By now you have probably broken most of your resolutions, but it’s never too late to repair them. Here is a handy guide to resolutions that you will never keep, to save you making them in the first place and resolutions impossible to break.
Finish my Work In Progress before I finish my Christmas chocolates.
Finish reading A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking.
Review the above book intelligently on Amazon and Goodreads.
Read every blog by every blogger I follow.
Sell more books.
Think up lots of new meals to cook.
Clear out every drawer in the house and recycle all twentieth century ‘what’s on leaflets’.
Learn how to use ebay and empty all cupboards and the loft.
Spend less time on social media.
Sign every worthwhile petition going on line and write to my MP and all the world leaders about every important issue.
Become the first Indie Author to trek alone to the North Pole and blog every day about my journey.
Visit the dark side of the moon.
Live without plastic.
Finish my Christmas chocolates before my WIP.
Read Brief Answers to the Big Questions: the final book from Stephen Hawking – The world-famous cosmologist and bestselling author of A Brief History of Time leaves us with his final thoughts on the universe’s biggest questions in this brilliant posthumous work. As it’s posthumous he may have found out the answers by now.
Review the above book briefly on Amazon and Goodreads.
Read and comment on at least one blog a week.
Sell at least one book this year.
Try cooking one new meal.
Tidy up at least one drawer.
Take that bag of stuff to the charity shop.
Improve social media skills.
Share at least one funny cartoon a day on Facebook.
Go for a walk to a new coffee shop every week – blog about the experience.
I posted this review on Amazon and Goodreads. Marlie is set in the remote Queen Charlotte Islands – Haida Gwaii an archipelago approximately 45-60 km (30-40 mi) off the northern Pacific coast of Canada.
I knew nothing about the islands and little about this part of the world, one of the reasons why I had downloaded Marlie. Anyone who has found themselves with a new career in a place where they are the stranger in town will find Marlie’s story resonates. We may not have met a bear, but islands and remote places anywhere in the world can be surrounded by space and the illusion of freedom, but also have an insularity. On Marlie’s new island there are the locals and the original people and then there are the incomers, most of them ‘getting away’ from their previous life. Everyone knows everyone else, except of course Marlie who has no idea who to trust or how to avoid upsetting anyone. As for any young single woman, dating is a complicated game and it is easy to make a mistake. Enjoy the beauty of an island and the seas, but this story will also have you on edge as Marlie faces the elements and some sinister characters.
‘Mrs. Wilson’ A BBC 1 television drama of three episodes.
We have just finished catching up with this enthralling series based enticingly on real life. One fact about Alexander Wilson we know to be true is that he was an author of thrillers, you can find him on Amazon and Wikipedia, but unlike most writers his imagination spilled over into real life. He spun his lies to four ‘wives’, only the first was legally married to him. We follow the story of his third much younger ‘wife’ Alison Wilson; she is played by her granddaughter Ruth Wilson. The women in his life were real, as are his seven children. It’s almost certain he did work for the secret services at one stage, with his excellent language skills and intelligence, but what he actually did and for how long remains closed in the files. His own large family are never likely to know who the real man was. If we didn’t know it was true we would hardly believe that one man could be loved dearly by his women and children, despite all the trials he put them through; none of them had an easy time. Only after his death did Alison start to discover the truth. Eventually all the families got together. Perhaps only God knows if his Roman Catholic faith was more genuine than the rest of his life! It all made a cracking good story for viewers.
We don’t have Netflix, but Cyberspouse knows someone who has… he has his name on Netflix with two family members, either side of the Atlantic. In his explorations of what is available he occasionally comes up with a gem and this was one of them we watched a few days ago. But was it a book of short stories or a film? Each tale was begun with the turning of a page in a beautiful old book. When I looked it up I was surprised there were only six tales, it seemed like more.
‘The Ballad of Buster Scruggs’
The Coen brothers turn their Netflix series into an anthology film made up of six tall tales of the Old West.
Each story opened like a scene in the theatre or a painting. The singing cowboy riding his white horse and playing the guitar. Residents at a city boarding house sit at the dinner table, but two of the characters in that scene are to set out with a wagon train. This is the longest story, it moves gently until events take a turn… A travelling entertainer sets up his stage at each tiny town, but silently things move towards a dark ending. The story of the gold panner opened like a Disney film on an idyllic scene in a peaceful valley and progressed gently until a stranger came along. A stage coach is the setting for the final story and final it certainly is… If you get the chance, see this film.
This week’s round of the Game of Life is dedicated to a writer who was out of the game far too soon. I had not met her in person, but she was a friend of my daughter’s, they met at music gigs in London and realised they both came from the same area. Yasmin became my Facebook friend one day and five minutes later I found myself belonging to Author Chat Forum – the first time I had linked up properly with other writers on line. That led to me broadening my horizons considerably.
Yasmin was an independent full of life and very warm person who seems to have touched many lives in many areas. She wanted to be remembered as a writer. Her novel is rather unique I think, unlike anything I have read before or since. This is the review I wrote a few years back.
My daughter told me about this new writer’s first novel, then read the book and worried it might be too raunchy for me – so I decided to definitely buy it! The opening chapters are shocking, some of the characters are shocking, but it is a beautifully written book with a fast moving story that involves you with all the characters. Of course we feel for the victim’s family, but can’t help also being on the side of the killer, kept in suspense till the end.
This could be described as a fairy tale for our age; a story that crosses from last century into the present. There is a love story, but there is also the bad fairy. Here is a tale of young people making rash decisions and bizarre plans which the reader knows can’t go well, which we hope they won’t go through with… There are dreams that come true and dreams that fade. The final part of the tale keeps us in suspense; can the dark spell be lifted from our heroine, can she ever forgive?
A blackbird singing in the garden, a sure bet at the racecourse, poignant memories and a young lad’s sixpence. All life is here, though not always confined to the living. Secret meetings, terrible mistakes and deaths that shouldn’t have happened. Spare time for the last two longer stories ‘Radio Man’ and ‘Your Turn Will Come’, two very different tales exploring beyond our earthly limits.
I bought Harmony as soon as it came out as I had been waiting in suspense since reading Sanctuary. It was good to be back amongst the two communities, humans and Astraens. They are not so different from each other, which makes this such agood story. Can harmony be achieved when both sides have various agendas andthe Astraens are not as angelic as their appearance suggests? The tentative peace between the two races is constantly at risk because of the action of some individuals. But this is also a story of good characters trying to do their best and a tale of love blossoming. Cosy science fiction perhaps? We don’t need to know how the motherships work, though we learn more about their travels since having to leave their own planet, nor why the aliens are conveniently sexually combatible with humans… lucky the woman who has a chap with wings to shelter her on a chilly night. But don’t get too cosy, the pace of the story escalates to a stunning ending.
Johnny English Strikes Again
‘Rowan Atkinson returns as the much-loved accidental secret
agent in “Johnny English Strikes Again”. When a cyber-attack reveals
the identity of all active undercover agents in Britain, the country’s only
hope is called out of retirement. English’s new mission is his most critical to
date: Dive head first into action to find the mastermind hacker. A man with few
skills and analogue methods, English must overcome the challenges of modern
technology-or his newest mission will become the Secret Service’s last.’
PG (for some action violence, rude humour, language and brief nudity)
Would you go to the cinema at 11am? One of my
favourite places in Christchurch is the Regent Centre, a rescued and restored
Art Deco cinema. On a damp grey winter day why not go and watch a film guaranteed
to take your mind off the real problems of the world… and Johnny English has
to save the world from a very big disaster. The film was silly but very funny.
Just under an hour and a half, a sensible length for any film and certainly for
this sort of film which is non stop slapstick send up with lashings of wit. Our
hero creates nearly as much collateral damage as James Bond and doesn’t get the
girl. A clever plot line somehow turns every disaster to advantage and Johnny
saves the day.
I hadn’t read the previous novel about Kate, so knew nothing about her, but Kate knows nothing about herself either when she wakes up. This is a thriller with no heroes, the Snowman is desperate to help her and it seems at last he can, but it is not to be. If this was a television thriller the Snowman would save the day, but the story becomes more complex. We follow the killer’s thoughts as well as the other main characters, an advantage of books over screens. The reader will never sympathise, but we might comprehend what’s going on in Jack’s mind. Michael is another character who we think might save the day, but he is a mix of flaws and must face up to the grief he has caused the woman he loved and the other woman who loves him. This is not a novel for the faint hearted; what starts as a mystery of unconnected murders is also the story of those unfortunate enough to be in the path of a killer or know his intended victim. We know from the news that bizarre killings can occur when a murderer becomes obsessed and this murderer is obsessed with Kate.
I downloaded this novel onto my Kindle as it sounded fun and we have relatives who have become DFLs* on the Isle of Thanet. But this is a story that would make an enjoyable read for anyone with family or lively family as neighbours. Whether you are married, divorced or thankful to be single, the lives of Tess and her family and friends will probably sound familiar. The story bowls along, with prospects of romance dashed at every twist and turn and plenty of modern life problems.
*‘Down From London’ – a good train service from St. Pancras, lower property prices and the seaside have made the Isle of Thanet, Kent a popular choice for workers needing to commute and also artists and entrepreneurs.
How do you watch television these days, perhaps not even on a television set? But drama serials are still ever popular, whether we sit down each week, catch up digitally or binge watch. I like the idea of the TV schedule, but inevitably if we’re out or have visitors I am thankful we can record or catch up. PAUSING programmes is also a brilliant asset as my good intentions to leave the computer or the kitchen by 9pm always fail.
There have been so many good dramas lately we have some still to watch. My two recent favourites were very different.
Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray is a long novel that many people on social media have confessed to not having read. But with a film and at least four television adaptations we can be forgiven for not being sure if we have actually read the book. BBC 1967, 1987 and the one I remember really enjoying was a few years ago – no it was 1998! So how would ITV’s new production compare?
Thackeray, played by national treasure Michael Palin, took his rightful place as the narrator at the beginning and end of each part; he watched his characters go round and round on a carousel.
The story starts in 1813 England, a turbulent society embroiled in war for twenty years. Thackeray introduces a world where everyone is striving for what is not worth having. The impossibly smart red and white soldiers, beautiful women, lovely horses and clean streets were not out of place because he wanted us to watch his characters in a performance. The battle field sequences contrast with this.
Becky Sharpe has nothing, but is determined to have everything, whoever she hurts on the way. We are whirled through years of love, heartbreak, family troubles, business disasters and tragedy with one love story ending happily.
BBC4 on Saturday nights is a must if you love Scandi Noir or anything with sub titles. We have followed Danish politics, Swedish thrillers, Sicilian detectives, Paris police, Belgian undercover in French and Flemish, but most recently it has been Outback Noir.
Mystery Road in six episodes, was filmed in the Kimberly region of north Western Australia. Having lived in Perth, Western Australia and with family there, I try and watch any Australian series that come our way. I have never been to that part of the state, another country to suburbanites in the city. The series was worth watching for the scenery alone, wide landscapes of dusty red soil and long roads, a fascinating country town and a cattle station homestead that makes you yearn to live somewhere with endless space. A great cast did justice to a complex story linking past and present with layers of secrets. The old landowning family, the indigenous people and European backpackers all find their lives bound together in small town life.
Reviews of two very different novels and a murder mystery play by Francis Durbridge
I posted both book reviews on Amazon and Goodreads
Our Spoons Came From Woolworths
by Barbara Comyns
I read this as a paperback passed on to me and recommended. I had not heard of the author before.
Many of us love anything to do with the twenties and thirties; architecture, art, music and elegant young men and women capture wistfully the two decades between world wars. But we also know it wasn’t glamorous for most and for the British it was a time our parents and grandparents remember before the Welfare State and the birth of the National Health Service.
Sophia is young and naive and the novel is probably very close to the author’s own life. I love the way she tells us her story as if she was looking back and telling a friend, which indeed she does at the end. The book was published in 1950.
We have a vivid picture of life with very little money, renting rooms and sharing bathrooms. From details of what they eat to the realities of pregnancy and childbirth which will appall most women. Ironically it was also a time when new mothers who were able to afford a nice nursing home would have enjoyed two weeks of bed rest – unheard of these days! Love and poverty never go well together and being married to an artist who is never going to earn proper money is a recipe for disaster. Follow Sophia in a poignant story that has humour, very dark times and then hope.
I finished reading this in the middle of last night; though it is not unusual for me to turn my Kindle on in the early hours, this is not the sort of novel you should be reading in the dark watches of the night! It is a good paranormal thriller, but more than that it will make you reconsider all our childhoods. How responsible are children for what they do and what is really going on in their minds? In some ways I felt most sorry for Jack’s parents, a poignant back story gradually revealed, an event that ruined any chance of his father continuing the life he loved or his mother coming to accept their rural life. There is a lot going on in everyone’s lives, but Jackie is a reminder that those of us who have led ordinary lives cannot know what others have had to overcome. There were only a few things that jarred – I thought it was likely the social services would have got involved, Maggie did not guess an obvious pointer as Jack’s story was revealed and some dialogue and characters’ thoughts could be confusing in the pace of the story. But overall I really enjoyed this unusual novel.
SHELLEY THEATRE, BOSCOMBE.
Francis Durbridge’s play Suddenly At Home
Thursday-Tuesday August 16-21
Durbridge won international acclaim as the creator of Paul Temple, one of the most famous of all BBC radio detectives. He also wrote nine stage plays, Suddenly At Home was first performed in 1971.
Percy Florence Shelley was the son of the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792 -1822) and Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein.
He bought Boscombe Cottage, near Bournemouth, Dorset for his mother to live in and had it rebuilt based on the Casa Magni in Lerici, northern Italy, the last home of Percy Bysshe and Mary. He renamed it Boscombe Manor. Mary died before it was completed and Percy and his wife Jane took residence.
Sir Percy had a timber theatre built in the grounds but replaced it with the current grander theatre which opened in 1870 with a public performance. Many of their friends acted and came to see shows including Sir Henry Irving and Robert Louis Stevenson (who wrote Jekyll and Hyde in Bournemouth).
Now this lovely pocket sized theatre has been restored and is a treat to visit. The volunteers give you a friendly greeting, there is a pleasant bar and the seats are very comfortable – they came from the much hated Bournemouth Imax cinema building when it was demolished, but that story is for another blog!
Small theatres are always fun, the audience are there to enjoy themselves for a play such as this which follows in the long British tradition of darkly comic murder mysteries.
The London Repertory Players were at the Shelley Theatre for a four play summer season. The action was set in one room; all that was needed were a few items of furniture and several doors. Door bells and ringing phones, always at the wrong moment, kept the cast and audience on their toes and guessing till the final curtain.
Two angels and a healer, an autobiography, a novelette and a novel; the three books I recently finished reading and reviewed on Amazon and Goodreads.
Or at least that was the plan, but for some reason Amazon would not accept my review of Angels Landing. I’m not sure why and won’t bore you with extracts from their ‘community help’. People have problems of all sorts with Amazon reviews, one of the reasons I decided to post my book reviews on Tidalscribe.
Angels Landing by Christina Sandler
An autobiography inspiring on many levels, I gave it five stars on Goodreads
Sadly in the Twenty First Century we are too familiar with images of soldiers who have had limbs blown off, but stoically work hard at their rehabilitation with the support of others in the same situation. When we imagine what that would be like we probably have degrees of what we could bear, one limb lost is surely better than all, but most of us would no doubt make an awful fuss if we just lost a few fingers. People lose limbs in various ways, including through illness; Christina Sandler’s accident left her far removed from the instant medical response we see on hospital programmes.
On holiday in Australia, a car accident in a remote spot in the Northern Territory results in terrbile injuries. Christina’s recovery in the Darwin hospital took a long time because of the way her arm was lost, but it was excellent care, the staff at the hospital sound wonderful. The hospital became her world, though through her eyes we have glimpses of the life of the people of Darwin.
Back in England there was much more treatment needed, working up to the day she got her first artificial ‘pink Barbie hand’. This was still the eighties, artificial limbs have come a long way since then. Most of us would regard a serious accident as a good excuse to coast through life without too much being expected of us, but getting back to the teaching job she loved was not enough for Christina, she needed a new challenge, flying.
Looking up this book I see it was first published successfully in 2000 as a paperback and reviewers included one of her former pupils. A reminder that this is a true story. I would be so interested to know how life has been for her since that first solo flight.
A very different take on the homeless; most people walk by, but some stop to talk. This novelette tells the tale from each character’s point of view and some will surprise you. There is a happy ending and redemption, but not for all. This little book is rounded up with three delightful poems; from a creme egg to a rose.
The Healer (Fraud or Miracle? Book 1) Kindle Edition
There is nothing straightforward about this novel, we may think we are following Erica’s journey towards enlightenment, but it is not as simple as that. Gradually we realise we are not sure who to believe, perhaps the final truth will come out in Book 3. What is intriguing is that it does not matter how real the illness or the cures are, it’s how they affect Erica and those around her. I don’t think I liked any of the characters and certainly would not have enjoyed working for Erica. In her ruthless world of work she is surprised that even one person cares when she is ill. When she tries to return there is no welcome, the company has moved on, former colleagues expected her to die and appear affronted that she turns up to announce she is fine. Her personal life fares little better, even without the complications of secrecy we realise that being given a second chance of life does not necessarily make anyone a better person. Erica knows no other way of life and doesn’t have the resources to recreate herself as a lover of nature and humanity; events and new revelations also conspire against her.
We all read books for free; library books, all those paperbacks people have passed on to you and if you have forked out fifty pence in the charity shop for your favourite author – your favourite author won’t be seeing a penny. I once went to a chat at the library by a noted local author; a strange coincidence occured a few days later and a hundred miles away when we were visiting a National Trust property. There was the usual second hand bookshop in an interesting outbuilding. As I browsed, there on top of a pile of books on the makeshift counter was the very book the noted author had been talking about. It cost me fifty pence…
Indie Authors wring their hands and discuss whether they should, or if it will be worth it to offer their book for free. The hope being that readers will be so enamoured they will buy other books by the writer, or more importantly, the reader will be so grateful they will write a glowing review. A week later some authors will be posting in chat forums or writing in their blogs in great distress because no one has written a review yet.
I am happy to accept a free offer, or a ’99 pence today only’ bargain if the book appeals to me and I will review it, because I try and review all the books I read. But by the time I pick a book out of my TBR collection on my Kindle I will have forgotten if it was free or what I paid for it. I just want to enjoy reading.
A while back I came up with an idea brilliant in its simplicity, based on the premise that Indie Authors can do what they like, even if they have sold their soul to Amazon. To avoid technical stress I would not bother with free offers or prices going up and down. Come to my bookshop and I guarantee there will always be books you can buy for ninety nine pence. If you want to buy a paperback for your aunty who doesn’t have a Kindle they start at £5.99.
If you want a novel try Quarter Acre Block. It is my best selling book, probably becaue it has always been 99p and readers know what to expect…
‘In the nineteen sixties many ‘ten pound pommies’ had never left England before and most expected never to return or see loved ones again. George Palmer saw Australia as a land of opportunities for his four children, his wife longed for warmth and space and their daughter’s ambition was to swim in the sea and own a dog. For migrant children it was a big adventure, for fathers the daunting challenge of finding work and providing for their family, but for the wives the loneliness of settling in a strange place.’
You can read the background to the story on my website.
When I first joined Goodreads, with no idea what I was doing there and with my picture sideways, I did figure out how to write reviews and it seemed a good way to record all the books I read.
My Kindle was a birthday present five years ago and the first books I downloaded were my own. I had already published two novels and one short story collection on Amazon Kindle, relying on a local friend and my sister in Australia, the only people I knew with Kindles, to tell me if they had ‘come out’ alright.
Once the Kindle was in my hands it opened up the whole world of Indie Authors. I had no desire to download 3000 free classics, we have a house full of dead authors in paperback. Reading about other writers on line, choosing books that sparked my interest and downloading them in a matter of seconds was part of the fun. I review all my fellow Indie Authors on Amazon and Goodreads, though it is often a while before I actually get around to reading. With all the angst about Amazon deleting reviews I decided to also put new reviews on my blog. I love variety so here are three very different books. One novel, one set of three short stories and my favourite, a collection of stories, flash fiction and poems.
I read this collection on my Kindle and one disadvantage of Kindles is you don’t have the book lying on your coffee table showing off its cover. Coming back to Amazon to review this book I remembered how I loved the imaginative cover which does justice to the contents. I was really taken wih the stories and poems. I love writing short stories that are often dark so I appreciated the author’s style. Here are tales gruesome and scary, but also poignant poems. The book ends with a longer story that held me in suspense all the way through…
A very different novel from the first Riverbend book and it would work fine as a stand alone novel, but those of us who enjoyed the first were eager to see if it was Willow’s turn to find true love, only to fear she would lose the love of her life so soon after finding him. Anyone who has had strange experiences when meeting the boyfriend’s family for the first time will sympathise with Willow and admire the way she stands by her man. But how can she stand by her man when he disappears? Hunter is a complex man with a difficult life, can love be strong enough to save him? I am looking forward to reading Book Three and following the next part of Willow and Hunter’s life together.
Three gentle stories, very different, but all about finding love and new paths later in life. My favourite was ‘More than a Mere Bagatelle’ . Modern grandmothers don’t just sit at home, they have lives of their own, but that can bring difficult choices.
‘A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.’ A quote from Virginia Woolf at the beginning of ‘A Room of One’s Own’ which I have just finished reading, I have been dipping into it on my Kindle over a period of time. Virginia was invited to give a series of lectures on women and fiction in 1928 and they were published in 1929.
Of course we imagine the Bloomsbury Group had plenty of rooms and money, not to mention more time than ordinary folk and I can hear fellow writers of both sexes saying we would all like a room of our own and some money.
But looking back into the past with Virginia Woolf we would surely agree that the dominance of men in the field of literature was not due to the lack of talent among women, but absence of opportunity. Even Jane Austen did not have a room of her own, she never had a home of her own, just a kind rich brother. In the Jane Austen museum in Bath I saw an example of her tiny handwriting, small pieces of paper could be quickly hidden if someone came into the room. In the Chawton, Hampshire house, where Jane spent her final years and did her most productive writing, she did not allow the creaky door to be fixed because it acted as a warning that someone was about to enter the room. She always shared a bedroom with her sister. How peaceful the house was we cannot know for sure, but with a household of four ladies and a couple of servants, it should have been quiet and certainly she did not have to contend with toddlers running riot or teenage boys clumping up and down the stairs. One of Woolf’s other theories is that women became novelists rather than poets, because it takes more concentration to write a poem and women were more likely to be interrupted. Of course the great poets that have come down through history were usually well off men.
But for Virginia Woolf, Jane Austen stands out because she writes about women’s lives, not about them as background to men’s lives. She wrote what she wanted to write. The Austen family lived through the Napoleonic Wars, but there is no mention of them. Soldiers are important only for young ladies to fall in love with or run away with.
Writing ninety years ago Wolfe lived in a world where everything had been changed by the Great War. Women now had the vote, they had been important in the workforce during the war and with the loss of so many men, motherhood and domestic bliss, or domestic confines were no longer an option for many women. There was still poverty and hardship, the welfare state was a long way off, but Woolf wanted women to take any opportunities for education and to write. What would she have made of the Twenty First Century?
With her husband Leonard she founded the Hogarth Press in 1917, so she was able to publish her own books and certainly didn’t need to decide on a genre. She could never have imagined the internet and digital publishing, but she would surely have been impressed that so many women of all ages are writing, and writing whatever they want. But do we still need a room of our own and £500 a year to be able to write? Many of us didn’t start writing till after A Levels, our children’s A Levels; how many students come home for the university holidays to discover their bedroom has been turned into a sewing room or a computer room? Many writers don’t start till they have retired.
I wrote my first novel on a lap top on the dining table, progressed to a desk top computer in the corner of the bedroom, last year we rearranged the house; junior visitors now have to sleep on air beds, Cyberspouse has a computer room and I have a writer’s den; Virginia Woolf didn’t say a room of your own requires a visit to Ikea, but mine did.
But if you have to write on a lap top curled up on the end of the sofa while the football is on television, you can still enter the digital room or the ethereal mansion where there is room for every writer. Is your blog a room of your own?
Do you have a room of your own or can you forget your surroundings once you are in your characters’ heads?