Tag Archives: Books

Two Songs & A Book

28 Mar

First, Alex singing Celie’s song I’m Here from The Colour Purple in Miscast the other week:

Next, do yourself a favour – two favours – sign up to BookBub and download lots of free books to your Kindle…and then delete half of them because they’re terrible, but at least you didn’t pay for them; and the good ones are worth wading through the dross.Neanderthal Seeks Human (Knitting in the City, #1)

And do it TODAY, so you can get a free copy while it’s available of Penny Reid’s Neanderthal Seeks Human.  She writes witty, intelligent romances with quirky characters and I own every book she’s written and hate that I discovered her while she’s still writing because I have to wait for the next book, and the next, and the next…you get the idea.

How can I convey the depth of my love for her books?  If I tell you I would spend my Malteser money on them, would that do it?  

My favourite line: This is the mammals all over again.

Go and get it NOW!  It’s FREE!

Finally, Alex and the other Colla Voce Boys in Chicago’s Cell Block Tango:

Tom Fleck & The Black Caravel

31 Oct

My friend Harry Nicholson asked me to review his new novel, The Black Caravel. I helped proofread his last one, Tom Fleck, but I’ve had no hand in this book.

So, first impression: I loved it!  It’s quite a short novel but packed with incident and likeable and interesting characters.

The Black Caravel is a sequel to Tom Fleck.  The latter is fully titled Tom Fleck: A novel of Cleveland and Flodden, and is set in 1513.  The novel tells the story of 18-year old Tom and his adventures, which climax at the Battle of Flodden.  You can read more about it here; as well as the first chapter.  I highly recommend it.

The Black Caravel is set twenty-three years later, in 1536, when Tom is a happily married family man.  From the blurb:

1536 is a year of rebellion against Henry VIII’s seizure of England’s abbeys. Barbary corsairs raid northwards.  Despite the turmoil, Tom Fleck must journey to London.

You don’t need to have read the first book to make sense of the second – Harry reminds us of pertinent details quite seamlessly – but, as I might have mentioned, I recommend that you do, just for the joy of reading good historical fiction.

I confess to loving Tom Fleck.   He is brave, principled and adventurous.  He’s what is popularly described as a book boyfriend: the man I would marry (after Jamie Fraser) if I could somehow dispose of the Hub without going to jail, assuming of course that I could bring a fictional character to life and he wouldn’t object to my complete lack of skills that would fit me to live in the 16th century (me being no Claire Beauchamp Randall Fraser).

What I love about Harry’s books, however, handsome hero aside, are the fascinating details he weaves into his stories.  I now know how to prepare a rabbit for the pot, making sure to steep it in brine overnight; and that gulls dine on dead men’s eyes first (despite that nugget, let me assure you that the books are not gruesome, although they don’t shy away from the unpleasant realities of their setting).  I discovered from reading the books that Harry has a real love of nature which is not something that appeals to me, and yet it was engrossing to learn for example of the herbs that freshen your mouth or which heal in some way. 

Harry has a background in seafaring and his knowledge litters the pages of The Black Caravel without showing off in any way.  He writes what he knows, and the books are better for it.  

Perhaps more importantly, Harry has a way of getting to the nitty-gritty of his subject matter, leaving us to draw parallels to today:

Tom watched them depart and wondered at the brave poverty.  It was a topsy-turvy world.  Such a struggle to live.  Hard knocks and cold drownings, and all the while velvet-clad folk in London’s great halls dined on swan.

Dining on swan aside, I couldn’t help thinking of the modern world with its food banks; it’s rich/poor divide; its drowning, desperate refugees.  A struggle to live indeed.

So, I’ll say it again, even though I’ve said it twice before:

                                                Tom Fleck and The Black Caravel:

                                                                               highly recommended!

Tom Fleck by [Nicholson, Harry]

The books are available on Kindle or in paperback:

Tom Fleck: Amazon UK, Amazon US

The Black Caravel: Amazon UK, Amazon US In the UK, this book is currently available free with Kindle Unlimited, so why not buy the first one at its very reasonable price of £2.24?

Incidentally, Harry is a gifted enamellist (I think they’re called).  Check his blog for some wonderful work; including the two originals which are his books’ covers.

*

And finally…

From Wikipedia:

Muphry’s law is an adage that states: “If you write anything criticizing editing or proofreading, there will be a fault of some kind in what you have written.”[1] The name is a deliberate misspelling of Murphy’s law.

Just so you know, although it wasn’t a criticism, when I wrote, I helped proofread his last one, Tom Fleck, I actually wrote: I helped proofread his last one., Tom Fleck.

There’s a reason Muphry has his own Law.

Free eBooks!

28 Jun

I came across this site and I thought some of you might be interested: bookbub.com

Subscribe, tick your preferences, and an email will alert you to when free ebooks are available.

Read this article for more details.

For Books’ Sake

5 Jun

Look what I won in a For Books’ Sake competition!

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Free books – life doesn’t get any better.  🙂

Joke 871

11 Aug
Dangit. This book is great.

Dangit. This book is great. (Photo credit: Brendan Lynch)

  • I’ve just taken up speed reading. Last night I did War And Peace in 20 seconds.  I know it’s only three words, but it’s a start.
  • I went to the book shop earlier to buy a Where’s Wally book. When I got there, I couldn’t find the book anywhere.  Well played Wally, well played.
  • I’ve been thinking of writing a mystery novel.  Or have I?
  • I went to Waterstones today to get a book about conspiracies.  They didn’t have any.  Coincidence?
  • Breaking News: Archaeologists digging at the site of Shakespeare’s house have uncovered thousands of monkey skeletons.
  • I’ve just published a book on DIY.  It’s blank and comes with a free pen.

From funnyjokes.

 

Cold Calling An Author Can Sometimes Pay Off

24 Apr

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I once acted out of character and it paid off.

Let me explain: I am quite shy.  No, really.

It is easy to be gregarious on (I was going to say ‘paper’ but I guess technically it’s) plastic; much harder in real life when the person you are talking to is not behind a monitor six thousand miles away going ‘Huh? Wazzsheonabout?’ but standing right in front of you, rictus grin plastered on face, thinking, ‘Huh? Wazzsheonabout?’

I’m rubbish at cold calling; at asking strangers for something.  I once had a job as a Carpet Cleaning Saleswoman (it was the early Eighties; I wasn’t a person then). I had to go door-to-door to tell people that they needed me because their carpets were dirty.  All for an alleged weekly wage of £75.

I was so bad at cold calling and made so few sales (ten-day total sales: zero), they put me on commission at the end of the first week (it was the early Eighties; I had no rights that I knew of, being eighteen and stupid).  In one month I earned a grand total of £9.

If they had only asked me to write to the customers, it might have been a different story.  As this one is turning out to be, because it’s about my writing group.  No, really.

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I saw an article in our local paper about a local writer who had just published her third book –  actually, it was her second book, although she has written her third book; the reporter got it wrong – may his rugs remain forever filthy – despite the author sending him the details in cold hard ether.  Fortunately, I didn’t know that at the time, or this might have been a different story (not really, but repetition is a good comedy device and I’m feeling facetious today, even a little lightheaded, not having blogged at you for five days).

I read in the Stockport Express that author Allie Cresswell had not only published her third book [not], but she lived in Stockport and had a website.  I moseyed on over to her website by way of dinner, dessert, crisps and a bar of chocolate, and thought she looked friendly enough, so I girded up my now ample loins and popped off an email.

That’s the bit that was out of character – I cold called an author.  Yo!  I said, I belong to Stockport Writers.  We have no money; will you come and talk to us for free?

Yes, she replied; I’d love to.  I’m pretty sure my charm and erudition won her over.

Emails were exchanged; details were organised (please run the whole session, however you like, but don’t arrive before eleven because the Art Gallery won’t let us in until then because of insurance issues, I think); cake purchased in honour of our guest.  The great day arrived…

DSCN1153All joking aside, it was a great day.   Warm and friendly, Allie told us a bit about herself (passing off the sloppy journalist’s carelessness as just one of those things…so magnanimous*), her writing background and her career. Then she read from one of her books – we enjoyed it so much, we asked for more.  After a break for tea and cake (these loins won’t amplify themselves, you know), Allie set us a writing exercise, which had everyone interested and animated.  To keep things fresh, we do rotate the chair each month, as in, a different person chairs each month’s meeting; we don’t sit in swivel chairs and circulate stationarily (the gallery staff keep those chairs to themselves; we can’t complain because they let us use the space for free).  To have someone entirely new set the prompt made us all a little giddy, and produced some wonderful freewriting.

*If I appear to be losing it a little here, it’s because I am.  Remember my magnum opus (I Went To London To Be On Telly And Get Free Stuff)?  It might have turned out all right in the end, but that sloppy – and somewhat vindictive – journalism has made me over-sensitive.  Besides, that Stockport Express journalist didn’t publicise our guest speaker like I asked him to in my second – and last – out of character cold calling email.  May his rugs remain forever filthy.

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Allie brought some of her books and I felt, having strong-armed her into coming along, that I ought to buy at least one of the novels, but I didn’t have enough money on me.   Fortunately, she sells them for Kindle, and I was able to buy two for less than the price of one hard copy.   Even more of a bargain, the Amazon account is hooked up to the Hub’s credit card and not mine so, technically, I got them for nothing.  And I had cake!  What a great day.  Our guest also got a booking, from one of our writers who attends another group, so it was a win-win situation.

Now I come to the reason why I haven’t blogged for five days: I started one of the books, Relative Strangers.  As a pretty woman might say, big mistake; huge. You should see the state of my house – I’ve done no housework because all I wanted to do was read; and the dogs aren’t talking to me.

relative strangers book cover small

The book explores the dynamics of family life by gathering together one extended family in a large house for one week.

At first, I was confused by the sheer number of characters but I soon worked out who was married to whom and had which children and which in-laws and which rooms and cars and grievances and grudges.  The book is packed with incident and was a really interesting and fun read, but not fun in the way – I hope – this post is fun.  It was a fascinating exploration of relationships: the characters, for the most part, were neither good nor bad, but human, with foibles and faults like we all have.

The ending surprised me.  And that’s all I’ll say, because I don’t want to give anything away.  If you like surprises, don’t read the blurb on the website because it tells you in which direction the ending heads.

There were more typos than I usually approve of but I let them pass because I enjoyed the book so much.  I only mention them because I want this to be a balanced critique.  Definitely recommended.  You can trust me; it’s not like I’m a journalist (sorry, Kateshreswdaytheexception).

You can find Allie’s website here; and her books on Amazon here; and here. They are available on Amazon.com as well as the UK site.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post because you may not get another for at least the next five days: I have her other book to read.

 

Joke 719

12 Mar

Questions Asked of Canadian Reference Librarians:

Funny shelving category at San Francisco's Kay...

Funny shelving category at San Francisco’s Kayo Books: CATHOLIC GUILT (Photo credit: gruntzooki)

  • Do you have books here?
  • Do you have that book by Rushdie, Satanic Nurses? [Actual title: Satanic Verses]
  • I am looking for a list of laws that I can break that would send me back to jail for a couple of months.
  • Can you tell me why so many famous Civil War battles were fought on National Park sites?
  • Do you have a list of all the books I’ve ever read?
  • Do you have any books with photographs of dinosaurs?

Forbidden Library Titles For Children:

  • Gerbil Merry-Go-Round and Other Great Microwave Games
  • Fifty New Places to Poke a Pencil
  • Flying Lessons for Kittens

From Will & Guy.

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