#NaPoWriMo Day 14 ‘Thoughtful Spot’ #poetrymonth #April #Poems #Haiku #SilentSunday @A_AMilne

NaPoWriMo

National Poetry Writing Month is a poetry writing challenge to write a poem a day, which takes place every year in April. Follow the link to find out more, be inspired, get daily prompts and meet other poets!

Day 14, poem, ‘Thoughtful Spot’ was inspired by a Twitter post I read today by A. A. Milne, about Winnie the Pooh.

Thoughtful Spot

Sit in thoughtful spot,
Warm yet out of wind. Sit down,
Hear, watch and wonder.

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We all need time to be mindful  to stop, sit and think before we carry on with our busy lives.

I have favourite places, but fortunately, my thoughtful spot is anywhere I can jot down ideas for poems, stories or novels, in a car, waiting for the bus, taking a walk, reading my Twitter feed or blogs I follow, speaking to a student or colleague, boring meetings tend to inspire me as my mind drifts… I just need somewhere to take notes, as I don’t like to lose that fleeting thought that may never return.

 

#TuesdayBookBlog #BookReview ‘The Cactus’ by Sarah Haywood @SarahxHaywood

The Cactus is another book I discovered thanks to my favourite reviewer, Linda Hill, who reviewed it on Linda’s Book Bag in January.

I love reading humorous, feel good novels and romance, to balance the intensity of the thrillers and dramatic novels I usually read, so after reading Linda’s review, I was sure I’d love The Cactus. The unique and quirky main character, Susan Green, reminded me of Eleanor in Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, one of my favourite novels of 2018, which I reviewed here.

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People aren’t sure what to make of Susan Green – family and colleagues find her prickly and hard to understand, but Susan makes perfect sense to herself.

Age 45, she thinks her life is perfect, as long as she avoids her feckless brother, Edward – a safe distance away in Birmingham. She has a London flat which is ideal for one; a job that suits her passion for logic; and a personal arrangement providing cultural and other, more intimate, benefits.

Yet suddenly faced with the loss of her mother and, implausibly, with the possibility of becoming a mother herself, Susan’s greatest fear is being realised: she is losing control. And things can only get worse … at least in Susan’s eyes.

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My Review

The Cactus is a wonderful and uplifting novel with an unlikely, quirky and lovable heroine, Susan Green, who is coping with her mother’s death, litigation regarding the will, as well as serious personal issues (I don’t want to include spoilers). In spite of her world imploding, she’ll find her silver lining in the most unlikely places and situations.

It’s a novel about family secrets and domestic strife, and how honesty and goodness can overcome the most negative situations. I read it in an afternoon – evening (finished in the early hours), because I just couldn’t put it down. Fortunately, it was another blissfully lazy, winter Sunday, ideal for cosy reading by the fireplace.

Susan, who tells her story in the first person, is a fascinating woman, who captivates the reader with her honesty and humour, from page one. The rest of the secondary characters who interact with Susan are also believable and engaging, and the plot is clever. It’s set mostly in London and Birmingham, so it has a very English feel to it.

I highly recommend it to readers who enjoy well written, feel good novels with unique characters. It will make you laugh, cringe and cry, right up to the heart-warming ending. A delight to read!

And it’s a real gift at its present, very low price, of well under the cost of a coffee for the kindle version, which I read, and a few more pounds/dollars/euros for the paperback, which I’m getting for my bookshelf, because I know I’ll be rereading it.

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#TuesdayBookBlog #BookReview ‘The Tattooist of Auschwitz’ by Heather Morris @Audible

I’d heard about this novel when it first came out, but it was after recently listening to an interview by Richard Armitage, who is the narrator on Audible, that I decided to purchase it with my monthly credit, and I’m so glad I did. The Tattooist of Auschwitz is more than a book, it’s an emotional experience.

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In April 1942, Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew, is forcibly transported to the concentration camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau. When his captors discover that he speaks several languages, he is put to work as a Tätowierer (the German word for tattooist), tasked with permanently marking his fellow prisoners.

Imprisoned for over two and a half years, Lale witnesses horrific atrocities and barbarism—but also incredible acts of bravery and compassion. Risking his own life, he uses his privileged position to exchange jewels and money from murdered Jews for food to keep his fellow prisoners alive.

One day in July 1942, Lale, prisoner 32407, comforts a trembling young woman waiting in line to have the number 34902 tattooed onto her arm. Her name is Gita, and in that first encounter, Lale vows to somehow survive the camp and marry her.

A vivid, harrowing, and ultimately hopeful re-creation of Lale Sokolov’s experiences as the man who tattooed the arms of thousands of prisoners with what would become one of the most potent symbols of the Holocaust, The Tattooist of Auschwitz is also a testament to the endurance of love and humanity under the darkest possible conditions.

 

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My Review

The Tattooist of Auschwitz is one of the most emotional love stories I’ve ever read. It’s about Lale and Gita, both from Bratislava, who meet and fall in love in a concentration camp in Poland.

It’s the story of Lale’s resourcefulness, strength, tenacity, goodness and love for Gita, during the three years they spent in the camp, and how he found her again when they lost touch after leaving Auschwitz.

It’s also about the horrors of war, the cruelty humans are capable of, and the need to take risks and compromise in order to survive.

The struggle for survival in extreme situations is complex and unimaginable for those who have never experienced it. The emotional and psychological cost of that survival is just as unimaginably distressing, and also comes across in the narrative. 

Yet the end of the novel, the epilogue and their son’s testimony, makes it ultimately an uplifting novel, because there is more gratitude and faith in the future than bitterness or desire for vengeance about the past.

In the end it’s not a novel about war or evil, it’s about the power of love.

Did I tell you I listened to the audio version brilliantly read by Richard Armitage?

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#TuesdayBookBlog #BookReview ‘The Two Hearts of Eliza Bloom’ by Beth Miller @drbethmiller @Bookouture‏

I found The Two Hearts of Eliza Bloom, quite by chance, browsing new releases on Amazon. I was especially looking for humorous and uplifting titles. Having read too many thrillers recently, I needed a break, and I found a heartbreakingly beautiful novel, which stole my heart.

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Eliza Bloom has a list of rules: long, blue skirt on Thursdays, dinner with mother on Fridays, and never give your heart away to the wrong person. Nothing is out of place in her ordered life…

Then she met someone who she was never supposed to speak to. And he introduced her to a whole world of new lists:
New foods to try – oysters and sushi
Great movies to watch – Bambi and Some Like It Hot
Things I love about Eliza Bloom

Eliza left everything she knew behind for him, but sometimes love just isn’t enough. Especially when he opens a hidden shoebox and starts asking a lot of questions about her past life. As the walls Eliza carefully constructed threaten to come crashing down, will she find a way to keep hold of everyone she loves, and maybe, just maybe, bring the two sides of her heart together at last?

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My Review

The Two Hearts of Eliza Bloom is a wonderful novel about love, marriage, complex family dynamics, intercultural marriages, friendship, and last but not least, parents coping with adolescent children!

The writing style is wonderful. Eliza’s first person point of view, draws the reader in as we follow Eliza,’s life from her strict, childhood and upbringing, her arranged marriage, romance and elopement with an ‘unsuitable’ Londoner, pregnancy, and married life up to her 40th birthday, when she’s coping with her own teenage daughter’s rebellious nature.

The novel has two parallel timelines, 2000-2001 and 2016. This dual timeframe works well as a narrative device, creating suspense by gradually unfolding the plot, which is basically the story of Eliza’s marriage to Alex and the numerous challenges they face, told piece by piece, until we finally get the whole, heartbreaking picture.

The characterisation is perfect, both their families and friends jumped out of the pages and came to life as real people. Leah, the teenage daughter is brilliantly and vividly portrayed, and the family dynamics which developed throughout the novel was believable, sometimes humorous and others touching.

Eliza and Alex’s relationship is challenging due to their very diverse cultural and family backgrounds. Eliza is more complex, because she is torn between two worlds, and sometimes, understandably, can’t seem to decide where she wants to be. Alex is patient, loving and considerate, but it’s not always enough, and he has his own limits and hang-ups to deal with, too. Leah, like every teenager, is a constant source of stress in their relationship until she, selfishly, albeit unwittingly, manages to push her parents and the whole family to the very limit.

I’m so glad I found this uplifting novel, which I read in one wonderful sitting (fortunately I was able to read it over a long, lazy Sunday).

I can’t imagine anyone not loving this novel. It’s realistic, inspiring, poignant and heartwarming.

And it’s a real gift at its present, very low price, of well under the cost of a coffee.

Go on, indulge!

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