type of book. Being passed on secretly between teenagers, sniggering whilst the exchange takes place, and reading secretly under the covers.

Plenty of laughter and tea and coffee at this particular meeting. I think we came to three conclusions/statements about the book.

1. I can understand the attraction (of the book) but not the obsession. (Beautifully put by K)

2. Sex isn’t a new concept. What is all the fuss about it has been going on since time began. (Quite, L!)

3. It got me reading. (S) Anything that gets people reading, is good in my opinion. Okay so we are not asking them to read all the great works now. Just pick up a book, and indulge in another world for a while. You might find you could enjoy it.

In conclusion from a very pleasant evening that lasted about 2 hours and everyone seems to enjoy themselves. Reading is definitely a solitary exercise that brings everyone together! A few books swapped and the next book given out for our next meeting, supplied by Transworld Publishers; The Mistress’s Revenge by Tamar Cohen. With the suggestion of the book after that (House Rules by Jodi Picoult) too and the evening came to a lovely conclusion.

Jottings · Witterings

Olympic Interval

Unless you have been living under a rock for the last 7 years you should be well aware that London, United Kingdom is the home of the Olympics for 2012. The 30th Olympiad so I am led to believe.

Last night was the opening ceremony, now after a very very busy week at work coupled with recovering from a cold and then the death of my grandmother, I was really after an early night and thought that this spectacle was going to be boring and I could in fact watch it whilst updating this blog, knitting, etc. However, I was captured from the outset and all them plans including the early night went out the window.

How do you sum up such a show? I made a note of all the things that stuck out for me and captured them in this list of words, which covers I hope a small part of the show plus a large part of British culture, our quirkiness and our uniqueness

From Agriculture to Industry, with Shakespeare in the form of The Tempest, read by the man we all know as a Bard actor – Sir Kenneth Brannagh. Portraying another great man – Isambard Kingdom Brunel. And so we watched and listened to those dark satanic mills of Jerusalem, the boyish charm of Danny Boy, the Scottish burr of Flower of Scotland to the Welsh valleys of Bread of Heaven. The Olympic Rings were forged and brought alive into the stadium

The landscape changed to remember War, those who fought for good over evil. The sixties swung in with a flight of Beatles. We were missing our figure-head our Queen. And what better way for her to come in but accompanied by Bond, James Bond. I know this clip will be seen thousands if not millions of times, but it is just fantastic and I share it again!

I bet she has always wanted to do that! And watch it as Daniel Craig turns as she leaves the room. There is a little pause and I am sure he is thinking “I cannot believe what is happening….”

Then a creation which began when the Olympics was with us in 1948  – the NHS. This is what we are all about, nurses in uniform with ‘proper’ hats, doctors in white coats and children in beds being tended to and read the wonderful novel of Peter Pan. Suddenly the book of English Literature was opened up; Mary Poppins came in to save the children, JK Rowling read from Peter Pan, , Cruella De Vil, Queen of Hearts, Captain Hook and Lord Voldemort suddenly arose from the stadium.

In complete contrast the wonderful London Symphony Orchestra and Chariots of Fire with an additional musician – Rowan Atkinson as Mr Bean. Oh I had visions of Andre Previn and Morecambe & Wise. Then more of British Popular Culture, music, television, films (nicely added in Danny with Trainspotting!) A mini, the BBC, radio, technology. Then it turned into ‘name the band’ The Who, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, The Beatles, Bowie, Eruthymics, The Jam, The Sex Pistols, New Order the list is endless.

And then another exportable British person – David Beckham – on a power boat from up The Thames a la James Bond as he was making his journey, all the athletes went into the stadium, planting their flags. It is at this point or in fact letter G that I had to give up and go to bed. I just needed to sleep. However I resumed watching this morning from when Team GB came in and picked out the other key moments, thanks to the blow by blow account by the BBC.

So Becks was to be greeted by our greatest ever Olympian (so far) Sir Steve Redgrave. The flame now entering the stadium as the official opening began, with the Queen and officials declaring it open. Oaths given to a ‘fair’ games, the flag brought in by important people such as the UN ambassador and then the tear jerking moment when we saw Mohammad Ali. (Although I am not sure whether it was the correct thing to do). The choice of who was to light the cauldron was excellent, nominated by Olympians and who also paid homage to previous British Olympic medal winners.  And then a finishing act of Sir Paul McCartney (which I have not seen but understand was as good as his Jubilee effort) All in all a wonderful night, and I hope that Britain does this Olympics proud. The world watched us last night, may it continue to do so and appreciate our complete uniqueness in the world.

Books · Jottings · Witterings

Authors in July – Part 2

And yet even before the middle of July, I have crossed paths with more authors, two to be precise and a lovely publicist.

My local library was holding a lunch time author event, one Wednesday. Luckily because I have a very understanding boss and no meetings that day and all the work was caught up with, I asked for the afternoon off to go. No problem.

However, trying to buy a ticket was rather less easy to achieve. I tried phoning but got stuck in a push button one nightmare circle through which I am sure I got to many council departments but not to a human being. So I tried emailing, which I did get a lovely speedy reply back who told me to visit any council library where I could pay for the ticket and then pick it up later. So whilst passing my nearest library and with ten minutes to spare I popped in. They knew nothing about the event, until I pointed out the poster on their wall, and said I was told that I could pay for a ticket here. She did bless her phone another library who did not seem to know how to process this payment and to get me a ticket either. As I now did not have ten minutes to spare, I said I would contact the main library direct again.

Duly I did, and was then told relevant lady was away from her desk and would phone me back. Sadly that phone call was not forthcoming. When I phoned again, they said they thought the event would not be going ahead. Are you sure I questioned? Granted I did not tell them that I was a regular twitterer (not sure if that is the correct terminology) with one of the authors as well as the publisher, plus the library themselves had sent out an advertising ‘tweet’ as well. Who all maintain that the event was going ahead….Anyway to cut a long story short, the event was going ahead, I got the ticket and off I went on the said Wednesday. (Please do not think I hate libraries, I love them but perhaps there is not enough people now in them to make sure everyone is fully informed and not so stretched work load wise?)

View from said ‘Central’ Library in Portsmouth.

And what a great one and half hours it was! Despite the weather where the rain was of almost biblical proportions and the rather uninspiring view of Portsmouth from the library room window (not the picture above) I hope the two authors did not think badly of my home city.

So who was there? Cut to the chase as they say….

Cath Staincliffe – author and scriptwriter of ITV’s Blue Murder which starred Caroline Quentin (and I just remembered that I never asked what she was like to work with!?) I reviewed her most recent book Dead to Me here on this blog. I have her latest, Split Second looking at me as I type this post waiting to be read.

Cath read a few of the opening pages of her book where we are introduced to the two main characters Scott and Bailey. She brought the characters so much to life, I could have quite happily listened to her read the whole book, even though I know what happens in it. It is also good to hear that there will be more.

It was interesting to learn about the process of writing, long hand on paper, and the plotting and thought that goes in or the perhaps writing and just seeing when you perhaps are in the characters heads and just have to get to whatever outcome they take you to. And how this is what Cath prefers doing rather than writing scripts, where you are just putting words in the mouth of characters, that someone else brings to life. (One of my questions was what did Cath prefer doing?)

Sharing the limelight with Cath was S.J.Watson of Before I Go To Sleep his debut novel. Again Steve (that’s what the S stands for) read a few pages from near the beginning of the novel. I was entranced by the story. It is a book I have not read, mainly because when a book seems to flood the market, I tend to avoid them and let the fuss die down and then discover it all in my own time. Which is why I am invariably ‘late to a number of parties’ when it comes to books and authors.

I digress, as it was interesting to learn about the research that went into the book and why he chose the voice of a woman. An interesting idea considering he was male and also that the anonymity of his name meant the reader did not know whether the author was male or female. Apparently there are two give-aways in his book that make it obvious he was a male – which were picked up by female friends of his. I will not give them away, until I have read the book at least!

The book could have gone in a completely different direction in some ways a ground-hog day moment.  As every time Christine wakes up she has lost all her memories, identity, past, the people she loves – all forgotten overnight. Watson could have used a lot of repetition. He admits this himself which was obviously a challenge that worked well as his book has gone on to be a runaway success and featured in various book clubs such as Richard and Judy (I meant to ask that question too; what effect are they having on books?)

This is one book I think I am going to put forward for my book club!

I purchased both books (I had passed on my copy of Dead to Me) and got them duly signed and it was great to meet the authors, especially after having chatted to them on  twitter in the case of Cath. It was not nerve racking at all, as I envisaged it would have been!

Mention must also go to Alison Barrow, the publicist for Transworld who enabled everything to happen. Again lovely to put a face to a name and a tweeter. It gave me the opportunity to say a great big thank you for the books she sends me (and other bloggers) and to obviously to keep them coming! Alison informed me that it is great to hear from ‘real’ readers that the number of books that are sent to reviews for newspapers, ranging in the region of 500 or so a week, only a small selection and in the main the same ones in most of the papers are mentioned. Think how many great books that are out there that are never mentioned and should be! This is where us bloggers come in. It really gave me a sense of purpose and also all the effort I put in to my blog pays off somewhere along the line.

And if that was not enough, I also got to meet a tweeter, who I do not follow but who Cath introduced me to and that was D.J. Kirkby.  Denyse is the writer in residence for Portsmouth Libraries.  “A writer in residence is a published author who works with the local community on writing projects and activities, improving literacy skills and the irrevocably linked health outcomes. The residency also provides the writer with an opportunity to develop their own work and draw inspiration from the residency setting”.

I am now in contact through twitter with Denyse, and perhaps when time is willing (as I have not asked and being presumptuous) she may like to write something for this blog.

So another great day sharing something which I love reading and books! What better way to spend a wet Wednesday afternoon! If they wish to bring any more authors to ‘town’ I will be there, although I might not be able to help the weather?

Note to self – write about these wonderful events, as soon as you can after the event. I know I have missed lots of things out I am sure, stuff I wanted to mention, that was said in passing or questions that I asked (I was the rather annoying audience member with loads of questions!) but sadly life got in the way a bit too much for me to indulge. I hope you all enjoy what I have remembered. 


Hanging Hill – Mo Hayder

Lorne Wood is discovered dead next to a canal. Brutally murdered.

Her murderer has left a message…on her body…”all like her”…but what does it mean?

Detective Inspector Zoe Benedict is one of the first on the scene in relation to this case. Something is not right and she cannot work out why. Investigations lead to some discoveries of Zoe’s past and it becomes a race to ensure that Zoe’s past life does not come out into the world she has created now. Lorne Wood looked to be following a similar path. 

Millie, knew Lorne, they were friends, they weren’t friends. A typical teenage friendship. Millie’s mum becomes worried about her daughter, and protecting her from the evils of the world, whilst trying to maintain some stability, but with the lack of money and being a single parent, everything is against her. But Millie seems to know something about the death but she cannot talk about it until she walks in to talk to Zoe…

Who also happens to be her aunt.

Mo Hayder adds to the story of Lorne and the capture of her killer, the past of these two sisters, Zoe and Sally. They have not spoken for years, they were brought up very differently, taking different paths after an incident when they were young. You are never quite sure what the incident actually was, although there are hints, which makes for a more intriguing relationship between the two. Through Millie, because of Lorne they are thrown together and have to get the best answer for everyone.  “Is it okay to do the wrong thing for the right reason?”

This was the first Hayder book I have read, and have nothing to compare it to. It was very gruesome and not something I would have chosen, but it was compelling, it held my attention, and I had to find out what happened, even though a lot of it was very unpleasant! The book is also in some ways a reflection on the relationship between sisters, and the one that gets the best of everything whilst growing up, whilst the other has to make do. Private or Comprehensive education? Day or Boarder? The questions are still relevant for the dead girl and her friends. Is one child being treated more kindly than another? Is there jealously and when one of their group is so tragically removed. Do these youngsters have the skills and emotions to deal with it?

Sometimes doing wrong means you are doing right.

I received this book from the publisher and thank you to them for giving me the opportunity to read it. I would never have considered this book in a bookshop. It was a page turner, and I would like to read more by Mo Hayder. It is very realistic and I did not feel she was treating the reader as somewhat backward and not be able to handle detail. No need for imagination here. Graphic detail hammered home the point, the death, the atmosphere so much so that the book stayed with me long after I had put it down, going “Oh……”

I intended to read this for the letter ‘H’ for the Crime Fiction Alphabet but did not finish the book in time for the letter that week but I will mark it accordingly on my link above. 


Olympic Flames – Emma Lee Potter

What better way to start the fever of the Olympics by reading a story using the Olympics, London, the athletes village and the  much sought after gold medal as background and plot. This is what Emma Lee Potter has done in this short story. 

Mimi Carter is not your typical show jumper. She has worked from nothing, without a privileged back ground starting at mucking out the local stables. She is spotted by someone who thinks she has potential. And so she does and finds herself the youngest member of the show jumping team representing her country in 2012.

But a face from the past jumps into the show ground and perhaps Mimi is too young to win a gold and really just wants to have her heart won?

If you are a reader of such women’s fiction or chic-lit then this book is predictable and you will know the outcome from the moment, the man from the past appears. Quite frankly, who cares. This is a lovely book to escape with and brings to life the ‘behind-the-scenes’ of the Olympics well enough to get you in the mood.

The Olympics are going ot touch everyone in differnt ways, whether you are a fan or not. Whether you want to watch 24 hours worth of olympic coverage. If you are going. The travelling, the voloutneering, the torch relay it is affecting us all as well as in our pockets. 

The cynic in me says this little story is cashing in on the Olympic, but so what if it is. A nice diversion from an author I have never read before, but may look at reading some of her other works. 

Books · Witterings

Authors in July – Part 1

July is the month where I have met and listened to authors galore!

At the beginning of the month, I met three authors whose books I have never read. Some might call that shameful, that I would go and listen to someone speak about something I knew nothing about, others might call it brave, I call it broadening my horizons, expanding my book shelves and shrinking my purse!

So who were they?

Marika Cobbold – Born in Sweden and now living in London. Marika has ‘established a reputation for astute and acerbic romances’ (The Independent). Her latest, ‘Drowning Rose’, is about the terrible shadows cast by grief and guilt. 

Marika was a delight. I loved listening to her talk and could have listened for a lot longer than the allotted hour. She took us through her new novel Drowning Rose, the book which does not seem to fit into a particular genre. (I have to confess to liking books that do that – I see it as a test for booksellers and the ilk) It was interesting to hear especially about the large influence that supermarkets have on books! Who would have thought, that they would be the ones pulling at the publishing world and dictating what was required.

I certainly cannot wait to read this book, and even started it whilst waiting for Marika herself.

Her background was fascinating and I was most interested in hearing what books she liked to read especially the fact that she read the Swedish translation of P.G. Wodehouse and could also remember it quite clearly! My question, to her – was it as funny and even when you read it in English? The answer – yes! Interesting to also learn about the business of translated fiction, and what can be lost in translation. Much it seems.

Thank you Marika for personally signing my book and making it unique.

Tom Campbell – Tom is the former cultural strategy manager to the Mayor of London. His highly entertaining first novel, ‘Fold’ is about five men who meet every month for a game of poker.

What a difference in style with this author. Tom read out some passages of his book, and what was read out reminded me of the Tony Parsons and Nick Hornby books I have read. The male perspective of what makes males not very nice characters. Although I think perhaps he might be too harsh.

Tom has explored the way men behave when they get together in almost pack form as wolves. Women seem to form roles, they can chat and have no issue and time passes. Men have to have a common purpose, in this case Poker, and the one upmanship that arrives, who has the better job, house, woman etc.

Questions from the audience I thought were interesting – why poker, why not something else? Many other activities gather men in a group. Can you play poker, and did it help with the book? The book was written in the slack time when there was a restructure at the Mayor’s office in London. Are we having to wait for another slack period before the next novel? (My question!) (No – his answer). Only one question about his time with the Mayor of London – was Boris a buffoon or really quite clever? Answer – if he was interested, he was interested, if he wasn’t well……

Read about Tom here in this article.

Vanessa Gebbie – Prize winning short story write. Her debut novel “The Cowards Tale” is set in a Welsh mining village, haunted for generations by a local pit disaster.

Vanessa is a writer, whether it is a few lines, short stories or a novel. Words are her business. This novel took a long time to write, in between her teaching, her short stories, judging and being Vanessa.

Vanessa read a very moving piece from her novel and having not read it, I was certainly moved to want to read it even more. She has drawn on her past, her childhood visits to her grandparents in Wales to bring to life something quite extraordinary. Memories are often made of food – and this talk from Vanessa was such. The Sandwich Spread sandwiches, jelly, tinned fruit and evaporated milk.

A new memory here, as to accompany Vanessa was a WI tea with a very Welsh theme; bara brith and Welsh cakes as well as sandwiches with the crusts cut off, and glorious cups of tea in WI cups and saucers. I wish I had taken a picture of the cups as alas I cannot find any online. The bara brith was just moorish and I am desperate to make my own, with butter spread on it as well. Read about Vanessa’s take on it here.

Vanessa has also sparked an interest in short stories more, something which for some reason I have not avoided but never ventured into before.

What a wonderful way to spend a Saturday afternoon with these three authors. Where was I – The West Meon Festival of Books. This is a three day festival held in the main at West Meon Church and the Village Hall. I have never been before but had seen advertisements about it and as West Meon is only about a 30 minute drive from me through beautiful countryside it was well worth the journey. I had also been tipped off about the WI tea as a must see – which was the catalyst for going really.

What a wonderful place, the church is to hold such an event. Beautiful wooden pews, with doors on the end, and little heaters inside each one. Needed on this particular weekend due to the rather inclement weather we have been having. The journey was rather interesting on the way there and back, and thank goodness for quiet country roads as I was invariably driving on the wrong side due to the depth of the puddles caused by the torrential rain.

The weather would have made it a much better day for many I feel. Not least the poor woman in the church doorway making sure you had paid etc.

The numbers were very small and an interesting range of ages in the audience. I am always fascinated by why they are there and what is their story as you never know the full picture. Something which Marika Cobbold touched on when she was talking about her writing, we never know the full story – books can give us that, the author can tell us everything.

The festival is run in conjunction and with the help of One Tree Books of Petersfield. One of the very few independent book shops in my local area. It is in its 3rd year, and I hope will continue next because I certainly want to go again, and learn about new authors, new books and perhaps some ones I already know about too!


The Long Weekend – Veronica Henry

Can I interest you in a short little break, a long weekend if you will?

You will not need your passport, you only need to get to Cornwall or thereabouts. The hotel I have chosen is a unique boutique style, with glorious views, hand picked and stylish decor and with food to make your mouth water.

Still not quite sure?

Well what about the two people who run it, surely you will be interested to know about them. Claire and Luca are their names and they live and breathe The Townhouse by the Sea. Luca is an amazing who uses local produce and everyone around seems to flock in to sample his food. Down to the shortbread provided in your room. He is an attraction to the hotel in more ways that one, there is something charismatic that draws you in – the eternal bad boy every girl wants to tame?

Claire seems to have managed it, she is the calm to his storm. Everything runs perfectly with Claire in charge, she knows what she wants from everyone and expects them all to deliver. Trouble is Claire is not sure if Luca is what she wants? Then a face from the past turns up and perhaps Claire has been hiding away these last few years?

Now if that does not tempt you what else will? If you like people watching, then you are coming to the right hotel.

There is the young couple, so obviously in love that they are trying to find the missing piece of the girls past to ensure that the future is successful. The older couple who seem to be escaping from something, but the wife seems constantly on edge? Why? Then there is the family unit, mother, father and daughter, but actually something seems wrong with the set up, the father seems to be making up for something, but what? Then the stag group, a first for the hotel, but don’t let that put you off. They all seemed interested in having a good time, sampling the food and drink, and everything the sea has to offer. But the stag seems distracted? He is about to make the biggest commitment of his life, he may be getting cold feet

Tempted to go for a visit? I thought you might be.

Veronica Henry’s new novel, brings together the wonderful setting of a hotel, and all the residents and weaves a story that had me hooked from the first moment I started reading. You get to know the characters, you care about them as I did with Claire and Nick. You despise them as I did with Karen and Luca. You want to make sure that the right overcomes wrong in the case of Chelsee and the future is as sunny as it is at The Townhouse. Somehow with ease, the background of the character was slotted into the novel, without any obvious jarring of the story line. It fitted beautifully. This book is pure escapism, you have got everything you need to transport you away, the scenery and the weather, the laughter and the tears without even having to get your suitcase out! And after you have finished the book,  you wonder just what did happen to all those people whose stories and lives you had suddenly viewed once they left The Townhouse by the Sea, and another long weekend was over…..until the next one.

I loved this book, it was the sunshine needed in a very wet dreary summer (so far). I love Veronica Henry’s writing, and this is one of her best. Something just drew me in and I was hooked, which is why I put off some housework just to finish the book. Even the cover of the book, had me dreaming of short breaks away, or even walks by my own seaside. 

I was never quite sure as each chapter finished and the next one started quite where it was going to take me. I believed in so many of the characters, especially their pasts which explained so much about them. I started to panic that perhaps everything would not work out. I wanted Claire to have the future she deserved. I wanted, Monique to get her happy ending.I wanted Angelica to find the right path for herself and make sure her brother got the future he needed away from their mother. Even the minor characters in this book got under your skin, a sign of a good book. I would love to learn more about these characters, so if you want to write a sequel, Veronica…….

You can find more about Veronica Henry here and also follow her on twitter if you are that way inclined @veronica_henry. 


There Must Be Murder – Margaret C. Sullivan

This is a short story which follows on from some of the many of characters from Austen’s Northanger Abbey. It does not really matter if you have not read Northanger Abbey because the story is quite sweet on its own merit.

Catherine and Henry Tilney, recently married are back in Bath, to remind themselves of the places they have visited and the people they know. Henry’s father General Tilney looks like he is about to remarry Lady Beauclark widow of Sir Arthur Beauclark, but Sir Arthur’s sister is convinced that her brother’s death was not of natural causes. Added to that Lady Beauclark’s daughter seems obsessed with products from an apothecary who is obsessed with Lady Beauclark himself. The true heir to the Beauclark fortune, Sir Arthur’s nephew has a reputation and seems intent on making himself known to all the female characters within this novella.

Catherine and Henry, observers from the side and also part of the intrigue make a sweet little story which shows the rules and lives of the Regency period which Jane Austen captured so well in her novels. In this particular novel there are beautiful illustrations and they look as wonderful on the kindle version as well.

A book for all Austen fans. Or even those who like me have not read very little Austen, this is a good introduction to period, place and language of her novels.

I was pointed in the direction of this novel from seeing it featured on a blog, and my greatest apologies but I cannot remember which one. Please refresh my memory because I would like to thank you for it. It was a really pleasant little diversion from some of the other books I have been reading lately. I have now downloaded Northanger Abbey and will make an attempt at that at some point soon. I certainly want to see how Catherine and Henry came together. 


Between a Mother and her Child – Elizabeth Noble

Maggie and Bill have the perfect life if such a thing exists. Falling deeply in love with each other at a tender age, married, and relocating to the other side of the world, well off financially and materially, with three children Jake, Aly and Ben.

But this perfect life is shattered by the Tsunami on Boxing Day.

Jake their eldest is there at the time with two of his friends and only they come back alive.

The perfect life is no longer, the bond between a mother and her child, is broken utterly and completely. With it the family is slowly starting to shatter and Elizabeth Noble’s novel takes us through the grief stricken aftermath of those left behind. It is not just a novel of bonds between mother and child but all relationships; husband and wife, brother and sister, sisters and strangers

Maggie and Bill are no longer together. Bill is actively dealing with his grief. Maggie is not; her only outlet is cleaning to combat the insomnia that has struck her. A build up of resentment has broken this bond. The bond with Maggie’s other two children has also been broken and at a point it looks like it will never be reformed. Aly feels she can never live up to the pedestal that Jake was put on being the first born. Ben on the other hand has special needs and his behaviour being blunt he seems to have dealt with the death of his brother and is dealing with life as he sees it. Ben has moved on.

Suddenly there are two saviours to the family. Olivia, Maggie’s sister realises that she cannot continue to support her sister when they are on opposite sides of the globe especially when she is now moving on with her own life. By chance an advertisement in a newspaper leads her to Kate and Kate to Maggie and her family as everyone’s lives move on.

Noble’s novel was moving and a couple of times the tears did flow. She somehow has managed to create a story which could have been quite perfunctory but deals with the many of emotions of grief and importantly love. The only niggle and the reason for four stars and not five was the role of the character Kate, the “Mary Poppins” figure that drops into their lives and rescues them and interestingly her own family breakdown at the same time. More could have been made of Kate and she came rather late into the story for me and her background was rather a rushed affair to bring the relevance of her into the story.

However, this is a good novel from Elizabeth Noble and one of her stronger ones in my opinion.

I last read an Elizabeth Noble novel in January 2011, and looking back at the review here, I commented two things – that I have given all her previous novels 3 stars out of 5 (on Amazon) and that perhaps I have gone as far as I am going to go with this particular author. It shows you how time and moods change. I have given the novel this time 4 stars but despite this book being a much better read than her others. She is an author that I can take or leave.


Fifty Shades of Grey – E.L. James

I think you would have to have been in a cupboard if you have never heard of this book or have a rough idea what it is about or more importantly what it contains! Because my challenge to myself is to review all books that I read, I have had to force myself to do this one so here it goes:

Anastasia ‘Ana’ Steele is a young innocent virgin just graduated from university, her formative years spent with her head in books. Suddenly she encounters Christian Grey – the man who has everything, including the dashing good looks to go with the money. He is a dominant force within the business world. And it is not just in that part of his life that he wants to be dominant. Christian wants control everywhere that is until he meets Ana, who he wants to control but Ana wants to know more in fact she wants that more that he has never given in the past. What is it about Ana that changes this dominant? And will she actually submit to him? Will Christian’s past hold him back from submitting to Ana?

The sexual relationship which is dominant (pardon the pun) in this book fuels many of the pages, it was very repetitive and in fact at times quite boring. Here we go again, hurry up and get to the point of the story I thought. And quite frankly how big are Christian Grey’s pockets as there seemed to be “foil packets” galore spilling from them.

There is the basis of an interesting storyline and I was fascinated by Christian and why he behaves as he does. However, you need to filter out all the other stuff and about 200 pages of the book plus the repetitive writing and you probably have a decent piece of fiction. I will admit to actually not liking Ana to begin with, I felt her weak and ineffectual and although she should probably have asked for a refund in terms of her inner goddess she somehow penetrated (sorry another pun not intentional) Christian’s psyche and made him perhaps see that dominance is perhaps not always a good thing. Then I changed my mind about her until the end of the book and questioned her actions. However at the moment this has not given me enough incentive to pick up book two.  I have read the book and can be counted in the statistics, enough said!

I really do not know where I stand on this book. I normally do not read ‘in’ or ‘hype’ books because everyone else is. I may well buy them, but then read them months if not years later. However, because it was my next book club choice, it had to be done. 

I think because since I finished it I have read two books and during it I read two books, gives you an idea of what I really thought of the book!  Having discussed this book with a few people, I can see that it is a book you either like or don’t. The Marmite effect if you will. I also think, that because I read a lot I am comparing the writing to other books. The sexually graphic scenes did not bother me but got quite boring in their repetitiveness. I keep coming back to the use of language, structure and length of book. The technicalities if you will. I recognise that actually beneath (as I say in my review) all the sex there is a very interesting story line and it was that the fundamentally kept me going to the end.

Have you succumbed to the hype? Or are you really just not that bothered?

It is going to make interesting discussion at my book club, (which I will report about on here) and I think whilst there has to be discussion about the book – there has to be something about books, PR and hype too!