I had a mother, so this is not the plea of an orphan or abandoned child. But so much that is said about mothers leaves me out of the dialogue. I feel isolated, alone and saddened. I want to say you are lucky to have a loving mother but please do not assume all mothers are the same or that I am mistaken when I tell you about mine.
My mother was distant and distracted and uninvolved with me. I wasn’t physically abused or harmed. I was fed and clothed, all that was lacking was love. I can’t remember ever being hugged or told that she was proud of me.
Perhaps it was that she came to motherhood late at the age of thirty-nine or that I was an accident. I can remember her once telling me ‘ I never wanted children.’Those words ate away at me, she hadn’t qualified them with’ of course now you are here, we are happy to have you.’ They pain me still.
I knew my dad loved me and was proud of me, he was the one who said ‘goodnight’ and tucked me up in bed. Maybe mum suffered from postnatal depression? In that case, it lasted years. I can remember we had an aunt-my mother’s sister come and stay with us for a while.
I tried everything to please mum, my stories were for her, the flowers I picked were for her.
One birthday I must have been about eight I spent my entire birthday money on a brass ornament for her, as she collected them. She smiled and put it to one side.
Nothing worked, I realised you can’t force someone to love you, in the end, I gave up. When my mother died six years after my father, I mourned her of course I did. But it wasn’t with a sense of devastating loss, because she had never really ever been there.
Writers talking about their writing. I am delighted to welcome author, editor , speaker . Teena Raffa Mulligan to tell us about her writing.
1. As someone who writes both for children and adults
how do you switch between the two?
I’ve always written in different styles and genres, whether poetry and fiction for adults and children or the diverse range of non-fiction I worked on during my years in journalism. It’s not a conscious intention to shift focus, so perhaps I do it instinctively. My voice doesn’t really change from one area of writing to the next, only the subject matter.
2 Do you work on more than one title at once?
Always! I am so impressed by writers who can focus on one project until it’s complete. I’m too much like a butterfly in the garden, flitting from flower to flower. In my case it’s going from one idea to another. I write whatever is in my mind at the time, so it might be a fragment of poetry, sections of a picture book, scenes from a short story or novel. The process works brilliantly for short things because I complete them quite quickly, especially if an idea takes hold and over a period of a few days won’t leave me alone. It’s an incredibly inefficient way to write novels, though, because I take such a long time to get to The End.
3 You are a hybrid author- that is you are both
traditionally published and self-published- what do you find are the benefits
and pitfalls of each approach?
Ah! The big question. My preference as an author is to have a publisher pick up my manuscripts. The key benefit is being confident they know their business and will do the best they can to make my book a success. There is also still quite a widespread community perception that being published by a ‘proper’ publisher means you are a ‘real’ writer. Being published by one of the big publishers can open up opportunities that are less likely to be offered to self-publishers.
As a self-publisher, I am a small business owner, responsible for every aspect from actual book production to admin, distribution, sales and marketing. My strength is in coming up with ideas and writing stories. To be a really successful self-publisher, you have to be a savvy business person and I don’t see myself wearing that role very well. I am learning but of course while I am reading blogs, watching videos, listening to podcasts and attending workshops about all the aspects of being a self-publisher I need to know, I am not writing. However, I love creating books and I have a number of unpublished manuscripts on file that I would like to see in print. The big plus of self-publishing is the control I have, the ease of print on demand production and how quickly I can release a book onto the market.
That leads me to the biggest downside of traditional
publishing. It can take a long time to find a traditional publisher, sometimes
years. Even though I have had a dozen books published through traditional
publishing, I still get more rejections than acceptances. It’s a competitive
market. Even when I do get a manuscript picked up, there is usually another
long wait between signing the contract and celebrating the book’s release.
With illustrated books I often have no input into the
illustrations and in some cases don’t see finished artwork until the book is
released. Some of the newer small publishers such as Serenity Press and Daisy
Lane Publishing do encourage author and illustrator input or collaboration and
that’s a bonus.
Then there’s the financial aspect. Unless your book
happens to be a runaway best seller, there’s no point thinking of giving up the
day job. The standard 10 per cent royalty on a recommended retail price (RRP)
of 15.50 is only $1.55 per book sold. In some cases if it’s a picture book,
that 10 per cent is split between the author and illustrator, so only five per
cent each. Print runs in Australia are often small and many publishers don’t
offer an advance. Children’s authors in particular usually rely on payments for
author talks and workshops, plus the annual education and public lending rights
payments to supplement income from royalties, whereas indie authors who promote
themselves and their titles well can make a decent living from their writing.
4 If you were starting now would you still be
a hybrid author or would you choose one approach over the other?
submitting to publishers in the 1970s when the world of publishing was vastly
different. It wasn’t as easy or affordable for authors to publish their own
work, plus there was such a stigma about self-publishing, which was widely
considered a vanity option for writers who weren’t good enough to get a
contract. I wanted to be taken seriously as an author. I still do and like it
or not, self-published authors are still seen as second best in some sectors of
into self-publishing because my stranger danger picture book was long out of
print but I was still reading it during school visits and being asked by
parents and teachers where they could get a copy. It seemed like a good idea to
produce a new edition so I did. At the time I only intended to self-publish
that one book but the changes in the publishing industry and the introduction
of new technology led me to rethink that decision. Meeting the inspirational
Karen McDermott of Serenity Press and Making Magic Happen Academy came at the
right time and motivated me to stop thinking about publishing my own books and
answer your question, if I were starting now I would still choose to try for a
traditional publishing contract first, with self-publishing as a backup option.
5. How do you capture your ideas?
Usually with pen and paper initially. I
only go to the computer when I have something to get me started, even if it’s
just the opening paragraph, a conversation or a scene. I keep notebooks and
pens handy…though sometimes I leave the notebook from my handbag on my computer
desk when I’ve been working from it. I have used napkins in a café to capture
my idea, the back of shopping dockets, in fact anything I can write on.
6. What are you working on now?
I am writing a quirky story for young readers about a kid who hires a parent tamer. At first Talibut Vish looks like he will be the solution to Mike’s out of control mum and dad but the stranger’s special powers only escalate the chaos in his life. It’s a fun story but because I’m not a planner I get so far then don’t know what happens next. That’s when I go back to the short romance I’m writing for an anthology. It features a gorgeous Labrador with serious anxiety issues…and a mismatched couple, of course.
7 Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Write in the way
that works best for you. If that means having a nine to five working day five
days a week and planning every aspect of your novel before you start writing,
then do that. If your creativity works best with an unstructured, fluid
approach, embrace it. After all, would you go for a long walk in a pair of
shoes that didn’t fit? It’s difficult in this era of social media, but try to
avoid measuring your productivity and achievements as a writer against anyone
else’s. The creative spirit is sensitive — it needs a positive environment to
flourish, so be gentle with yourself. Explore where your writing takes you and
enjoy the journey.
Bio: Teena Raffa-Mulligan is a reader, writer and daydream believer who believes there is magic in every day if you choose to find it. She discovered the wonderful world of storytelling as a child and decided to become a writer at an early age. Teena writes across genres and her publications include poetry and short stories for children and adults, picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels and romances. She shares her passion for books and writing by presenting talks and workshops to encourage people of all ages to write their own stories.
Teena’s February release is a lively collection of poems that encourages young readers to enjoy poetry and marvel at the wonder of words. Funny, thoughtful, silly and serious, Sleepy Socks and Sometime Rhymes is a celebration of the everyday and the imaginary. It is ideal for home or classroom, for sharing or for quiet moments curled up in a comfy chair.
On February 16th I organised the launch of my book Fire& Ice. Although it was hard work- it went exceptionally well, and the event was a success. I will write a post on how to hold a book launch
Secondly, we had a two-week visit from family, who came from overseas and stayed with us.
So, my reading time was much less than usual.
A Spell of Murder by Clea Simon (Fiction)
The cover initially attracted me as did the synopsis. Maybe it was due to distraction on my part, but I found the concept of the cats narrating much of the story wasn’t working for me. I had thought it was a fun idea.
The Vikings By Neil Oliver. (Non-Fiction)
I found this a useful and entertaining book on Vikings. The pages of illustrations add to the appeal of the book. Neil Oliver employs his imagination to embody the places and artefacts with life, taking us with him on these journeys. In part, this was further research for me as Fire & Ice contains Vikings and I may write a sequel.
The Big Book of Practical Spells by Judika Illes (Non-Fiction)
Another book for research, very practical and down to earth demystifying ‘magic’ as herb law and attention to what is happening. Although there are options to take the work further.
December was a hectic month as I was busy completing edits for my upcoming book Fire & Ice which was due for release in February 2019. I actually completed all revisions on ChristmasEve.In spite of being busy, I still found some time to read. This time it’s more a list of the books that I read than in-depth reviews. Some books were for research and some were for pleasure and relaxation. January 2019 and I was still busy promoting the book, organising the book launch and even thinking about a sequel.
It Started in Paris by Cathy Kelly
I ‘d had this book for ages and as I was busy and not even taking the time to visit the library I picked it up to read. I found the book initially confusing as it moved from character to character. Once I had got my head around all the various people then I was involved and wanted to know more about each individual story. It is the first Cathy Kelly book that I have read, but it won’t be the last. Warm, engagingly and a reminder of the Irish ability to tell a tale, reminiscent of the much missed Maeve Binchy
Return to Roseglen By Helene Young.
A real heartwarming story of family ties, rural Australia and resilience. Having an older woman as a major character gave the book more depth
Buried in Books by Kitty Carlisle.
I was attracted by the premise and the cover but I found the story slightly confusing.
Women of the Dunes by Sarah Maine.
For me, this book was a standout! I enjoyed this book so much. A triple timeline made for interesting reading. The times spanned early Viking incursions into Britain, Victorian times and the present day in each instance, a woman was central to the story. The moody atmopsheric cover capture perfectly the isolation of the place.
Wundersmith by Jessica Townsend
Could this be as good as the first book? Yes, it is. Of course, you have to embrace the spirit of’ wunder’ and fantasy but go with it and I think you will enjoy the book. Although complete in itself the book cleverly leads onto book three. Ezra Squall makes an appearance and new magic and mysteries are added. Lots of fun
The Magical Christmas Cat
Again an appealing cover that drew me in, I usually enjoy the combination of magic and cats but the stories were more far out than I had imagined.
Eyewitness Viking by Susan Margeson- photos Peter Anderson.
Wonderful photography adds to the ability to imagine how the Vikings lived
Dirty Rotten Vikings by Sertori &Mungo Mazzega. A resource full of facts and great illustrations, your older kids will lap this up.
Passages a short story collection.Assorted authors Serenity Press.
I am a contributor to this anthology and attended the book launch on December 2nd. A varied mix of stories by talented writers.
A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe.
Innovative and imaginative and with plenty of veggie-friendly recipes too. Some recipes are so persuasively simple that you will want to try them. I am not surprised this book was such a success and that there was a follow-up book.
The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin
An interesting premise and could be useful for character development too. Rubin says all people have one of four tendencies which are Upholder, Questioner, Rebel and Obliger. Full of information and easy to read.
A Scandal in Scarlet by Vicki Delany.
I love this series and this one did not disappoint me, easy reading with an intriguing plot.
The Little Broomstick By Mary Stewart.
Another children’s book – by a favourite author-her Arthurian series is full of mysticism and magic while her romantic suspense was popular way back when. This is a simple story and full of humour.
The Lost Book of Salem by Katherine Howe.
A descendant of one of the Salem ‘witches’ writes about the events of the past in a historical mystery. As a PhD student tries to find documents to bring past events to light. I found the last third of the book didn’t quite live up to the earlier writing, but overall I enjoyed it.
Withering by the Sea by Judith Rossell
Stella Montgomery is a disobedient child at least her ancient and disapproving aunts think so. Somehow she manages to get embroiled in a murder and is in danger – her only helper is a boy who her aunts would totally disprove of, and he too is in danger. Id have loved this when I was about ten and enjoyed it now
Fear; Trump in The White House by Bob Woodward.
Ever wondered what it’s like inside the White House under Donald Trump? Investigative journalist Bob Woodward has an impressive track record and here he names and cites sources. The picture he paints is one of confusion and chaos.
Wakestone Hall By Judith Rossell.
This was book three of the Stella Montgomery series. although I hadn’t read book two it didn’t really matter as I soon picked up the story thread. Stella has been sent to school, a place where discipline is rigidly enforced. In spite a strict no talking policy she manages to make friends. When one of her friends disappears – Stella is bound to investigate.
The Well-Spoken Woman by Christine K Jahnke.
With a public speaking appearance ahead of me, I wanted to get a few pointers. This is a helpful guide.
My new book Fire & Ice is a book straight from my heart, one that I hope will find its way into yours. It is ready for Valentine’s Day.
I’ve written a few books. Often, they reflected a popular trend or were something that I felt that I ‘ought’ to write.
This changed in September 2018, when I began writing the story that I wanted to read. It was sparked by watching the ice dancing at the Pyeong winter Olympics. What fascinated me as a writer was how much emotion the skaters expressed, through facial expressions and gestures. As I learnt more, I understood how partnerships were formed, and the idea of an Australian ice skater was born.
I decided she’d travel to Bergen Norway to meet a partner. I’d visited Bergen and it made me think of Vikings. Soon I had two stories to tell, a contemporary one and one in the distant past.
Research gave me insight into Viking customs and lives, but most of all I wanted to establish the emotional connection, love that lasts through time, soul mates. I wasn’t writing to a formula I wasn’t writing to please anyone else, just for my own enjoyment.
As the story grew, I mentioned it to a few other people, it was now October and one of them asked to read a chapter. She offered me a contract to publish my yet unfinished book.
November was a month where I didn’t get much reading done, most of the time was spent either on writing or on research. I think I have mentioned that my book Fire & Ice was accepted for publication. Of course, I am thrilled, but a lot of hard work is needed to get the book out into the world. So I have spent time working with an editor rather than reading.
A Question of Thyme by Jan Jones
An easy to read and appealing story. Jen’s herb and garden business make her the least successful of her siblings, but an opportunity to create a 1915 herb garden for a tv show is too good to miss. Drama doesn’t just happen on TV, but when making it too. While the rather reclusive next door neighbour Theo could be a help or a hindrance.
How to Hygge, The Secrets of Nordic Living by Signe Johansen
Hygge- cosiness- a feeling of comfort.Simple practical advice about reconnecting with ourselves, getting back into nature, eating and cooking for pleasure styling a house and living a more authentic life. Enjoyable and part of my research into the contemporay Nordic culture.
The Viking World by James Graham Campbell
Interesting, packed full of details of Viking life, whether as raiders or farmers. Well researched. With lots of detail of voyages and sailing,. a scholarly book. I was researching Viking culture
The Age of The Vikings by Anders Winroth.
The plentiful illustrations are a bonus to the text in this book and showcase Viking Art and craft as well as jewellery and rune stones. Interesting and of course – research.
The No Spend Year-How I Spent Less and Lived More by Michelle Mc Gogh
The author set herself a challenge not to spend any money beyond things like housing costs and essential bills. The chapters cover beauty, food, travel, having fun. More useful to a UK reader than to me – but she did make impressive savings
Hygge a celebration of simple pleasures by Charlotte Abrahams
In contrast to the previous book this author is not Nordic but was interested in the concept of hygge. She concentrates far more on design and lighting and takes a more scholarly and idiosyncratic approach. I didn’t find this book particularly useful but of course, if your interests are more in design then it could be a winner.
I also started a book which I discovered was mid-way in a series- it was too involved and intricate to pick up the story thread, so I gave up. In fairness to the author, I was reading out of sequence so I will not name it.
First a disclaimer- I have been busy writing a novella and doing some research and that has taken up a lot of my time but of course, I still found time to read! My choices have been perhaps more relaxing than normal, as I was reading for escapism.
Dancing over the Hill by Cathy Hopkins
Cait’s thirty-year-old marriage is ho-hum, Matt her husband is as exciting as an old sock- They are ‘comfortable ‘together. If occasionally she wonders ’is that all there is?’ She accepts that yes, it is. Then she hears from a sexy old flame Tom and remembers the person she used to be, impulsive, a free spirit. Can she recapture that, and does she want to? Witty and wise, with heaps of practical advice- better and cheaper than marriage guidance! I really enjoyed this new to me author
Death on The Menu by Lucy Burdette
Actually, number eight in this foodie series about Key West, but I was able to read it as a stand-alone, I found the descriptions of both the food and Key West appealing. The mystery kept me guessing, the recipes sound delicious and it was a painless way to learn about the Hemingway legacy and The Truman Little White House as well as the links to Cuba.
Kicking the Bucket List by Cathy Hopkins
Three sisters are reluctantly reunited by their mother’s death and her last wishes contained in her will. Daisy, Fleur and Rose have grown apart and it appears their mother’s last wish is to reunite them. They have to follow the terms of her will for a year and complete the tasks she assigns in her ‘bucket list’ before any of them can a collect their inheritance. Fleur is well off, Rose appears to be doing well but Daisy (Dee) really needs the money. If the three don’t all complete the list, then no-one gets anything. Throw in the charming and elusive Daniel who administer the bucket list and adds a little charisma to the task. At times funny but also sad and thought-provoking, it may get you to contemplate your own bucket list.
The Book Ninja by Ali Berg And Michelle Kalus
If you love books, then can that love for books help you find love? Frankie Rose certainly hopes so. She leaves books on trains all over Melbourne with her name and contact number. The man of her dreams will be sophisticated, cultivated and well read.
Meanwhile, she goes on numerous dates with men who don’t fit the bill. Then she meets Sunny on a train, his quick thinking saves her from embarrassment and she could fall or him. But for his disastrous (in her eyes) taste in books.
Original, funny, quirky and quite delightful.
The Kitchen Table Tarot by Melissa Cynova
Interested in Tarot? Ever wanted to learn more? This is the book to provide the answers- I read through the information and did my first simple Tarot reading for myself. To make it easier, I noted down the cards as I turned them over and if they were the right way up or inverted After that I wrote down the meanings and found that I had a perfectly acceptable Tarot reading. If Tarot interests you, then this could be the book to get you started in doing readings.
To the Moon and Back by Jill Mansell
An easy to read romance. Ellie is trying to get her life back on track after the tragic death of her husband. But he is still very much in her heart and occasionally in her living room talking to her. She knows he’s not real, but she doesn’t want to let him go. Is she missing out on life by clinging to the past and what happens when she feels an attraction to someone else?
The Perfect Location by Kate Forster
Even seemingly perfect lives hold traumas and secrets– an easy to read tale of three famous women who appear to have it all. Had a bit of fun ‘star spotting’ and wondering if I was right! Fast paced and reminiscent of Jackie Collins
1001 Ways to Be Creative by Barbara Ann Kipfer
At times our creativity can be elusive, but with 1001 ideas you are bound to find at least one or two which help you rekindle that spark of creativity. Ideal to dip in and out of, some ideas will make you giggle, some may well inspire you, and there are some great quotes about creativity too.
The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart by Molly Ringland
Very much a publishing sensation the cover imagery, as well as the almost fairy-tale beginning, seemed to promise a whimsical and intriguing tale. At times there was an almost dark fairy-tale quality to the book- I’d describe it as veering towards the more literary end of the spectrum. There was so much sadness that ultimately, I had to will myself to keep reading and finish the book. I know many have loved it and the prose is engaging. As others have commented the last third didn’t sit so well with the first two-thirds of the book, it felt like a different story
This is the first book by Donna Leon that I have read. I chose it because it was a standalone and not part of her successful Commissario Brunetti series. The prose is quite cool and scholarly as musicologist Caterina Pellegrini is hired to research an almost forgotten Baroque composer Steffani’s supposed ‘treasure’. It would probably resonate more strongly with those who are more musically inclined than I am.
The Secrets She Keeps by Michael Robotham
An absolute tour de force- in spite of the reader having a good idea what is about to happen, Robotham, manages to keep up the tension and suspense. While at times loathing Agatha it was hard not to feel sympathy for her too. There wasn’t one false note from a male author writing two female characters. Compelling.
High Tide by Veronica Henry
An appealing mix of characters from this well-known author. Kate back from New York, for her mother Joys’ funeral. Beautiful Vanessa from the big house is burying her husband Spenser and wondering why she isn’t grieving. Sam has moved to Pennfleet to escape loneliness and stress, but has he done right by his teenage children? Local Nathan keeps his wits about him to earn his living beyond the summer season.
Charming characters and an idyllic location with just enough spice to keep it interesting makes this a perfect beach or holiday read.
A Room at the Manor by Julie Shackman
Lara returns to Scotland from Malta, her life in tatters. Her fickle boyfriend found someone else, her PR career is also gone. She needs to start again. What she has always wanted to do is bake, but perhaps with more charm and warmth than Kitty Walker her current boss allows at True Brew Tearooms.
A friendship with the former laird Hugo Carmichael provides an unlikely means of escape as Lara takes to the new challenge with enthusiasm, not everyone is happy though.
The delicacies that Lara creates will have you drooling, (don’t read if you are on a diet!) While handsome bad boy Vaughan, makes Lara dream of more than baking.
Write Smart, Write Happy by Cheryl St John.
Helpful advice from an experienced writer who has over fifty books published. St John encourages whilst at the same time demolishing all those pathetic excuses we make about not having enough time, self- doubt etc.
The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman
If you ever thought that being magical would make your life easier and happier this book will slowly but persistently demolish that notion. Sister Franny and Jet could not be less alike, but each finds in her own way that magic cannot solve all problems. While their charismatic brother Vincent who seems born for trouble enjoys his powers until he too learns that magic has its price. This prequel to Practical Magic works well as a stand-alone story.
New York Nights by C.J Duggan. The second book in this series.
Aussie Sarah Williams dreams of New York and when an opportunity to work as an au pair there beckons she accepts. She is almost awed by the Worthington family who scrutinizes her prior to her meeting with Ben Worthington whose daughter Grace she is to care for. Unfortunately, for me, the book didn’t have the same pizzazz as Paris Lights. Perhaps Sarah was alone too much or stuck in the apartment as she spent long periods alone. I didn’t really get a sense of Ben either. I will be interested in what other readers think.
When we take an animal into our homes, we don’t think of the hard reality that their lifespans are much shorter than ours
There is the joy of a new companion whether a puppy or kitten or of an older rescued animal who needs a home. We grow together, learn their personalities, their food preferences and their interactions with other family members and animals.
We develop bonds of trust with them, we are their carers and protectors, the leaders of their pack. In simple terms, we grow to love them.
Although I used to have a dog, these days our animal companions are cats. Until last week I had three cats two girls and a boy. As previous cats have lived to a ripe old age of twenty-one I confidently expected many more happy years together.
Then, I noticed that Freya wasn’t eating, and this went on for a couple of days. Unlike the other two who we had, since they were kittens, we think that Freya had a tough early life.
When we first saw her, she was living in a neighbour’s shed and had just had kittens. He had no plans to feed her or offer her water. We asked for his permission to feed her and gradually earned her trust. Despite looking like a kitten, herself she’d had seven kittens. An animal rescue organisation took the kittens as we managed to catch them, one by one. We knew no one would want this skinny Mamma cat, so we kept her.
She was skittish and distrustful for a long while spitting and striking out at our other cats. At times I was sorry that we had kept her as it was so stressful. Gradually she mellowed, and we won her trust.
I worried about her as she grew inexplicably and enormously fat, the vet had no explanation for this. We cut her food down, but the weight remained. She looked like a fat wombat. Then as unexpectedly as it had started she lost the weight, returning to the petite size we remembered.
She was still wary of men but grew to trust me and would curl up beside me in an armchair. Gradually trust was created and over time an armed neutrality was established between our male cat and her. She seemed to be a settled and contented cat.
It had all taken time and I realised that she had been with us for nearly eight years. When they had their check-ups in June the vet had mentioned she needed some dental work done and I was convinced that this was causing her problems now.
We went in at 9am on Wednesday morning and the vet examined her and said she needed hydrating and she would put her on a drip and conduct blood tests prior to doing surgery.
When the phone rang at eleven I knew it wasn’t going to be good news. I listened to words like fluid on the lungs, possible heart failure, cancer or other problems. The vet mentioned it might be kindest to let her go. I heard the words but could hardly comprehend them
We agreed to go back at I pm to say goodbye. We went in and. the vet explained more and assured us we were acting in her best interests Freya was brought in still with her drip attached and tried to get up. We stroked her and talked to her, and gently, gently the vet gave her the injection that would send her to sleep forever. I held her paw and talked to her, looking into her eyes and watched as her eyes slowly closed.
Only then did my tears fall as we stayed with her for a while. I grieved for all the life she might have had, all the time we could have spent together. I hated myself for having to make the decision although I knew it was for the best and in my heart, I asked her to forgive me.
When we take on a pet we take it all on, the good and the bad, the happy days and the hard days. Allowing an animal to end its suffering after a long and happy life is hard but saying goodbye to one who should have had so many more happy years ahead is heart-breaking.
August has been a busy and challenging month, with writing contests to enter, and technology challenges to overcome, computer glitches and getting connected to the National Broadband Network but I still made time to read. My selections were perhaps a tad more lighthearted than usual.
The Fast and The Furriest by Sofie Ryan: A Second Chance Cat Mystery
The cover of this book with its handsome black cat and its title attracted me. Two cat -loves- of- my- life were black cats, Midnight and Mystic. Previously I’ve enjoyed a couple of cat mystery series Midnight Louie by Carol Nelson Douglas and The Cat Who series Lilian Jackson Braun.This might easily be another series to add to my favourites list.
The fast and the Furriest is the fifth book in the series, but it was easy to get involved. Sarah Grayson owner of Second Chance refurbishes objects and furniture for her store, with the help of Mac, who can turn his hand to most things. There is also a handsome black rescue cat called Elvis. Life is good in North Harbor, Maine until a woman from Mac’s past visits and ends up dead. Suspicions abound, but Sarah can’t believe Mac did it and Elvis agrees. They just have to prove it.
Antiques Flee Market by Barbara Allan. A Trash & Treasure Mystery
Spell check wants to change the title but it is Flee market, not Flea market, a play on words! Almost a reprise of The Fast and The Furriest although this time the featured animal is Sushi a Shih Tzu dog. The story is mainly told by Brandy Borne with occasional interjections by her mother Vivian. It’s a madcap mix of fun and danger. Chapters include Flea market tips. Again, part of a series, but I was still able to follow a lot, if not know all the backstory
Paris Lights by C J Duggan
I was fortunate enough to win a copy of this book but was under no obligation to review it. Its been on my bookshelves for a month or two.
Claire Shorten should be enjoying a romantic time in Paris, strolling by the Seine, exploring the districts and eating fabulous French food, with her boyfriend who she is sure is about to propose. Her dreams crash when he dumps her, leaving her alone in Paris, the city of romance.
Claire manages to get a job at a small hotel and that’s when things get interesting as she meets the inscrutable yet sexy Louis Delarue. He’s a celebrity chef with attitude to spare. A fun read with a sexy, stylish vibe and a certain ‘Je ne sais pas’ that extra ingredients which lifts it from a standard romance. This is the first books I have read by CJ Duggan and I really enjoyed it as I sped through it.
The Other Wife by Michael Robotham
An intriguing premise what if everything you thought you knew about someone was wrong? This is the problem facing clinical psychologist Joe O’Loughlin and it’s not an academic problem, it concerns his injured father. It kept me guessing as layer after layer of subterfuge and deceit was revealed. Like Joe we want to know ‘the truth’ but whose truth is the real story? My sympathises fluctuated between characters and I found it a believable and satisfying read, an absolute page-turner.
London Bound By C.J Duggan.
London! Australian Kate Brown has dreamed about it and now she’s there London is tantalisingly close. If only she can escape the ‘it’s for your own good’ clutches of her grandmother who seems to want to occupy every minute of Kate’s day. Fortunately, handsome neighbour Jack Baker finds Kate intriguing and wants to know her better in spite of the unfortunateness of almost running her down.
While I found this an enjoyable read, for me it didn’t have quite the pizzazz of Paris Lights. It ended so abruptly that I turned the page expecting more and was nonplussed to discover it had ended,
Brain Rules for Aging Well by John Medina
A molecular biologist explains the habits of those people called ‘super agers’ people who stay fit and healthy into old age. The book explores the current scientific thinking and how that can be translated into ordinary lives. Explodes some myths along the way, such as nostalgia is bad for you. It’s good to reminisce. Fascinatingly scientist has managed to double the lifespan of mice but so far there are no human applications. An absorbing read although I did read it slowly. Lots of simple and effective advice.
Lenny’s Book of Everything by Karen Foxlee
I was fortunate enough to be sent an advance reading copy of this book. It’s a book which is hard to categorize and a story that stays with you after you have closed the pages. In a sense, it reminded me of John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men. Narrator Lenny worries about Davey, her younger but much bigger brother and their single mother Cynthia Spink. They are dealing with hardships and illness, and with longings for a better life, a better outcome. Lenny wonders about her absent father and knows that her mother is ’thin with worrying.’ When their mother wins a set of Burrell’s Build it at Home Encyclopaedia, arriving in weekly instalments it opens knowledge and imagination for both. Her determination that her children will have the best that she can provide is expressed in her letters to Burrell. Lenny and Davey became real to me I smiled at Davey’s imaginary eagle improbably named Timothy. I ached for Lenny with her longing to find her missing father. It might be a stretch for most ten-year-olds but any literate imaginative ten+ should love this book.