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What I read in June 2018 (Part 3)


I bought the next two books in this series at the writers’ conference I wrote about earlier. I had met both the authors previously. Joyce Worsfold kept making remarks about her book, including a story about the reaction of a lady, who had read it. I was intrigued and bought the last remaining copy from the sales table.

I really enjoyed A Fistful of Marigolds by Joyce Worsfold. It was not a typical book by a member of the Association of Christian Writers. The opening reminded me of books by Tom Sharpe, although I suspect the author would prefer it to be compared with a fictional version of Gervase Phinn’s books. There were many issues among the schoolchildren in the story, which had many twists and turns and a satisfactory conclusion. (Joyce commented that she wasn’t sure whether the flowers on the cover were marigolds. I wonder whether they are chrysanthemums, similar to the ones I had as my wedding flowers. They could be pot marigolds.)

Clearing the Loft

Clearing the Loft

Clearing the Loft by John Wakeman is a booklet of poems and prose. I really enjoyed it. The author had added notes about each of the poems he included. Reading other people’s collections of poems, however interesting, does not bring my own poetry project much nearer to publication!

 

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What I read in June 2018 (Part 2)

A publisher I follow on Twitter put out an appeal for people to buy books. I had a look through the catalogue and selected two books, which looked interesting. They were novels by women. They were light reading. I found them interesting, but wouldn’t be inclined to read any more by either author. This is a matter of personal taste. There was some very good writing, especially in the first book, A Place to Stop by Susan Wicks. I found the ending unsatisfactory. It was ambiguous (unless I failed to understand it). I like all the ends tied up neatly. (The books arrived with a hand-written note on a postcard, which was a lovely personal touch.)

The second book was He Wants by Alison Moore. The plot here was more structured than the other book. Lady Chatterley’s Lover (which I have not read) was referred to in the book, which includes similar subject matter. There was an episode, in which some people went to a Billy Graham crusade meeting. This seemed to be written from the point of view of an onlooker rather than a person, who was involved and committed. It didn’t appear to make any lasting difference to the characters in the story. This does not reflect the experiences of people I know. A bookshop proprietor I follow on Twitter had recommended the author.

The third book of this group is the only one I would recommend to other people. I found it in the library at Scargill House. I had seen the series recommended by a different publisher I follow on social media. It is a book for girls of secondary school age. Beech Bank Girls: Every girl has a story by Eleanor Watkins uses fiction to highlight many issues, which affect young people in the modern world. This book is well-written in a style accessible to the target readership. I managed to read it from cover to cover in the free time over the weekend. I have already recommended it as ideal for the only girl I know in the age group for which it was written. I reviewed another book by Eleanor Watkins here.

Beech Bank Girls

I can now say that there will be two more posts in this series, making four in total.

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What I read in February 2018

This post is both later and longer than I expected. My expectations for February were that there would just be two books in this post. However my plans to spend time with family and to get out and about were disrupted by a winter bug. Reading was one of the few things I was capable of for a couple of weeks. Fortunately I had a supply of books, which I wanted to read or reread.


The Wild Places  was written before the other books by Robert Macfarlane, which I have read. I began reading it in January. It took me a little while to work out what the map at the beginning was about. At the end I also appreciated the inspiration for the illustrations around the map. The style of writing is superb. Although I have travelled extensively around Great Britain, the only place in the book, which I have travelled across is Rannoch Moor. To me as a passenger in a car this large open space seemed vast, but Robert Macfarlane puts its full extent in context as he describes walking in this wild place.

There was some synchronicity around my reading mainly in connection with The Wild Places. I travelled on a train with the engine John (Longitude) Harrison on the day I read in The Wild Places about his invention. The Highland Clearances were also mentioned and the Irish Potato famine. It is not long since I read a book about the Highland Clearances. It is important that the injustices of local history are not forgotten. The Lake District in 1802 was mentioned in connection with Samuel Coleridge Taylor’s night walks. Dove Cottage tweeted on 6th February 2018 about Dorothy Wordsworth and snow in 1802. (Samuel Coleridge Taylor and the Wordsworths were some of the Lakes poets and I have another related book on my “to read” pile.)

Coleridge was described sitting in Greta Hall in Keswick – a place I visited when it played host to part of the C-Art exhibition a few years ago.

In the chapter entitled Storm Beach there was the description of a hawk’s silhouette and warplanes. As if to order on Twitter a peregrine falcon was compared with a bomber in flight. Unusually I found a word, which I had to look up – sigil (a seal or signet).

Mystical Circles by SC Skillman could hardly be more different. This is a novel about a community led by a very self-confident individual. Personally I like to read novels without having learned much about the story beforehand. This is a well-written, well-plotted tale. There is plenty to think about including ideas about synchronicity. It would make a good book for a reading group to discuss. I shall add A Passionate Spirit to my “books to look out for” list.

Beauty for Ashes

Beauty for Ashes

Beauty for Ashes is a booklet of poems mainly written by people from the Cockermouth area in support of Poverty Swap. One contributor is Martin Halsall, who was poet in residence at Carlisle Cathedral and wrote Sanctuary. The booklet includes children’s poetry about hoping and helping. It is illustrated and makes a useful addition to my poetry shelf.

Hons and Rebels: Hons & Rebels by Jessica Mitford (20-Jun-1999) PaperbackC. S. Lewis: A Biography
Hons and Rebels by Jessica Mitford is an autobiographical work, which I bought second-hand. The Mitford family was one I was aware of from childhood due to the literary endeavours of (in particular) Nancy. Hons and Rebels is a good read. Some of the events in it are real eye-openers. I suspect there is an element of exaggeration to make a good story even better. There is also tragedy, which is not dwelt upon unduly. It is a window to a different world in the years before WWII. It was published with the title Daughters and Rebels in the USA.

C.S. Lewis A Biography The classic life of the author who created Narnia by A.N. Wilson was a book I received for Christmas along with the first book in this post. Hubby and I had watched the film Shadowlands in the autumn. This book provides a dispassionate account of the real-life events surrounding the film. There is much about the life of academics between the two World Wars and afterwards. C.S. Lewis died on the same day as Aldous Huxley and President John F. Kennedy. His life was not typical of his contemporaries. It was interesting to learn more about his associates.

 

Destiny’s Rebel by Philip S. Davies is a book I have already read and reviewed. Davies has attempted to create a series about another universe similar to the Narnia books. I enjoyed reading this book more the second time than the first. I think I suspended my critical faculties and enjoyed the exciting story. Although I am not good at remembering details of plots, I came to it without the desire to get to the end and know the whole story, but just to enjoy it.

Destiny’s Revenge by Philip S. Davies is the second in the series. It is set six months after the first, but much has changed and the characters have learned from their earlier experiences. I enjoyed it more on a second reading. The third book, Destiny’s Ruin is due out in September. I hope I shall remember what has already happened, when I read that. The genre is YA (Young adult).

More synchronicity is that for the writing group I attend our books to discuss at the March meeting are to be written by authors whose first or last name begins with D. I had been intending to reread Philip S Davies’ books, but had not deliberately looked for an author beginning with D.

There is also some synchronicity around a book, which I bought in February and have only just begun. I failed to win it in a Twitter giveaway, but bought it from a bookshop, because it was such an attractive volume. It transpired that the original author, Evelyn Underhill, influenced C.S. Lewis. I had not heard of her until this year. The book is Evelyn Underhill’s Prayer Book.