November 2022 Was a Busy and Emotional Month.

My reading slowed down in November as I impulsively decided to attempt to do National Novel in a Month, otherwise known as NaNoWriMo. For anyone who hasn’t heard of it, it’s a personal challenge to write 50,000 words in thirty days. Many people prepare in October and have plots all drafted out, character lists, settings and even the high and low points of their novel. Me? I suddenly thought I could do it, I had before. So, I  signed up on October 31st with no plot, no plan just the vaguest of ideas. We will have to see how it goes. ( I was writing this introduction in mid-November.) More on that later. Anyway, reading wasn’t as much of an interest this month as I was writing and then something else caught my attention.

Getting lost in a book- a favourite escape!

The Reading List by  Sara Nisha Adams.

An unforgettable and heartwarming debut about how a chance encounter with a list of library books helps forge an unlikely friendship between two very different people in a London suburb.

Widower Mukesh lives a quiet life in the London Borough of Ealing after losing his beloved wife. He shops every Wednesday, goes to Temple, and worries about his granddaughter, Priya, who hides in her room reading while he spends his evenings watching nature documentaries.

Aleisha is a bright but anxious teenager working at the local library for the summer when she discovers a crumpled-up piece of paper in the back of To Kill a Mockingbird. It’s a list of novels that she’s never heard of before. Intrigued, and a little bored with her slow job at the checkout desk, she impulsively decides to read every book on the list, one after the other. As each story gives up its magic, the books transport Aleisha from the painful realities she’s facing at home.

When Mukesh arrives at the library, desperate to forge a connection with his bookworm granddaughter, Aleisha passes along the reading list… hoping that it will be a lifeline for him too. Slowly, the shared books create a connection between two lonely souls, as fiction helps them escape their grief and everyday troubles and find joy again. 373 pages, Hardcover

My Review.

This delightful book is one for book lovers. As well as meeting the various characters we learn about their journey with The Reading List and what a list it is. Such a pleasure to revisit old favourites and learn people’s reactions to them. More than that though, it is the growing connections formed between people that are the biggest delight of this story A lovely gentle book.

Cats Work Like This by David St John Thomas& Gareth St John Thomas.

Cats Work Like This is for cat lovers who know that even after ten thousand years of living with cats, no one really has a clue what their cat is thinking. In this insider’s guide to the habits of these puzzling animals, the authors offer insights from two generations of watching their cats work. They share the sometimes hilarious and often astonishing observations on cats that have accumulated over ages, and offer some useful insights into how to understand your own cat.

Though there are many famous felines, it is the day to day cat which provides the most enduring interest. Though each one’s behaviour and mannerisms are unique, we can find enough practices in common to guide you to becoming an expert in how cats work.

Chapters include Habits, with an insight into how cats train you to have the right ones; and The Scientific Cat, with observations and empirical learning following the classic scientific method, as cats don’t listen well enough to be subjects in any other kind of experimentation.

Learn how cats practice their values and explore what your cats know about you. Find out what cats do while you sleep, what a cat’s eyes can tell you and what there is to understand about political and ‘eco’ cats. With a focus on attention, emotion, cute affection, manipulation, cunning and cussedness, Cats Work Like This gives a rare insight into the workings of a cat’s elusive mind. 176 pages, Hardcover

My Review.

One to please most cat lovers in your life. It certainly enchanted me, with its delightful photographs and informative text. The book is written from the point of view of someone who has a deep love for cats and a wish to understand them better. I learnt things I didn’t know whilst chuckling at the insights into our cats’ manipulation of their willing humans.

The Austen Girls By Lucy Worsley

By turns thrilling, dramatic and inspiring, this is the story of Jane Austen’s life as you’ve never heard it before.
It is 1809 and Fanny and Anna have just been launched on to the ruthless Regency marriage market by Fanny’s mother (think Mrs Bennet). But luckily their mysteriously wealthy Aunt Jane is there to guide them and help them make better choices – i.e. don’t get married at all!
Jane plays detective to help them rescue a falsely accused friend from being transported to Australia, while Anna impetuously makes and breaks an engagement. Fanny is forced to leave the marriage market when her mother dies and she has to look after ten siblings. She learns the secret of Jane’s wealth and self-possession (she is, of course, a writer) and decides to follow in her footsteps.

My Review. While the book is categorised for Young Adult readers, I decided to read it. The focus is mainly on the younger members of the Austen family and their need to get married. It wasn’t what I was expecting- and devolved from a possible romance into mystery. I found it disappointing although the background information is good. 289 pages, Paperback

Cat Prints at the Crime Scene by K.M Waller.

Loretta Hamilton has never owned one cat, let alone seven.

When cat-loving Aunt Ginger passes away, Loretta is left with a farm she doesn’t want. And as if that’s not bad enough, her aunt’s dying wish is for Loretta to turn her home into a cat rescue sanctuary. Loretta doesn’t even know what to feed her aunt’s seven orphaned cats, let alone how to rescue them.

But Felicity, a pushy real estate agent, has plans of her own. She wants the farm for a land development project, and she won’t take no for an answer. After a heated exchange between Loretta and Felicity at a town hall meeting, Felicity is found dead making Loretta the main suspect.

With a superstitious sidekick and a knack for being practical, can Loretta settle into her new role as cat mom and protector while fending off a murderer?

Published August 13, 2020

My Review. An entertaining read and a promising start to a new series. I look forward to reading more of Loretta’s adventures or should they be mis-adventures? I think she is developing an attachment to the cats.

Revenge by Tom Bower.

The British Royal Family believed that the dizzy success of the Sussex wedding, watched and celebrated around the world, was the beginning of a new era for the Windsors. Yet, within one tumultuous year, the dream became a nightmare. In the aftermath of the infamous Megxit split and the Oprah Winfrey interview, the Royal Family’s fate seems persistently threatened.

The public remains puzzled. Meghan’s success has alternatively won praise, bewildered and outraged. Confused by the Sussexes’ slick publicity, few understand the real Meghan Markle. What lies ahead for Meghan? And what has happened to the family she married into? Can the Windsors restore their reputation?

With extensive research, expert sourcing and interviews from insiders who have never spoken before, Tom Bower, Britain’s leading investigative biographer, unpicks the tangled web of courtroom drama, courtier politics and thwarted childhood dreams to uncover an astonishing story of love, betrayal, secrets and revenge.

My Review.

Reading this book is like entering a parallel universe, where reality is simply the next photo op or sound bite or whatever you want it to be. There was so much hope and promise at the beginning and everyone was happy that Harry had at last found his ‘happily ever after.’

Sadly, that hope has been extinguished as brand Sussex does its best to drag the royal family down. History is continually rewritten to suit the current narrative, although Tom Bower can show that while there might be alternative stories only one is embedded in fact.

At last, the ‘racist ’comment is revealed, and it was made before Meghan was pregnant. So, it was not directed at Archie.

Harry sent a statement with their proposal of entitlements after they left for Canada to Prince Charles. “They expected to retain their titles, privileges and income while living in Canada. They would keep Frogmore(their Uk grace and favour home), enjoy round-the-clock protection costing the British taxpayer annually about £2.5 million and continue to receive £ 1.5 million annual income from the Duchy of Cornwall. In exchange, they would occasionally return to Britain, but would otherwise represent the monarchy in Canada.” They were surprised when it was refused. This is an unflattering portrayal of two very spoiled and entitled people who seem to imagine the world revolves around them.

Murder in an Irish Bookshop by Carlene O’Connor

Between training the new town garda and trying to set a wedding date with her fiancé, Macdara Flannery, Siobhán O’Sullivan is feeling a bit overwhelmed. She’s looking forward to visiting the new bookshop and curling up with an exciting novel—only to discover the shelves contain nothing but Literature with a capital L. The owner not only refuses to stock romances, mysteries, and science fiction, but won’t even let customers enter his store unless they can quote James Joyce or Sean Hennessey.
Despite the owner deliberately limiting his clientele, he’s hosting a reading and autographing event featuring up-and-coming Irish writers who will be taking up residency in Kilbane for a month. Among them is indie author Deirdre Walsh, who spends more time complaining about the unfairness of the publishing industry and megastar bestsellers instead of her own creative works, causing a heated debate among the writers. She seems to have a particular distaste for the novels of Nessa Lamb.
Then Deirdre’s body is found the next day in the back of the store—with pages torn from Nessa’s books stuffed in her mouth. Now, Siobhán must uncover which of Kilbane’s literary guests took Deirdre’s criticisms so personally, they’d engage in foul play.

My Review.

I enjoyed this one, it has that indefinable Irish charm as well as a good story. Book shop? Tick. Authors? Tick. Rivalries? Oh yes. I loved the snobbery of the bookseller and his partner’s subterfuge. The murder kept me guessing and it’s part of a series so I will be able to find others by this author to enjoy.

The Vanishing Thief by Kate Parker.

At 30, Victorian bookshop owner Georgia Fenchurch knows she’s considered a middle-class old maid. That’s all right with her. She has the bookshop she inherited when her parents were murdered before her eyes, providing her with a living and something to keep her busy during the day. At night, she has another occupation. Driven by her need to see people rescued and justice done, she works with the Archivist Society.

In the foggy London of coal fires and carriages, glittering balls and Sherlock Holmes, the Archivist Society digs through musty records searching for the truth. They also don disguises and assume identities as they hunt for missing people, stolen treasures, and cunning murderers. Between her efforts for the Archivist Society and her management of the bookshop, Georgia doesn’t have time to be lonely.

When a respectable middle-class woman comes into her bookshop complaining that a duke has abducted her next door neighbor, Georgia thinks the investigation will be a short one. Instead, she finds herself embroiled in theft, blackmail, lies, secret marriages, and murder. The man Georgia is asked to find may be royalty, may be dead, and is definitely missing. The woman who hired her won’t reveal the truth. The accused duke may be a victim or a killer, but he certainly is involved in the hunt for the missing man. And every aristocrat who knew the missing man seems to be hiding their own dangerous lie.
As Georgia crosses London searching for the missing man, she finds herself staring into the face of the one person she has wanted to capture for a dozen years. The one who got away. The man who killed her parents.

My Review.

This is the first in a series and a lot is happening. It is all interesting, but perhaps a bit too much to keep track of in one book. I didn’t find Georgia particularly likeable, but I did enjoy her interactions with the Duke of Blackford, who promises to be an intriguing returning character.

What Else Was Happening?

November became more complicated when I realised that I wanted, no, needed to make a submission to the Australian Government’s Aged Care Review. It had a deadline of November 25th. Almost eighteen months later I was still upset and angry at what I had witnessed in one aged care home. I felt I owed it to my loved one and to myself to complete the questions and submit my responses. Of course, it brought it all back, the shock, the anger, the pain. I sat at the computer crying and reliving it and trying to put my comments into a coherent order. When I finished I completed the questionnaire and had an additional five pages to add to the submission. Once that was done I felt emotionally spent. I then drafted letters to both my state and federal MPS. It felt good to finally speak out.

I was feeling overwhelmed with too much to do

I raced to finish NaNoWriMo, but I suspect it won’t make sense. I can revisit it and edit it later, that doesn’t matter. I prioritised what was most important to me and to the community. I dont want anyone else to go through what we experienced. Promises made and promises kept and now I feel a sense of relief. I can’t change what happened, but maybe it will help someone else.

Time to reflect wasn’t wasted.

                              

Author: soniabellhouse

Sonia Bellhouse loves writing and reading stories with a ‘happily ever after ’ending. She believes we all need love in our lives. Sonia writes Regency and Viking steamy romances. Her book Fire & Ice is a contemporary and Viking romance, with plans to reissue. She’s a member of Romance Writers of Australia. An ex-pat Brit, Sonia happily calls Australia home. She will always ignore the ironing in favour of playing with her cats. You can find her on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/soniabellhouse.author/ Or her Chatting with Authors page https://www.facebook.com/groups/1031642857187598

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