I have a confession. I have never read Shakespeare- not properly. I don’t think a quick flick of a couple of chapters of AMidsummer’s Night Dream and a handful of notes from teacher count. Luckily, he didn’t come up in my English exam so I passed but I have always felt ashamed of my lack of knowledge in his work. How can an avid reader, an aspiring writer not be educated in one of the most famous playwrights ever? I consoled myself that many say he is boring and difficult to understand; maybe I had a lucky escape but maybe I am missing out.
This summer in York they are constructing The Globe theatre for a pop-up event. I have booked tickets for my daughter and I to see Macbeth. All I know is it has witches in it which is a handy as I love witch-related stories. I am nervous, worried I will sit there completely bamboozled by the whole experience, unable to grasp what is going on. Therefore, I am jumping in and reading it first – gulp. Wish me luck!
Are you a fan of Shakespeare? If so, which one and any tips on reading his work would be gratefully received.
It is ages since I delved into some historical fiction so I was looking forward to reading Letters to the Pianist by S.D Mayes. It has been on my radar for a while with its intriguing blurb and atmospheric cover.
In war-torn London, 1941, fourteen-year-old Ruth Goldberg and her two younger siblings, Gabi and Hannah, survive the terrifying bombing of their family home. They believe their parents are dead, their bodies buried underneath the burnt remains – but unbeknownst to them, their father, Joe, survives and is taken to hospital with amnesia.
Four years on, Ruth stumbles across a newspaper photo of a celebrated pianist and is struck by the resemblance to her father. Desperate for evidence she sends him a letter, and as the pianist’s dormant memories emerge, his past unravels, revealing his true identity – as her beloved father, Joe. Ruth sets out to meet him, only to find herself plunged into an aristocratic world of sinister dark secrets.
Can she help him escape and find a way to stay alive?
This debut instantly transported me back in time to the Second World War and I remained there until I reached the end. I loved the premise of a missing father and how the characters came to life on the page. It is about the love of family, the bond they share and survival in the dark times of war. The plot took me on a journey to places I wasn’t expecting to go with emotional, heart-stopping moments making me want to share this book among friends so can be discussed more. I can not wait to read more from this author.
I am now off to have some fish and chips by the sea because this is another book that made my taste buds tingle.
Would I recommend?
I love this book and would recommend it if you enjoy historical fiction and family sagas. It is worthy to be on my bookshelf to be reread and would be wonderful as a book club read.
Have you read it? Let me know what you think below.
The joy of picture books continues this week with the arrival of my niece and nephew. It has been a while since I had a toddler clamber on my knee for story time but it is one of life’s perfect moments. The excitement of meeting the characters, the flow of the words, colourful illustrations and even turning the page is contagious. Pure happiness radiates from the kids as they recite the words of old favourites or learn new ones. Picture books are magic portals into the world of reading and I don’t think they are appreciated by adults as much as they should.
They don’t need to be long Jasper’s Beanstalk with minimal words and simple plot captivated them as much as the longer more involved Bumblebear but the illustrations matter as does the rhythm. I have a lot to learn as I scribble ideas down and stories form in my mind. I wish I could draw the images I see beyond the stick person version because they do not do them justice. These children’s stories are distracting me from my WIP. The more I try to focus on Amber the worse the words and the mental block is so I am procrastinating usefully by exploring the world of picture books and enjoying every moment.
Time to read We are going on a bear hunt again and again and again.
Do you have any favourite picture books I should read? Let me know your recommendations below.
I love Sharon Bolton’s books and I am counting down the days until the release of her latest novel The Craftsman on 3rd May 2018. I was excited to find Alive for free on Kindle.
Author: Sharon Bolton
Release date: 1st March 2018
For fans of Val McDermid, Elly Griffiths and Peter May, prepare to delve into the dark world of The Craftsman with Alive, the ghostly short story thriller by Sunday Times bestseller Sharon Bolton.
A dark moon is rising. A perfect black circle, barely visible in the night sky, the dark moon casts its void over the wind-scorched moor, over the soaring mass of a great limestone hill, and over the town that cowers in its shadow. The dark moon is the absence of moon before the slender silver crescent of the new moon appears again and people can breath a little easier.
The month is March and the night is clear and cold, black as pitch. The full moon in March is known as the Worm Moon, welcome despite its ominous name, marking as it does the end of winter and the emergence of earthworms from the thawing ground. Dark moons have never been named, although they are sometimes called the dead moons. The dark moons reign over nights when people stoke up their fires, draw their curtains tighter and try to think happy thoughts. In the town of Sabden at the foot of Pendle Hill in Lancashire they usually fail.
In Sabden’s soot-blackened terraced houses, the sleepers’ dreams darken when the moon leaves the sky. Infants wake up cold, mothers tremble with elusive fears for their children and old folks slip a little closer to death. Only the Craftsman welcomes the dark moon. Alone in the town, he is awake, and ready to start work.
Alive is a nail-biting, heart-racing, page-turning thriller that will have you up all night and includes an extract of Sharon’s upcoming novel The Craftsman.
Alive is the perfect appetiser to wet your appetite for Sharon’s crime-fiction reads – a gripping tale that will leave you terrified to turn the lights off!
This is a quick short story based in the 1960s but is spooky and sends shivers down your spine.Sharon Bolton excels at creating an atmosphere that makes you dread turning the lights out or go out at night and this is no exception. This is perfect to tempt you to read The Craftsman. It is going to be a long wait. I may have to delve into my favourite book of hers Blood Harvest in the mean time.
Have you read any of her books? Let me know in the comments below.
Some books make you stop reading, unable to pick up a new one up while you recover from the awe of storytelling, love of characters and powerful emotion the book has evoked. As a writer, it makes me want to put your pen and notebook away as it puts it puts my work to shame. The Toymakers is one such book and it makes me want to grab a copy for all my friends and demand they read it – mainly so I can talk obsessively about it with someone. As I consider you my friends and finances dictate I can not go on a shopping spree*, I am sharing a post originally published on Duvet Dwellers Books instead.
Hope you enjoy.
What book has given you a book hangover?
* Maybe a giveaway will be needed in the future
Book Review: The Toymakers by Robert Dinsdale
The Toymakers by Robert Dinsdale caught my eye before it was published because the blurb instantly reminding me of my favourite film, Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium.
I had high expectations as I placed a reservation on it at the library and that was before my friends who were lucky to receive an ARC raved about it including Mai Musings. A copy is now in my hands and the last page has been turned — blimely what a book!
Title: The Toymakers
Author: Robert Dinsdale
Publisher: Del Ray
Release date: 8th Feb 2018
Do you remember when you believed in magic?
The Emporium opens with the first frost of winter. It is the same every year. Across the city, when children wake to see ferns of white stretched across their windows, or walk to school to hear ice crackling underfoot, the whispers begin: the Emporium is open!
It is 1917, and London has spent years in the shadow of the First World War. In the heart of Mayfair, though, there is a place of hope. A place where children’s dreams can come true, where the impossible becomes possible – that place is Papa Jack’s Toy Emporium.
For years Papa Jack has created and sold his famous magical toys: hobby horses, patchwork dogs and bears that seem alive, toy boxes bigger on the inside than out, ‘instant trees’ that sprout from boxes, tin soldiers that can fight battles on their own. Now his sons, Kaspar and Emil, are just old enough to join the family trade. Into this family comes a young Cathy Wray – homeless and vulnerable. The Emporium takes her in, makes her one of its own. But Cathy is about to discover that while all toy shops are places of wonder, only one is truly magical…
This book was magical, stunning, and beyond my high expectations. The premise of a magical toyshop where toys are brought to life is one of childhood stories and movies but Robert Dinsdale with his superb imagination, writing style and the backdrop of the first World War has turned it into an amazing work of adult fantasy fiction.
From the moment I entered the shop with Cathy Wray, I was enchanted and captivated by the store, toys, and the relationship that evolves between herself and the two brothers, Kaspar and Emil. It is hard to say anything about the book without giving any of the magic away because discovering it for yourself part of the joy of this book but it takes you on a journey of emotions from childish delight and wonder to heartbreaking sobs. The main characters and toys will stay with me forever.
Would I recommend?
Yes! This is a book that I could get passionate about, demanding all my friends read so I can talk about it for hours. It is on my Kindle and will soon be on my forever shelf so I can dip into it at any time. Buy it (no excuse as this month it is 99p on Kindle Monthly), borrow it and delve into its magic then let me know what you think.