review

Summer Reading: Sealskin by Su Bristow

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I’ve finished two books in my Summer Reading Challenge. 🙂 This was the first one. I’ve been wanting to read this for a long time. If you love supporting indie authors this book is for you, it’s published by Orenda Books  

What attracted me to this book besides it’s indie is the location of Scotland and the retelling of a Scottish legend.

Synopsis from GoodReads:

“Donald is a young fisherman, eking out a lonely living on the west coast of Scotland. One night he witnesses something miraculous, and makes a terrible mistake. His action changes lives—not only his own, but those of his family and the entire tightly knit community in which they live. Can he ever atone for the wrong he has done, and can love grow when its foundation is violence? Based on the legend of the selkies—seals who can transform into people—evokes the harsh beauty of the landscape, the resilience of its people, both human and animal, and the triumph of hope over fear and prejudice. With exquisite grace, Su Bristow transports us to a different world, subtly and beautifully exploring what it means to be an outsider, and our innate capacity for forgiveness and acceptance. Rich with myth and magic, Sealskin is, nonetheless, a very human story, as relevant to our world as to the timeless place in which it is set.”

My Thoughts

This beautiful story drew me right in, it flows seamlessly. It begins when Donald watches some seals and sees something miraculous which changes his life. Donald is a very human character, with flaws and he makes a mistake which he tries to atone for. He’s an introvert and doesn’t really talk much to others in the community but after this moment at the beginning of the book this has to change. Every character is realistic and you get a real sense of life in a small coastal village, surviving on the fishermen’s catch and their own farms. How hard it can be and how close the community is.

I don’t want to give away too much of the narrative except to say that this is a wonderful retelling of a Scottish legend, it doesn’t take anything away and is perfect.

The hardest reviews to write are for the books you enjoy so much because you can’t really put into words how much you enjoy it, if I had to chose a few words to describe this book I’d say: magical, immersive, mythical, beautiful.

I enjoyed every moment of this book and it’s characters.

 

 

writing

Getting back to it: Writing advice and thoughts.

I haven’t written a post about writing for a while. I was working on my novel, starting from the beginning really and trying to fill in gaps. When I first wrote it I never wrote it in order and whilst that’s not a bad thing, it didn’t flow right. I’m learning my process as  I go, determined to finish this novel. Now I’ve started again it’s flowing better but I took a break….

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….from writing and blogging. I’ve always got a list of things I want to do or need to. And for a while now I’ve been trying to get stories finished and I started two courses and then I try to keep up with my blog. I never seem to find a balance and often feel like I’m running around like a headless chicken which doesn’t help my anxiety levels. When I took this break I realised not for the first time that I need to completely change the way I do things.

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My answer to this in the past has been to do more yoga and mindfulness because it helps my anxiety and stress levels. But then I’m adding more tasks to do, relaxing becomes a task and you know it doesn’t work like that. After ages of trying to do so much and trying to relax, after this break I finally realised and its taken too long for the realisation to hit me, that I really need to make huge changes.

I think it’s my approach to doing things, my outlook? That isn’t helping. When I’ve had a ‘to-do’ list  there’s just pressure to do them, the list is not the problem, nor the tasks though just the pressure. Maybe I haven’t been realistic as to how much I can do or maybe I just need to prioritise. Stop trying to do it all.

So I stopped doing everything, kinda, and I’ve tried to find a way to ease back into things. At one point in all honesty here, I did think do I want to write? Am I sure? But you know it’s who I am. I can’t stop the creative part of my brain from working, from giving me ideas. I want to write.

I guess I knew a while ago that writing became a chore because although I was enjoying writing it became another task. Something to panic about if you didn’t get it done.

My main point of this post was to say how can you get that creativity back? How can you make writing fun again? I’ve known how for a while. Write for you, write what you want to read and do exercises. You need to practice meditation or workout muscles to get them into shape, maybe your creative mind needs exercise too? That can be by writing every day (whenever you can) or by doing writing exercises.

My way of easing back into writing was to get straight back to the novel, but how can I expect my brain to work after a long break? When you start exercising you ease into it. So I  went back to Tim Clare’s weekly writing exercises.  I signed up to these a while ago, he sends a weekly exercise to your inbox, they’re always different and fun.

You feel like you’ve done some writing and any writing done does count. You never know what it may turn into or in the very least you’re exercising your brain and telling it: remember writing is fun!

I didn’t intend this post to be this personal, most of the time I shy away from personal stuff who wants to hear about me and my life dramas? I am an introvert. But I just wrote what came out. And I’ll worry about it later. And this is just my experience and what has worked for me.

Maybe you’re reading this and you don’t need this advice, you’re good. 🙂 Great! That’s where I want to be.

Do you do any exercises? Have you taken a break from writing, how did you ease back into it?

 

Netgalley

My Netgalley Shelf

Don’t you just love Netgalley? The pleasure and opportunity of reading pre-release books in exchange for a review. There’s not a huge amount of pressure as a reviewer/blogger either as you can pick what you like and if you don’t enjoy it you can now just click the option not to leave feedback.

I always think I’m going to catch-up with all my Netgalley books, that I’ll read them and review them all before I request new ones. I did have an 80% badge but it’s gone 😦 It doesn’t help that you have that shelf of books and they send you an email about another book, and another, and another and another……. 

They want us to finish reading the books we already have, right?

I started looking on Netgalley for some summer reads and thinking how I’m almost caught up I decided to request other books…. And now I’m tumbling down that rabbit hole…. It starts by looking for books for the summer, then thinking that sounds good, then you see books you have to have!

These are the books waiting on my to-be-read Netgalley shelf:

 

I was looking for a lovely summer read and this has been added to my list of summer books which you may have seen in my last post. Just realised it’s a series, whoops. Might end up adding more to the tbr in future then 

“The first in a gorgeous new series from the author of Summer at the Cornish Cafe.

Summer is on the horizon, and the people of Porthmellow are eagerly awaiting the annual food festival. At least, most of them are…

For Sam Lovell, organising the summer festival in her hometown is one of the highlights of her year. It’s not always smooth sailing, but she loves to see Porthmellow’s harbour packed with happy visitors, and being on the committee has provided a much-needed distraction from the drama in her family life (and the distinct lack of it in her love life).

When their star guest pulls out with only a few weeks to go, everyone’s delighted when a London chef who grew up locally steps in at the last minute. But Gabe Matthias is the last person Sam was expecting to see, and his return to Porthmellow will change her quiet coastal life for ever.

Curl up with this gorgeous novel and savour the world of Porthmellow Harbour.”

I think I had an email about this next book and I had to, just had to request, I love Guillermo del toro films ( and Cornelia Funke the author of the Inkheart books!)and of course the Pan’s Labyrinth film which I’m going to rewatch soon. I might end up buying a physical copy of this beauty.

“You shouldn’t come in here. You could get lost. It has happened before. I’ll tell you the story one day, if you want to hear it.

In fairy tales, there are men and there are wolves, there are beasts and dead parents, there are girls and forests.

Ofelia knows all this, like any young woman with a head full of stories. And she sees right away what the Capitán is, in his immaculate uniform, boots and gloves, smiling: a wolf.

But nothing can prepare her for the fevered reality of the Capitán’s eerie house, in the midst of a dense forest which conceals many things: half-remembered stories of lost babies; renegade resistance fighters hiding from the army; a labyrinth; beasts and fairies.

There is no one to keep Ofelia safe as the labyrinth beckons her into her own story, where the monstrous and the human are inextricable, where myths pulse with living blood”

This next book is a sequel I requested as the first book is on my tbr and adding this will actually encourage me to read it sooner, I’ve heard great things about these funny books

“The hilarious second novel, and Sunday Times No 1 Bestseller, from author of the smash hit Why Mummy Drinks.

Monday, 25 July
The first day of the holidays. I suppose it could’ve been worse. I brightly announced that perhaps it might be a lovely idea to go to a stately home and learn about some history. As soon as we got there I remembered why I don’t use the flipping National Trust membership – because National Trust properties are full of very precious and breakable items, and very precious and breakable items don’t really mix with children, especially not small boys. 
Where I had envisaged childish faces glowing with wonder as they took in the treasures of our nation’s illustrious past, we instead had me shouting ‘Don’t touch, DON’T TOUCH, FFS DON’T TOUCH!” while stoutly shod pensioners tutted disapprovingly and drafted angry letters to the Daily Mail in their heads.
How many more days of the holiday are there?

Welcome to Mummy’s world…
The Boy Child Peter is connected to his iPad by an umbilical cord, The Girl Child Jane is desperate to make her fortune as an Instagram lifestyle influencer, while Daddy is constantly off on exotic business trips…
Mummy’s marriage is feeling the strain, her kids are running wild and the house is steadily developing a forest of mould. Only Judgy, the Proud and Noble Terrier, remains loyal as always.
Mummy has also found herself a new challenge, working for a hot new tech start-up. But not only is she worrying if, at forty-two, she could actually get up off a bean bag with dignity, she’s also somehow (accidentally) rebranded herself as a single party girl who works hard, plays hard and doesn’t have to run out when the nanny calls in sick.
Can Mummy keep up the facade while keeping her family afloat? Can she really get away with wearing ‘comfy trousers’ to work? And, more importantly, can she find the time to pour herself a large G+T?
Probably effing not.”

I loved the synopsis of this book, “a centuries old house on the Yorkshire moors”  I read a similar book recently so this won’t be read straight away.

“A house full of history is bound to have secrets…

‘It’s a beautiful story and written with such wisdom and kindness, and it also happens to be set my most favourite part of the world! It’s incredibly smart, because like all good Gothic novels, it weaves together the past and the present and makes you realise just how much one relies on the other.’ JOANNA CANNON

Ponden Hall is a centuries-old house on the Yorkshire moors, a magical place full of stories. It’s also where Trudy Heaton grew up. And where she ran away from…

Now, after the devastating loss of her husband, she is returning home with her young son, Will, who refuses to believe his father is dead.

While Trudy tries to do her best for her son, she must also attempt to build bridges with her eccentric mother. And then there is the Hall itself: fallen into disrepair but generations of lives and loves still echo in its shadows, sometimes even reaching out to the present…”

Another book that intrigued me by the synopsis:

** THE DEBUT NOVEL FROM THE WINNER OF THE COSTA SHORT STORY AWARD **‘A timely and powerfully told tale of a working class community in crisis…a new and exciting voice in fiction’ Mike Gayle

On an ordinary Saturday morning in 1996, the residents of Nightingale Point wake up to their normal lives and worries.

Mary has a secret life that no one knows about, not even Malachi and Tristan, the brothers she vowed to look after.
Malachi had to grow up too quickly. Between looking after Tristan and nursing a broken heart, he feels older than his twenty-one years.
Tristan wishes Malachi would stop pining for Pamela. No wonder he’s falling in with the wrong crowd, without Malachi to keep him straight.
Elvis is trying hard to remember to the instructions his care worker gave him, but sometimes he gets confused and forgets things.
Pamela wants to run back to Malachi but her overprotective father has locked her in and there’s no way out.

It’s a day like any other, until something extraordinary happens. When the sun sets, Nightingale Point is irrevocably changed and somehow, through the darkness, the residents must find a way back to lightness, and back to each other.”

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I do sometimes request books and forget, I didn’t realise I have three pending requests….

I will definitely be reading the first two this summer, what started off as a summer themed reading challenge has changed. The other two later. I’m going to avoid looking on Netgalley again until I have finished… Or  halfway. I want to get a 100% badge. Keeep an eye out for my upcoming reviews

How’s your Netgalley tbr looking? Do you forget you requested them too?

 

Books

Summer Reading List & Challenge

Wow, it’s been a while. I’ve been having a hectic time trying to get my house sorted and then trying to relax but now I’m back.

Since I won’t be going on holiday this year I thought I’d find some holiday/travel books that will make up for it. This is  also my way of coaxing myself to widdle down that tbr. This post originally started as a list of fun books to read if you’re not able to go on holiday this year but plans change.

Another blogger Cathy @ 746 Books has set up a Summer Reading Challenge on her blog, this is the link to her list of books. Thanks to What Cathy Read Next for reminding me and also to Shayney (who reads a lot of books and don’t try to challenge her she will beat it!) for the reminder.

I wasn’t going to join and I’ve missed the start. It starts beginning June and ends in September….. 

I’m doing it! 20 books by the end of September, no pressure! Lets do it!

This is my Summer Reading List, fully flexible 🙂 Books I’ll be reading June-September

IMG_20190614_153310665.jpgThis is a WISHLIST book, I finally bought it this year, it’s a indie book set in Scotland. Currently reading this and over halfway through, it’s a lovely book. It’s great to read a thinner book for a change, I’ve been reading the second and third Outlander books and they’re taken so much time to read. I enjoy them and don’t want to read anything else when I’m reading them, but it’s a joy to get back to reading shorter books and realise how quickly I can get through them. (I might defeat the tbr yet!!)

I wanted a fun, feel-good book to read like a Jenny Colgan. This book was available on Netgalley and since I’m missing Cornwall this year I thought it’d be perfect.

On about Cornwall, I bought this from the gift shop in Tintagel last year and never finished it:

IMG_20190617_140019875-1.jpgI’m looking forward to getting back into this book, there’s some lovely stories in there so keep an eye out for my review.

A Parrot in the Pepper Tree: A Sequel to Driving Over Lemons (Lemons Trilogy Book 2) by [Stewart, Chris]This has been on my Kindle  for a few years, I read the first book the last time I didn’t go on holiday (or maybe it was a short break later in the year I forget) so it’s apt that I’m going to read this now. I wasn’t even blogging when I read book 1, I loved it felt like I was right there with the author.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (The Chronicles of Narnia)I’ve never read the Narnia books but I’ve had the opportunity to read and review them for a website. Although it’s not really a summer read it’s a lovely children’s fantasy. Something short and fun.

I was introduced to this in school but read it myself outside, I loved it and have been meaning to reread it and also the other books by Gerald Durrell set in Corfu. I’ve been meaning to reread it since the tv series started and it’s finished now, so it’s definitely the right time. I don’t own any of Gerald Durrell’s books, so I’ll probably be getting it from the library.

IMG_20190617_140056701-1.jpgI bought this book last month recently, I love history but sometimes struggle to really get into a non-fiction book. This is about the history of Britain, the wars that happened between England and Scotland and England and Wales. I subject I’ve always been interested in.

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This book appeals to me as a summer read as it’s set in Scotland and it’s about a woman healing and finding her way again, I love stories that are uplifting. It’s an indie read.

I also have these books on my bookshelf that I might read:

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Skin is set in Celtic Britain, The Magpie Tree is set in Cornwall, so both seem to fit well into a summer theme.

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I don’t want it to be set it stone so I might swap books or add them as the challenge says you can 🙂 I have a list of Netgalley reads that will be in my next post.

Let me know what books you’re planning on reading over the summer.  If you’re looking for a book to add to your summer reading I recommend The Salt Path by Raynor Winn, it’s about a couple who walk the 630 mile South West Coast Path, an amazing read that makes you feel like you’re there. I read this last year after buying a copy on holiday, an indie bookshop in Padstow.

I’ll try to keep an update of my challenge 🙂 Let me know if you’re joining too.

 

 

 

 

 

Month In Review

What I read In May

Wow. This last month I’ve just seemed to be reading the Outlander series and they’re so long so that’s why I haven’t read much else. I’m wondering if I’ve forgotten about something. I did start reading other books, one I didn’t continue and two got shelved thanks to the Outlander books.

I finished Dragonfly In Amber this month and started the next book Voyager:

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I also finally finished this book, review to come:

I finished this book too, great read, review here:

Little Creepers

And started Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence this month (free Kindle edition) as part of a classic a month  with the people on readitswapit forum:

Once I’ve finished Outlander I have many more books to read and review from Netgalley and another source. I was meant to be catching up, but instead I added more. I have a list of books I want to read over the summer, a mix of to-be-read books, books I’ve been wanting to read and a nice summer read from Netgalley. That’s an upcoming post, I’m also joining a summer reading challenge since I’ve already got my summer list pending 🙂

Surely those Outlander books being so thick should count as  two? I really haven’t read many books lately. I seem to be reading around three a month it’s not so bad I guess…..