As the month draws to a close I thought I'd share the titles I've finished reading this month. An eclectic mix if I'm honest, but then I do like to switch genres. Some took a matter of days to read, 'Victoria' took me three months due to the level of detail.
Victoria: a life - A.N. Wilson - a fabulous read if you're interested in the life, family or reign of Queen Victoria. The level of detail is incredibly high so I'd imagine it might bore some readers if she isn't one of your life-long obsessions. She is to me, so I wallowed in every tiny detail. A highly recommended read as it portrays her closest relationships, her empires, her unpecidented involvement with polictics and the extensive interaction with her European family tree! A serious account of her life, which is told in a fair and seemingly unbiased manner - it must have taken years to have researched and written this book.
I let him go - Denise Fergus - I cried within three pages. A beautiful account of a mother's love for her little boy, James. If you know the story, then you've heard of the worst scenario for any parent. I admired Denise Fergus before reading her account now, I have untold respect for the lady - she truly deserves never to shed a tear of sadness in her life. I read this book within 24 hours - I couldn't put it down.
Dracula - Bram Stoker - Being an English teacher you'd expect that I'd have read this before now, but sadly not. I had started it years ago but didn't get very far, who knows why? Any way, this time I loved it! Admittedly, I couldn't read it at night, I don't do thrillers - my imagination is far too strong for such activities. On finishing, I admitted that I think it's better than Frankenstein by Shelly, which is a mighty claim by little old me.
Agatha Christie - you all know that I've started to reread my collection. I've added another two to my accomplishments. As always, I get lost in her world of crime and emerge feeling renewed having revisited my teenage years. I hope I never lose that ability to time travel.
Bound To Her Blood Enemy - Tora Williams (not shown in the photograph) - I don't tend to read historical genre so this made a pleasant change from my usual choice. I was fascinated and full-submerged my imagination into their quest to survive certain circumstances. Tora is a friend of mine so, I was able to feedback directly. An enjoyable read. I appeciate the effort and difficulty researching such a specific era.
Last night, I began reading The Stranger by Harlan Coben - I know it was shown on TV a few weeks ago but I missed it. Being a book worm, I purchased a copy. I'm only a few chapters in and already I know this will be done and dusted by the end of the weekend. I simply love the way Coben snags the reader's attention then makes us second-guess on every page.
Well, what a shocker - no one predicted this for 2020! At New year, I had ultra high hopes for this year and now, I'm spending each day avoiding everyone! Though its fair to say as an author I've been self-isolating for years trying to sneak off away from people to spend my days alone writing.
I haven't any symptoms, but chose to remove myself from the daily routine - one less person playing virus tag on the streets!
My plan is to finish editing my current project - which will keep me out of mischief for a few weeks. If needs be, I'll start writing a new book which I planned a few weeks ago. It's simply strange busily working yet, seeing most of my neighbours at home - I'm usually the only one in at this time of day!
Given the severity of the situation, all my author talks have been cancelled to be rearranged at a later date. A shame, but a necessary move.
In the meantime, I shall be editing, writing, sketching and reading so, get ready for a whole host of blog posts when I'm not occupied or fed up talking to my assistants!
I have to say it's not every day that I attend a library and find I have a bookshelf to myself displaying my publications, but that happened today at Warwick!
I was there to give an informal talk to their coffee morning participants about my books and my journey towards publication. I was thrilled when I found myself seated before 25 library users for the hour long session. They were a bright bubbly bunch which made the chat so easy as I explained my stumbling journey towards a book contract. They were so nice, they even laughed at my jokes!
Anyhow, I managed to answer all their questions regards writers' block, juggling careers, the pressures of writing to deadlines and shared an insight regards character creation.
At the end of the talk it was so lovely to see so many from the audience select one of my books from the shelf and take it home. I only hope they enjoy the book, enjoy their coffee coaster freebie from me and have a chuckle at some of my anecdotes.
Check out the 'home' page to view the location of my next author talk.
On Thursday, 27th February, I spent a delightful day travelling around a small area of Birmingham courtesy of the mobile library unit and their fantastic team.
I'd asked if I could be shown the ropes on how the mobile unit functions and to potentially meet and greet some of customers who use the service on a regular basis. I have to be honest and say, I was blown away by the organisation and sheer complexity of their home base; not only is it home for the mobile library crew but also the 'Library at home' scheme. I was given tour of the home base by the wonderful Jackie prior to our 'rounds' for the day - it was a treasure trove of delights for any book lover. I secretly wanted to get locked in over night so I could trawl the book shelves which contained everything you could think of from audio books, magazine subscriptions, reference books, a full range of diverse languages plus boxes of jigsaws!
As I walked about in amazement at hearing the number of library users supported in this manner, the number of requests, the sheer volume of material which is dispatched my mind began to comprehend just how vital such library services are. My love of books has been central to my life, so I couldn't imagine not being able to attend a local library due to health reasons, circumstances or difficulties with my mobility. The library services offered by Birmingham must feel like a life line to some users.
By half nine we were out and about on the road in the mobile unit following a simple timetable for the day. And, what a joy it was! I was lucky enough to meet and chat with so many people during our six stops. I was amazed at the number of returns they brought back - which they'd read in just one week! Seriously, I read about 30 books a year which is nothing compared to some of the readers I met on our travels. It was wonderful to see library users waiting for our arrival, collecting requests and having books reissued. I loved that the mobile team knew the names of every person using their service. There was a genuine rapport and friendship shown to each user, real care and consideration - that personal touch which is so important. One of my highlights of the day was towards the end when the mobile library was filled with tiny little children and their parents choosing their weekly selection of books - ah bless them, you forget how excited tiny people get about books.
I had a super day. Which was made more delightful by the fabulous duo, Jackie and Bash, who put up with my endless questions. I arrived home as excited as the children waving their plastic library cards ready to share my observations with anyone who would listen.
Once again, a huge 'Thank you' to the team for granting me a wish and enabling my visit to happen. I shall see you soon.
For further information about Birmingham Library services: click here.