FLASHES OF LIFE: A BOOK REVIEW

‘Flashes of Life’ a gem of a book! It is a wonderful original twist on short stories as within Pamela’s latest book all the stories are beautifully portrayed vignettes based on her own life and experiences!

Her writing sparkles as she reflects upon her childhood, her family, friends, work and her beloved partner. Her zest for life permeates through the pages and her sense of humour, her warmth, kindness and generosity shine through.

Every single story is captivating; I laughed out loud whilst reading some, others had me reaching for tissues. The author’s tenderness and innate wisdom touched my heart and within many of the stories, I recognised myself during various phases of my life. As she hopes in the introduction her smiles have indeed become mine.

Thank you, Pamela, for helping me to see my own life with a philosophical eye, letting my thoughts dwell upon my own guideposts, and finally, for introducing me to ‘fluffing my aura’ — how have I managed so far without this in my life!

Finally, it was a privelege to be asked to write an author endorsement for ‘Flashes of Life’ which is one of four on the back of the book! Another first in my life as a writer!

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Available: Amazon US Amazon UK

Publisher: Borgo Design

About Pamela S. Wight

Pamela Wight is a successful author of romantic suspense novels, THE RIGHT WRONG MAN and TWIN DESIRES; two illustrated children’s book, BIRDS OF PARADISE and MOLLY FINDS HER PURR; and a “flash” memoir, FLASHES OF LIFE.

Pamela earned her Master’s in English from Drew University, continued with postgraduate work at UC Berkeley in publishing, and teaches creative writing classes in Boston and San Francisco.

She lives in the Boston area with her “right man” and hikes the New England trails while concocting her stories. Wight travels frequently to the San Francisco Bay area for additional inspiration. She speaks to book clubs, schools, and libraries in both locations.

Read more about Pamela Wight, her books and writings on her wonderful blog Roughwighting. Connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest

LIFE’S RICH TAPESTRY Woven in Words: A Book Review

Thank goodness for the blogging challenges that inspired Sally Cronin’s Life’s Rich Tapestry Woven in Words. An enriching and engaging collection of verse, micro fiction and short stories, her work is mesmerising, always uplifting and often humorous. Throughout humanity and the spirits of humans (and some animals) is a beacon of hope for us all.

Sally’s poetry is enticing, thoughtful and soothing; they are written tightly within the framework of syllables for various formats such as haikus and tankas yet explore a vast range of topics encompassing the wonder of the seasons, recognising human frailties and celebrating the warmth of togetherness. She manages to take us on a journey from cave drawings to digital code across the universe, from the mystical of the ugly troll with his bewitching music in The Moonlight Concerto to the enchantment of Fairies!

As a writer, one poem – an ode to writing – particularly struck a chord with me:

The Freedom to write

The freedom
and time to create
written words
to be read
by those open to our thoughts
intoxicating.


by Sally Cronin

Sally Cronin is a master storyteller and I was immediately drawn into the lives of the characters in all her short stories. Her writing flows with ease and self-assurance within this diverse selection of short stories. I was moved by the reunion of siblings, impressed how a story told through the point of view of a polar bear both touched me and touched on environmental issues. The reason for a black sheep was raised in one story and had me smiling as did My Mouse, a clever play on words and a predicament experienced by most of us!

The superb stories in The Underdogs section had me in awe of the strength of the individual personalities of the dogs. Later, in For the Love of Lily, I was cheering on as eighty-year-old Millicent found her courage to stand up to her overbearing son with the help of her cat Lily and her kindly neighbour Eric. This was an excellent depiction of what I hope isn’t a scenario that takes place often.

The final longer pieces in the book are under the title of Speculative Fiction and these are all exceptional and shows Sally Cronin’s incredible imagination and ability in writing across all genres.

A moment of alignment is superlative and left me with goosebumps (of the happy variety!) as a child, following her death, manages to cross from the other world for the briefest of times on certain occasions to talk to her mother. Great Aunt Georgina left me tear-eyed and is a wonderful and powerful story partly told through the use of old letters; a deft use of an evocative writing technique. The Enhancement Project combines the tantalising hint of romance between a surgeon and her patient cyborg, all against the backdrop of the end of civilisation. It is a terrific blend of human and futuristic, of dark and light, love and destruction.

I can’t recommend Life’s Rich Tapestry Woven with Words highly enough and look forward to reading more of Sally Cronon’s books.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Available: Amazon US : $4.53 (Kindle) Amazon UK: £3.50(Kindle)

ABOUT SALLY CRONIN

Sally Cronin

Sally Cronin is the author of fifteen books including her memoir Size Matters: Especially when you weigh 330lb first published in 2001. This has been followed by another fourteen books both fiction and non-fiction including multi-genre collections of short stories and poetry.

Her latest release, Life is Like a Mosaic: Random fragments in harmony is a collection of 50 + images and poems on life, nature, love and a touch of humour.

As an author she understands how important it is to have support in marketing books and offers a number of FREE promotional opportunities in the Café and Bookstore on her blog and across her social media.

Her podcast shares book reviews and short stories Soundcloud Sally Cronin

After leading a nomadic existence exploring the world, she now lives with her husband on the coast of Southern Ireland enjoying the seasonal fluctuations in the temperature of the rain.

Sally’s magazine blog for lovers of health, food, books, music, humour and life in general is Smorgasbord Blog Magazine.

Connect directly with Sally on Twitter Facebook LinkedIn.

Smorgasbord Children’s Reading Room – #Reviews – #Adventure Annika Perry, #Bears Sue Wickstead

An honour to see the latest review of ‘Oskar’s Quest’ shared by Sally as part of her Children’s Reading Room! As always my thanks to Sally for her wonderful support to authors within this amazing community! Also a huge thank you to Vashti at The Writer Next Door / Vashti Q for the thoughtful review; they are so precious to writers and fantastic help for all readers!

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Welcome to the reading room and some recent reviews for authors on the shelves with books for up to the age of 12.

The first book today with a recent review is  Oskar’s Quest by Annika Perry.

About the book

Oskar is afraid of adventures. Yet one day he finds himself on a mysterious island which needs his help.Join Oskar on this unexpected and magnificent quest, where he finds not only courage but so much more…“It’s light, extremely enjoyable and very gripping.” Esther Chilton – author & editor.Perfect for ages 3 to 6.

A recent review for Oskar’s Quest

Vashti Quiroz-Vega5.0 out of 5 stars Gorgeous illustrations and captivating story!  Reviewed in the United States on June 9, 2021

What a lovely picture book! This marvelous children’s book is filled with beautiful and colorful illustrations and is a riveting story.

Oskar is an adorable little bird that was…

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AMANDA IN MALTA THE SLEEPING LADY: A BOOK REVIEW

With a unique blend of adventure, friendship, history and travel Darlene Foster has hit upon a winning and inspirational combination for her children’s books Amanda Travels.

The series is aimed at middle grade (aged 9-12) children, although from reading her latest book I feel it would also be suited for adept readers of a younger age as well as reluctant readers.

Darlene Foster’s latest in the series, Book 8, takes the reader to Malta after Amanda receives a letter from her best friend Leah. To receive a letter alone sends concern to Amanda in the modern digital age of emails. Leah hints that something is wrong, but gives no detail and wants Amanda to join her.

Amanda would love to leave the cold wintry weather of Canada behind her for the warmth and sun of the Mediterranean island but would it even be possible?

As with all children’s books, a resolution is quickly found and Amanda joins her classmate and his parents on their holiday on the beautiful island.

Immediately the author captures the heavenly warmth of the landscape, limestone buildings and history perfectly. In snippets, the reader is enveloped in the amazing historical elements of the island, some of which become central to the story whilst others act as a stunning backdrop to the action.

Any reservation I had that the historical might slow down the pace of the story proved unfounded as the plot is quickly propelled along. Although there are dramatic events such a brief kidnapping, ominous warnings, chases and unexplained killings of protected birds these are all pitched gently and safely for the younger reader.

Initially, Amanda cannot even find Leah and when she finds her it turns out that Leah’s aunt has become mixed up with crooks. Two criminals want Leah’s aunt, who is an archaeologist, to steal the 4000-year-old Sleeping Lady statue from the museum otherwise there will be consequences. Could Leah even be involved?

Luckily Amanda and Leah are not alone on their mission. Max is a helpful and able go-between and Caleb, the son of the family friend, provides many comic moments throughout the book, particularly with his strange phobia of fish and love of all things Popeye.

When finally they visit the famous Popeye Village he is ecstatic and his courage shines through as he has to rescue Leah!

I like how all the main characters are slightly flawed with their fears and how through working together they find courage, helping each other. The warmth and kindness is a beacon of hope!

Amanda in Malta is a hugely enjoyable book, the writing flows with ease and the plot had me eagerly turning the pages. The book took me back to my addictive reading of the Nancy Drew mysteries as young and I can see how readers will long to read and collect the whole series of Amanda Travels.

Although I have unfortunately not read any previous books within the series this is in no way hampered my enjoyment or understanding of The Sleeping Lady. The author slips in enough backstory to ensure this book is an exciting and stand-alone book.

I received a free copy of this book from the publishers via NetGalley in exchange for an honest and impartial review.

RATING: 5 out of 5 stars

PUBLICATION DATE: 11th May 2021

PUBLISHER: Central Avenue Publishing

GENRE: Children’s Fiction / Middle Grade / Travel

AVAILABLE:

AMAZON US: PAPERBACK KINDLE

AMAZON UK: PAPAERBACK KINDLE

ABOUT DARLENE:

A bit about me. I am a writer of children’s stories, a retired employment counsellor, and ESL tutor, a wife, mother and grandmother. I love travelling, reading, shoes, cooking, sewing, music, chocolate, walking on the beach and making new friends. My grandson once called me “super-mega-woman-supreme”. I was brought up on a ranch near Medicine Hat, Alberta, where I dreamt of travelling the world and meeting interesting people. I currently divide my time between Orihuela Costa in Spain and the west coast of British Columbia, Canada. My husband, Paul, and I enjoy spending time with our adorable dog, Dot.

CONTACT:

Do visit Darlene on her Blog or on Twitter.

Finally, I can highly recommend you listen to a wonderful interview with Darlene Foster on Rebecca Budd’s excellent Tea Toast & Trivia podcast. Their sense of fun is fantastic and their laughter infectious. It is touching how Amanda joins Darlene and her husband on their travels!

A GHOST AND HIS GOLD: A BOOK REVIEW

A Ghost and His Gold combines the paranormal with intense violent battle scenes from 1899-1902; it features three ghosts not only haunting a house and its occupants in present-day South Africa but who are themselves haunted by events in their past lives; it’s a story about seeking forgiveness and ultimately finding redemption.

Furthermore the book explores not only the horror of war, concentration camps, scorched earth policy but also date rape, rape, violence against women. Can any ever be forgiven? Can anyone carrying out these acts ever find peace within themselves and acceptance by loved ones again?

Initially, A Ghost and his Gold appears to be a normal paranormal ghost story as Michelle and Tom, both working in the finance sector although she is also a part-time writer, move into their new home. The new townhouse is situated on the site of an old Boer homestead. Michelle immediately senses and sees a presence in the house, one that makes itself known to them and their friends during a party using an Ouija board. Tom, a hard-nosed realist, is sceptical that the man named Pieter was there or even existed.

From the close-third person narrative in 2019, the novel switches to 1900 and Pieter is in his house with the family as he is woken by banging on the door with a warning that the ‘khakis’ (British soldiers) are on the way.

It is in the midst of the Second Anglo Boer War and the events focus on Pieter, his strong-willed wife, their daughter Estelle and other children. Estelle is treated with contempt by her mother, a woman who later rejects her.

As another ghost called Robert makes itself known to Michelle, she discovers his journal written whilst he was a British soldier during the war. The first-person perspective of the journal is especially powerful, personal and direct. During the siege of Mafeking, Robert befriends a young man called Richard and he takes him under his wing.

Roberta Eaton Cheadle’s research of the period is impressive. Yet she does not fall into the trap of using all her knowledge with a flood of information, rather skilfully incorporates detail where necessary; be it of the furniture or buildings of the era, the form of travel, clothes and she is particularly adept at writing battles scenes, the weapons used, their tragic consequences. I felt as if I was in the midst of the carnage, feeling the horrors experienced by Robert, Pieter and the others.

Whilst Pieter and some of his family and friends have some reservations about the war, their women have no such qualms and see no other option for their ‘Volk’. Tragically they suffer dreadfully during the war and these scenes in the book are not easy to read, horrors repeated many times throughout history and alas in present times.

The third ghost is a poltergeist who first appears on Michelle’s computer screen — this part of the book had me jumping back in fright as I read it! Estelle is consumed with ferocious anger against Tom and as she starts to haunt him he suffers nightmares and becomes increasingly sick, all the time unaware of the cause of his illness. Michelle knows the cause, Estelle, but why does Estelle hate Tom with such frightening malice and enmity? Slowly I learned her history through her own third-person narrative.

Throughout the author manages the nigh-impossible; equally portraying the ruthlessness and violence of both sides as well as their humanity and warmth. It is heart-wrenching to see how the mutual loathing and hatred intensified as the battles were protracted and that both Robert and Pieter, who had briefly met in battle, lose their kindheartedness and compassion. It is only in death that they realise the true cost of war and that so many wrongs need to be righted for them to find peace, for Estelle to be freed from her path of vengeance. However, they need help and at last through Michelle, they have found it!

The finale of the book had me totally engrossed as I read late into the night, with the story building to a crescendo of action and emotional pinnacle I could see no resolution. Luckily the author had and with expertise she brings the book to a terrific conclusion and some light in the darkness.

A brief note regarding the start of the book which begins with a list of names of famous characters from the era along with a timeline of major events. I couldn’t wait to read the novel and skipped these informative pages. They are a valuable resource but feel they might be better placed at the back of the book. The shorter explanatory notes scattered throughout the novel are extremely helpful.

This is not a book for the faint-hearted, or those seeking a simple ghost story or cosy read. One recommended for readers looking for a thought-provoking, action-packed novel with a rich variety of characters set in historical times with a paranormal twist!

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Publisher: TSL Publications

Available to purchase:

TSL Publications (ebook and paperback)

Lulu

Amazon

Reading Challenge 2021: Oskar’s Quest – Annika Perry

A review from Charley at booksandbakes1 is like seeing my own book anew! Her insight and detailed analysis of ‘Oskar’s Quest’ is extraordinary and has me twirling with joy in my studio!

Comments are closed on my reblog here but I look forward to catching up with you all on her wonderful blog!

booksandbakes1

Hello Lovelies!

I hope you’re all well and are getting into the Easter spirit 🐣! I’m thoroughly enjoying my Easter break – reading plenty, spending time with my family (my support bubble), in the garden and spending time soaking up the warmer days. I seem to have got my writing mojo back so whilst I appreciate it is now April, I have a couple of posts I need to catch up with. Today’s post is the book I chose to read for the reading challenge. The focus for March was: Read a book that was gifted to you. If you’d like to catch up or take part in my reading challenge, please click here for more information. I’m sure all my avid reader blogging friends get books for birthdays, Christmas and then when you decide to treat yourself… or is that just me? Anyway, I had the perfect book in…

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THE FREQUENCY OF US: A BOOK REVIEW

Are we where we truly should be? Where we belong with those who love us absolutely? These questions are at the heart of ‘The Frequency of Us’, a novel that defies genres and offers in one sweep romance, elements of the supernatural and hints of a ghost.

I was propelled by explosive force into the book as German bombs fall upon the city of Bath on the fateful night of 26th April 1942. Amongst the terror of the barrage of explosions Will Emerson, a young wireless engineer, dashes to rescue a neighbour’s son who is in Will’s radio workshop. Heading back across the long garden he sees his Austrian wife, Elsa Klein shouting a warning to him; a warning he fails to heed and instead, looking up he sees a bomb heading their way … then there is the light.

At this moment Will’s life and those around him are changed beyond one’s wildest imagination.

He awakens to a world without Elsa, where seemingly no one knows of her and his house has returned to its earlier bachelor self.

Already thoroughly hooked by the superb narrative the novel quickly moves seventy years into the future and introduces Laura James, a young woman whose life is defined by her emotional abuse by her father which led to her chronic anxiety and depression. As her first job back after her breakdown which included strong antidepressants, Laura is assigned as a carer to an elderly gentleman, to assess his needs and possible removal from his rundown home. A house that feels haunted. The home of Will Emerson.

The two are opposites in many ways, Will’s curmudgeonly nature almost drives Laura away, yet they are oddly drawn to each other, finding a form of understanding and gradually she becomes convinced his memories of Elsa and life pre-1942 are not signs of dementia but actual events. Laura’s tenacious research threatens to break her down once again and as she meets people from his earlier years, discovers events from the night of the bombing, Will’s and Laura’s lives become irrevocably intertwined.

Throughout a refrain used constantly by Will and one she heard as young from her father runs through her head: “Everything is always happening.” Somehow this seems the key, but how?

At one particularly low point, suffering from suspected severe medication withdrawal side-effects, Laura reflects wryly: “We are not credible witnesses to our own life.” Of course, the truth is far more complex, immersive and emotionally wrought.

As the mystery deepens the author’s deft handling of the complicated strands of the plot creates an intense read. Only afterwards did I fully appreciate all the clever details which foreshadowed the nail-biting final section of the book. I read like one possessed, racing to finish the book yet rueing the moment I would reach its end.

‘The Frequency of Us’ unfolds through a series of alternating first-person narratives of war-time Will and modern-day Laura. These are interspersed with the occasional voice of other characters which reinforce the story, all created with Keith Stuart’s natural flair.

From the first, I was completely enthralled by ‘The Frequency of Us’, hooked by the combination of heartwarming and vibrant romance and confusing conflicting paranormal events. Will, Laura and the myriad of other characters are portrayed with heart and skill, quickly entering my psyche and remaining there.

This is a superb and original third novel by Keith Stuart and as with ‘A Boy Made of Blocks’ and ‘Days of Wonder’, a book that will stay with me and I highly recommend. I’m eagerly awaiting his next book!

I received a free copy of this book from the publishers via NetGalley in exchange for an honest and impartial review.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Publication Date: 25th March 2021

Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group / Sphere

Available: Amazon US Amazon UK

LIARS AND THIEVES: A BOOK REVIEW

A world is held together with the most tenuous alliance. A world like no other and inhabited by three races; elves, goblins and changelings. Together they’ve kept the peace in Borderland, yet its thin veneer is threatened as the dark force of Chaos seeks to overthrow the land. However, its leader, Kalann il Drakk, must first penetrate the shimmering border wall, the Veil.

With excitement, I was propelled into ‘Liars and Thieves (Unraveling the Veil Book 1) and into the midst of Drakk and his force’s attack on the Veil. Its electrical energy is as powerful as the writing. Although the attack ultimately fails, seeds of Chaos are planted through the wall … although the reader is left in doubt about its format.

From this dramatic beginning, the book, the first of a trilogy, becomes increasing captivating as the story unfolds through chapters centred on three misfit characters who dominate the narrative and whose in-depth revelations help to create this outstanding fantasy novel.

The striking red-haired Alue Windthorn, an elf soldier, is plagued by failure which lands her in constant trouble with her leaders and father.

Talin Raska is a rogue of a changeling whose charm and cheek cannot see him out of all his pitfalls as he is also a liar, a thief and a spy. His greatest failure is to fall for his mark, Alue.

Naj’ar is half-elf, half-goblin and the two elements of his being are in a constant battle for his soul.

All three are outsiders, loners, they have constant difficulty following orders and rules. All three possess great abilities, some known to them, others revealed later. All three find their lives are, against their better judgement and wishes, intrinsically intertwined.

The author’s superb gift of storytelling immediately drew me into the book and the compelling lives of the characters. Through a close third person narrative of each a chapter at a time, their thoughts, emotions, reasonings, fears and vulnerabilities are revealed in touching and dramatic detail.

Equally compelling is the finely woven plot as strange disappearances of its people throughout the land are experienced by all three races. Of course, they immediately seek to blame each other although they are dependant on each other for their assets. The balance and harmony are severely strained as ever more are killed, threatened or simply disappear in the mysterious quakes.

As the tension escalates, events spiral out of control and distrust reigns and soon accusations and counter-accusations nearly bring Borderland to the brink of war.

With imaginative tour de force, D Wallace Peach creates an exceptional new world, which through stunning detail, beautiful descriptions immediately become real and true to the reader.

Whilst ‘Liars and Thieves’ is an epic fantasy novel it is at the same time a wonderfully intimate and personable story. I can imagine books 2 and 3 will become increasingly intense as Chaos and its destruction and fight for the eradication of the world dominates the plot.

Having read and loved some of the other books by the author, ‘Liars and Thieves’ is my favourite as yet! I look forward to reading the next two in the series and they are already on my Kindle!

To conclude, ‘Liars and Thieves’ is a must for all fantasy book fans as well as an exciting and enthralling book for readers new to the genre. Highly recommended.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

To Purchase:

Amazon UK: Kindle £ 2.25 Paperback £ 7.48

Amazon US: Kindle $2.99 Paperback $ 9.99

As well as being a superlative writer, D. Wallace Peach is a blogger extraordinaire with her own writings, challenges, informative articles and poetry. She’s a faithful friend to many on WordPress, always engaging in fascinating discussions via comments. Furthermore, Diana is a huge supporter of writers with advice, encouragement and through her reviews. These are prolific and in the autumn alone Diana read 60 books and shared many of her reviews on her blog! Do take a look at her wonderful website/ blog at Myths of the Mirror

About D. Wallace Peach:

D. Wallace Peach started writing later in life after the kids were grown and a move left her with hours to fill. Years of working in business surrendered to a full-time indulgence in the imaginative world of books, and when she started writing, she was instantly hooked. Diana lives in a log cabin amongst the tall evergreens and emerald moss of Oregon’s rainforest with her husband, two dogs, two owls, a horde of bats, and the occasional family of coyotes.

“The words forever change me.” *

Wouldn’t our existence be monotonous and bland if we didn’t share our lives, thoughts, events and experiences? Sharing with family and friends is at the core of living and so it is with books.

Finishing a book I am always keen to talk about it with a person close to me, chatting away about the story, the characters development and the emotions evoked. At times (not nearly often enough!) I take a step further and with joy review the book and as a writer, I fully appreciate what this means to fellow authors.

Personally, I treasure every single review! I’m uplifted and heartened by this precious gift of time and energy. This is true for one recent review for my book “The Storyteller Speaks” and within a few paragraphs it delivered a positive punch to my spirits. It is an incredible feeling when someone is deeply touched and affected by one’s work and a terrific boost to one’s writely self. I promise that being mentioned in the same sentence with the outstanding Alice Munro has not gone to my head!

The Storyteller Speaks” is a beautifully written book of timeless stories, poetry and flash fiction.

Annika Perry writes a carefully constructed, powerful, multi-layered story. She skilfully foreshadows events and a life less than ordinary.

Annika Perry has the gift of a true story teller. She engages the reader to emotionally connect with the characters and stories: My heart aches for an inconsolable child. I have an unexpected visceral reaction to an accident. I am transported to the exact moment in time where I hear the silence. I realize courage can come in many colours. I am moved by the strength and resilience of the human spirit.

“The Storyteller Speaks” reminds me of the powerful stories written by Alice Munro. They are stories that never leave me. The words forever change me. I continue to savour these stories, of ordinary people living a remarkable life. I highly recommend “The Storyteller Speaks.”

Review by Erica Henault on Goodreads

Many thanks to Erica for her review and in the time I’ve known her I value her warm friendship, honesty and humour. Her love of life, family and friends shines through her wonderful and inspirational blog at Behind the Scenery ‘Grateful for the Present Moment’. Do take a closer look at her posts as they brim with her passion of ‘… sharing new perspectives with each other and learning from each other … always observing and paying attention, especially to the lessons that begin in whispers, lessons that get louder and louder.’

“Infinitely more important than sharing one’s material wealth is sharing the wealth of ourselves our time and energy, our passion and commitment, and, above all, our love.” William Simon

*Quote from Erica Henault’s review of “The Storyteller Speaks”.

“The Storyteller Speaks” is available to purchase on all Amazon websites including Amazon UK and Amazon US as well as directly from myself for an autographed copy of the book!

Where’s the power button?

Just imagine … no delete key! To be typing away with no way of erasing one’s words. Where force is needed on each letter, the loud clickety-clack echoing around the room.

Some will have learnt to type on the old-fashioned ribbon typewriters, whilst for others they are an alien concept. How can one manage without autocorrect, cut, copy and paste!?

Forget the modern contraptions and imagine an antique typewriter set on a lone table. In a bookshop. Paper rolled into place. People approach and can write a sentence or two on it. What would this be?

Where’s the power button?

what is the password?

Just such a scenario developed as part of a community project in a bookshop which opened in 2013 in Michigan and the results are beautifully collated in the book ‘Notes from a Public Typewriter’.

A joint owner of the bookshop, Michael Gustafson, whose love for typewriters stemmed from inheriting his grandfather’s beloved 1930s Smith Corono, first imagined a great new American novel would be co-written by hundreds of people.

The Literati Bookshop, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

He couldn’t have been more wrong! Yet the messages are more than he could ever have predicted and they offer a unique insight into the human psyche as the anonymity allows people to bare their souls.

I’m scared I’ll spend half
my life deciding what to do
with it and the other half
regretting that choice.

They provide glimpses into other’s lives, their marriage proposals, relationship breakups, love, loss, addiction, joy, worries over school, college. Some cut straight to the question of our human existence.

The hardest thing about
loving someone so broken
is you might fall to pieces
yoursel
f.

Some are funny and intimate.

i love it when you talk typewriter to me.

Others are sweet and poignant.

I raced the snowflakes
to see who would fall first.

Of course the novelty of a typewriter features often as one young writer shows.

If I had to write a
five-paragraph essay on
this thing, I would withdraw
from middle school.

The purpose of life in all it’s facets is captured in a few profound sentences.

Life,
like this
typewriter,
has no
backspace.
Type strongly
and don’t
look back.

Every evening Michael Gustafson would collect the reams of A4 papers, read the messages and cut them out, placing some on The Wall of Fame. Fame that grew as news of the bookshop’s unusual activity became more widely known.

In 2015 an artist, Oliver Uberti, was commissioned to paint fifteen of the messages on the brickwork outside the shop and it is now one of the most photographed locations in Ann Arbor.

‘Notes from a Public Typewriter’ is a wonderful and inspiring collation of messages, some even resembling flash fiction, many incredibly poetic in nature, beautifully presented in a smaller hardback form. A sense of harmony is achieved as the disparate notes are put into various sections, first describing the initial set up of the bookshop along with his wife, Hilary, in Ann Arbor and then concentrating on different themes of the notes, providing glimpses of occasions and people in the bookshop.

The notes themselves are presented unedited in typewriter fonts along with all their spelling errors etc. They are raw, honest, beguiling, addictive.

It is a profound book, it is hilarious, it is life!

we are all stories in the end

It has become one of my firm favourites this year and a book I’ve recommended to many already!

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Publisher: Scribe UK / Grand Central Publishing (US)

Available: Amazon US Amazon UK

Note: All bolded text are quotes from the book.