Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Author Updates #Reviews – Miriam Hurdle, Jessica Norrie, Cynthia Reyes and Gwendolyn Plano


The first book today to receive a recent review is Miriam Hurdle for her collection Songs of the Heartstrings: Poems of Gratitude and Beatitude

About  Songs of Heartstrings

Human being has the willpower to travel through an exhausting journey, win a tough battle, and heal a deep wound. Strength from hope keeps us going until the light at the end of the tunnel is in sight and striving until the storm is over.

This poetic memoir comprises themes ranging from the suffering through an undesirable relationship, surviving an aggressive cancer, to the happiness in true love, the joy of parenthood, and gratefulness toward the Maker. Hurdle reveals the honest self-talk and reflects a heart filled with optimism, faith and trust. She illustrates the poems with her beautiful photos and paintings.

A recent review for the collection on Goodreads

Sep 14, 2019 James rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Songs of Heartstrings: Poems of Gratitude and Beatitude is the first book of poems I’ve read by Miriam Hurdle. This collection was published in 2018 after the poet found hope through the many lessons she’d experienced in the previous years of her life. Nature inspired her, pushed her to conquer all the obstacles thrown in her path. Though not a frequent reader in this genre, I do review these works a few times each year, as I studied poetry in college and find myself interested in reading it on occasion. I am glad I chose this one and encourage others to give the author a chance too.

The collection is organized in a few manners: by type of poem and by category. In fact, to me, some were mini stories and not necessarily a poem. That said, the author clearly shows us that poetry comes in all forms. It’s not just about rhyming or repetition. Nature is the first focus, aptly titled Songs of Nature. I feel like Ms. Hurdle wrote her poems while sitting in nature, witnessing the great beauty of animals, insects, weather, trees, and other naturalistic parts of our world. Frequent photographs, some the author took herself, accompany the sections, showing us the inspiration of what led to the poem.

Rooted with some religious beliefs, the author connects with God to openly ask for help and thank the Creator for all that she’s been given. There is raw pain and innate fear in the words, but there is also hope and promise. At just the right moments, Ms. Hurdles takes a swift turn to share something more light and funny, almost poking a bit of amusement at something that tickles her in nature. It fits, almost matching the surprises in store for all of us throughout the day.

One of my favorites, A Tiny Spider, is simple but deep:

A tiny spider labors
every night to
spin his web in
perfect symmetry.
What an innate architect is he!
patiently watches for
his prey to volunteer.
Meal for the night and
reward for the
labor and wait.
Before dawn, down
his trap and hides away.
When the night is nigh
he starts his day.
Spins his web
again, again.
Again!

Covering other basic human emotions and complex dreams, we experience dissonance, physical healing, marriage, parenthood, tribute, reflection, challenge, and inspiration. I personally enjoyed the conversations with her parents, learning about how she connected with them from two continents so far apart. Kudos to the author for a wonderful opportunity to express herself and wade through the pain and sacrifice we encounter in life, only to find the ray of light through words and expressions. 4.5 stars for the full collection.

Read the reviews and buy the collection: https://www.amazon.com/Songs-Heartstrings-Poems-Gratitude-Beatitude-ebook/dp/B07K1S47W9

And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Songs-Heartstrings-Poems-Gratitude-Beatitude-ebook/dp/B07K1S47W9

Read reviews and follow Miriam on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17252131.Miriam_Hurdle

Connect to Miriam via her website: https://theshowersofblessings.com/

The second author with a review is Jessica Norrie for her recently released book The Magic Carpet.

About The Magic Carpet

Outer London, September 2016, and neighbouring eight-year-olds have homework: prepare a traditional story to perform with their families at a school festival. But Nathan’s father thinks his son would be better off doing sums; Sky’s mother’s enthusiasm is as fleeting as her bank balance, and there’s a threatening shadow hanging over poor Alka’s family. Only Mandeep’s fragile grandmother and new girl Xoriyo really understand the magical powers of storytelling. As national events and individual challenges jostle for the adults’ attention, can these two bring everyone together to ensure the show will go on?

One of the recent reviews for the book on Goodreads

I must admit that I got an expected but completely welcome surprise when I read this book. The magic carpet is an intricate and beautifully told tale of a school project and several families involved. Each child in the class has been allocated a fairy story to take home and make their own any way they wish.

The narratives switches between each family and each chapter is dedicated to a different class member. Diverse, intriguing and almost voyeuristic, we are allowed to peep into the lives of each family as they tackle the homework project in very different ways. All the adults in the story are increasingly distracted by events in their own lives and it’s up to the children to bring everyone together.

I adore that Jessica Norrie has given each family a very unique identity through circumstances. culture and race. Each relationship and situation is delicately written and issues are tackled with sensitivity but bring he characters to life. I became invested in every single child in this novel.

This is a breathtaking and addictive story about stories, families and children.

Head over and buy the book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Magic-Carpet-Jessica-Norrie-ebook/dp/B07TXZP2S2

And on Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Magic-Carpet-Jessica-Norrie-ebook/dp/B07TXZP2S2

Also by Jessica Norrie in English and German

Read the reviews buy the books: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jessica-Norrie/e/B01CEUZF26

and on Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Infinity-Pool-Jessica-Norrie-ebook/dp/B011RA8QZW

Find more reviews on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3270629.Jessica_Norrie

Connect to Jessica via her blog: https://jessicanorrie.wordpress.com/

The next author with reviews for her latest release is Cynthia Reyes, a gardening memoir – Twigs in my Hair.

About Twigs in my Hair

Author Cynthia Reyes returns with Twigs in My Hair, a book about her lifelong passion for gardens and nature and the surprising relationships and events involved. Gorgeous photographs by Hamlin Grange complement a humorous and profound story. A beautiful gift for gardeners and non-gardeners. Readers will meet a variety of interesting creatures, both human and animal, some of whom compete for gardening produce or gardening glory. You may conclude, after reading Twigs in My Hair, that the gardener’s love for growing things swings from reverence to mania. But there is also a deeply emotional side to this story about what happens when a passionate gardener can no longer do what she loves.

One of the recent reviews for the book

K. Pickering 5.0 out of 5 stars A Book to Savor September 7, 2019

I intended to take my time with this book… To read a few pages every day…make it last. I did not succeed. Every time it caught my eye it beckoned me back and just under 4 days later I was finished.

I would highly recommend “Twigs in my Hair” by Cynthia Reyes. She invites us into her world through her gardens, past and present. Her beautiful stories are accentuated by her husband’s (Hamlin Grange) striking photographs. Photographs that give us a glimpse into their gardens and their lives.

Thank you for allowing us to sit awhile in your gardens. Thank you for introducing us to your neighbors and friends. Thank you for sharing part of yourself, warts and all. We are richer for it. – Karen Pickering

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Twigs-my-Hair-Gardening-Memoir/dp/0991837924/

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Twigs-my-Hair-Gardening-Memoir/dp/0991837924/

Also by Cynthia Reyes

And co-written with Lauren Reyes-Grange – Illustrated by Jo Robinson

Read the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Cynthia-Reyes/e/B00F1HTQQ6

And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Cynthia-Reyes/e/B00F1HTQQ6

Read more reviews and follow Cynthia on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7072186.Cynthia_Reyes

Connect to Cynthia via her website: https://cynthiasreyes.com/

And the final author today with a recent review is Gwendolyn M. Plano for her memoir Letting To into Perfect Love.

About the book

Inspiring and unforgettable, Letting Go into Perfect Love is a riveting account of a journey through the terror of domestic violence to a faith that transforms all. As a college administrator, Gwendolyn M. Plano lived her professional life in a highly visible and accountable space–but as a wife and mother, behind closed doors, she and her family experienced unpredictable threat. The statistics are staggering–every 9 seconds in the United States, a woman is assaulted or beaten–but to Gwen, this was her secret; it was her shame. When her husband eventually turned his brutality on her son, she knew she could no longer remain silent.

Alternately heart-wrenching and joyful, this is a story of triumph over adversity–one woman’s uplifting account of learning how to forgive the unforgiveable, recover her sense of self, bring healing into her family, and honor the journey home. Accompanied by glimpses of celestial beings, Gwen charts a path through sorrow to joy–and ultimately, writes of the one perfect love we all seek.

The story that unfolds is not a blow-by-blow account of savagery hidden within a twenty-five-year marriage; rather, it is a walk through innocent dreams betrayed–to courage found. “Tragedy spares no one;” Gwen points out, “it just courts each of us differently. One way or another, it finds a path into our hearts, and there we do battle with the intruder.” As a survivor who came out of her unhealthy relationship determined to start over, Gwen artfully depicts the challenges of balancing the obligations of motherhood and career with her family’s healing process, while offering hope to anyone facing monumental challenges.

Integral to Gwen’s journey is her faith. Because of her Catholic upbringing, she struggles with the scandal of divorce, but finally makes her peace. When her daughter reveals her molestation by clergy, however, her fragile sense of serenity dissolves. We walk with Gwen as she tries to make sense of this horror. The agony experienced by the entire family is devastatingly palpable. Against all odds, Gwen emerges confident of her faith and begins to see the threads of meaning in even the darkest moments.

This is a book for all. But, for those who have been in a destructive relationship, Gwen’s story will be heartbreakingly familiar. For those who have been spared such diminishment, it will provide insight into the often misunderstood phenomenon of domestic violence. Since one in every four women will experience such threat in her lifetime, understanding that murky world may provide the reader with the skills needed to help his or her sister or friend or neighbor. Whether victim or friend, though, readers will be inspired by the author’s courage and ultimate resolution of her predicament. And, you may see your own challenges a little differently.

One of the recent reviews for the book

In her book Letting Go, Gwen Plano recounted her two abusive marriages in honesty and courage. She married the first husband after he had a mental breakdown. The psychiatrist gave her hope that Bruce could recover. She married him intending to help him and saved him from being admitted. She couldn’t handle his outrage and filed a divorce. She married Ron six months after they met. There were signs of Ron’s disturbed behavior, but Gwen stated that she was in a fantasy world of young love. In the years to come, Ron uprooted the family on minutes of notice and moved across the country and even to Japan. After they came back to the US, he was getting more violent, demeaning and controlling. He physically abused young son when the baby was seven months old. When the daughter was sexually abused at age five by clergies and complained about that years later, Ron didn’t want to deal with it.

During the twenty-five years of abuse, Gwen studied and taught. The workplace was her escape. The busyness kept them going for twenty-five years. At one point, she realized Ron made her feel “small.” In an abusive relationship, women kept the abuse in secret, fear the reporting results in more abuse. These women may fear of not being able to stand on their own feet.

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Letting-into-Perfect-Love-Extraordinary-ebook/dp/B00K7WYTW6/

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Letting-into-Perfect-Love-Extraordinary-ebook/dp/B00K7WYTW6/

Also by Gwendolyn Plano and co-written with John W. Howell.

Read the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Gwendolyn-M-Plano/e/B00I5TAJ04

and on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Gwendolyn-M-Plano/e/B00I5TAJ04

Read more reviews and follow Gwen on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7341478.Gwendolyn_M_Plano

You can find out more about Gwen on her website: http://www.gwenplano.com/

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you will be leaving with some books under your arm..thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Christmas – The Seventh Day of Christmas with guests Jessica Norrie and Marjorie Mallon


Welcome to the Seventh Day of Christmas and today I am taking the opportunity to thank another of the contributors this year who has brought some wonderful book recommendations via her Literary Column. Jessica Norrie is going to be focusing on her next book in 2019 but has left us with plenty to enjoy in her Column Directory.

My other guest is fantasy/paranormal YA author Marjorie Mallon and I am looking forward to sharing her special Christmas gift memories.

My Christmas memories

I love Christmas as you have probably gathered over the last few days with my memories and adventures. There was a time in my life when Christmas was not really a time of celebration and it culminated in the November of 1977 when at age 24 my first marriage of four years finally fell apart. It is a long time in the past now but I do remember that particular Christmas as being the hardest I had ever faced.

Divorce in those days was still very frowned upon and appearances could be very important. Especially as I was the one walking away. At a distance over 40 years later it is easier to put things into perspective, but at the time the hurt was very real, and there was little sympathy for those who gave up on their vows however valid the reasons.

I gave up everything I owned except for two small suit cases. It broke my heart to leave behind my beloved collie, but I knew that he would be well taken care of by my husband’s family. I had no roof over my head or any prospects, and it is one of those times in your life when you have to make a decision to save yourself and take the consequences. I had about £50 that I had taken out of our joint savings account and that had to last me until I found a job. I stayed with a friend of my mother’s in her small house and paid £5 per week for full board. I earned some cash in hand by helping a local dress shop owner get a cafe started in the back of the store, while I looked around for something more permanent.

In those days there was no Internet and few recruitment agencies. I had been a senior receptionist in a hotel, and thankfully done management training with a restaurant chain as well as run my own kitchen in a large public house that I co-managed. I needed a roof over my head and fast before my money ran out, and in those days the top magazine for all domestic and hotel jobs was The Lady. I applied to one or two live in housekeeper jobs but heard nothing back, but then I spotted an advert for a housekeeper/caterer for a public school in Sussex. They were looking for a manager who was older and more experienced than I was, and when I was asked for an interview there was quite a bit of scepticism about the likelihood of me being hired from family and friends.

I returned from Sussex on the train with £15 left in my purse and facing Christmas four days away. That was the lowest point in my life and I struggled against the general belief that I should return to my husband whatever the circumstances and accept the situation. On Christmas Eve just before my resolve was about to be broken, I received a telegram from the the delightful headmaster and his wife at the school. I was sure that it was going to be a rejection and it took me a while to open the envelope.

Me and the school mascot!

They wanted me to start in the first week of January before the children returned to school after the holidays. I would have my own self contained flat in one of the school cottages and £25 per week. I think that you can imagine how I felt on receiving this very special Christmas Gift. That is why I love Christmas. It was a defining moment in my life and the road I then followed, eventually led to me to meet my husband David three years later, and funnily enough when I had moved to another job that had been advertised in The Lady….lucky magazine that and still going strong.

One of the songs that I remember from that Christmas was the 1974 single by Greg Lake (Emerson, Lake & Palmer)  I Believe in Father Christmas…( I was tempted to play I Will Survive!) Some felt the song was anti-Christmas but in fact it was anti-commercialism of the festival….

Time to meet my special guest Jessica Norrie who has been broadening our knowledge of books over the last year. I for one have added some amazing books to my TBR based on her recommendations. I was delighted to meet her in person at the 2017 Bloggers Bash.

About Jessica

Jessica Norrie studied French literature at Sussex University, and trained as a teacher at Sheffield. Then she wandered into parenthood, told her now grown up children stories, and heard theirs. A qualified translator, she worked on an eclectic mix of material, from health reports on racehorses to harrowing refugee tales. She taught, full time, part time, adults, children, co-authored a text book and ran teacher training. In 2008 she was inspired with the idea for “The Infinity Pool” and it appeared as a fully fledged novel in 2015. Meanwhile she sings soprano and plays the piano, walks in the forest and enjoys living in and using London. She looks forward to writing more in the future.

As a thank you to Jessica for her wonderful contributions to the blog I have found what I hope will be an acceptable gift, more for us to be honest!.

Jessica is a soprano and sings with an amazing choir called the Hackney Singers and they held their Christmas Carol Service last Friday which I am sure was amazing. Jessica had written about music and the choir on her blog

Here is the choir’s performance of Hallelujah from their 2009 Christmas concert uploaded by Lynne Troughton

Again my thanks to Jessica for her amazing contribution during the year and looking forward to showcasing her next book in 2019.

You can read the reviews and buy Jessica Norrie’s book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jessica-Norrie/e/B01CEUZF26
Blog: https://jessicanorrie.wordpress.com

510glyvrrdl-_uy250_A recent review for the book

Nice holiday read  on 29 September 2018

I enjoyed reading this book during my summer holidays. It gets you thinking about the way we interact with local communities and the environment during our few weeks away in the sun. The book is a nice mix of crime, romance, philosophy, and social constructs.

Day 7 (31st December): New Years Eve (known as Hogmanay in Scotland). One of the earliest Popes Sylvester I is celebrated on this day. He is still remembered across central and eastern Europe and you will often find New Year’s Eve referred to as ‘Silvester’ New Year’s Eve in the UK was celebrated from medieval times but with sport particularly archery which was mandatory for all men between the ages of 17-60 – the territorial army of its day with men trained to fight.

Over the years many interesting traditions have developed for celebrating the turn of the old year to the new and of course the making of resolutions….

It is rumoured that all the gifts of Christmas originally were code references to various Catholic beliefs that had to be kept secret during the various persecutions that occurred over the centuries from around 1530. There is little evidence this is the case but the Seven Swans Swimming were said to represent the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. The first time the carol was sung in Britain was in the 18th Century and was a game where if you forgot a verse you paid the price in the form of sweets or a kiss…I think I played that game once.

I can beat the Seven Swans – feeding time at Bray Harbour in Southern Ireland…

This custom of sending Christmas cards began in the Victorian Era in the UK in 1843 and was the brain child of Sir Henry cole who was a civil servant in the government of the day. The Public Post Office was only recently established and Sir Henry was interested in finding a way that the general public might use the service.

He had an artist friend, John Horsley and together they designed and sold the first Christmas Card for one shilling which was a lot of money in those days. There were three parts to the card and depicted a charitable scene but the central panel showed a well off family enjoying a sumptuous Christmas meal. From those first 1000 printed cards the custom grew to become a billion dollar industry around the world.

My next guest is author and blogger M.J. Mallon (Marjorie) whose debut book is The Curse of Time, a Fantasy/Paranormal YA novel. She also writes middle grade fiction and micro poetry – haiku and Tanka.  She loves to read and has written over 100 reviews: . Marjorie has an amazing life story of travel and adventures, having been born in Hong Kong and brought up in Singapore…you can find out more on her Blog

Marjorie has also had one of her stories included in the Ghostly Writes Anthology 2018 with her story Ghostly Goodbye.

Marjorie shares her best Christmas gift ever

It’s coming up to a very special day. I married age twenty-three and nearly twenty-three Christmases ago we were so looking forward to sharing Christmas at our neighbours.

On Christmas morning my husband began to build the cot. He started yelling that the darn thing wasn’t fitting and with all the excitement my waters broke.

Surely this couldn’t be happening – my due date was 9th January?

Guess who was the best Christmas present ever?

And here is Natasha… all grown up and working in South Korea until recently.

I know from Marjorie’s bio that she enjoy’s Tai Chi and I have arranged for her to virtually join
Jojo Hua performing Chen style Tai chi on Whatipu beach , Auckland , New Zealand.  A little bit of a change in weather to the UK and Irish gales and cold at the moment.

You can read all the reviews for The Curse of Time by M.J.Mallon, https://www.amazon.co.uk/M-J-Mallon/e/B074CGNK4L/
Website: https://mjmallon.com/

One of the reviews for The Curse of Time.

This is a totally different genre for me, but this year I have been reading books by so many exciting new authors that I wanted to give this book a try, as it had been recommended to me. This book would be great for teenagers, or young adults and it follows the magical story of teenager Amelina as she steps into a world of crystals, magic and wonderment. There are some likeable and not so likeable characters and both are really well written.

The book weaves a story of the main character learning new skills and you see her personal growth throughout the story. Nothing is what is seems and you want to find out how Amelia will use her enchanted gifts and learn who she can trust. A book packed full of intrigue, believable characters and poetic verse. I would look out for more books by this author. 

Marjorie has also had one of her stories included in the Ghostly Writes Anthology 2018 with her story Ghostly Goodbye.

If you have not yet listened to the amazing Pentonix then here is there version of Deck the Halls…from their Youtube channel..PTXofficial

The carol dates back to the 16th century and actually started a Welsh song usually sung on New Year’s Eve… “Nos Galan” was published in English with lyrics by Thomas Oliphant.

The popular “Deck the Halls” song is a Christmas carol that dates back to the sixteenth century. It wasn’t always associated with Christmas, however; the melody comes from a Welsh winter song called “Nos Galan,” which is actually about New Year’s Eve.

The first time “Deck the Halls” was published with English lyrics was in 1862, in Welsh Melodies, Vol. 2, featuring Welsh lyrics by John Jones and English lyrics written by Thomas Oliphant.

Time for another succulent recipe from one of Carol Taylor’s festive menus.. this time for a more traditional roast turkey dinner where the stuffing is as important as the bird…..You can find the complete Christmas Day Menu Here

Bacon, Chestnut and Cranberry Christmas Stuffing.

Ingredients:

• 450g sausage meat
• 2 rashers unsmoked back bacon, cut into strips
• 100g dried cranberries
• 50ml ruby port
• 1 small onion, chopped
• 50g butter
• 2 garlic cloves, chopped
• 140g fresh white or brown breadcrumbs
• 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
• ½ tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
• 140g peeled, cooked chestnuts, roughly chopped
• 1 medium egg, beaten

Let’s Cook!

  1. Soak the cranberries in the port for an hour.
  2. Fry the onion and bacon gently in the butter, until the onion is tender and the bacon is cooked.
  3. Add the garlic and fry for another minute or so.
    Cool slightly, and then mix with all the remaining ingredients, including the cranberries and port, adding enough egg to bind I find it easiest to use my hands so get those hands in and mix thoroughly.
  4. Next, I do a little tester; in fact, I generally do that with all my stuffing as it is the only way to tell if the seasoning is correct. Fry a knob of stuffing in a little butter, taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
  5. This stuffing can be baked in a dish or rolled into balls that will be crisp on the outside and moist inside.
  6. Bake in a greased dish at 190C/gas 5/fan 170C for about 40 minutes, until browned and, in the case of sausage meat stuffing, cooked right through.
  7. Alternatively, roll into balls that are about 4cm in diameter. Roast the stuffing balls in hot fat (they can be tucked around the turkey or done in a roasting tin of their own) for 30-40 minutes, until crisp and nicely browned on the outside.

I do enjoy a good sherry before a meal and of course living in Spain there was a plentiful selection of excellent varieties. We did travel through the country in the 17 years that we lived in Madrid, and a visit to Jerez is intoxicating…..and you can also find some of the most beautiful Andulsian horses combined with Flamenco.. I have seen this live as part of the Andulsian version of Carmen.

There are three main types of sherry – dry, medium and sweet. You would probably enjoy a chilled dry sherry before a heavier fatty meal, a medium with a lighter fish meal perhaps and the sweet goes well with dessert.

The supermarkets are producing some great dry sherry and you might try an Oloroso or Fino and chill in the fridge first… For a medium – Amontillado Sherry  and a richer Cream Sherry both available from Jerez and in supermarkets.

For more information on top of the range sherries and their origins: https://www.liquorista.com/best-sherry/

Thank you for joining us today and I hope you have enjoyed the stories, music, food and gifts.  Tomorrow my guests are Donata Zawadzka who illustrated Tales from the Irish Garden, and author and poet Robbie Cheadle.. I hope you will join us.. Thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Literary Column with Jessica Norrie – What Bestsellers were released in the year of your birth?


Welcome to this month’s Literary Column with Jessica Norrie. This is the tenth post from Jessica and the final one for the time being as she is well into writing her next book and will be focusing on that in the New Year. I am hugely appreciative of her knowledge and the time she has spent on putting these posts together for us, and this month’s is no exception.

Ahem! Shortly I’ll have a significant birthday present from Transport for London of free travel on bus, tubes and some trains. If you’ve never tried people watching from the top deck of a London bus, put it on your bucket list. But I’ll need a book for those long underground rides. Where better to start a stockpile than rereading bestsellers published in the year of my birth? When I googled them I was surprised and rather moved to find how many I’d read and how they still resonate. (Do this for your own year of birth and see if the same thing happens. Obviously, I read them at appropriate stages in my life, not when they first appeared!)

The covers shown here are from the editions I read. Cover design fashion over the years is fascinating. Most of these books now look different, but they’re all still available.

My birth year saw some fantastically high quality children’s fiction, but in schools some pupils were still stumbling at the first post. So “Dr Seuss” was commissioned to write a book using only words from the first reader.  The Cat in the Hat burst into life, and you can read the fuller, fascinating story here

Having mastered that, children could discover  The Treasures of Green Knowe, published in the UK as The Chimneys of Green Knowe. I’m amused by a current Amazon review that says “There isn’t much action”. If time travelling 200 years for a rescue mission that includes climbing the chimneys of a haunted house with a blind ancestor isn’t much action, what is? Incidentally, throughout this series, L M Boston wrote quirky, independent female characters, including elderly and disabled ones.

Another female character whose ill health leads to wider worlds was created by Catherine Storr in Marianne Dreams. Just the book for any budding psychoanalysts out there. I now discover it’s the start of a series, but this first one is complete, weird, and memorable in itself.

An audience that would now be called Young Adult could learn a lot, as I did, from The Witch of Blackbird Pond. Anyone still seeking to know why single, intelligent, lonely and/or “different” women are so easily categorised as witches by suspicious narrow minded societies, will find the saddest and most exciting of well researched signposts here.

Even with a diet as rich as this, the child reader moves on, and I was pleased to be reminded of Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe. It was a first introduction for this white middle class first worlder to the richness of African writing, a completely new perspective for me in my late teens. Achebe’s prose is poetic, his story moving, his world evocative. This is the clash of white arrival against black tradition; missionary against culture; city against tribe. It’s still required reading; things are still falling apart.

To my shame, I’ve never been a huge reader of poetry. But the late teens were a great time to discover E. E. Cummings, whose last collection, 95 Poems was born in book form the same year as me. Try him. If you’re in the right mood, his stars and wordplay, his individual punctuation and eroticism and wit and wonder and poignancy will play your head space with. If not, leave it for ‘anothertime soonever’.

Off I went to university, including a year in Paris where I wrote my dissertation on Simone de Beauvoir. So I probably knew then, and rediscover now, that the first volume of her autobiography was published in English on New Year’s Day of the year I was born, as Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter. Looking at recent reviews, people (women, mostly) are still finding it readable, funny, perceptive, and angry. It seems the #MeToo generation could still learn a lot from de Beauvoir.

I have fond memories of lying on the sofa, heavily pregnant with my first child, gobbling up films that my husband gloomily predicted we’d never be able to watch uninterrupted again. One was Breakfast at Tiffany’s, so good that I didn’t bother reading the book for years. When I did, I seem to remember wincing at some of the views. Stick with the film, I’d say.

Skip two decades when I must have been reading other things. The daughter who’d have heard “Moon River” as she shifted about waiting to be born, was living in Palermo, Sicily, as part of her Italian degree. I had the pleasure of visiting twice, and The Leopard was an entertaining fictional guide to the history, climate, politics, gastronomy, and characters I came across.

It was fun discovering this list. Goodreads has lists of world bestsellers for most years – do have a look for yours. The guidance you get from the books on it beats any star chart. Oh, and there’s another important birthday on the horizon – Happy Christmas all, when it comes around.

©Jessica Norrie 2018

About Jessica Norrie

Jessica Norrie studied French literature at Sussex University, and trained as a teacher at Sheffield. Then she wandered into parenthood, told her now grown up children stories, and heard theirs. A qualified translator, she worked on an eclectic mix of material, from health reports on racehorses to harrowing refugee tales. She taught, full time, part time, adults, children, co-authored a text book and ran teacher training. In 2008 she was inspired with the idea for “The Infinity Pool” and it appeared as a fully fledged novel in 2015. Meanwhile she sings soprano and plays the piano, walks in the forest and enjoys living in and using London. She looks forward to writing more in the future.

Jessica Norrie

About the Book.

In this thoughtful novel set on a sun-baked island, Adrian Hartman, the charismatic director of the Serendipity holiday community, is responsible for ensuring the perfect mindful break, with personal growth and inner peace guaranteed. People return year after year to bare their souls. For some, Adrian IS Serendipity. But Adrian disappears, and with him goes the serenity of his staff and guests, who are bewildered without their leader. The hostility of the local villagers is beginning to boil over. Is their anger justified or are the visitors, each in a different way, just paranoid?

As romance turns sour and conflict threatens the stability of both communities, everyone has to find their own way to survive. This evocative story explores the decisions of adults who still need to come of age, the effect of well-intentioned tourism on a traditional community, and the real meaning of getting away from it all.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Nice holiday read  on 29 September 2018

I enjoyed reading this book during my summer holidays. It gets you thinking about the way we interact with local communities and the environment during our few weeks away in the sun. The book is a nice mix of crime, romance, philosophy, and social constructs.

Read some of the many excellent reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jessica-Norrie/e/B01CEUZF26

and on Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Infinity-Pool-Jessica-Norrie-ebook/dp/B011RA8QZW

Find more reviews on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3270629.Jessica_Norrie

Connect to Jessica

Blog: https://jessicanorrie.wordpress.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jessica.norrie.12
Twitter: https://twitter.com/jessica_norrie

My thanks to Jessica again for a wonderful post that introduces us to the books that entertained and engaged her during the various stages of her life so far.. Whatbestsellers were released in your year of birth… and how many have you read?

You can read all of Jessica’s previous posts in the directory, and I am sure that you join me in thanking her for all the stunning books that she has introduced us to: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/the-literary-column-by-jessica-norrie/

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Literary Column with Jessica Norrie – Coasting with spies and criminals, 1903 – 2018


A welcome back to Jessica Norrie who by the sounds of it has had a productive summer. To kick off her new season of posts, Jessica is exploring books that are set on the coastline in various places around the world. I love the sea and hope that when we buy our final house it has a view of the ocean and all its changing moods.

There’s always a “new term” feeling about Autumn. You’d think less heat would make it easier to read. Yet it’s often a time when new projects take a lot of our energy, and we need to read plots that carry us forward in settings we can enjoy. What better than a thriller set by the sea? It’s a sub genre all its own and surprisingly hasn’t changed all that much between the first of these books appearing, and the most recent.

How to resist a hero called Carruthers, and frontispiece maps for reference during his journey? What remains with me from The Riddle of the Sands by Erskine Childers (1903) are the shifting sandbars, mists and misleading tides of the Frisian coast, a place I’ve never visited but now have a strong picture of. This is yachting turned espionage, sunbather turned sailor as the yacht’s owner taught (him) the tactics for meeting squalls. You could indeed learn how to handle a boat from its pages, but the squalls aren’t just knotted ropes and bumpy seas. The Germans are stockpiling arms on one of the islands…This story was strong enough to influence government policy in the complacent early 20th century. The colonial attitudes and snobbery are of their time (fortunately), but it’s a ripping yarn and the author’s own life story is one you couldn’t make up.

Just before the next World War came Graham Greene’s Brighton Rock  (1938). I went to university in Brighton. My friend worked in the summer “on the deckchairs”. His pitch was next to the Palace Pier where takings were rumoured to be subject to protection rackets by the Brighton mafia. However elegant fashionable Brighton tries to be, the salt wind’s quick to rasp the stucco and rust the railings; Greene’s novel shows the same corruption right on the surface of his characters, including cynical, pathetic 17 year old anti-hero Pinkie. I haven’t seen the 2010 film, but Richard Attenborough in the 1947 version is on TV somewhere most weekday afternoons. Look out its classic entertainment next time you’re off work with a cold or getting over a hangover.

1938 was a vintage year for seaside thrillers. In Epitaph for a Spy Eric Ambler uses a setting that always works well – a French Riviera Hotel. (Quiz question: how many books/films can you name set in Riviera hotels?) Life’s always going to be tricky for Josef Vadassy, a stateless person in Europe on the brink of war. The last thing he needs is to become involved in espionage, cornered into spying on his fellow guests who in turn may be spying on him. Somewhere on the sunny beach or in the picturesque scenery, Vadassy manages to lose the one piece of evidence I had that proved my innocence. Plus he’s trapped in the hotel and unable to pay his bill. When the going gets tough, remember at least you’re not in his shoes.

You can’t argue with Agatha Christie’s plotting in  Dead Man’s Folly (1956). Clues, red herrings and dead ends abound; Poirot’s at his most poiresque. All the stock characters and set pieces are there, cocktail drinkers, peculiar locals, baffled police with lines like: “She was killed because she saw something. But until we know exactly what it was she saw – we don’t know who killed her.” Christie spends surprisingly little time describing her setting. Maybe I have such a strong sense of it because it was based on Christie’s own home, Greenways, just upriver from Dartmouth. After visiting two years ago. I paid homage in a murder mystery

Researching this article, I came across Helen Dunmore’s first novel from 1993, Zennor in Darkness. Helen Dunmore was a poet and novelist whose plotting and language both shone, the content and judgement always enough, never too much. This one’s about DH Lawrence and his German born wife arriving in a Cornish coastal village in 1917, to local suspicions and menace. So good to know there’s still a Dunmore I haven’t read; she died last year, too soon.

I hardly dare refer to myself in her company, but you get what you pay for, and my 2015 first novel The Infinity Pool is only 99p on Amazon UK throughout October. Even the German translation is on offer for 1.99€, until 10th October (Amazon.de). How does it fit this theme? Well, it’s set on a Greek island, and somebody’s disappeared…

For a course I’m doing, I had to read Ian McGuire’s The North Water. No wonder it was long listed for the Booker Prize 2016. This author is a rare wordsmith and the research is impressive – what doesn’t he know about 19th century whaling techniques in the Arctic? It’s a tense plot but the details of daily life and crime on and off board ship are repellent. I’m not sure all the violence is justified. However, if you have a strong enough stomach, you’ll learn a lot about writing. There’s also an interesting interview where he defends the language he uses.

Coming right up to date, this summer I read The Moment before Drowning by James Brydon (2018). Here’s a dark, sinister study. In 1959 Jacques le Garrec returns home to his Brittany village. He’s awaiting trial for crimes committed as a soldier in occupied Algeria. It’s all relative: for any French soldier to try another in this context is ironic and futile – they all behaved wrongly and Le Garrec is plagued by guilt. But his police experience means he’s asked to investigate the murder of a local girl, whose mother is deemed to have collaborated with the Nazis. Up and down the coastal road he drives, through wild winds to bleak dunes and fortified castles, as the local police inspector drinks the afternoons away… You may not fancy Brittany for a holiday after this, but the writing is high quality.

Finally, Gary Raymond’s The Golden Orphans caught my eye, also published this year. The writing is less elegant than Brydon’s, but Raymond certainly captures his setting. Cyprus is a troubled island full of ghosts and evil. The unsettled spirits of the people are stressed to breaking point among the frenetic chaos of Ayia Napa, and Raymond uses the division of the island to great effect in constructing his plot.

So there you go…enough watery crime to keep your reading afloat until I return. As always, please do comment, and maybe suggest themes to explore another time.

©Jessica Norrie 2018

About Jessica Norrie

Jessica Norrie studied French literature at Sussex University, and trained as a teacher at Sheffield. Then she wandered into parenthood, told her now grown up children stories, and heard theirs. A qualified translator, she worked on an eclectic mix of material, from health reports on racehorses to harrowing refugee tales. She taught, full time, part time, adults, children, co-authored a text book and ran teacher training. In 2008 she was inspired with the idea for “The Infinity Pool” and it appeared as a fully fledged novel in 2015. Meanwhile she sings soprano and plays the piano, walks in the forest and enjoys living in and using London. She looks forward to writing more in the future.

Jessica Norrie

About the Book.

In this thoughtful novel set on a sun-baked island, Adrian Hartman, the charismatic director of the Serendipity holiday community, is responsible for ensuring the perfect mindful break, with personal growth and inner peace guaranteed. People return year after year to bare their souls. For some, Adrian IS Serendipity. But Adrian disappears, and with him goes the serenity of his staff and guests, who are bewildered without their leader. The hostility of the local villagers is beginning to boil over. Is their anger justified or are the visitors, each in a different way, just paranoid?

As romance turns sour and conflict threatens the stability of both communities, everyone has to find their own way to survive. This evocative story explores the decisions of adults who still need to come of age, the effect of well-intentioned tourism on a traditional community, and the real meaning of getting away from it all.

One of the reviews for the book

Well-written and acutely observed on 14 December 2017

Jessica Norrie’s novel, set on a sun-drenched island somewhere in the Mediterranean, examines the personalities and pitfalls encountered on the sort of package holiday that offers holistic life-skills and self-improvement courses. While practising yoga and suchlike activities, guests at the Serendipity resort, together with staff and, from time to time, local villagers, confront social, personal and philosophical challenges.Norrie has a confident narrative voice and a shrewd and sympathetic view of human nature, which makes her account of the goings-on at Serendipity entertaining as well as thought-provoking.

The central character is absent for much of the book: this means that the reader builds up a picture of him through the thoughts and observations of other characters, like a photographic negative – he is defined by his impact on others. When he re-emerges in his own right, his condition is so altered that we learn about other people from their decidedly contrasting (and sometimes unattractive) reactions.

The prose is occasionally lyrical – as a swimmer emerges from a pool, “The water softly shifted to a forgiving stillness” – and consistently accessible. The author is very good on the strains inherent in a globalized culture. The gulf between Serendipity’s staff and guests on the one hand and the local community on the other sours into violence, which may not be entirely surprising since, as one of the resort’s denizens observes, “Our food and our water supply are better than theirs, so we don’t eat in their restaurants or buy their fruit, except in town where it’s so touristy; most of us don’t even try to speak their language; we don’t talk to them when they come to our bar; we expect them to put up with us sunbathing naked on the beach in front of their grandmothers – and then we go on about how beautiful the country is and how fascinating the local traditions are.”

The author also has a clear-eyed view of the reality beneath picturesque Mediterranean society. A young woman considers “meeting and marrying some local man and giving birth within the time honoured local conventions, kicking just a little against restrictions on her sex because that was what each new generation did, then in turn chivvying her own daughters and unconditionally adoring her sons.”

The Infinity Pool is a well-written and acutely observed examination of diverse lives.

Read some of the many excellent reviews and buy the book for 99p during October: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jessica-Norrie/e/B01CEUZF26

and on Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Infinity-Pool-Jessica-Norrie-ebook/dp/B011RA8QZW

Find more reviews on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3270629.Jessica_Norrie

Connect to Jessica

Blog: https://jessicanorrie.wordpress.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jessica.norrie.12
Twitter: https://twitter.com/jessica_norrie

My thanks to Jessica for a stunning post to start her new season…Great choice of classic and modern books to tempt us. I know she would love your feedback and questions. Thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Literary Column – Blast Off! -Opening Lines by Jessica Norrie


Blast Off! – Opening Lines by Jessica Norrie.

At choir last week, rehearsing Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle, there was a massive crescendo and the pianist stopped accompanying to announce: “That’s known as a Rossini Rocket.” It really is, apparently. Respect.

It set me wondering about Rossini Rockets in literature. Huge, telling moments when everything catches fire and the reader can hardly hear herself think. Battle scenes in War and Peace. Anything involving Bill Sykes or Becky Sharpe. The fire in the picture gallery at Soames Forsyte’s house. Fires anywhere – think of Jane Eyre and Miss Havisham. The 19th century may have been better at this. Presumably, something sparks somewhere in Fifty Shades of Grey, although I only got to around page 53 when I found it in my cousin’s guest bedroom. Nothing much was even smouldering by then, so I went to sleep.

Rossini could write a telling overture too, but authors need a rocket, or at least a hook, right at the start. Dickens has the best opening line ever: “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times” (A Tale of Two Cities). What scope he gives himself, with that, for anything at all to happen, in any possible way. The reader is agog. “It is a truth universally acknowledged…” is a Jane Austen opener we can all finish in our sleep, but fans of John Crace’s Digested Read  will note the whole plot is in that statement. With that sentence, Austen could have cut her words by 122,166 and still had the story (my thanks to My Particular Friend for the word count).

A weak opening line doesn’t have to be the end of sales and reputation though. Consider Marcel Proust’s “Longtemps, je me suis couché de bonne heure.” It loses a comma without gaining interest in translation: “For a long time I used to go to bed early.” Don’t expect nightlife or shenanigans in these nine volumes (though if memory serves even Proust got somewhere, if only with his grandmother, before page 53). Yet over time, sales have held up.

 

Moving on a century or so, authors can still get away with an apparently humdrum first sentence, if it implies something’s about to change. Here’s Eleanor Oliphant: “When people ask me what I do—taxi drivers, hairdressers—I tell them I work in an office.” The thick paperback in your hand is festooned with award stickers. Clearly, the next 380 pages aren’t going to dwell only on the malfunctioning photocopier and the daily email avalanche. Similarly, to avoid boring you with data, from now on I’ll give only the author’s name with the quote. The works they come from are easy to look up, and whether you do will be the proof of how enticing these first lines are.

An author can be explicit: “Let us begin with two girls at a dance” (Maggie O’Farrell) or you can begin at the end and work backwards: “I am nothing but a corpse now, a body at the bottom of a well” (Orhan Pamuk).

I tried to emulate this in my first novel – “Adrian Hartman wasn’t expecting to die that day, so he hadn’t thought to make a will.” But Pamuk’s corpse makes a bigger splash. (A note: Der Infinity-Pool was published in German today! If German is your mother tongue and you’d like to review it, please get in touch. Adrian Hartman hatte nicht damit gerechnet…)

Authority with a sense of conflict is good: as Jean Rhys tells us: “They say when trouble comes close ranks, and so the white people did.” Or a statement with immediate denial, preferably containing an emotive word: “People think blood red, but blood don’t got no colour.” (Marlon James).

Fitting in both terror and desire is daring: “I am standing on a corner in Monterey, waiting for the bus to come in, and all the muscles of my will are holding my terror to face the moment I most desire.” (Elizabeth Smart). But Jeanette Winterson gets away with dull facts, the better to put a rocket up the following two sentences: “Like most people I lived for a long time with my mother and father.”

Most authors would be wise to use emotive words more sparingly than the genius Smart.

Here’s a selection: blood, as above, and war (here’s Robert Harris who knows how to grab an audience: “Major Picquard to see the Minister of War…”). Also love, heart, sick(ness), death/die, swell, ballroom, gusto, wedding, child, dreams, dawn, waves, not forgetting oddballs with overtones: my personal favourites include boulevard, wisteria/lilies, pitcher/striker, klaxon. Words can combine to kick the reader awake: “All at once the flat was full of noises” (Nicci French) or “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen”(George Orwell). If anyone wants to explore this more deeply, the author Kit Whitfield wrote a series on opening lines that leaves this article at the starting blocks.

I’m tempted to follow next time with a post on endings (as a child, I always used to turn to the back and read the last line first. I must have found it reassuring. ) The trouble with that is, it might involve spoilers for anyone who hasn’t yet had the pleasure/excitement/horror of reading my recommendations. Let me know in the comments below whether you’d like me to go ahead anyway, and meanwhile I’ll leave you with the last word, as used by Rossini. I think we’ll have to call it a Rossini Cop Out, but the music is sublime. “Breathe after men”, was the conductor’s instruction to the sopranos. Maybe it does have something in common with Fifty Shades after all. Start on page 77 and sing: Amen. Amen. A-a–amen. Amen. A-a-a-a-m-e-e-en, men. Amen (repeat and enjoy for 8 minutes 30 seconds, and you can see us in action on October 20th).

©Jessica Norrie 2018

About Jessica Norrie

Jessica Norrie studied French literature at Sussex University, and trained as a teacher at Sheffield. Then she wandered into parenthood, told her now grown up children stories, and heard theirs. A qualified translator, she worked on an eclectic mix of material, from health reports on racehorses to harrowing refugee tales. She taught, full time, part time, adults, children, co-authored a text book and ran teacher training. In 2008 she was inspired with the idea for “The Infinity Pool” and it appeared as a fully fledged novel in 2015. Meanwhile she sings soprano and plays the piano, walks in the forest and enjoys living in and using London. She looks forward to writing more in the future.

Jessica Norrie

About the Book.

In this thoughtful novel set on a sun-baked island, Adrian Hartman, the charismatic director of the Serendipity holiday community, is responsible for ensuring the perfect mindful break, with personal growth and inner peace guaranteed. People return year after year to bare their souls. For some, Adrian IS Serendipity. But Adrian disappears, and with him goes the serenity of his staff and guests, who are bewildered without their leader. The hostility of the local villagers is beginning to boil over. Is their anger justified or are the visitors, each in a different way, just paranoid?

As romance turns sour and conflict threatens the stability of both communities, everyone has to find their own way to survive. This evocative story explores the decisions of adults who still need to come of age, the effect of well-intentioned tourism on a traditional community, and the real meaning of getting away from it all.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Well-written and acutely observed on 14 December 2017

Jessica Norrie’s novel, set on a sun-drenched island somewhere in the Mediterranean, examines the personalities and pitfalls encountered on the sort of package holiday that offers holistic life-skills and self-improvement courses. While practising yoga and suchlike activities, guests at the Serendipity resort, together with staff and, from time to time, local villagers, confront social, personal and philosophical challenges.Norrie has a confident narrative voice and a shrewd and sympathetic view of human nature, which makes her account of the goings-on at Serendipity entertaining as well as thought-provoking.

The central character is absent for much of the book: this means that the reader builds up a picture of him through the thoughts and observations of other characters, like a photographic negative – he is defined by his impact on others. When he re-emerges in his own right, his condition is so altered that we learn about other people from their decidedly contrasting (and sometimes unattractive) reactions.

The prose is occasionally lyrical – as a swimmer emerges from a pool, “The water softly shifted to a forgiving stillness” – and consistently accessible. The author is very good on the strains inherent in a globalized culture. The gulf between Serendipity’s staff and guests on the one hand and the local community on the other sours into violence, which may not be entirely surprising since, as one of the resort’s denizens observes, “Our food and our water supply are better than theirs, so we don’t eat in their restaurants or buy their fruit, except in town where it’s so touristy; most of us don’t even try to speak their language; we don’t talk to them when they come to our bar; we expect them to put up with us sunbathing naked on the beach in front of their grandmothers – and then we go on about how beautiful the country is and how fascinating the local traditions are.”

The author also has a clear-eyed view of the reality beneath picturesque Mediterranean society. A young woman considers “meeting and marrying some local man and giving birth within the time honoured local conventions, kicking just a little against restrictions on her sex because that was what each new generation did, then in turn chivvying her own daughters and unconditionally adoring her sons.”

The Infinity Pool is a well-written and acutely observed examination of diverse lives.

Read some of the many excellent reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jessica-Norrie/e/B01CEUZF26

and on Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Infinity-Pool-Jessica-Norrie-ebook/dp/B011RA8QZW

Find more reviews on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3270629.Jessica_Norrie

Connect to Jessica

Blog: https://jessicanorrie.wordpress.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jessica.norrie.12
Twitter: https://twitter.com/jessica_norrie

My thanks again to Jessica Norrie for giving us something to think about. And congratulations on the release of her book in German.

As a writer that first line has always been the most difficult to get down on paper. Perhaps because we are all aware that it will be the first thing read by a reader we wish to engage as quickly as possible.

I vividly remember reading Moby Dick at about 13 years old and thinking how magical this book was going to be when I read the first line…

“Call me Ishmael. Some years ago – never mind how long precisely – having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world.”

Moby Dick by Herman Melville

How about you let Jessica and I know what your favourite opening line is and from which book and if you would like to find out more about final lines of books. They too carry a great deal of weight.

Thanks for dropping in and look forward to hearing from you.  Sally

 

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Literary Column with Jessica Norrie – You’ve Lost that Reading Feeling!


You’ve lost that reading feeling…

A beautiful thing is dying (not quite the words of the Righteous Brothers hit because of copyright laws). You don’t care if the book slips down the back of the sofa or gets left out in the rain; the hero can whistle and the heroine’s dull. No other story or setting would grab you either; they’re just lines of senseless words. For some time now, you haven’t been in the mood.

Instead you’ve got that rotten feeling. A lifelong, reliable healthy habit is failing you. With it disappears your route away from stress, your imaginary version of worlds where anything can happen but all will be resolved, and your escape from situations and conversations you aren’t enjoying. Gone too are access to laughter, empathy, information and travel, new friends (and adversaries), intrigue, entertainment and the luxury of shedding tears over something that never happened. You’re stuck in the real world with the fire doors locked.
Why does reading loss occur, does it matter, and if so, what can you do?

For me it happens when I’m stressed, or worse – unhappy, grieving, in pain perhaps. I lose concentration. Even low brow pot boilers (for which I have great respect) demand a minimum level of focus, and I can’t give it.

It also happens when external demands force themselves into my consciousness – not always a bad thing. I couldn’t read (much) when my children were small. My life rerouted to their time zone and responded to their exuberant or crashed out states – there didn’t seem to be much in between but it had been in the between times that I read. The children are taller than me now, and I’m reading again. Occasionally I read a novel so good I don’t know how to follow it – like the day after a special, rich meal when nothing seems appetising. Nor could I read when my job was demanding and the management unreasonable, or when my to-do list had more pages than a Victorian novel. I missed it.

You may be unable to read because of snacking on social media? But concentration is sapped by gobbits of other people’s trivia, or even snatches of worthwhile information, complete with comments, trolls and links to yet more trivia (or worthwhile information). This article on using social media at work calls it the “pinball effect”; the effect on leisure can’t be very different.

Even before social media, I used to find I could read on holiday in peaceful countryside, but not on city breaks where my senses were already over stimulated by lights, noise, architecture, traffic, food, entertainment…So during city breaks I give myself up to the art galleries I came for and leave reading for the aeroplane. In the countryside – well, the landscape tells its own story. That distant hill is a chapter with the next one behind, the foreground sheep are (restful) characters, and the path winding along the river is the narrative. People watching on the beach is a pleasure too, sitting in parasol shade before an ever changing screen of small stories. Or watching the waves, research has shown, leads the mind to a calmer and more creative space. To read or not to read – it doesn’t matter.

Paradoxically, it can be wanting/having to read that stops us, as when our attention can’t make it to page two of a book prescribed by a course or book group. Bookbloggers, wonderful people who review and publicise books without pay and get a lot of undeserved criticism, admit sometimes to feeling snowed under by the stacks their “hobby” has sent their way, and longing to read “just for themselves”. I’ve no patience with sites like Goodreads that encourage you to set reading targets, numbers of books and genres you’ll read in a week/month/year. We all have enough targets at school and work nowadays.

Reading should be a pleasure.

It does matter when stress takes away the ability to read. It’s a vicious circle because books and stories are exactly the relief we need. When grieving, I might find empathy; when feeling guilty or defensive about my behaviour I might find my reactions mirrored (hence my joy in Rachel Cusk’s  books inspired by her family life, and Elizabeth Jane Howard’s about mothers and daughters).

A bereaved friend found comfort in Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking. Everyone has different books that speak to them thus, echoing thoughts and expressing feelings on their behalf. Everyone knows the rare clarity of being surprised by a phrase into a standing ovation: “I feel that! She’s telling my story!” Reading those books is as good as therapy (and cheaper). The account makes sense of our experience and we take another step towards recovery.

When the loss of reading does matter, how can you get the pleasure back?
If you are not reading because you’re stressed or depressed, don’t make it yet another thing to beat yourself up about (I’m saddened how often I come across this on social media.) Do yoga instead, or mindfulness, or walk in the park, better still on a beach. One day you’ll read again.

This blog post will appear at the end of UK Mental Health Awareness Week. Perhaps you need something channelled towards the feelings you’re experiencing. I’m not suggesting people with severe mental ill health should be palmed off with a book, but mild to moderate sufferers may have books prescribed  to complement medication. The Reading Agency has some good lists here.

If you’re not reading because you can’t find anything that interests you or the last book was a hard act to follow, try a change of genre. Forget novels: try travel, biography or history – they’re full of stories too. Perhaps you’ve read too much of the same thing recently. Try poetry – each poem is different – and relatively short!

If a book seems turgid, is there a film version? The film will give you entry points and help you visualise.

Remember old favourites. For my mother this was P.G. Wodehouse, for my daughter Harry Potter, for me it’s loved childhood books. If I keep mentioning the same names in these blog posts it’s for a reason: Laura Ingalls Wilder,  Joan AikenHester Burton.  But you will have your own. Bill Bryson makes me laugh, and the chapters are short, always helpful when concentration is poor. “...what is the use of a book,” thought Alice, “without pictures or conversation?” – so look for illustrated books. Magazines are lighter; good magazines lead you back to good books anyway. Try Good Housekeeping (and its supportive book group).

We don’t always do ourselves favours. Is your reading light strong enough, are your glasses right, are you sitting comfortably? Is your phone out of reach and earshot?
Above all, don’t fret. Those who worry about not reading are not the people who should be worrying. They’ll read again one day. It’s the others who need to get on board.

Jessica Norrie ©2018

My thanks to Jessica for offering strategies for those times when reading might be the last thing on our minds… but actually might be beneficial in so many ways. Have you a book or author you turn to when you need to get your reading kick started again?

About Jessica Norrie

Jessica Norrie studied French literature at Sussex University, and trained as a teacher at Sheffield. Then she wandered into parenthood, told her now grown up children stories, and heard theirs. A qualified translator, she worked on an eclectic mix of material, from health reports on racehorses to harrowing refugee tales. She taught, full time, part time, adults, children, co-authored a text book and ran teacher training. In 2008 she was inspired with the idea for “The Infinity Pool” and it appeared as a fully fledged novel in 2015. Meanwhile she sings soprano and plays the piano, walks in the forest and enjoys living in and using London. She looks forward to writing more in the future.

Jessica Norrie

About the Book.

In this thoughtful novel set on a sun-baked island, Adrian Hartman, the charismatic director of the Serendipity holiday community, is responsible for ensuring the perfect mindful break, with personal growth and inner peace guaranteed. People return year after year to bare their souls. For some, Adrian IS Serendipity. But Adrian disappears, and with him goes the serenity of his staff and guests, who are bewildered without their leader. The hostility of the local villagers is beginning to boil over. Is their anger justified or are the visitors, each in a different way, just paranoid?

As romance turns sour and conflict threatens the stability of both communities, everyone has to find their own way to survive. This evocative story explores the decisions of adults who still need to come of age, the effect of well-intentioned tourism on a traditional community, and the real meaning of getting away from it all.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Well-written and acutely observed on 14 December 2017

Jessica Norrie’s novel, set on a sun-drenched island somewhere in the Mediterranean, examines the personalities and pitfalls encountered on the sort of package holiday that offers holistic life-skills and self-improvement courses. While practising yoga and suchlike activities, guests at the Serendipity resort, together with staff and, from time to time, local villagers, confront social, personal and philosophical challenges.Norrie has a confident narrative voice and a shrewd and sympathetic view of human nature, which makes her account of the goings-on at Serendipity entertaining as well as thought-provoking.

The central character is absent for much of the book: this means that the reader builds up a picture of him through the thoughts and observations of other characters, like a photographic negative – he is defined by his impact on others. When he re-emerges in his own right, his condition is so altered that we learn about other people from their decidedly contrasting (and sometimes unattractive) reactions.

The prose is occasionally lyrical – as a swimmer emerges from a pool, “The water softly shifted to a forgiving stillness” – and consistently accessible. The author is very good on the strains inherent in a globalized culture. The gulf between Serendipity’s staff and guests on the one hand and the local community on the other sours into violence, which may not be entirely surprising since, as one of the resort’s denizens observes, “Our food and our water supply are better than theirs, so we don’t eat in their restaurants or buy their fruit, except in town where it’s so touristy; most of us don’t even try to speak their language; we don’t talk to them when they come to our bar; we expect them to put up with us sunbathing naked on the beach in front of their grandmothers – and then we go on about how beautiful the country is and how fascinating the local traditions are.”

The author also has a clear-eyed view of the reality beneath picturesque Mediterranean society. A young woman considers “meeting and marrying some local man and giving birth within the time honoured local conventions, kicking just a little against restrictions on her sex because that was what each new generation did, then in turn chivvying her own daughters and unconditionally adoring her sons.”

The Infinity Pool is a well-written and acutely observed examination of diverse lives.

Read some of the many excellent reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jessica-Norrie/e/B01CEUZF26

and on Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Infinity-Pool-Jessica-Norrie-ebook/dp/B011RA8QZW

Find more reviews on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3270629.Jessica_Norrie

Connect to Jessica

Blog: https://jessicanorrie.wordpress.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jessica.norrie.12
Twitter: https://twitter.com/jessica_norrie

My thanks again to Jessica Norrie and to you for dropping in.. your feedback is always welcome. Sally

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Christmas Book Fair – Jessica Norrie, Brigid Gallagher and Gigi Sedlmayer


Welcome to the next Christmas Book Fair and today three authors showcasing their books and reviews. Whether you would like to buy the books for yourself for Christmas, or buy for family and friends, there is something in the bookstore for any age group.

The first author is Jessica Norrie who has entertained and informed us with her posts on books and other literary pursuits over the last few months.  Here is her book that has received excellent reviews.

Jessica Norrie

About the Book.

In this thoughtful novel set on a sun-baked island, Adrian Hartman, the charismatic director of the Serendipity holiday community, is responsible for ensuring the perfect mindful break, with personal growth and inner peace guaranteed. People return year after year to bare their souls. For some, Adrian IS Serendipity. But Adrian disappears, and with him goes the serenity of his staff and guests, who are bewildered without their leader. The hostility of the local villagers is beginning to boil over. Is their anger justified or are the visitors, each in a different way, just paranoid?

As romance turns sour and conflict threatens the stability of both communities, everyone has to find their own way to survive. This evocative story explores the decisions of adults who still need to come of age, the effect of well-intentioned tourism on a traditional community, and the real meaning of getting away from it all.

The most recent review for the book

The book is written in a quiet manner, nothing is sweating anything other than calm, but it has something about it that made me want to read more and more, so I can say that I enjoyed reading it very much. My favorite scene was when Chris entered the pool. The reason I am mentioning this is because the novel is so well written, that even though there is nothing supernatural going on in the book, Jessica managed to give me the feeling of an almost evil ritual, like the pool is going to swallow the life out of the character.

Read some of the many excellent reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jessica-Norrie/e/B01CEUZF26

and on Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Infinity-Pool-Jessica-Norrie-ebook/dp/B011RA8QZW

Find more reviews and follow Jessica on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3270629.Jessica_Norrie

Connect to Jessica via her website: https://jessicanorrie.wordpress.com

The next author who continues to receive wonderful reviews for her book which would be enjoyed by anyone who likes a memoir that is inspiring and illustrates the strength of the human spirit. Brigid P. Gallagher and Watching the Daisies.

About the book

Millions of people around the world suffer from fibromyalgia; the majority of them are women. As yet, there is no cure.

In this memoir, Brigid P. Gallagher shares her experiences on:

  • The busy life she followed before succumbing to this debilitating disease
  • Stopping and soul searching for answers to her vast array of symptoms
  • Entering a new life of SLOW

Drawing on her knowledge and experience as a Natural Medicines therapist, she seeks out therapies to aid her healing and integrates a variety of self help techniques and lifestyle changes. She also unearths a love of solo travel including Egypt, India, Rome, Lourdes, Carcassonne and Bali…

Brigid learns many insights about LIFE on her journey, the most valuable being: “First learn to love thyself.”

In 2006, she began a new career in Organic Horticulture eventually teaching part time in schools. Although she has now retired from teaching, she continues to pursue her lifelong passion for gardening and watching the daisies.

The most recent review for the book

on October 10, 2017

I had read Brigid’s blog for a while when I bought the book and was quite sure I would enjoy it. I was not disappointed, in fact to the contrary it surpassed my expectations. Her back story is poignant and clearly significantly impacted on the woman she grew to be. She tells the tale in a soft voice which gently steers you through her places. Lovely, lovely and with a heart full of love for those that she cares for. Her journey into healing and ultimately self-healing is fascinating. She does not shun traditional medicine but rather listens intently to the diagnoses whilst simultaneously drawing on her decades of learning many many alternative healing forms.

As a travalogue it is rich and varied with moments that echo Elizabeth Gilbert in ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ mode but her voice is a different voice. I highly recommend this book. I was drawn to buy it for my sister-in-law who suffers with fibromyalgia and the book is now with her. I know she will find much of the practical advice helpful. I know too that the spiritual journey will resonate softly with her. As the whole book did with me.

Read the rest of the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Watching-Daisies-Life-Lessons-Importance-ebook/dp/B01N3M9VJ0

and more reviews at Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Brigid-P-Gallagher/e/B01N8UCYYD

Connect to Brigid via her blog: https://watchingthedaisies.com/

and to get you in the Christmas spirit.. Brigid has selected a lovely festive piece of music. Oh Holy Night sung by Susan Boyle

 

The last author today is prolific children’s author of the Talon Series.. Gigi Sedlmayer, whose series of books are very popular with young children through to YA. I am going to feature book one in the series Talon Come Fly With Me, since this would be the logical place to start with subsequent books for birthdays etc.

About Talon Come Fly With Me.

An inspirational, highly emotional and entertaining read for all ages

This bookis a lovely adventure with an amazing heroine. Matica is a strong, brave girl, who battles with her handicap and how others view her. But thisisn’t a story only about her gaining acceptance or over coming herchallenges. Rather, it’s a tale packed full of exciting moments and tons of emotions. Matica comes across naturally as does the village andworld around her. It’s beautifully set and an easy landscape to diveinto.

The way the author revealed each situation is fun to read and it made one anxious to see what’s next. Acceptance was eloquently woven into the story without being blatant. And the other thing I learned was that when certain things happen, you don’t always know why and just maybe something goodwill come of it.

One of the great reviews for book one.

Simply Brilliant on 4 March 2017

This book is simply brilliant; it’s also simply delightful and delightfully simple as well. I confess I took it up with trepidation. I felt it would not be for me. Maticia, an Australian girl, living with her parents and younger brother high in the Andes of remotest Peru. A girl with serious problems, not the least of them regarding her growth. A ten year old trapped in a two year old’s body, ostracized by the locals, their children forbidden to play with her for fear she would bring them bad luck. A lost, lonely little soul who manages to bond with a pair of condors and finds herself entrusted by the birds with their one precious egg in the hope that she can save it from poachers. It seemed unlikely, I thought. But I opened the book as I felt I must and then did not close it again till the end which, alas, came all too soon.

The style is plain; it’s simple, straightforward English; very instructive to children, I thought. Yet in no time at all disbelief was suspended and rich imagery – that came from I know not where – had me soaring on a more than three metre wing span, soaring with a pair of condors, high in the pure Andean air. That and waiting in nail biting tension with Maticia and her family to see if the pair’s egg would hatch.

Does it? No way do I say. There will be no spoilers from me. But I will say that the tale has a high moral ending which is extremely uplifting as well, particularly for Maticia. Obviously the book is intended for children and young adults but if it can entrance a hard bitten seventy year old like me it must be good for everyone.  I recommend it to all.
D. A. Barker; Author of “Killing for Christmas,” & “What Am I?”

Read all the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Talon-Come-Fly-Gigi-Sedlmayer-ebook/dp/B00J2643PG

and Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Talon-Come-Fly-Gigi-Sedlmayer-ebook/dp/B00J2643PG

Also by Gigi Sedlymayer

Read all the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Gigi-Sedlmayer/e/B003U8G4WC

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Gigi-Sedlmayer/e/B003U8G4WC

And read more reviews and follow Gigi on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4405791.Gigi_Sedlmayer

Connect to Gigi via her new website: http://gigised.com/

Thanks for dropping in today and it would be great if you could share these authors and their books. thanks Sally

 

Smorbasbord Reblog – Lisbon – City of Books by Jessica Norrie


You might have noticed that there was no reblog for Jessica Norrie last week in her usual spot. That is because she was gallivanting in Lisbon. However, it is our gain because this week we get to enjoy some of the views and descriptions of this old city.

Not only that, Jessica also shares some of the books that have been set in Lisbon including one of the two books with the same title.. Night Train to Lisbon. One in particular captured Jessica’s attention, written by Swiss author Pascal Mercier, it would appear to capture the essence of this city and the Portuguese people.

Join Jessica on her exploration of the city and the literature….

Lisbon: City of Books by Jessica Norrie

I always thought the title “City of Books” belonged to Paris or Dublin, but now I’ve visited Lisbon. In four days I only scanned the first page but I sense volumes more beneath. Let me set the scene:

This is a city where the first time tourist needs a 3D map. Maybe our sense of direction is poor, or our orienteering skills have faded with satnavs and Google maps. Whatever the reason, we were pretty useless for the first two days, until we realised the roads we saw on the map as a simple left turn or clear right angle were just as likely to be a flight of steps, an alleyway, even an outdoor lift or funicular, possibly right above our heads or below our feet as they slithered on the shiny cobbles. “I’m sure we’ve already walked along here,” we heard a plaintive English voice say, and chuckled knowingly until our target eluded us yet again and we ceased to see the joke.

 

We climbed and we slipped, we clung by our fingernails to the back windowsills of trams with our belongings squeezed against our tummies to deter pickpockets, we gasped at stunning views, admired skilled graffiti and deplored senseless scrawls. We stepped over endless building sites and began to take Roman stones for granted. We encountered skilful fado buskers on anarchic exhibition sites.

We stood in queues for elevators where turning a simple corner would have brought us to the same spot, and we abandoned the laws of physics for we couldn’t understand how that could be.

Head over and enjoy the rest of this tour of Lisbon with Jessica: https://jessicanorrie.wordpress.com/2017/11/17/lisbon-city-of-books/

©Jessica Norrie and Images.

About Jessica Norrie

Jessica Norrie studied French literature at Sussex University, and trained as a teacher at Sheffield. Then she wandered into parenthood, told her now grown up children stories, and heard theirs. A qualified translator, she worked on an eclectic mix of material, from health reports on racehorses to harrowing refugee tales. She taught, full time, part time, adults, children, co-authored a text book and ran teacher training. In 2008 she was inspired with the idea for “The Infinity Pool” and it appeared as a fully fledged novel in 2015. Meanwhile she sings soprano and plays the piano, walks in the forest and enjoys living in and using London. She looks forward to writing more in the future.

Jessica Norrie

About the Book.

In this thoughtful novel set on a sun-baked island, Adrian Hartman, the charismatic director of the Serendipity holiday community, is responsible for ensuring the perfect mindful break, with personal growth and inner peace guaranteed. People return year after year to bare their souls. For some, Adrian IS Serendipity. But Adrian disappears, and with him goes the serenity of his staff and guests, who are bewildered without their leader. The hostility of the local villagers is beginning to boil over. Is their anger justified or are the visitors, each in a different way, just paranoid?

As romance turns sour and conflict threatens the stability of both communities, everyone has to find their own way to survive. This evocative story explores the decisions of adults who still need to come of age, the effect of well-intentioned tourism on a traditional community, and the real meaning of getting away from it all.

The most recent review for the book

The book is written in a quiet manner, nothing is sweating anything other than calm, but it has something about it that made me want to read more and more, so I can say that I enjoyed reading it very much. My favorite scene was when Chris entered the pool. The reason I am mentioning this is because the novel is so well written, that even though there is nothing supernatural going on in the book, Jessica managed to give me the feeling of an almost evil ritual, like the pool is going to swallow the life out of the character.

Read some of the 53 reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jessica-Norrie/e/B01CEUZF26

and on Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Infinity-Pool-Jessica-Norrie-ebook/dp/B011RA8QZW

Find more reviews on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3270629.Jessica_Norrie

Thanks for popping in and I hope you will head over to Jessica’s blog and follow her wonderful posts. Thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Book Promotion – Air Your Reviews – Jessica Norrie and Sue Coletta


Welcome to the first review post of the week and the first featured author is Jessica Norrie with a review for her book The Infinity Pool.

Jessica NorrieAbout the Book.

In this thoughtful novel set on a sun-baked island, Adrian Hartman, the charismatic director of the Serendipity holiday community, is responsible for ensuring the perfect mindful break, with personal growth and inner peace guaranteed. People return year after year to bare their souls. For some, Adrian IS Serendipity. But Adrian disappears, and with him goes the serenity of his staff and guests, who are bewildered without their leader. The hostility of the local villagers is beginning to boil over. Is their anger justified or are the visitors, each in a different way, just paranoid?

As romance turns sour and conflict threatens the stability of both communities, everyone has to find their own way to survive. This evocative story explores the decisions of adults who still need to come of age, the effect of well-intentioned tourism on a traditional community, and the real meaning of getting away from it all.

The most recent review for the book

By David. M. Prosser on 11 May 2017

I won this book in a competition and had no idea what to expect when I started to read it. Let’s start with the resort. A camp named Serendipity has been set up on an unnamed Island where there seems to be some resentment by the locals to both guests and staff at the camp.The camp seems to be geared to the relaxation of it’s guests via various new age occupations like yoga and hypnotherapy but also with an activity geared towards helping would-be writers. This course is managed by Bernard, a seemingly failed writer who is very introverted.

The camp itself is managed by an aging womaniser called Adrian who has a tribe of children between his various exes worldwide. There’s no malice to Adrian and many would consider him a hippy. He has quite a following with the guests at the camp, many of who return just to take part in his courses.His new temporary love interest is a local girl, daughter of the local cafe owners. There would be much resentment if they knew.
The Infinity pool from which the book is titled is built by Adrian to bring together the various guests at the camp. It is largely ignored in the story but does have a large role to play in the book.

Jessica Norrie is expert at creating her characters and showing the interplay between them. We see the further disintegration of civilities between camp and locals at the end of a season and the reaction by the guests at the start of a new season when Adrian doesn’t appear.. Can these ruptures be repaired? If they can, this is the author to do it.

Not my usual genre and not a book I was expecting to enjoy but I’d happily read anything by Ms. Norrie again.   4.5 stars.

Find out more about Jessica Norrie,read all the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jessica-Norrie/e/B01CEUZF26

Find more reviews on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3270629.Jessica_Norrie

Connect to Jessica via her blog: https://jessicanorrie.wordpress.com

The next review is from Goodreads and is for Cleaved, the latest release by crime and thriller writer Sue Coletta

About the book

Author Sage Quintano writes about crime. Her husband Niko investigates it. Together they make an unstoppable team. But no one counted on a twisted serial killer, who stalks their sleepy community, uproots their happy home, and splits the threads that bonds their family unit.

Darkness swallows the Quintanos whole—ensnared by a ruthless killer out for blood. Why he focused on Sage remains a mystery, but he won’t stop till she dies like the others.

Women impaled by deer antlers, bodies encased in oil drums, nursery rhymes, and the Suicide King. What connects these cryptic clues? For Sage and Niko, the truth may be more terrifying than they ever imagined.

The latest review on Goodreads

Anita Dawes rated it 5 stars.

This crime thriller opens with a gripping prologue. A woman is trapped inside a steel drum, terrified for her life. You are instantly there with her, experiencing every gruesome and terrifying moment as she tries to escape.

Somewhere in the Lake Region of New England, a ruthless killer is on the prowl. He needs to kill Sage Quintano, the author wife of the Sheriff, Niko Quintano, but his reason is not clear.

Someone starts to follow Sage, tormenting her with a nursery rhyme and then her world starts to fall apart. I loved the way the chapters alternated sometimes, as the two women in the story, Sage and her husbands female deputy, Frankie Campanelli take turns to build the tension and the story, and you couldn’t have two more different women than these.
I thought the plot and storyline were expertly handled, for despite all the confusing clues I couldn’t tell the guilty from the innocent. The dialogue was handled well, with arguments strongly portrayed and believable. The tension builds gradually, almost painfully so. I read somewhere that the author actually experienced being inside a steel drum, for the sake of realism, I hope!

The interaction with the Quintano dogs, Colt and Ruger, was rather special too, the scene where Sage and the dogs comfort one another was really moving.
I would have preferred an English vocabulary, as some of the terms used were unfamiliar to me. And I’m not sure about the over description of the maggots!

I will be reading Marred, the first book in this series, as I know I will enjoy that one too, and I can find out what happened to Sage’s sister…

Read the most recent reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Cleaved-Grafton-County-book-2-ebook/dp/B06XS3HTGS/

Also by Sue Coletta

Read all the reviews on Goodreads for Sue’s books: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14078869.Sue_Coletta

Read all the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Sue-Coletta/e/B015OYK5HO

Connect to Sue Coletta via her website/blog: www.suecoletta.com

Thank you for dropping by today and if you have a recent review you would like to share then please get in touch… sally.cronin@moyhill.com  thanks Sally