Imagine you’re writing to a reader in the future! To a new soul, yet to unravel the magic of books! What would you say to them? Would you share stories from your own life? Or inspire them with passionate prose or perhaps offer up playful poetic musings?
Just such a request was sent out to writers, scientists, artists, and other cultural trendsetters across the globe by Maria Popova. One hundred and twenty-one letters were received including ones from Mary Oliver, Jane Goodall, Neil Gaiman, from composers, philosophers to a 98-year-old Holocaust survivor.
Over eight years, together with her publisher friend Claudia Bedrick, they collated the letters, matching each of them with an illustrator, artist or graphic designer … bringing each letter individually and vividly to life!
I read about the creation ‘A Velocity of Being’ last year and ever since couldn’t wait to hold this treasure of a book in my hands. Although released in January, they had underestimated the demand and my book finally arrived last week.
With deep reverence I opened the box, with surgical skill (or so I liked to think) I cut gently through the tightly wrapped cellophane. I’m sure I heard a drum-roll as I opened the pages and started to read … my heart singing in harmony with the emotions and thoughts of the letters.
Here a just a few snippets:
“No matter where life takes you, you’re never alone with a book, which becomes a tutor, a wit, a mind-sharpener, a soul-mate, a performer, a sage, a verbal bouquet for a loved one.” Diana Ackerman
“Yesterday I swallowed a book. Opened it, read it voraciously, then gulped it down in a single sitting. … A book, and the universe within, is the touchstone for today, yesterday, and — wow, I can’t wait to find out what I read tomorrow.” Anthony Horowitz
“A writer can fit a whole world inside a book. … . Somewhere, is a book written just for you. It will fit your mind like a glove fits your hand. And it’s waiting. Go and look for it.” Neil Gaiman
Following the dark, often stormy, winter there couldn’t have been a better time to bring in some light! During the past few weeks I’ve seen several bloggers receive an award that brightens our days as well as theirs. Imagine the surprise, honour and delight when, within a few days, I received the double accolade of The Sunshine Blogger Award!
The Sunshine Blogger Award is a peer appreciation award given to bloggers who are creative, positive, and inspiring, while spreading sunshine to the blogging community.
Thank you so much to the two bloggers for thinking of me for this award. I deeply respect them and I always savour their posts, learning along the way, sharing their enjoyment of life, travels and books and I’m overjoyed for them and their publishing success! If you haven’t visited their blogs before, I highly recommend you head over … you’re in for a treat!
Darlene at Darlene Foster’s Blog mentioned me first. She is the author of numerous children’s books based around the central character of Amanda and she has also had several short story wins and some published in anthologies. She blogs about her books, writing, travels, family. She divides her time between Spain and Canada.
A few days later Brigid at Watching The Daisies also kindly nominated me for The Sunshine Blogger Award. Brigid’s posts resonate with wisdom and calmness, attributes reflected in her hugely successful book Watching The Daisies which is an Amazon no. 1 Inspirational Irish Memoir. On her blog Brigid shares news about her book, as well as articles on travel, health, book reviews, nature, gardening, recipes and healing.
Rules for the award:
Thank the blogger who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog.
Answer the 11 questions the blogger asked you.
Nominate (at least) 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions.
List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or on your blog
Here are the questions I received and my answers:
What was the driving force behind the creation of your blog?
First and foremost I wanted to share my experience of writing my first novel!
What was your vision for your future in blogging/writing when you first started this blog? How has that vision evolved?
Within a couple of weeks I realised that this this single-minded focus for my blog was untenable. My blog would quickly become dull and dry. Also there was so much more I wanted to share so I happily started writing about books, travels, nature, traditions, my short stories. Later I shared the journey of the publication of my first book, a collection of short stories, entitled The Storyteller Speaks.
What age were you when you realized you loved writing?
I was at primary school in a small Yorkshire village and think I was about nine-years-old.
How has your life changed as a result of the electronic age? Is it better/worse/the same?
On many levels electronic devices has made life so much easier. As a gadget-nerd I’ve always enjoyed using the latest devices and remember my mother with one of the earliest Apple computers at work, as well as seeing the magic of a fax machine! The internet, although filled with so much dark material, is still a positive force and how many of us don’t ‘google’ something everyday. As soon as I saw the iPad I longed for one and had to wait for prices to fall … it is my go-to device, for news, blogging, reading, writing (with aid of Bluetooth keyboard).
What was the very last website you visited today?
I love the eclectic nature of the blogs I follow and just as I was writing this a I received a notification that GP Cox at Pacific Paratrooper had put on a new post.
If you could change one thing about your past, what would it be?
I was dreadfully unhappy in one school (an all-girls) for two years when eleven and twelve-years-old … one day I finally broke down and told my mother just how utterly miserable and depressed I was there and I never returned. I flourished at my next school and am still in touch with my friends from then.
How would your life be different today if that one thing from your past were to change?
To be honest, probably not too much as the warmth and love from home meant I recovered quickly and could see the problem wasn’t with me. It did steer me away from single-sex schools for life and I didn’t want that for my son either.
If you have children, tell me…how did your parenting change from the time you had your first child until the time you had your last?
As I only have one child I can’t really answer this one. I always used to joke that I would be far more relaxed and not so anxious with a second child – but I doubt this would have been the case! What I can say is that being a parent changed me absolutely and I could never imagine my life without my son. Sometimes I have to pinch myself that I am so lucky and it is real!
Tell me about the funniest experience you’ve had in the past month.
Ever since I was a baby I have approached new foods with trepidation … and this is still the case much to the amusement of my family and friends.
Thinking it might be a good idea to go ‘healthy’ I decided to try Benecol and one Sunday morning the little bottle stood eagerly on my placemat. I looked on fearfully, my husband gulping his down enthusiastically, showing me how to do it!
Hmm… I sniffed the white liquid anxiously and still wasn’t convinced. I then went into my default mode and called my mother and told her I had a ‘scary prospect’ ahead of me! Concerned she asked what it involved and when all was revealed she just laughed and said, ‘That’s my daughter’. ‘Could I put it on my cereal,’ I queried? She wasn’t sure. I stared at the bottle and it glared back. The stand-off continued!
A while later I took a minuscule sip – it was delicious!! I now look forward to my new morning addition!
What do you have planned for the upcoming holiday season?
My husband and I are soon celebrating our 20th Wedding Anniversary (where did those years go???) and are travelling a few days to the beautiful island of Jersey. The hotel is just on the beach, overlooking the bay and I am already giddy with excitement!
Finally, to the nominations!
I am aware that some of you might have received this award before or have an award-free blog, in that case please view this award as a compliment. There is no obligation whatsoever to respond.
My questions are the same as those posed to me.
My nominees of bloggers who spread sunshine and inspiration are:
It’s a delight to take part in Jacqui Murray’s Blog Hop for her latest novel, ‘Survival of the Fittest’!
Her previous books have taken us from the modern subterranean world of nuclear submarines and terrorism to an era over 1.8 million years ago at the very start of mankind’s development.
‘Survival of the Fittest’ is set 850,000 years ago and centres around five tribes with one leader as they face a treacherous journey across three continents in search of a new home.
As the blurb succinctly describes:
Chased by a ruthless and powerful enemy, Xhosa flees with her People, leaving behind a certain life in her African homeland to search for an unknown future. She leads her People on a grueling journey through unknown and dangerous lands but an escape path laid out years before by her father as a final desperate means to survival. She is joined by other homeless tribes–from Indonesia, China, South Africa, East Africa, and the Levant—all similarly forced by timeless events to find new lives. As they struggle to overcome treachery, lies, danger, tragedy, hidden secrets, and Nature herself, Xhosa must face the reality that this enemy doesn’t want her People’s land. He wants to destroy her.
As with all fiction writing, there is often an overlay of fact but with a book set so far back in time one wonders how much is artistic license, how much can be based on true fact? I put this question to Jacqui with regard to one angle in the book.
Survival of the Fittest hints at a spiritual side to man. Is that accurate?
Scientists have no idea when man’s spirituality started. Because 850,000 years ago (when Xhosa lived) is considered prehistory—before any sort of recorded record—there’s no way to tell. Survival of the Fittest offers one speculative theory of how that could have happened.
Finally, below is the beginning of ‘Survival of the Fittest’ and I as read the whole chapter kindly forwarded by Jacqui I found myself hooked! The story is thoroughly captivating and I was drawn immediately into Xhosa’s world, feeling her pain, fears, her strength! The writing is superb, taut, fast-paced whilst not rushed and the upcoming themes and plot lines are clearly outlined! Will you be as tempted by this extract as I was … a copy of the book is now on my kindle and I can’t wait to read it! Purchase links are below.
Her foot throbbed. Blood dripped from a deep gash in her leg. At some point, Xhosa had scraped her palms raw while sliding across gravel but didn’t remember when, nor did it matter. Arms pumping, heart thundering, she flew forward. When her breath went from pants to wheezing gasps, she lunged to a stop, hands pressed against her damp legs, waiting for her chest to stop heaving. She should rest but that was nothing but a passing thought, discarded as quickly as it arrived. Her mission was greater than exhaustion or pain or personal comfort.
She started again, sprinting as though chased, aching fingers wrapped around her spear. The bellows of the imaginary enemy—Big Heads this time—filled the air like an acrid stench. She flung her spear over her shoulder, aiming from memory. A thunk and it hit the tree, a stand-in for the enemy. With a growl, she pivoted to defend her People.
Which would never happen. Females weren’t warriors.
Feet spread, mouth set in a tight line, she launched her last spear, skewering an imaginary assailant, and was off again, feet light, her abundance of ebony hair streaming behind her like smoke. A scorpion crunched beneath her hardened foot. Something moved in the corner of her vision and she hurled a throwing stone, smiling as a hare toppled over. Nightshade called her reactions those of Leopard.
But that didn’t matter. Females didn’t become hunters either.
With a lurch, she gulped in the parched air. The lush green grass had long since given way to brittle stalks and desiccated scrub. Sun’s heat drove everything alive underground, underwater, or over the horizon. The males caught her attention across the field, each with a spear and warclub. Today’s hunt would be the last until the rain—and the herds—returned.
“Why haven’t they left?”
She kicked a rock and winced as pain shot through her foot. Head down, eyes shut against the memories. Even after all this time, the chilling screams still rang in her ears…
From the very first sentence I knew this would be a book review like no other!
“This is not about the war between lovers of dogs or cats. It’s about Annika Perry, a talented writer who works like a cat.”
As I continued to read Sharon Bonin-Pratt’s review of my book ‘The Storyteller Speaks’ I was increasingly awed by its imaginative approach, masterfully weaving the analogy throughout whilst describing my observation of human life, writing style, the book and some of the stories.
Her favourite story is one close to my heart and she captures its essence beautifully.
‘My favorite story is The Whiteout Years, and I’ve read it four times. Out of the gate, it captivated me with passages as lyrical as this one when Carl is driving through a winter storm, remembering his wife, Karin:
“A moment of total silence. With the windows down he sat and listened. He never failed to be awed by the silence, the odd rustle of snow falling gently to the ground from the laden fir trees. The odd animalistic sound deep in the forest, feral and prehistoric.”
While this scene describes the landscape surrounding Carl, it also describes his isolation from the world. Lost in the snowdrift of his grief over his wife’s death, he is blinded by silence and whiteness and can’t move on with his life. The threat of Carl’s possible death looms throughout the story.’
I am honoured and touched by this latest review of my book and I am sure you will be enthralled and captivated by Sharon’s unique review which you can read in full on Sharon Bonin-Pratt’s Ink Flare.
For this post I have turned off comments and look forward to your thoughts and discussions on Sharon’s blog. Thank you so much!
‘The Storyteller Speaks’ is available to buy on Amazon, here are the links for Amazon UK and Amazon US.
The old and the new sit easily side by side in this beautiful town on the east coast of England. Established as a borough in 1529, Aldeburgh was formerly a Roman settlement, then a small fishing village before prospering when the coastline opened up and brought trade and shipbuilding to the town. The North Sea connects across time, lapping now, as then, along the undulating shingle shoreline.
I was here with my family for a quick break during school half-term and we were blessed with unexpectedly warm sunny days. It was heavenly and rejuvenating to enjoy this blissful weather, to feel so alive.
Aldeburgh is famed for its music, literature and arts and it is the birthplace of the composer Benjamin Britten. He founded the famous Snape Maltings, ‘- a place of energy and inspiration, one of the world’s leading centres of music’ – which is located nearby but we couldn’t seem to tear ourselves away from the sea views!
No fears, there was more than enough to enjoy along this unique coastline. The hotel was a few steps from the beach, and it was fun to slip-slide along the shingles as we explored the area! From the waters edge we had a tantalising view of the picturesque houses in all their various colours. Two-thirds are now holiday homes for private or rental use which must have an impact on the town as a whole.
‘The Mill Inn’ is a local pub dating back centuries and its dark beams and low ceiling provided an atmospheric setting for lunch. I sat back and imagined the shenanigans of the smugglers who frequented this establishment!
Opposite the pub is the striking and historic Moot Hall, which now stands proudly near the beach but at the time of being built would have been a mile from the coast. This wonderfully striking 16th-century building was the town hall and amazingly this is still its main purpose, as well as housing the town’s museum.
Set to one side is a stone seat, perfect for reclining and enjoying the view. My husband noticed the rusty sign above; the alcove was a place for people in the stocks to take a break before activities resumed! Luckily I could enjoy the long distance views in the knowledge that a calm and peaceful day lay ahead of me!
The unusual clock on the building is actually a sundial and the motto translates as ‘I count only the sunny hours.’ Sounds ideal to me!
Two incredible landmarks flag the most northerly and southerly points of Aldeburgh; one a magnificent historic relic from the Napoleonic era (1799-1815), the other very much of the modern world.
The Martello Tower marks the southern point of Aldeburgh beach and is one of 18 towers built along the Suffolk and Essex coastline to keep Napoleon out. This is not the first such tower I’ve encountered from visits to the coast and they are always an awesome sight, sitting by themselves, standing forty feet high with thick walls and wide roofs. I am sure they would have been an impressive sight to any potential invader.
In sharp contrast is the gleaming white dome just north of Aldeburgh. The dome is a nuclear reactor – named Sizewell after the village nearby – and is one of 15 nuclear reactors in the UK. I am in equal measure awed and unnerved whilst looking at the power station!
In between are the coastline and its treacherous waters. Here the sea harbours miles of sandbanks which are often swept by fierce gales which present a real danger to shipping and particularly so during the town’s heyday of its busy seaways in the 19th and 20th-centuries.
Therefore it’s no surprise a lifeboat station has existed on the shore for over 150 years and its existence still plays a major part in the lives of the inhabitants. It was awe-inspiring to learn about the brave deeds of the men and women (all volunteers) of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI). In the early years the wooden boats were powered by sail and oars and in 1899 one such rescue ship was overturned by a giant wave soon after being pushed out to sea. Tragically seven out of the eighteen crew died as they were fatally trapped beneath the hull.
The modern-day lifeboat is an All-Weather Lifeboat (ALB) named ‘Freddie Cooper’. This remarkable boat has been launched out to emergency situations seventeen times in the past two years whilst the inflatable lifeboat has been on thirteen missions. The courage required cannot be underestimated as the weather is often appalling and the crew face massive waves, reaching an incredible and daunting ten metres (thirty foot). Since its inception the lifeboat crews have saved the lives of nearly 700 people!
No travel post would be complete without a mention of the replenishments along the way and we treated ourselves to several culinary delights throughout our break. As well as the pub, we enjoyed the first ice-cream of the year outside. Resting against the edge of a small wooden boat we enjoyed the delicious and rather large small scoop of maple and walnut ice-cream. The evening meal at the hotel was sublime; a delectable feast and we savoured every morsel. For dessert I could not resist the Crêpes suzettes with Grand Marnier, oranges and vanilla ice-cream
There are of course always gulls by the seaside and Aldeburgh was no exception; their evocative call creating a rush of happiness within me. I felt at home! At exactly the place I was meant to be!
Beaches are a haven of discarded objects, and the nautical theme from the array of boats around us continued as we came across this huge anchor resting on the shingle; the red and golden hues of its rusty exterior blended in perfectly with the coloured pebbles.
Thank you very much for joining me on this brief tour of my visit to Aldeburgh and I hope you found it enticing and enthralling; as you can tell I was, and am, thoroughly smitten with the town and outstanding coast! I will be back!
I remember the splash of the waves against the side of my grandfather’s wooden boat, my brother standing proudly by the mast.
I remember sitting in the back, snuggled like a chick under my mother’s arms, the sea salt and my long blond ponytail lashing my cheeks.
I remember being passed to land like a bag of sugar, an exulted terrified scream then the freedom of the warm rocks beneath my feet. Away I sped, an uninhabited island awaiting exploration by five-year-old me.
I remember our trusted blue Opel Kadett swaying in the sling, over land, over the ship; a pendulum of our future. To stay, to go. Awed, fearful, I awaited its plunge to earth.
I remember the car’s thudding descent to deck, the rousing cheer from family on shore, a cheer that turned to tears as the giant ship eased from the dock.
I remember the confusion. Why cry at this adventure?
I remember my guilt. Should I cry too? A guilt often repeated.
I remember the hastily arranged assembly. The morning’s floor wax still potent and sickening. A keening nausea as we heard the news. Mr Kewley died last night; the incomprehensible words sought comprehension in my nine-year-old heart and mind.
I remember the poke in the chest, the verbal jibes, and the scornful faces. ‘Why aren’t you crying?’ they taunted. ‘He was your favourite teacher after all. Taught you all that creative writing rubbish.’
I remember the searing slurs.
I remember my silence. Shaking my head as I walked away, not shedding a tear.
I remember once home just sitting on the sofa, stroking patterns of light and dark gold, the softness reassuring, safe. Not the usual TV or books. Just space. To think. Here the disbelief turned to truth.
I remember my mother’s concerned questions. Then we rocked, me as a baby in her arms. We both wept at the loss. This was my first death; I had been lucky.
I remember my first kiss, stolen across a lilo, the warm Mediterranean Sea lapping my body as I paddled languidly to land. My first kiss! A moment I will always remember, bubbling with excitement, with unadulterated joy of being so grown-up.
I remember splashing along the shore, the air mattress dangling loosely in my grasp, ripples of emotions echoing into eternity.
I remember my feigned indignant recount of THE kiss to my mother. A secret I’d pressed like a diamond to my heart to treasure forever. A secret bursting to be shared.
I remember her brief questions, her sweet smile. ‘We are meeting later,’ I declared. And so we did!
I remember the strums of the bouzouki, the warm light and night, seeing people on the dance floor, chatting at the tables. There he was! Heading over to me. Almost swooning, a maelstrom of emotions rushed through my body. We had a quick chat. He asked my age. ‘Fourteen,’ I replied nonchalantly. A surprised look flittered across his face then quickly vanished as he invited me and my family to meet his family. I was stricken!
I remember rueing my young age.
I remember longing for its return.
I remember a normal spring day, the German lesson in the Portakabin going as usual. My five friends and I. Unflappable Mrs Stockums at the front. As normal in the sixth form we discussed topics with ease and determination.
I remember the quiet giggles. Who was it? Katy? Sally? Chris? As a fast moving contagion the laughter skipped from student to student. Side-bursting laughter. We tried to rein it in. Honestly. Amidst the uproarious chuckles, we cast furtive nervous glances to our teacher. Was she laughing too? Impossible!
I remember the cacophony of pure happiness. At life itself. Such a jubilant sound of innocence and delight at being. We barely dared look at one another, such was the danger of setting off another cascade of stomach-churning laughter.
I remember the ache of my side, the slam on the teacher’s desk. ‘Go outside,’ she mumbled, pointing at the door. ‘Ten minutes then come back silently. And sit apart.’ The biting breeze startled us as we marched up and down, calming the inexplicable immersive laughter. It hadn’t quite disappeared but already I was mourning its departure.
I remember those summers of sizzling sun, drifting in dinghies along thirsty riverbeds.
I remember those school days, whether good or bad, always coddled at home.
There is a word in Japan for unread books left to pile up around one – tsundoku! I’m guilty of a few tsundoku collections of books; ones bought with well-meaning and tingling anticipation. Somehow they become unintentionally forgotten and lay precariously balanced with other books, dangling over the edge of shelves.
Often treasures of literature are hidden among these and this is the case for one such book which I recently extricated from a listing pile and eagerly I started to read the book.
‘Elisabeth’s Lists’ by Lulah Ellender is a gem! I was hooked from the very beginning and it is incredibly moving and thought-provoking.
The beautifully crafted book is an eloquent memoir based on the life of Lulah’s grandmother. A life recorded in meticulous detailed lists; lists which were entrusted to Lulah by her own mother.
The lists started during Elisabeth’s childhood whilst growing up in 1930s China. Just as her father was a diplomat, so was her husband, Gerry and her world travels continued into adulthood. The lists, many innocuous and of everyday items, included information about packing, dinner parties, price of food and even the names of hens and number of eggs laid. The lists are endless. A touching heirloom in their own right, they have been transformed into a moving and heartfelt book by Lulah. Her research and dedication are superlative and the end result is a sweeping and engrossing story of Elisabeth’s life.
Postings abroad included Madrid under Franco’s regime, post-war Beirut and Rio. In sharp contrast Elisabeth endured the hardship and deprivation of bombings and food rationing in England during World War Two, whilst at the same time finding a certain peace and harmony as a normal suburban housewife, away from the hectic duties of a diplomat’s wife. Throughout the book the various eras are exquisitely captured and provide a vivid impression of the times.
It was not all a joyous time however, as occasional bouts of depression, some post-natal, forced Elisabeth to seek medical care and time away from the family. Furthermore, a family tragedy darkened her life.
The book develops into a deeply profound study as Lulah weaves the threads of her own life and that of her mother into the memoir. The three generations of women effectively become the focus of this family story; their lives remarkably intertwined and the memoir gives not only insight and comfort about motherhood, family, and loss to Lulah but also to the reader.
Even more heartbreaking and poignant is that the book is written whilst Lulah’s mother is terminally ill with the cancer; the very disease which killed Elisabeth when her daughter was only nine-years-old. As Lulah delves deeper into Elisabeth’s life she finds some solace and acceptance in her own life; a process which she describes with exceptional clarity and feeling.
As she must feel, I believe that without our past, our present is unclear, our future unnavigable.
To conclude, ’Elisabeth’s Lists’ is an enriching, gifted and rewarding book and one I highly recommend.
I just want to add that I had the privilege of briefly meeting the author following a talk in March 2018 as part of Essex Book Festival. Her intelligence, warm and kind nature sparkled and she spoke with ease and confidence at great length without any notes whatsoever!
I thoroughly enjoyed the recent book discussion following my post ‘Reading Across Time’. Thank you for all your wonderful and fascinating suggestions of books to read for the various eras, particularly coming to my aid for pre 1300.
As a list nerd, I’ve collated all the mentioned books as below for your enjoyment and perusal. I’ve also included who suggested the books and, when applicable, added links to their blogs. I feel lucky to have made so many warm and kind friends here on WordPress, happy to share their time and knowledge for an in-depth discourse.
Please note that since this is a follow-up post comments have been turned off.
Music is an integral part of our lives, winding its way into our souls even before our birth. The array of sounds touch us to the core, reflecting our emotions, creating unique feelings, supporting us through crises, lifting us to new heights of joy. The variety of music is infinite and the range of reactions it creates within us is never-ending.
Lately I’ve been lucky enough to come across three pieces that sparked absolute awe within me, carrying me beyond the realm of the conscious to purity of just being.
The first one is a favourite for buskers around the globe, with the haunting refrain echoing around shopping precincts, tumbling down cobbled alleyways. For some reason many see this as a ‘simple’ tune to sing. Nothing could be further from the truth; it demands deep soul-searching from the singer, one so raw that the unadulterated passion is etched on the singer’s face, until the searing intensity of the song is felt by all. Jeff Buckley brought this Leonard Cohen song to millions around the world, and it was my favourite version until I saw this one below.
Many thanks to Laurie Buchanan at Tuesday with Laurie for introducing me to this breathtaking and heart-stopping ‘Hallelujah’ by K D Lang, which had me in tears in the end as the singer greets Leonard Cohen who is seated in the front row.
To lighten the mood my next tune is from on of my all time favourite songs; one that saw me through university and beyond. The first time I heard it was on a sunny day in Scotland (a rarity in itself as many of you will know) and it was one of those perfect days. Sitting on a window ledge with my legs dangling out I listened to this song for the first time as I watched the golfers at the 18th hole in St. Andrew’s. As I heard ‘Africa’ by Toto my spirits soared, life was technicoloured glorious!
Recently, I came across a new piano version of the song. The energy and vitality of Peter Bence, the pianist, is contagious, his enjoyment totally absorbing and fervent. Who knew the inventive sounds of a grand piano? For many musicians the piano lid bangs and the pulling of the piano strings might be cringe-inducing … but wow! The ultimate sound is spellbinding and unforgettable!
The final offering is one of the most original and eye-catching lyric videos I’ve come across. It is particularly apt for all writers out there and has a marvellous retro feel to it. The message of the song is both stirring and heartfelt, the tenderness and beauty of both the music and lyrics merging to the sublime. I hope you enjoy ‘Taste’ by Sleeping at Last as much as I do and many thanks to Sue Dreamwalker who introduced me to this song on her post Fixing From The Inside ~ To fix the Outside.
Before the video, here is just a taste of the chorus:
‘To fists unraveling, to glass unshattering. To breaking all the rules, to breaking bread again. We’re swallowing light, we’re swallowing our pride. We’re raising our glass, ’til we’re fixed from the inside.’
Thank you so much for listening to this musical interlude, and as always I look forward to your comments and discussions!
I’ve never needed any encouragement to read books! When very young I recall looking at the pictures, longing to read the words beneath. Of course there were lots of children’s books, my favourite comic, all read to me. One set of four books though fascinated me, weighty tomes, even more so for four-year-old me, as I lugged the encyclopaedia, one at a time, from the shelf, to my bunk bed, and sat intensely perusing the images, running my fingers under the words, imagining their wisdom. Occasionally I would ask my older brother to decipher some of the script … although I made sure never to avail myself of his help too often. I did not want to tire him with my neediness!
Over the years I’ve kept numerous notebooks of the books I’ve read, made various lists, created my own small reading challenges. However, it was only though blogging that I discovered the plethora of reading challenges out there! All are wonderfully inventive and so tempting. However, I’ve only taken up a main one so far, the Goodreads Reading Challenge. Here you set your own target for the number of books you hope to read in that one year and duly note each one down when finished and possibly add a review. This challenge not only encourages more reading, but is accessible to other members to look at and it is also an excellent record of books read! My biggest haul one year was 91, the least 52. Still, I met my targets and it is interesting to see how the reading fluctuates. Some bloggers are a tour de force in this challenge and Jacqui Murray at worddreams… managed to read a phenomenal 222 books last year! Congratulations!
Some other challenges are centred around genre, or a famous book, or even the alphabet.
The ‘When Are You Reading?’ challenge intrigued me straight away by the concept of reading a book set in twelve different eras. Not too ambitious, effectively a book a month, this is one I think I can manage. It’s not too difficult to discover a book for the later timelines and as you will see I am already well on the way to completing four time periods. However, what can I read for the pre-1300s 1400-1599, etc? The mind boggles. I may have to turn to Chaucer for one. Do you have any book recommendations to help me out for any of the eras?
To take part you need to read a book set in each of the following eras, and it is up to you to determine which these are. The suggestion is to choose a year where the largest part of the action or the most important event occurs.
Below are the time eras and I have filled in some with the books I have read/nearly finished for four of the timelines.
1300 – 1499
1500 – 1699
1700 – 1799
1800 – 1899
1900 – 1919
1920 – 1939 The Devil Aspect by Craig Russell… still reading – an Ebook – NetGalley
1940 – 1959 Youngblood Hawke by Herman Wouk … still reading Ebook
1960 – 1979
1980 – 1999 Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng (read January 2019) Paperback
2000 – Present This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay (read January 2019) Paperback
I must admit I rarely tackle four books simultaneously, however the books themselves are so diverse, and owing to the style and content ensured I needed a change of pace and variety.
The dark gothic mystery of ‘A Devil Aspect ‘ by Craig Russell is not my usual genre but asked by the publisher to review this on behalf of NetGalley I could not refuse. Set mainly in the 1930s in Czechoslovakia it is an intense, at times terrifying book. One far too frightening to read at night! Yet the ideas, the merging of the current political instability with the madness of the six homicidal lunatics is intoxicating. These criminals are incarcerated in the bleakest of prisons and a young psychiatrist travels to see them and unravel their secrets. Meanwhile, in Prague a new serial murderer is at large, his crimes so barbaric it seems they could only be committed by the Devil himself. The city of Prague is incredibly atmospheric and captured in all its layers of beauty and darkness whilst the characters are vivd and intense.
Many thanks to Barbara at Book Cub Mom for introducing me to ‘Youngblood Hawke’ by Herman Wouk; when it made her most favourite book ever I just had to read it. Do take a look at her review here.
It is a worthy literary opus and runs to nearly 800 pages in paperback. I’m finding it utterly compelling, wonderfully descriptive and the book reaches into the mind and emotions of the young writer, his early success, the crazy ensuing life, battle to control his sense of self. It recreates the era brilliantly but I need an occasional rest from it and hence my more modern books of the past two weeks.
One of these is ‘This is Going to Hurt’ by Adam Kay This a factual book about the ‘life of a junior doctor: 97-hour weeks, life and death decisions, a constant tsunami of bodily fluids, and the hospital parking meter earns more than you.’ I read this book in 24 hours and haven’t stopped talking about it since and there is now a queue in our house to read it next. Although at times hysterically funny the book is ultimately a serious indictment of the numerous governments and their (mis-)handling of the NHS over the years. I feel deep despair at the lack of respect and treatment of the medical staff from the highest level. Whilst laughing at the insanely comic situations (some in graphic detail) I am not sure anyone considering starting a family should read the book – it would have terrified me. Not for the faint-hearted but a very well-written book portraying the harsh reality for NHS hospital doctors.
“Tuesday, 5 July 2005 Trying to work out a seventy-year-old lady’s alcohol consumption to record in the notes. I’ve established that wine is her poison. Me: ‘And how much wine do you drink per day, would you say?’ Patient: ‘About three bottles on a good day.’ Me: ‘OK . . . And on a bad day?’ Patient: ‘On a bad day I only manage one.” ― Adam Kay, ‘This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor’
What books are you currently reading? Are you participating in any Reading Challenges? Would you be tempted to take part in ‘When Are You Reading’ challenge? If so, please click here to learn more and sign up!