Archive for the ‘Book’ Category

A Following Wind

Front book cover for A Following WInd

A following Wind front cover

Our U3A Creative Writing Group, Whittlesey Wordsmiths, is working on a new book, a follow up to Where the Wild Winds Blow, our first very successful attempt at writing and publishing. This new volume has the title: A Following Wind.

I am working on a new front cover for the book, something that conveys both a movement by wind and our Fenland landscape. Over the years I have managed to take photographs of what is for many people the defining feature of our landscape, the skies. Often at their most breathtakingly beautiful during sunrise and sunset.

The cover may be slightly different depending on the template restrictions but please take a look at it and let me have your feedback.

The Calling by Alison Bruce a review.

Front cover of the book The Calling

The Calling by Alison Bruce

Having read the first two books in the DC Gary Goodhew series (Cambridge Blue and The Siren) I was keen to try The Calling; the third or more accurately the first.

Alison had written The Calling before any of the others but decided that it was better placed as the third novel in the series.

There is always the problem of a Cambridge based detective being compared to that of Oxford’s Inspector Morse, Edinburgh’s Inspector Rebus or Bath’s Superintendent Diamond. DC Gary Goodhew is further down the ranks, a mere Detective Constable but none the less just as talented.

Goodhew struggles without any advantage of rank to find his way through a maze of clues, using unorthodox methods and skating round procedural niceties to find the answer to a troubling series of cruel murders. The ending is edgy and tense with the outcome by no means a foregone conclusion.

I enjoyed the book, like a great many of Alison’s fans, Cambridge is local and familiar to me, we have ownership of the settings.

This is, as are Alison’s other books well written, detailed and literate but above all else a damn good entertaining read.

England’s Lost Lake a Review

 

 

Englands Lost Lake

England’s Lost Lake, The story of Whittlesea Mere.

 

 

The fen country was for centuries, millennia even, a vast expanse of open water fen and bog that stretched from the Wash inland to the higher ground to the North and West. It has been described as a vast sump soaking up and holding the water flows from those surrounding counties on higher ground. A map of Huntingdonshire dated 1645 shows towns and villages as islands amongst the bogs fens and open water. Although drainage had been started in Roman times it was not until the seventeenth century that the serious work began with Van Vermuyden as the chief engineer. Eventually the last mere left undrained was Whittlesea Mere; Paul Middleton’s  England’s Lost Lake tells the story of that nineteenth-century project updating an earlier work produced by the WEA in 1986.

It is an interesting read, detailing not only the draining of the Mere itself and the methodology but also describing some of the players involved. The way of life of those that had earned a living from the mere is explored too. We learn of the Reed Cutters, Wild Fowlers and those that fished the Mere. We are informed of how the different seasons provided other means of earning a living for those whose livelihood depended on this vast lake. Details are given of the wildlife, insects, flora and fauna that occupied the area. The species that have survived and those that were lost, some completely unique to the area.

One is left with the feeling that the project was not the overwhelming success envisaged and returning a good proportion of the fen to its past state was partly an act of expediency. This though is purely my own personal view. Whatever the reasons the Great Fen Project is something that those of us that love this landscape, welcome, a view I share with the author.

If you have an interest in the Fens and its history this is a book you should own.

One last point Paul if you are reading this can you tell me about the Shelerode?

This book was sponsored by the Fenland Trust.

 

 

All the Colours in Between

all the colours in between

Book cover of All the Colours in Between

All the Colours in Between 

Written by Eva Jordan

Lizzie Lemalf is an author, a mum, a step mum and daughter of ageing parents.

Her parents, children, husband, ex-husband and those she cares for jostle for her time as she pursues her writing career. A career embarked on later in life. Her success and growing recognition as an author are balanced by the trials, pressures and joys of family life.

The reader becomes immersed in lives of the finely drawn characters inhabiting this novel’s pages. All the Colours In Between gives us the opportunity to share the pleasures, triumphs and emotions of Lizzie and her family; making their way not only in the world but through life.

The story deals with the contemporary difficult issues that affect many of us, our families, friends and those we care for. Eva’s observations are keen, incisive and informative.

It is a long time, a very long time indeed that I have experienced the empathy or shared the feelings  I felt for Lizzie and her family. Eva has highlighted the permanent nature of parenthood. She explores the complex emotional nature of relationships, doing so with great insight, skill and eloquence.

All the Colours in Between is an exceptionally well-written book. I could pile superlative, after superlative on top of that sentence but those few words sum it up: It is for me at least, truly exceptional.

This is one of the very best books I have read.

A few thoughts on retirement

Grandad with the garden cup

My granddad with his prize-winning garden around about the time I was born

When I was younger I never thought that retirement could be a full time job, I should have done, my Granddad had warned me.

Most Sundays when I was a young lad I would call round to see Granddad and my Grandmother. One Sunday, Granddad was in the lean-to green house on the back of his large shed. His shed had been his workshop before he retired. As he stooped down to pick up a watering can I asked him,

“What’s  it like being retired Granddad?”

He turned to me and said,

“Son, I don’t know how I used to find the time to go to work.”

The last few months have been pretty much full with publishing our writing group’s  first book, an interesting experience. Amongst all that I had a trip to the Royal Institution in London and a train ride pulled by the Flying Scotsman, a brilliant birthday present from my wife.

Walking my son and girlfriend’s dog twice a day occupies a good chunk of time, cycling once or twice a week makes a big inroad too.

I am trying to unblock my writers block that has lodged itself in my novel. I need a clear mind and fresh thinking, possibly, a cycle ride on my own will work its magic.

A point of view

Reflections

Reflections at the end of the day

Book Reviews.

Probably the biggest disappointment regarding a book review I had was reading a particular Booker Prize winning novel,. It was an acclaimed comedy, the trade reviews were ecstatic. I wasn’t able to buy it when first published so was over the moon after finding a copy in a charity shop a year or two back.

I should have been warned, just short of halfway into the book was a train ticket, used as a bookmark it seemed. The train travelling reader had apparently not finished the book, not even it seemed reached the halfway stage. Undeterred  I started on this worthy tome; my word was it hard work. They say that some comedy is elusive, after reading the whole book, I can honestly say that I have never encountered such elusive comedy. Wherever it is lurking it certainly isn’t within the pages of that book. I freely admit that some of the prose was good, excellent in places, though never outstanding. There are probably more copies of this book in charity shops with train tickets lodged within the pages than laughs that have been extracted from them.

I am someone who writes but not yet an author.

I take heart from the fact that I can write better comedy than a Booker Prize winning author, not only do I find my own stuff funny, other people do to.

The best comment I had was from a lady who said, “I nearly wet myself laughing when I read your story”.

Was it a case of the Emperor’s New Clothes with the Booker judging panel ? Because someone said it was funny, did they feel it was their own inadequacy that stopped them seeing the jokes and felt they had to pretend it was funny even vote for it?

Many other readers of the same book share my opinion, judging by their comments, “it isn’t funny.”

All judgement is subjective, reviews are only the opinion of the person writing it and are only that, an opinion.

On the plus side my copy only cost me 50p.

The launch of Whittlesey Wordsmiths first collection

Book front cover

Where the Wild Winds Blow

I have been a member of the Whittlesey U3A Creative Writing Group since just after its launch. It has now grown to eleven members and become Whittlesey Wordsmiths. Each month members write a piece mostly a set challenge, each member has a different take on the topic and the result is a diverse mix every time.

We have collected together our efforts and published them as a paperback book and also as an e book with Kindle.

If you fancy a look and maybe place an order here is the link to Whittlesy Wordsmiths site.

https://whittleseywordsmiths.com/

 

 

 

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