#NaPoWriMo Day 24 ‘The Meeting Place’ #poetrymonth #April #Poems #Tanka

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 24 poem, The Meeting Place,  was inspired by a bronze sculpture that stands at the south end of the upper level of St Pancras railway station in London. Designed by the British artist Paul Day and unveiled in 2007.

First photo is by EdwardX Second photo from Pixabay

The Meeting Place

Travellers rush past

Lovers trapped in timeless kiss

Train waits for no-one

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#NaPoWriMo Day 1 ‘Just Me’ #poetrymonth #April #Poems

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!

Today, Day 1, I’d like to introduce myself. Me is a poem I wrote a few years ago, while I was lecturing on Postcolonial Literature to Undergraduate students of English. We all wrote poems introducing ourselves from a migrant’s perspective, this was mine.

ME

Fifty years ago on Seven Sisters road,

On an island miles and years away

From their wrecked and hungry homes,

In a spotless sullen ward,

Within the ancient Roman city of London, 

A confused Spanish migrant,

Gave birth to the sole survivor of three.

Who decided the chosen one would be

me?

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She gave me a name, her name, a Roman name.

He gave me a surname, his surname, a Spanish surname.

Now I’m richer, I have two names and two surnames

As well as passwords and user names, and logins,

And ID cards with photos, and credit cards with microchips.  

I’m the fusion of both of them, of all of them.

Their old country and our new world.

Two minds, two tongues, two hearts, but

One person.

Just me.

****

I was baptized and civilized in churches and schools,

By Roman Catholic priests and nuns.

They taught me what to learn, and I did,

They taught me what to believe, and I did that too.

God blessed me with three brains;

One is clever and has a PhD,

Another is hard-working: teaching, cleaning and cooking,

But the best is loving and giving her love

To her three children, four grandchildren,

And their other unborn children.

That’s me.

And who are you?

 

 

#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.

BLURB

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 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.

BLURB

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?

****

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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#TuesdayBookBlog ‘Something in the Water’ by Catherine Steadman #Amreading #Bookreviews #Thriller

Today I’m reviewing Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman.

Blurb

If you could make one simple choice that would change your life forever, would you?

Erin is a documentary filmmaker on the brink of a professional breakthrough, Mark a handsome investment banker with big plans. Passionately in love, they embark on a dream honeymoon to the tropical island of Bora Bora, where they enjoy the sun, the sand, and each other. Then, while scuba diving in the crystal blue sea, they find something in the water. . . .

Could the life of your dreams be the stuff of nightmares?

Suddenly the newlyweds must make a dangerous choice: to speak out or to protect their secret. After all, if no one else knows, who would be hurt? Their decision will trigger a devastating chain of events.

Have you ever wondered how long it takes to dig a grave?

Wonder no longer. Catherine Steadman’s enthralling voice shines throughout this spellbinding debut novel. With piercing insight and fascinating twists, Something in the Water challenges the reader to confront the hopes we desperately cling to, the ideals we’re tempted to abandon, and the perfect lies we tell ourselves.

 ****

My Review

Something In the Water is an absolutely brilliant crime thriller set in the UK.

The novel is narrated in first person by Erin, a documentary film maker. The first chapter is a shocking scene of Erin burying someone in the woods, and then the narrative goes back three months to Mark and Erin’s anniversary and moves forward gradually to the present time.

The first part of the novel is a slow burn, as we find out how the couple met, over five years earlier, and what their first years together were like as a happy young, professional couple working hard, making money and enjoying life.

The novel picks up a faster pace when they decide to get married, shortly after Mark, who works in banking, loses his job, and they go on honeymoon to Bora Bora, where they accidentally become involved in international crime.

The rest of the novel rushes full speed ahead as Erin tells us how their lives are turned upside down and their relationship deteriorates as a result.

The ending, where matters escalate, is unexpected and disastrous. I felt as devastated as Erin by the outcome of their dilemma, and yet she was lucky enough to have friends in the right places, so the disaster was not as bad as it could have been, for her.

There is a hopeful, but open ending, which was a great way to round off the novel. I’m even tempted to imagine there may be a sequel…

I listened to the audio book, and the fact that the author, Catherine Steadman, who is also a fabulous actress, is the narrator was an added bonus.

Something in the Water is an enthralling read, at the beach, at the pool, at home, on the train, or wherever you  happen to be this summer.

Lovers of suspenseful crime thrillers will not be disappointed.

I’m impatiently looking forward to Catherine Steadman’s next novel.

****

Something in the Water was published by Ballantine Books in June 2018, and it’s already on the bestseller lists.
Find out more and check out other reviews on Amazon UK and Amazon US.

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About Catherine Steadman

Catherine Steadman is an actress and writer based in North London, UK. She is best known for her role as Mabel Lane Fox in Downton Abbey and is currently filming on the new Starz television series ‘The Rook’. She grew up in the New Forest, UK, and lives with a small dog and an average sized man. Something in the Water is her first novel.

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#TuesdayBookBlog ‘Then She Ran’ by Charlie Gallagher #Amreading #Bookreviews #Heist #Thriller

Today I’m reviewing Then She Ran by Charlie Gallagher.

THEN SHE RAN an absolutely gripping crime thriller with a massive twist by [GALLAGHER, CHARLIE]

Blurb

On a lazy Sunday morning, Jenny Harris is shaken awake by her panic-stricken boyfriend, Joseph. Their baby daughter lies asleep on her chest. ‘We’ve got to go!’ Joseph screams.

In their hotel room, Jenny hurriedly wraps her tiny baby up. All their belongings are left behind. There’s no time. Joseph’s panic is contagious.

Jenny sprints with her family from the hotel. And it’s clear that they are being chased. Their pursuers are indiscriminate and they are deadly.

Her boyfriend falls, caught up in the carnage, but he manages to give her one last message: ‘RUN!’

****

My Review

I came across this novel by chance on Amazon. I looked inside because of the blurb and downloaded it after the first paragraph. In fact, it gripped me from the very first line: ‘Jenny, honey, we’ve got to go now!’

From then on Jenny, Joseph and their baby are on the run first from ruthless killers and then from the police. They are forced to split up and there follow four acion-packed days on the run for Jenny, Joseph and their four-month old baby.

Jenny has no idea who wants to kill her or why. Her several escapes and near death experiences are realistic and thrilling.

On the other hand we will be following the police investigation, which in spite of some important blunders, is meticulously and realistically carried out.

I enjoyed the insight to police procedure and to the points where it crossed personal boundaries, and the people involved in the crimes became of real personal interest to the investigators, especially PI George Elms, a complex, clever man, who makes up for his errors (he’s only human) with dedication and resourcefulness.

The characters were fully fleshed to the point that I could see them, understand how they felt and sympathise with their actions.

The plot was perfect. Two separate crimes, both seemingly unrelated and inexplicable, gradually merge and everything starts making sense.

I enjoy reading realistic, cleverly plotted crime stories, like Then She Ran, where all the threads are plausibly and cleverly tied up at the end.

It’s a bit like a happy ever after romance, although there is no romance in this novel, and yet there is a great deal of love, real, unrequited, misdirected and tragic.

I would definitely recommend Charlie Gallagher’s books to lovers of thrilling, procedural, crime fiction.

He knows what he’s writing about, because he’s been working with UK police force, and his first hand knowledge and understanding of police procedure and human nature come across in this novel.

Especially for readers who love well-plotted and exciting and realistic police procedural fiction.

 I will definitely be reading more novels by this author.

THE LANGTHORNE SERIES box set of three gripping crime thrillers by [GALLAGHER, CHARLIE]

More books in the series I look forward to reading.

****

Then She Ran was published in April 2018 and it already has almost 100 reviews 4.3 average on Amazon UK and it’s currently Number 1 Bestseller on Amazon.com for Heist Thrillers. Great detective fiction. Hours of excitement and entertainment guaranteed, and you can buy it for well under the price of a coffee!

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#SilentSunday The Shard Again #Haiku

Glass temple spears sky
Sunbeams bounce on crystal walls
Necks crane up in awe

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Haiku published yesterday on my AtoZChallenge. 

The Shard is one of my favourite buildings. I watched it grow on my yearly trips to London and it never ceases to amaze me.

I love the view next to Southwark Cathedral; past and present side by side.