Thursday, 29 September 2011

Beneath the Overgrowth

From a distance this looked like just another clump of trees in the corner of a field, but when I got closer I saw it was something else.

Strip away the ivy and creeping overgrowth and there's a building underneath.

And it made me think of what you have to do when giving your work a really good edit - it's very similar - cut away the weeds and diversions and woolly descriptions to reveal the story within.

I asked the farmer what this place was and she told me it was called Jones's Hole. There's a barn, underneath all that ivy, and in the spring, if you go inside, you'll find barn owls nesting.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

My Booker Book...

My Booker Debate book has finally arrived - and I've been allocated this one to read!

Is anyone going to be coming along? 6th October at the Octagon Theatre in Yeovil? Do let me know if you are.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Watching Me?

I walk over the cliffs and drop down to my secret beach to eat my sandwiches.

But as I sit there I get the feeling that I'm being watched.

I look around.

The beach is deserted.

But then I spot him.

There are a number of sea stacks just off the headland. But one of them isn't a sea stack at all - it's a Tyrannosaurus Rex. And he's watching me!

It looks like he's eating a burger. I hope, once he's finished, he doesn't decide to eat me!

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Booker Shortlist

The 2011 Booker shortlist has been announced and already it’s the cause of much debate – should this one have been included? Why was that one missed out? In case you haven’t seen it here’s the list….

• Julian Barnes - The Sense of an Ending (Random House/Cape)
• Carol Birch - Jamrach's Menagerie (Canongate);
• Patrick deWitt - The Sisters Brothers (Granta);
• Esi Edugyan - Half Blood Blues (Serpent’s Tail);
• Stephen Kelman - Pigeon English (Bloomsbury).
• AD Miller – Snowdrops (Atlantic);

Next month the YCAA will be holding the annual Booker Debate at the Octagon Theatre in Yeovil, and this year I have been invited onto the panel. So sometime in the next few days one of these books will be winging its way towards me so that I can read it and put together my review.

But which one will I get? And more importantly will I enjoy it?

I’ve taken a look around the net to see what I can find out about the books and the one that sounds most interesting is The Sister’s Brothers. I quite like the idea of a Western being on the shortlist. Jamrach’s Menagerie also sounds like my kind of book – I always like stories set at sea. (Well I am a SeaSerpent).

I’ll let you know as soon as it arrives. And in the meantime, has anyone read any of them?

What did you think?

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Review: The Novel in the Viola by Natasha Solomons

I normally try to keep the focus of this blog on YA and children's books, but today I am going to make a brief foray into the world of adult literature. And not only adult - this is a book without a single spaceship, gruesome murder or car chase - so it really isn't my usual fodder. But I'm still going to sing its praises.

Some books beg to be read in a particular setting and this is one of them, so I packed my sandwiches and headed over the cliffs to this beautiful spot, and sat on an empty beach looking out over the sea.

That's Worbarrow Bay ahead of me, and if you've read "The Novel in the Viola" you'll know why I went there.

I simply loved this book. Natasha's passion for the Dorset countryside shines through in her beautiful and evocative descriptions and since that is a love I share (second only to my love of the sea) I really engage with her writing.

I read her first book, "Mr Rosenblum's List" last year (sitting in the summer sunshine in my garden of course) but I felt with this one that her writing had really matured. The plotting tightened.

The story moves at an easy pace, but the shadow of war grows ever darker. My heart bled for Elise. It's a beautiful book that I strongly recommend.

My only disappointment is that it isn't available in hardback. I'd have so liked a copy to sit on my bookshelf next to my hardback Mr R. :-)