Lonely Libraries

Yesterday I took the kid to the library.  I asked him when we got up what he wanted to do that afternoon and he barely paused before announcing that he’d like to go to the library.  He loves it as much as I do. He never fails to sulk at the sixteen books limit. 

By the time as we’d run a few errands, it was past lunch time when we arrived at the library to be told by the librarian that we were the first people in all day.  Seriously.  In four hours of opening, noone else had been in.  Not a single soul.  This makes me so sad.

Libraries are being closed left, right and centre, but one of the few left within an easy commute is standing empty.   Libraries are a source of information.  Not only books, but local history, geneaology.  The larger libraries in our area host author talks and lectures.  There are kids reading challenges for the summer holiday.  Free internet access.  The list is endless.  If our library was to close, we would be distraught.  On a more personal level, libraries have acted as a sanctuary throughout my life.  At school, I escaped bullies by losing myself amongst the shelves.  One of the first things I did when I moved to Londin was join my local library.  The kid and I whiled away many hours in the local library during the breakdown of my violent marriage.

Saving libraries is something I feel very strongly about.  Reading and encouraging reading for pleasure is another.  I’m afraid that if we don’t make full use of our libraries then we are going to lose them.  I’m even more afraid that I’m among the minority who would genuinely care.

 

 

 

 

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Obligatory New Year Post

Happy New Year!

I can barely believe that 2014 is here already.  2013 was a funny old year.  In some respects it was awesome:  I got engaged, we moved house, I published a couple of stories.  It was a happy year.  In other ways, it was the year from hell, with a cancer scare and quite a few worries.  There was lots of laughter and lots of tears.  There were plenty of ups and downs; a bit like every year, I suppose. 

I don’t usually make resolutions.  I think that to make a big change, be it getting healthy, losing weight or stopping smoking, your heart really has to be in it.  You have to really want it and be 100 per cent dedicated and I’m not sure the hanging of a new calendar equates with this.  That said, I love a challenge and there are those in abundance right now.  The new 100k in 100 days has started today, which I am taking part in.  It does what it says on the tin – write 100k words in 100 days.  I have signed up to the Goodreads reading challenge.  I was unsure whether to aim for 50 books not including university reading and book club books or whether to aim for 100 books all in.  In the end I went for the latter.  I am also going to take up Blipfoto again, documenting my year in photos. 

I will leave you all with this quote from Neil Gaiman which I think says everything in a much better way than I could:

“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.

So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it.

Make your mistakes, next year and forever.”

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It never rains…

I’m not really sure where to start here.  I think everything I need to say might be way more than one post.  But here goes. I promise to try and keep it short and sweet.

The last two months have been insane.  Everything happened at once and it’s been overwhelming.  First, it was happy stuff.  I found out that after two years of desperately looking for a house, we not only found one we loved and could afford, but we got our application accepted.  The money I’ve been squirreling away like crazy was sat waiting to pay all the holding fees and desposits and what not and we moved at the end of last month.  This is ridiculously good news.  Our old house was falling to pieces and the landlord couldn’t have cared less.  Throw in some of the worst neighbours you can imagine and we were desperate.  Our new house is perfect.  It’s on a nicer, quieter street.  It’s closer to the kid’s best friends from school and we all already feel at home.

Also, in September, the boyfriend and I took a mini break to Berlin which was in itself, amazing and made all the better for our getting engaged.  Yes, little commitment-phobe me: engaged.  It was unexpected but lovely and so exciting in a way that last time wasn’t.  I’m learning to embrace the second marriage thing and we’ve even found a minister/vicar to marry us!  Yay!

So happy was I in my little bubble of newly engaged, new house happiness that when everything turned sour, it hit me like a brick.  I lost my job.  It was expected, but still not very nice.  I loved it and really didn’t want to leave.  Now, I’ve worked from the age of 13 with only the odd week here or there of not working.  I had hoped to have secured something new before I left, but that never really works out.  So, I had to fall back on benefits which made me feel crappy enough.  Then, the job centre decided that because I study Open University I wasn’t elligible.  Only I am and was. I argued and wrote letters asking them to reconsider.   I was worried as to where money would come from and convinced I would have to quit my degree.  Luckily, its all sorted now.  I was right.  (Surprise, surprise.)

Add a significant health scare (I will blog about this seperately.  It’s too big to squeeze into this post and I’m not quite ready to relive it) and I have spent the last couple of weeks as a complete nervous wreck.  I’ve barely slept.  I’ve not been able to concentrate.  I’ve not really done anything except flit from one thing to another, half heartedly.

Today, I’m feeling much better.  My health scare has turned out to be just that, a scare.  Money is finally sorted.  I am waiting to hear back from a couple of job interviews.  I’ve taken the first giant step in setting up my own copywriting company.  It’s something that has been on my mind for a long time, but I’ve finally bitten the bullet and am going to take this seriously.

Phew. I’m so glad that its half term this week and all I have to worry about is Halloween parties, baking and cinema trips.

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Review: The Returned

cover27627-mediumThe Returned by Jason Mott

“Jacob was time out of sync, time more perfect than it had been. He was life the way it was supposed to be all those years ago. That’s what all the Returned were.”  

Harold and Lucille Hargrave’s lives have been both joyful and sorrowful in the decades since their only son, Jacob, died tragically at his eighth birthday party in 1966. In their old age they’ve settled comfortably into life without him, their wounds tempered through the grace of time…. Until one day Jacob mysteriously appears on their doorstep-flesh and blood, their sweet, precocious child, still eight years old. 

All over the world people’s loved ones are returning from beyond. No one knows how or why this is happening, whether it’s a miracle or a sign of the end. Not even Harold and Lucille can agree on whether the boy is real or a wondrous imitation, but one thing they know for sure: he’s their son. As chaos erupts around the globe, the newly reunited Hargrave family finds itself at the center of a community on the brink of collapse, forced to navigate a mysterious new reality and a conflict that threatens to unravel the very meaning of what it is to be human. 

With spare, elegant prose and searing emotional depth, award-winning poet Jason Mott explores timeless questions of faith and morality, love and responsibility. A spellbinding and stunning debut, The Returned is an unforgettable story that marks the arrival of an important new voice in contemporary fiction.

There is only one word for this book: wow.  It is hard to believe that this is a debut novel, it is so well written and had me completely hooked from the first sentence.  This book raises so many conflicting questions and emotions.  Imagine everyone who ever died, returned.  This book made me think about things that would probably never have crossed my mind otherwise.

Mott tackles the tricky subject along with the recurring theme of religion in an honest yet delicate way.

This is an original, engaging dystopian book with a literary edge.  I found Mott’s writing is beautifully poetic and intriguingly sparing.

I recommend this book to everyone regardless of preferred genres.

I received an advanced reader copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Review: Light in a Dark House

cover31133-mediumLight in a Dark House by Jan Costin Wagner

Finnish detective Kimmo Joentaa is called to the local hospital in which his young wife died several years before. An unidentified woman in a coma has been murdered by someone who wept over the body, their tears staining the sheets around her. The death marks the start of a series of killings, with the unknown patient at their centre.

As autumn turns to winter, and Christmas fast approaches, Kimmo’s attempts to unravel the case and identify the first victim are complicated by the disappearance of his girlfriend, who has vanished after an awkward encounter at a party thrown by the head of the police force, and by a colleague’s spiral into the depths of a gambling addiction.

Light in a Dark House is an atmospheric, haunting and beautifully written psychological crime thriller from an award winning crime writer.

I really enjoyed this book.  I just read that this is the third in a series and I am desperate to read the other two.  There is so much I love about this book, its difficult to know where to start.  The characters, in particular Kimmo are brilliantly and quirkily drawn.   A lot of the peripheral characters are equally well written and there are a few I would love to see more of. 

I really enjoyed the somewhat clippy writing style.  This is translated from German and I really wish I was competent enough in German to be able to read the original. I’ve not read anything like this before.

There are no big, gory descriptions of the murders, instead a general feeling of dread and unease.  This book is quite unsettling in places, but this all adds to its magic.  I have to say that I found the ending quite abrupt.  I turned the page, expecting more, which at first left me a little confused and even bereft, but in hindsight added to the mystery.  Not all loose ends are perfectly tied up, which imitates real life.  I have a feeling this would translate really well to the screen.

I recommend this to crime fiction lovers.

I received an advanced reader copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Review: Bones of the Lost

cover32525-mediumBones of the Lost by Kathy Reichs

The body of a teenage girl is discovered along a desolate highway on the outskirts of Charlotte. Inside her purse is the ID card of a local businessman who died in a fire months earlier.

Who was the girl? And was she murdered?

Dr Temperance Brennan, Forensic Anthropologist, must find the answers. She soon learns that a Gulf War veteran stands accused of smuggling artefacts into the country. Could there be a connection between the two cases?

Convinced that the girl’s death was no accident, Tempe soon finds herself at the centre of a conspiracy that extends from South America to Afghanistan. But to find justice for the dead, she must be more courageous – and take more courageous action – than ever before.

 

I am a huge Kathy Reichs fan and Temperance Brown counts among one of my favourite female characters of all time, so imagine my excitement when I received an ARC from Netgalley to review.  Reichs never fails to deliver and this book is no exception.  Thrilling from the very first page, I was hooked instantly and am sorry to see this book end.

I love the detail Reichs goes into and the peek into the real world of forensic anthropology which always seems sincere.  I don’t like to give spoilers in my reviews, so I won’t go into plot details, but there are enough clues and hints throughout to keep you guessing.

This is a must for Reichs and Tempe Brown fans, but I feel that newbies will still enjoy this.

I received an advanced reader copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Review: The Gallery of Vanished Husbands

The Gallery of Vanished Husbands by Natasha Solomons

cover30486-mediumA stunning new novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The House at Tyneford

London, 1958. It’s the eve of the sexual revolution, but in Juliet Montague’s conservative Jewish community where only men can divorce women, shefinds herself a living widow, invisible. Ever since her husband disappeared seven years ago, Juliet has been a hardworking single mother of two and unnaturally practical. But on her thirtieth birthday, that’s all about to change. A wealthy young artist asks to paint her portrait, and Juliet, moved by the powerful desire to be seen, enters into the burgeoning art world of 1960s London, which will bring her fame, fortune, and a life-long love aff air.

This book is absolutely wonderfully written.  It is the kind of book that makes you remember why you love reading and inspires you to want to write yourself.

I loved Solomons’ writing style, the descriptions are perfect.  She captures places, people, emotions in a beautiful way.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book.  Every page was a pleasure and I was sorry to reach the last page.  I loved exploring 1960s London and the theme of art running throughout was a nice touch.

I couldn’t recommend this book enough.  It is an absolute joy from beginning to end.

I received an advanced reader copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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