Hello. I’m here at the blogface, peering hazily at the date on my last post and blowing a layer of dust off my keyboard (because obviously I have a special blogging keyboard which isn’t used for any other activities). It has been too long fair blog readers. Apologies, and with no further ado, let’s get some blog posting done.
As it’s getting near to Christmas and the end of the year and all that sort of stuff I thought you might like an end of year book review sort of thing. It’s a post that would be very timely if these were all books published during 2016, but they’re not. They’re books I just happen to have read during 2016. Ah well, I’m sure we can all agree to go with the flow a bit on that one.
Anyway I’ve read lots of things this year. Here are some of my favourites that I would heartily recommend to you all… I will acknowledge that a lot of these are by writers I know. That’s a problem if you’re an author, particularly if you’re involved in organisations like the RNA or Society of Authors – you tend to meet a lot of writers. All of these are books I genuinely enjoyed though – trust me; I have very honest blogging fingers.
S0, without further ado, and in no particular order, here are my super-short bite-sized books of 2016 reviews…
Falling by Julie Cohen
This *might* be my book of the year, if I don’t become distracted by one of the other books further down the list. The characterisation is incredible – the story follows three generations of women and they’re all beautifully drawn. I fell especially in love with Honor, the grandmother, and Lydia, the teenage daughter. They both felt like characters I haven’t seen a gazillion times before in commerical fiction. It’s really a very good book indeed.
Please Release Me – Rhoda Baxter
This is a book where you start off reading and you’re thinking ‘Ok, I get what sort of book this is…’ and then all of a sudden it takes a fantastic turn and you’re reading something quite different and quite unique. It’s funny and clever and I sort of don’t want to describe the story too much because I don’t want to spoil it, but Sally and Grace are fantastic main characters, and the plot is wonderfully not-average.
We Are All Made of Stars – Rowan Coleman
I cried. A lot. A lot of the action of this one is set in a hospice and you get glimpses of the different patients’ lives, stories and regrets. It’s beautifully written and the main plot strands are fantastic, but it’s the glimpses of those different lives that tips this from being good to great for me. It’s a wonderful book, but make sure you have tissues to hand before you start reading.
I Don’t Want To Talk About It – Jane Lovering
It was the setting and the theme of this book that got me really excited. Essentially, and without veering into spoilers, it’s a rom-com about loss. I firmly believe that comedy is a completely appropriate way of dealing with big, dark, horrible things – it’s possible that I watched too many episodes of M*A*S*H at a formative age – and this book does that beautifully. And it’s set in Yorkshire as many of the best things are.
So there’s a smattering of my reading this year – I also very much enjoyed Little Girl Lost by my writing/tutoring partner-in-crime, Janet Gover, and a little-hyped tome, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by JK Rowling. That’s the book of the play scripts that serve as a sequel to the Harry Potter book series. I’m not sure why they chose to do it as a play this time – I can only assume that the original books didn’t do that well. Yes. That’s almost certainly probably it. I know some readers struggled with the script format, and obviously it’s conceived to be watched rather than read, but if the budget doesn’t run to a trip to the West End then I’d say the book is well worth reading.
Apart from Harry Potter, my reading this year does seem to have been very ‘commercial women’s fiction’ dominated. So please leave any recommendations for next year’s reading, particularly stuff in other genres, in the comments…
Today I am participating in a little blog splurge in celebration of the release of Rhoda Baxter‘s all new shiny novel, Please Release Me. You’ll be familiar with the notion of the blog splurge from the very awesome Midsummer Dreams Dreamathon we did a couple of months ago. Rhoda has now scandalously stolen my very original (and not at all nicked from Talli Roland when we did this) idea. Outrageous behaviour…
Anyhoo, Please Release Me is all about this:
What if you could only watch as your bright future slipped away from you?
Sally Cummings has had it tougher than most but, if nothing else, it’s taught her to grab opportunity with both hands. And, when she stands looking into the eyes of her new husband Peter on her perfect wedding day, it seems her life is finally on the up.
That is until the car crash that puts her in a coma and throws her entire future into question.
In the following months, a small part of Sally’s consciousness begins to return, allowing her to listen in on the world around her – although she has no way to communicate.
But Sally was never going to let a little thing like a coma get in the way of her happily ever after …
So today Rhoda has asked that we blog about being stuck, and, being a warm and giving type, she has provided three little prompts to get us started. Here goes…
The thing I’m stuck on now… is, obviously, my current novel-in-progress, which is not really unusual. My writing process is essentially a finely balanced mix of being completely stuck, not actually being stuck but still procrastinating wildly, and fevered last-minute writing. At present I’m vacillating between the first two states.
If I could be stuck anywhere (with anyone)… I’d go for somewhere with lots of books because even the most interesting ‘trapped for eternity’ partner is going to get annoying after a while and I’m going to need some alternate entertainment. I’d also like somewhere with sea – I was brought up at the seaside and am still slightly uncomfortable with the fact that I currently live right in the middle of the country with no edge in sight. So a library by the sea please.
As for for my ‘trapped for eternity’ buddy, that’s tricky. It would be terribly obvious to pick a Cumberbatch or a Hiddleston, but I have no idea what they’re actually like in real life. They might turn out to be terribly dull. Obviously, my perfect choice would be the Doctor, because well, he’s the Doctor, but he’s also fictional and probably not well adapted to being trapped in one place for long periods of time.
So all things considered I think I shall just take EngineerBoy, which should not be interpreted as a sign of great romance in my soul. Oh no. It’s more a case of better the devil you know. I’ve lived with him for nearly twenty years so I’m confident that he’s housetrained and unlikely to try to use the lovely books as toilet roll. Engineers also tend towards a practical approach to life so he’d probably be very handy for the mundane elements of being stuck somewhere forever. I believe that if you can’t speedily fashion a can opener out of a librarian’s stamp you can actually be thrown out of Engineer Club*. After the first couple of days all the girls who’d picked desert islands with Johnny Depp would be looking at me and thinking ‘Library and Engineer. Doh!’
Stickers… are awesome, but, sadly, generally only offered to children who’ve been good at the dentist. I feel that many areas of life could be improved with a sticker-based motivational systems. Even at the age of 29 (yeah – I’m saying 29. I like 29. I liked it the first time, and I see no reason to move on) I could definitely be motivated with a good sticker. If I got a sticker every time I finished a chapter I would totally have got recalcitrant novel-in-progress done by now. Totally.
So there you go. The polite thing to do now is obviously to download yourself a copy of Please Release Me. If you need further enticement, here’s a lovely picture of the cover…
So those are my thoughts on all things sticky. And as a last comment on that theme I shall now try to stick to (see what I did there?) blogging more regularly. I mean, I shall try. I think we all know now to get our hopes up though…
* This joke has the added benefit of potentially making EngineerBoy quite cross by giving the impression that engineering is simply about building or fixing mundane items. With that in mind I’d like to add that, obviously, it would be an exceptionally well-designed and quality assessed can opener – a veritable sonic screwdriver of can openers.