Review of The Longest Farewell – James, Dementia and Me by Nula Suchet @nulasuchet @johnsuchet1 @SerenBooks @David_Suchet @Vicky_McClure @The_WriteReads #dementia #nonfiction #review #newbook

The Longest Farewell – James, Dementia and Me
By Nula Suchet
Rated: 5 stars *****

About the Author

Nula Suchet was born and raised in Ireland, part of a large family. She studied Art and Design at Chelsea College of Art and became an interior designer, working internationally in the UK, Europe and the US. Now retired, she lives in London, with her husband, the broadcaster John Suchet.

About the Book

Dementia crept early into the life of James Black, insidious and unannounced. The result was a long farewell to him as he changed from a happy, successful film maker into a completely dependent care home resident, and a stranger to his wife, Nula.

Yet after seven stressful years, Nula’s life unexpectedly changed when she met a man whose wife was also a dementia patient in the home. Her friendship with John Suchet became a relationship, but theirs is a difficult road. There is joy, but also despair and guilt. Is even a moment of happiness allowed when their loved ones are in slow decline towards death? Theirs is a story that plumbs the depths but also reaches a happiness that they thought they would never experience.

The Longest Farewell book pic

Review

Brave, devastatingly emotional, moving, heartbreaking, thought-provoking and yet there’s so much love in the Longest Farewell and ultimately, such a special kind of happiness.

I am pleased and privileged to review The Longest Farewell by Nula Suchet. It is with great thanks to her for agreeing to allow me to review her book. I also thank her for arranging with her publisher to send me a hardback copy.

Nula Suchet chronicled her life in the hope that anyone whose life is blighted with dementia can know that the tunnel they feel enclosed by need never be totally closed. The book is 182 pages and every word is evidently written from the heart. There is so much in this book to capture, so please bear with me.

At only fifty-seven years old, Nula’s husband was diagnosed with Picks disease – a rare form of dementia. This is an important book. It really shows that dementia really does not choose age or class or creed. It is a cruel disease at any age, but particularly to someone who was in his prime to then suddenly not be. There’s so much heartbreak when reading this book. Any reader, I am sure would feel it. This book is brave and must have taken a lot of courage to write as memories of a life since past, come to the fore once more in such a way, in order to write this brilliant book. The book begins with there just not being something quite right about James. The worry is there in the writing as is the fact that it perhaps makes more sense to put the new behaviours James is expressing, down to stress.

There is a strong glimpse into what life for James used to be like pre-dementia. I like that we are treated to the type of man he was and what he did. He had a strong place in the world, he created scripts for documentaries and wrote screenplays and worked very hard and over many hours. There seems to be a real sense of vibrancy and intelligence about James, even when there’s a bit about him meeting with a producer and normally he talks a lot about various ideas, when instead, there is a silence, that would by now, seem, to any reader as being unusual for James. There was an energy and enthusiasm in his work that was all of a sudden whisked away, leaving the love of his life wondering what to do. Nula writes unambiguously, throughout, including the emotions, the striking behaviours in James and Nula’s understandable initial denial that it could be anything other than stress or lots of time writing alone. There is a deep sense that every single sentence written is incredibly heart-felt and I believe other readers will feel this in their hearts too as I do in mine. There’s the feeling of anger too about what the Picks disease is doing to James. Everyone reacts differently and until dementia happens, you cannot fully really know how you will react, let’s just say, it is a familiar reaction. In amongst all of the different emotions and the having to deal with it, I like that Nula Suchet shows an air of determination to still to try to live life to the fullest with James, doing the things they used to enjoy together. There is however, such a bitter-sweetness. Nula Suchet writes about some wonderful memories, that seem so happy and full of love. There is such a determination to care for James. How hard this is isn’t sugar-coated as bit by bit it is there for all readers to see, but ultimately dementia is sadly taking over and behaviours, caused by Picks. Even before the chapter called Isolation, there’s a sense of it creeping stealthily and unwelcomingly in and life as they once knew it coming to a halt. Nula also has to give up working on her interior design business too. The writing is so amazingly strong, every aspect of the book is absorbing and all consuming in a good way because every emotion can practically be felt and empathised and sympathised with. I know this is a book that I will read more than once. I realised that before I even reached the end.

When Nula Suchet says about their being a comfort that she finally found a “good home” that did activities with their residents, even I feel gladness of that, because very unfortunately that isn’t always the case, as is pointed out in the book. Not that this makes anything any easier, not really, as travelling to the care home also is another emotional challenge of sadness as that feeling of guilt takes hold and lingers. The phrases used could not be put any better to describe that situation of struggle, anguish and the sheer depths of despair she goes to. Not one bit of it could be easy to have re-lived at all.

It is so interesting and thoughtful that other residents are remembered from Nula’s visits to see James and what I think readers, who perhaps don’t need to make visits to a care home will find is how different the residents all behave that she describes, as well as the feelings and vocal demands of James too.

The book then naturally merges into John Suchet’s life too as he and Nula meet and it is touching as she also gets to know Bonnie in the care home.
John Suchet is a broadcaster, currently on  the radio channel Classic FM.
It reads a little bit differently from what went prior. There are correspondences between Nula and John, which contain warmth, care and attention.

There are similarities in emotions felt and the emotionally charged writing, for he too is losing Bonnie – the love of his life all too early with the cruelty of dementia.  There are some parallels between their lives as a strong connection starts to build between them, such as John and Bonnie also travelled together whilst he worked – researching for his books. The connection builds into friendship and more and this is beautiful to read about as there is a clear hope and glimmer of happiness and being able to re-discover all the things they both enjoy and together. There are however a few times of understandable tentativeness at first and a challenging holiday in Greece together, which is written so well and with also recalling her own upbringing, which was so different from John’s. Hers, one of more turmoil and heartbreak, compared to John’s seemingly more perfect life. There is some comfort to be found in her insecurities as she asks calls “girly questions” due to insecurities. It is something many females will relate to, I am sure, but also the self-protection both males and females I am sure will relate to some degree. There are other trips where there are memories of James and the sadness that comes with it. There’s also more feelings of guilt and the pain of not being able to have a  coherent discussion with James about what she had been doing.

The further deterioration in both Bonnie and James and the medical issues and palliative care is not shied away from. It is told how it was for them. Poignantly there is a shared “list of nevers”, which is things they will never be able to do again.  It is by this time at its starkest yet as is the fact that dementia never leaves those who actually have it, but also others, like John and Nula, no matter what else is done in life.

Nula goes into some detail about the further deterioration of James and how it affects her relationship with John, who is also seeing this in Bonnie and is trying to cope with his own emotions, has to be given credit for being so incredibly patient and for showing such care and realising they need each other, even when emotion is trying to get the better of Nula and is trying to pull the relationship apart and almost forever, even after the funerals of James and Bonnie, which is chronicled with such respect. I found myself thinking thank goodness that Nula’s computer needed fixed and they were going to an expert together and she still agreed. Through all the devastation Nula and John lived through together, there is so much love and the ending is one that nearly was not, but my goodness I am glad it is just the best ending or perhaps best ever continuation of their lives may be more appropriate, for two people who have lived through so much and now bravely shared so much to the world.

There’s so much pain and guilt that is so understandable and deserves compassion. What is perhaps not actually said, is still there in-between the lines because this is actually an incredibly well-written book and written from the heart.

There are two sections of wonderful, meaningful photos that are excellently placed within the book. The first section, depicting happier times of James and Nula and they are so full of joy and life and yet there is a sadness because these are memories now of his work and of other life’s adventures they did together.  There’s also some other family photos too that are interesting to see. The second set shows James and Bonnie years into dementia and what it was doing to them, and yet they are so poignantly remembered through these photos. They are so tastefully done and with sensitivity. There are also photos of happier times again of Nula and John together, which are so heartwarming and they really do look so happy together. Each photo has its place. They seem so carefully chosen and go with the text before and after them. Every single expression looks so genuine.

I do also recommend reading the very important postscript. It highlights further the need for greater awareness and compassion for those with dementia. It isn’t just those who actually have this devastating disease that has still no cure to, it is everyone around that person. It highlights that care needs to be better and more research and more expertise needs to be put into it and that care, although can be good in some places of the UK, it isn’t always good around the UK. There’s acknowledgement of the greatest campaign’s so far, such as Line of Duty actress Vicky McClure’s Dementia Choir, hosted in Nottingham and Formula One champion Jackie Stewart launching a fund for research.

I have never read a book quite like The Longest Farewell before. The Longest Farewell is an important and timeless book in raising awareness of what Dementia can do and how it affects everyone’s lives and not just the person who is suffering from it. It also raises awareness of the inequalities in the care for dementia patients. There also is a need for more compassion towards people with dementia and their affected families around them.
For some, perhaps the book may also provide comfort and hope for those who are carers or are visiting their loved ones in a care-home that they aren’t alone.

It is also kind that Nula mentions that John also has a book called My Bonnie, documenting his dispair and loneliness about losing Bonnie to dementia. He also writes books about different classical composers in his fascinating Man Revealed series.

James Longest Farewell

______________________________________________
Title: The Longest Farewell – James, Dementia and Me
Author: Nula Suchet
Publisher: Seren
ISBN: 9781781725184

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The Book of Forgotten Authors by Christopher Fowler – A Fascinating Insight into What Happened to 99 Authors @Peculiar @riverrunbooks @QuercusBooks #nonfiction #facts #authors #newbook #review

The Book of Forgotten Authors
By Christopher Fowler
Rating: *****


About the Author

Christopher Fowler was born in a less attractive part of Greenwich, London in 1953, the son of a scientist and legal secretary. He went to a London Guild school, Colfe’s, where, avoiding rugby by hiding in the school library, he was able to begin plagiarising in earnest.

He published his first novel Roofworld, described as “unclassifiable”, while working as an advertising copywriter. He left to form The Creative Partnership, a company that changed the face of film marketing, and spent many years working in film, creating movie posters, tag lines, trailers and documentaries, using his friendship with Jude Law to get into nightclubs.

He achieved many schoolboy fantasies including releasing a Christmas pop single, becoming a male model, posing as a villan in a Batman comic, writing in Hollywood, creating a stage show, running a nightclub, appearing in the Pan Books of Horror and standing in for James Bond.

Now the author of over forty novels and short story collections, including his award -winning memoir Paperboy and its sequel Film Freak, he writes the Bryant and May mystery novels, recording the adventures of two Golden Age detectives in modern-day London.

In 2015 he won the CWA Dagger in the Library award for his detective series, once described by his former publisher as ‘unsaleable’.

Fowler is still alive and one day plans to realise his ambition to become a Forgotten Author himself.

 

Blurb

Forgotten Authors closed99 forgotten authors, their forgotten books, and their unforgettable stories.

“Absence doesn’t make the heart grow fonder. It makes people think you’re dead.

So begins Christopher Fowler’s foray into the back catalogues and back stories of 99 authors, who once hugely popular, have all but disappeared from our shelves.

Whether male or female, domestic or international, flash-in-the-pan or prolific, mega seller or prize-winner – no author it seems, can ever be fully immune from the fate of being forgotten. And Fowler, as well as remembering their careers, lifts the lid on their lives, and why they often stopped writing or disappeared from the public eye: stories often stranger than fiction many of them wrote.

These 99 journeys are punctuated by 12 short essays about faded once-favourites: including the now vanished novels Walt Disney brought to the screen, the contemporary rivals of Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie who did not stand the test of time, the women who introduced us to psychological suspense many decades before it conquered the world.

Forgotten Authors open

Review

I was given this book as a “Secret Santa” present, so quite some time ago now and I am so pleased that I have finally found some time to be reading it. I announced some time ago that I was going to include a book by Christopher Fowler in my blog. Ok, it took me longer than I had anticipated because other life events that were unexpected happened. I do however always remember and do what I say I will do, even if it takes a bit of time to get round to what is also such a pleasurable book to read. It was worth the wait for me.

The book begins by posing the most interesting question: “Why are good authors forgotten? ” The question is answered in a considered manner, as well as explaining the process a bit of how the authors you will find within the rest of the pages came to be included.

As I glance down the content pages, I can already see that this book is going to be an education of interest and wonderment. There are certainly plenty of names I have never heard of before, but now feel I ought to know and delve deeper into the book to find out more. There are also however names that interest me in the very fact that they are becoming forgotten by so many people and yet I remember them, such as Virgina Andrews,  Forgotten nonsense writers such as Edward Lear and Lewis Caroll, Keith Waterhouse, but I know full-well that they are becoming forgotten by different generations, even my own, relatively young generation didn’t all know who they were.

There are also fascinating sections such as: Forgotten rivals of Holmes, Bond and Miss Marple, The Forgotten Disney Connection. Who would have ever thought there were forgotten books by Charles Dickens?  Well there are. Some authors are not remembered, but their work has been adapted into a film, so that is what people remember, but not who created the original work in the first place. So, it’s interesting nuggets like that, which are highlighted or well-known authors who have created a larger body of work that what is actually remembered because the focus may be on their most well-known. Take Charles Dickens for example, the only other person I know to have talked (or rather acted) Doctor Marigold and some other relatively unknown stories in an amazing 1 man play was Simon Callow at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival many years ago. If it weren’t for that, then I would never have heard of this story.

There are, as I mentioned before, many authors who I had not heard of, perhaps some readers of my blog may have done such as Charlotte Armstrong, Kyril Bonfiglioli, Barbara Comyns Carr, Charles Hamilton to name but a few. These completely unknown authors to me also have their own interesting stories and it is fascinating how some authors have connections in some way or another to some authors, some generations do have memories of or are still on some library bookshelves.

These discoveries caused much intrigue within itself, so I had to find out more. I won’t of course spoil it for readers of my blog by writing what I discovered. Let’s just say it is very fascinating indeed.

With just 2-3 pages devoted to each author, it is tightly written and an excellent read. It’s such an interesting read. It’s non-fiction and yet the way the facts are presented, there’s still some twists and turns within them as there are new discoveries to be made and each has a great narrative. We get to know a little about the authors themselves and the books they wrote as well as what happened and how they became so forgotten about in the midst of time. It got me thinking about whether they were deserving to be so forgotten about. I would say, not necessarily so from reading this book that also gives a glimpse into what the authors wrote, the impact they made at the time and how perhaps some people may like to read some of the books today, but perhaps may never get the chance to.

The book flows so easily as it glides from one author to another. This is far from reading a text-book or anything of that ilk. This book is written in a way that would interest many people and is very accessible to all through its lightness and fast pace.

By the end of the book, I found that I learnt a lot in a relaxed, casual manner through new discoveries and reading about old favourites.

If you have ever wondered why authors can be forgotten or certain genres that they have written are less well-known to perhaps what they wrote most of, or what happened to certain authors and why they stopped writing, then this is one of the most enlightening, most interesting books for you. It is very much worth investing the time to read this unique book, which seems to be well-considered, excellently paced and well-researched. The enthusiasm of the author – Christopher Fowler to be dedicated to write such a book really shows through all he has written as he takes readers on his exploration to uncover what may have been hidden secrets of the forgotten authors if it weren’t for such dedication to discover the lost treasures in the writing world.

So I whole-heartedly recommend this book, even if non-fiction is not your usual book. The book is unique and I reckon will add insight to any reader’s knowledge about some fictional writers, well, 99 of them. It is an excellent book to either read all in one go or dip in and out of as you please.

Christopher Fowler will be appearing at the Aye Write Festival 2019 in Glasgow, Scotland where he will be talking about The Book of Forgotten Authors.

 

__________________________________

Title: The Book of Forgotten Authors

Author: Christopher Fowler

Publisher: Riverrun an imprint of Quercus Editions Ltd – A Hatchette UK Company

ISBN: 978-1-78648-489-5
Ebook ISBN:
978-1-78648-491-8

Main Purchase Points: Waterstones, WH Smith, Amazon

Blog Tour Review For Start – A Seeringly Honest Account About Life With A Mental Health #Review #GrahamMorgan @FledglingPress #LoveBooksGroupTours

Review of Start
Graham Morgan MBE
Rated 4 Stars ****

About the Author

Graham was born in 1963 in York. He went to university as an angst-ridden student and was quickly admitted to one of the old mental asylums, prompting the work he has done for most of his life: helping people with mental illness speak up about their lives and their rights. He has mainly worked in Scotland, where he has lived for the last thirty years, twenty of them in the Highlands. In the course of this work he has been awarded an MBE, made Joint Service User Contributor of the Year by the Royal College of Psychiatrists and, lately, has spoken at the UN abouthis and other peoples’ experiences of detention. He has a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia and has been compulsorily treated under a CTO for the last ten years. He currently lives in Argyll with his partner and her young twins. Start is his first book.

Blurb

StartGraham Morgan has an MBE for services to mental health, and helped to write the Scottish Mental Health (2003) Care and Treatment Act. This is the Act under which he is now detained.
Graham’s story addresses key issues around mental illness, a topic which is very much in the public sphere at the moment. However, it addresses mental illness from a perspective that is not heard frequently: that of those whose illness is so severe that they are subject to the Mental Health Act.
Graham’s is a positive story rooted in the natural world that Graham values greatly, which shows that, even with considerable barriers, people can work and lead responsible and independent lives; albeit with support from friends and mental health professionals. Graham does not gloss over or glamorise mental illness, instead he tries to show, despite the devastating impact mental illness can have both on those with the illness and those that are close to them, that people can live full and positive lives. A final chapter, bringing the reader up to date some years after Graham has been detained again, shows him living a fulfilling and productive life with his new family, coping with the symptoms that he still struggles to accept are an illness, and preparing to address the United Nations later in the year in his new role working with the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland.  

Review

At a time when Mental Wellbeing is increasingly on everyone’s radar, the book ‘Start’ by Graham Morgan (MBE) has an important place, more than ever before. Graham Morgan (MBE) has experience and helped to write the Scottish Mental Health (2003) Care and Treatment Act. This is literally a book that can be read by any adult. It is highly accessible. You don’t even have have a mental health condition or be in the professional field to be able to read it, understand it and find relatable nuggets that will fill you with empathy and give a deeper undestanding. Don’t be mistaken, this is no sob story, nor is it attention seeking. It’s deeper and more meaningful than that and it gives the impression that it couldn’t have been easy to write, but all the same, that Graham Morgan (MBE) is sharing his life with readers to deepen their understanding and increase their knowledge on his condition as presents is a full account of what it is like to live with mental illness. It is his own life experiences.

Graham Morgan comes across very quickly as a grounded guy when it comes to his MBE. This book is not a text book, so isn’t too full of jargon. Where that cannot be helped, there is a well-presented glossary at the back of the book.

The book begins with thoughts other people have had about the book. They are worth reading. They add interest. Start, begins properly with Life at the Links Cafe. This is different from so many books about Mental Health. It’s not a How to Book.
Right from the outset there is an air of positivity about it, almost a lightness, that I must admit was unexpected, but I like that attitude within it. It shows that life is not all anguish and woe, even when living with mental illness. Okay, it’s not all wit, but life isn’t, as I am sure readers the world over already know.

Throughout the book, the reader is given a real and genuine candid glimpse of what it is like to be walking in his shoes. It’s got so much life about it. He puts across his condition very well. It’s so easy to read and feel genuine empathy. There’s a seering truth that runs deeply through the pages as we see Graham picking up the pieces. The book goes between the light and the deepest depths of darkness throughout as he talks of some of the good things about life, but also about being sectioned under the very mental health act he helped to write.

It’s thought-provoking as we see the contraditions of thought processes that run through his life on a regular basis. It is raw with stark emotional threads. Graham Morgan does not shy away from anything about his mental illness. This also includes hospitalisations, support workers, psychiatric professionals, medication too. It also includes a bit of an insight in how he is treated because he has a mental illness.

I love the style of writing. Graham has adopted the more personal approach of  speaking directly to his reader. This matters to him and he wants the reader to know that, and through the book, wants that dialogue.

We see insights to the relationship with his wife and how he might be with someone again.

We see how he has had suicidal tendencies through self-harm methods.

This book is ever so moving. This is a book which has hope contained within it that there is still, even through all the mental illness that Graham Morgan lives in, that there is hope in the future and there is life that he is living.

 The book goes through the consecutive months of the year with their own appropriately named “chapters”.

It is worth reading. It is Graham Morgan (MBE) life story and it is an important one. One perhaps many people do not know with so much honesty and openness. It leaves its mark. It left me feeling enlightened, interested and perhaps a bit more understanding. We are all human-beings with so many complexities within our make-up and life is not all black and white. It’s not all going to be sad or hard like it’s not all going to be completely happy and joyous every moment of everyday of it. This book shows all of that and more through first hand experience, which makes it such an important read, even if it is not your usual genre or topic.

Start Blog Tour Poster

With thanks to Love Book Groups Tours for inviting me to review this book for a Book Blog Tour and for supplying the E-Book. Please note readers, you can buy this book in both physical and E-book forms.

__________________________________________________________________

Title: Start
Author: Graham Morgan, MBE
Publisher: Fledgling Press
Print ISBN 9781912280070
eBook ISBN 9781912280087
Main Purchase Points: WH Smith, Amazon, Foyles Bookstore

 

My Christmas Go To Books – A small collection that will inspire you to get into the mood for Christmas.

Quick Reviews of:
A Christmas Carol 

Charles Dickens and the Great Theatre of the World
An Almost Perfect Christmas
Fill My Stocking

Xmas Reads

There are always Christmas books around, old and new. New ones can be fun and exciting to see what is inside their warm or jazzy covers. Older ones can be comforting and have that lovely well-read feel.

I have what I will call my “Go to Books for Christmas”. I know some of them better than others, due to age, but nevertheless, they are well-read. One in fact, I only received last year and it was a delight and one I just know I shall be returning to slip in-between the pages again this year.
Today on the blog, I present you quick reviews of 4 excellent books for Christmas.

A Christmas Carol
by Charles Dickens
Rating 5 stars *****

 

Christmas Carol

It’s a well-known film, remade many times with many different actors in many different styles straight versions, a musical version and even a version with muppets. Some tv versions and films that are very modernised with really just the themes being left in. There’s much to choose from, but how many of you have actually read the book, I wonder? Now, it’s not actually anywhere near as thick as the book I have shown here. That book is actually 4 books in one. At only between 50 and a little over 100 (depending on the size of the pages of the copy of your book, it is a fairly quick read, but it will set you up nicely for Christmas. There’s the comfort within it that the story is well-known and yet it is one of those stories that can be read over again. After all Christmas only comes once a year. It is also very interesting to see what they miss out and what they include in the various films.
A man who lives by his name of Ebenezer Scrooge, ghosts that come to visit him in the night to try to change him and an epic ending. What’s not to like? So, if you’ve never given this a try, then it is worth every minute of time on it.

I will add here that you can buy the book The Christmas Carol on its own. For those of you who are interested. The particular book in the picture happens to contain: Oliver Twist, A Christmas Carol, A Tale of Two Cities, Hard Times. All, also worth reading.

 

Charles Dickens and the Great Theatre of the World
by Simon Callow
Rating 4 Stars ****

 

Charles Dickens


It is highly interesting and entertaining read of who is possibly the first ‘celebrity author’, who is/was Charles Dickens. The book takes readers on a fascinating, immersive journey from his early years to being not only the author he became, but also his obsession with the stage and having that need to connect with his audience. Simon Callow has brought a great and unique insight into Charles Dickens and the era of the world he once inhabited. Like his performances, the book oozes charisma and a passion for the subject. You will discover so much more about Dickens. The style of writing immerses you easily into Charles Dickens’ world as it is written in almost story narrative form. Even if you’re not so into Non-fiction books, I would still recommend you give this a go.

This was also actually a one-man play. Yes, one-man with Simon Callow, playing several parts of the works of Charles Dickens. You do not have to have seen this play to read the book by the way. It’s a book that has a great narrative about who Charles Dickens was and his work. Now you might be thinking it’s a bit high-brow, especially at Christmas. It’s not at all. It’s not fact after fact or a long list of things. It’s written in a more thoughtful manner than that with enough lightness to see any reader through until Christmas and beyond. In a way, it is almost like you were watching the play, but not in play format. All in non-fiction, book format. It’s easy-going and an incredibly interesting book, which is very well-written. Simon Callow (this is when I often get who? And a sort of blank look. For those who cannot picture him, I will bet most, if not all of you have seen the film Four Wedding’s and a Funeral. He plays the Scotsman in the film. The one who dies. Sorry if that’s now a spoiler!).
I will also add that I highly recommend Simon Callow’s one-man plays. He does them at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and in London and possibly other places too. Each time they are something different. He knows his subjects and he plays everyone in such a way that audiences are in awe of.

This isn’t the only book written by Simon Callow, there are several others, including one about Wagner, which was published just last year.

 

An Almost Perfect Christmas
by Nina Stibbe
Rating 5 Stars *****

An Almost Perfect Christmas

Nina Stibbe has written a few books now, but is quite possibly best known for writing Love, Nina, which was also televised as a BBC drama.
This is an entertaining book, for which I am sure there are many readers out there who can relate to. It’s about having to face Christmas, or rather her mother having to. It takes readers on an entertaining journey through from the turkey to shopping to decorating to a present for the teacher to the Christmas pudding and much more. It’s about drying out the turkey, which has been left out to defrost in the downstairs toilet for 48 hours. Put it this way, as it says on the blurb, it soon becomes clear that her mother is no foodie. Gifting and re-gifting, the insane rush to get ready for what is the most wonderful time of the year.
I received this book from a good friend of mine one Christmas and it makes for a great read near Christmas Day. It is packed full of humour, joy and a bit of poignancy. If you read this, you absolutely have to read the glossary at the back too. It’s not as it first appears to be. It too is just so joyously fun!

I also recommend reading Love,Nina and Man at the Helm by Nina Stibbe. They are a delight to read.

 

Fill My Stocking
by Alan Titchmarsh
Rating 4 stars ****

Fill my Stocking

One year I found this book in my Christmas parcel pile and it’s brilliant! It is packed full of wit and sheer Christmassy joy on every page. It is an anthology really of well-known short plays (sometimes with a twist), poems and excerpts of books all on the theme of Christmas. This has been wonderfully thought out and put together by Alan Titchmarsh. There’s a world to be discovered. There are poems by the likes of John Betjeman, Noel Coward, GK Chesterton to name but a few. There are twists of plays: written for pantomimes (for those who don’t know what a pantomime is. It is a British custom to see a well-known fairytale like Aladdin, Cinderella etc at Christmas time to be acted out, except with a lot of comedy added to them). So, there is Peterpain and Windy, Aladdin and the Wonderful Limp amongst others. There are excerpts from Wind in the Willows, Cider with Rosie, The Nativity, The Pickwick Papers, to name but a few. There is also a play in one-act of Pride and Prejudice.
There are beautiful illustrations throughout the book as well as some written works by Alan Titchmarsh himself.


So why not, this Christmas time, take a look at these book, either yourself or buy them as a festive gift for someone special in your lives. They are found on Amazon and other bookshops will also be able to assist. I hope that you all enjoy this little selection of books.

Xmas Reads

Rebel – A Free Book as part of Book Week Scotland @BookWeekScot @LoveBooksGroup #review #newbook Pick up Rebel at your local library!

Rebel – A Book Week Scotland Book
Review – 4 Stars ****

It’s now half-way through Book Week Scotland. Anyone can be part of it, even if you cannot make it to one of the many events happening around the country. Within libraries, there is a FREE BOOK called Rebel by the Scottish Book Trust and is funded by the National Lottery. It is free and you can keep it. Rebel can be collected at your local library this week.

Bookweek Scotland Book

Blurb and Extra Info From the Book

Everybody rebels. It’s part of what makes us human: to occasionally do the things we know we shouldn’t, say the things we know will provoke a fight against things we believe are unjust. Rebellion incites opposition and change, allows us to find our own individual voices and inspires future generations to challenge convention and expectation.

These true stories give insight to the rebellious side of the people of Scotland and some of its most talented writers.

This book is a present to you from Scotland Book Trust in celebration of Book Week Scotland 19-25 November 2018. This book is unsuitable for those aged 14 and younger due to some of the mature content and strong language used in some of the pieces of

                                                Review


There are enough different ways of writing under this year’s theme Rebel to satisfy most people. The book is split into sub-groups or sections with between 5 and 9 pieces of small works in each. The book itself is 128 pages, so it’s nice and small for any reader over the advised age of 14. It’s a nice enough book that is well put together. There is a mix of fun, poignancy and issues that are all relatable to on some level or another in the writing, that is also interesting. It is good that the few Gaelic pieces have been translated into English too, making them more accessible.

     Split into 6 sections:

  • Yer No Tellin’ Me Whit Tae Dae (You’re not telling me what to do)
  • Solidarity
  • I’ll Show You a Rebel!
  • Patter (Banter)
  • Whit Did You Ca Me (What did you call me)
  • Am I a Rebel

Each section has between 5 and nine pieces of work within it. Each piece is only a page to a few pages long. There are a number of true stories, some pieces make a real statement about what is going on now with the closing of libraries and how they need to be supported. Other pieces are pure fun. There’s a real mix of story and poetry, all which are true all telling what Rebel means to the writers who have contributed to this book.

10 of the best pieces in my opinion, in no particular order, are:

The Cold War by Michelle Frost.

The book actually kicks off with this. It isn’t Cold War as you may initially think. It actually takes place in a classroom. I love the thought, descriptions and analysis given within this, especially of a teacher mentioned within it. You really get a sense of the atmosphere.

Rebel Boots by Amy Moreno.

A poem about her big clunky boots and how to fashion can be rebellious but changes as we age, and yet there’s still a little bit of that rebellious, stubborn side to stay young within all of us

Fairy Cakes by Zoe Sutherland.

A paragraph of relatable fun of making fairy cakes. It’s cute and sweet, just like fairy cakes.

Rebel by Sara Sheriden

It’s about being a reader and a writer and well…. she tells of doing something rather different from using words to make a point. It’s a very well written quick read. It sets the scene well, the imagery well and gets to the point fast. There’s also an interesting sentence that let’s readers get a short glimpse at the type of books she writes and doesn’t write.

Rover by Todd Sharkey

Sometimes stuff happens in life, even if you’re a guy and it is okay to show emotions and it’s okay to be supported is the message that comes across. This is very well-written from the usual male response of being fine to the issue to the willingness to want to support a friend. It’s an important read for any male (and even females). The descriptions of the setting and scenery are vivid and brilliantly well-conceived. There’s a real poignancy about this piece of writing.

Hell Bent by Jayne Baldwin

A quick story about clothing and trying to go out. Read the story to see if Lizzie, who has heard all the disapproving comments before about her attire and find out if she goes out dressed in a particular way or not and if it is really outrageous! It’s written with action from the beginning and runs with it until the end in a way, most will find familiar.

The Revolt of the Socks by Jo Clifford

I love this title. It’s quirky and fun. It has the most fabulous, most important message contained within it and that is: To Be Yourself. This made me smile. (This isn’t in the story, nor the book, but just came to mind. There’s a fabulous, well-known quote I take with me through life by Oscar Wilde that is “Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken”. That’s what popped into my mind as soon as I finished reading this.

The Book by Kathleen MacDonald

It’s a short poem that has as a sense of humour.

The Right to Read by Angie Walker

It reflects on what is going on with library closures. It gets the point about why libraries are so important very well. It’s a quick read that leaps off the page. It is after all something that not just Scotland, but the whole of the UK faces daily and has been for a few years now.

Let’s Build a Morgue by Professor Dame Sue Black

It is about exactly that. This is an interesting piece about a morgue and how the mortuary became fully funded with the assistance of crime writers like Val McDermid. The first Theil cadaveric facility in the UK came into being in Dundee University and has many accolades now attached to it and is used as a training facility for surgeons. It’s a fascinating quick read!

There are of course many more stories and poems within the 128 paged book, all tackling the main theme of Rebel for readers to explore.

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Title: Rebel by various authors
Publisher: Scottish Book Trust
Pages: 128
Purchase Point: Free to pick up at your library and keep.