Grief Is The Thing With Feathers by Max Porter

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I’ve heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

~ Emily Dickinson

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A Witch Is Born

A witch is born when a candle is placed in a paper lantern and flown into the sky. Her first view of the world – not when she opens her eyes, for that happens much later, but when she becomes aware – is the knowledge of how it feels to float. Flying through the air on a candleholder, the witch feels the wind around her, and begins to understand.

A Novel Sunday

I wake up. It is still dark outside, but it’s never really dark in my London bedroom, with its double windows surrounding the space. Rolling over, I see that the cat has jumped onto my chair and I mumble at her incoherently: ‘smychairgeroff.

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Nonna

The girl stood outside the telephone box.

It was raining; one of those English nights where the light turns everything blue.

The girl was small. She could just about reach the handle of the red door behind her, but it was too heavy for her to pull open. She’d tried. It had earned her a stern look from inside the box.

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One of those days that feels like a novel

It’s Monday morning. I wake up to the sound of seagulls screeching outside the window, sun straining through the blind.

I work for a bit, perched on the edge of the single bed in the hotel room with a bright pink laptop on my knee and my feet resting on the chair opposite, tapping out replies to emails and deciding on my Out Of Office message.

By 10am I’m on a bus through the countryside, familiar places passing by the window, invoking memories that have lain dormant since I last returned almost three years ago.

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Book Review: Beautiful Day

beaut

The blurb for this one promised yet another run-of-the-mill romance:

Rachel is looking for her beautiful day. She’s worried about everything: being a good mother, money and starting a new job.

Philip is a lost soul in the world and he could do with a friend.

They are just about to meet and when they do everything will change. Rachel and Philip don’t know it yet, but they each have what the other needs. They can save one another, and not in the way you might expect.

This is a story about finding happiness and love in all their forms. And how sometimes you can find them in the most unlikely of places…

…but actually, this book was lovely. And not all about romance, but about all the types of love you can feel for another person, and how people can touch your life in the most unexpected of ways.

The characterisation is very strong; it’s easy to sympathise with Rachel, who’s trying so hard to hold everything together and look like it’s all OK, whilst dealing with the breakup of her marriage and juggling kids and jobs and god knows what else. There are several characters that could be superficial but aren’t: the ex-husband and his pretty new lady; the kids who are simultaneously loveable and irritating; the guy from work who doesn’t seem like Rachel’s type at first…

Kate Anthony has a way with words that will transport you into the characters’ worlds. Beautiful Day is a touching story of people who find each other and learn to see each other for who they really are.

Verdict: 

Beautiful Day is published by Penguin/Michael Joseph and is available to buy in both paperback and ebook form from the 10th of April 2014. 

Book Review: Watch Your Back

Watch Your Back by Karen Rose
Watch Your Back by Karen Rose

I love Karen Rose’s books because you always know what you’re getting. Strong woman who’s having a really crap time meets strong man who wants to help her, won’t let him, they both get injured (literally and metaphorically) in the process, and eventually end up together.

Nice, easy books. Thick but quick (didn’t sound quite so euphemistic in my mind…), unchallenging, loveable characters and gripping plotlines.

Watch Your Back sounded pretty much the same as all the rest:

Stevie Mazzetti knew she would never get over the murder of her husband and son. But with their killer behind bars she was able to move on with her life, if only for her daughter’s sake.

Now, eight years later, the Baltimore detective always fights for the victims she meets and when she learns that her ex-partner may have miscarried justice, Stevie’s determined to right the wrong, even if it means she is in danger.

Clay Maynard has always wanted Stevie and he believes that protecting her may give him the chance to keep her in his life forever. With a vicious psychopath on Stevie’s tail, can they stay alive long enough to find the happiness they deserve?

…but it wasn’t, it was better. Because of the twist.

I don’t generally expect huge twists from Rose’s books, just good solid action-thrillers, so when the police sketch artist finally got around to drawing the victim’s interpretation of the person behind the whole setup, I thought I knew who it was and was ready to not be surprised. This wouldn’t have made the book disappointing at all, because I wasn’t expecting it in the first place. But Rose drew out the suspense for a couple more chapters, until I actually quite wanted to find out, just for the pleasure of scratching that itch, even though I knew who’d be on the piece of paper.

It wasn’t, though. I’d guessed wrong. As a veteran crime fiction reader, this almost never happens. I actually looked up from the book for a moment, raised my glass and toasted the author from afar: “Karen Rose, you have surpassed yourself”. And I found myself a little choked up, because it was just so horrible, but so realistic.

I love realistic horrible things. Not when they’re really horribly happening to me, but when they’re happening in books.

Ms. Rose, thank you for this book, it’s excellent. I’m now looking forward to your next one even more than I already was.

Verdict: