In Celebration of Mums- 5 Great Literary Mums!

It’s Mother’s Day in the UK on Sunday- Quick! Get your cards sent!

In honour of my mother, who is the most fantabulous mum in the whole world (yes I checked!), I would like to present a small round up of literary mums who are super brilliant too…

Now, these mums were chosen because they are more than just good fictional characters, they would actually make rather marvellous mothers if they were real. So for example, Mrs Bennet from Pride and Prejudice has not made the list. She’s a completely marvellous character in literary terms but I’m pretty sure that most of us would agree that her attempts to sell off all her children, and the multiple ‘quiverings and flutterings all over’ would drive us all batty!

In no particular order….

MWMolly Weasley (The Harry Potter Series)

I’m pretty sure that Mrs Weasley would top, or come close to topping any poll on literary mums.

Her Christmas jumpers, her excellent cooking, her steadfastness in looking after her seven children all combine with her willingness to take in Harry and care for him as one of her own to show off her kindness and compassion.

She’s always ready with a hug or a decent scolding when needed and, although her protective nature sometimes feels smothering to her children, her badassness is legend.

‘NOT MY DAUGHTER, YOU BITCH!’

 

MDMrs Dashwood (Sense and Sensibility)

Although Mrs Dashwood isn’t without her flaws- she’s often too romantic and emotional, and too governed by the whims of Marianne- she is kind-hearted and very affectionate towards her daughters.

There is a lot of love in the Dashwood household as signalled by Marianne’s fevered fixation on her mother when seriously ill, and her mother’s subsequent dash to her side.

Unlike many mothers depicted in Austen’s novels, Mrs Dashwood cares more for the happiness of her daughters than for what advantageous matches they might make.

 

MM

Marmee (Little Women)

Almost too good to be true, Marmee, as Mrs March is known to her children, is a highly principled, progressive woman for her time.

She doesn’t insist her daughters marry for money and in fact makes sure that they are educated and able to stand up for themselves at a time when the opposite was expected. She’s non-judgemental, and believes in all sectors of society.

She’s hard working, sets a good example, is available to console her daughters and be confided in, and has a huge amount of love for her children.

She’s able to protect her children whilst letting them make mistakes and learn from them.

 

ap

Amelia P. Emerson (The Amelia Peabody Series)

A truly formidable woman, Amelia Peabody’s world is turned upside down on her first visit to Egypt where she meets her soon to be husband, Radcliffe Emerson.

Their union produces a son Walter Peabody Emerson, known to almost one and all as Ramses. Her maternal experience later includes Nefret Forth, a girl they rescue from the Western Desert at the age of 13.

Very progressive for her time, and yet in some ways the epitome of a Victorian lady, Amelia instills a liberal viewpoint in her children. They do not treat people differently due to their race. They are kind to animals and compassionate to people less fortunate than themselves (which is, frankly, most other people in the book)

She is fiercely protective and has been known to go into a ‘berserker rage’ if someone threatens Ramses, most notably when Ramses is physically threatened as a youngster.

Woebetide those who cross the Sitt Hakim and her magical parasol!

 

MF

Mrs Frisby (Mrs Frisby and the Rats of Nimh)

Noone who has read this book or seen the adaptation The Secret of Nimh can fail to be moved by Mrs Frisby’s bravery.

Her son Timothy is ill with pneumonia just at the time they would normally move to their summer home- the spring plowing is about to begin and their home will be destroyed.

Mrs Frisby’s bravery and courage in finding a solution to this is indicative of the sacrifice that so many mothers are willing to make to protect their children.

With no thought to her own safety, she does what she needs to to get the help to move her house.

 

 

These are just a few of the great mums out there in the world of literature- who would you have picked??

And thanks Mum! You’re ace!

Rachel Brazil
Although well-known amongst my family for my habit of falling asleep with a book on my face, I’ve not let the constant face bruises deter me from indulging in my favourite pastime. There is no famine, only feast, in my house with every flavour of book available for consumption.

I’m happy to sample almost anything from the smorgasbord of literature available but can always be tempted with a juicy murder mystery or sweet little romance.

International Women’s Day

Today is International Women’s Day. A day in which we celebrate the impact women make in the world; honour the amazing women who create, inspire and fight for the rights of all of us; women past and present. We at the BookEaters have taken the opportunity to reflect on what IWD means to us, the books and authors who have influenced us over the years, and raise awareness of those that still have a bit of work to do!

Tam:

iwdIWD is a day not just for looking back on past struggles and accomplishments, but, for looking ahead to the untapped potential and opportunities that await future generations of women. This year’s theme is “Be Bold For Change”

Women fight for women’s rights and we need to encourage our daughters to think big, to see way outside of the confines of stereotypes and social media. Our daughters shouldn’t be dreaming about change rather they should be aspiring to achieve the change. How girls see themselves and their role in the world is inculcated in them from the moment the people around them make decisions that define them – from being dressed in pink and given dolls through to FGM and forced marriage. From infanthood our girls need female role models who will help them to feel more confident and to set bigger goals, to replace dreams with aspirations.

51HWn+LRX1L._SX356_BO1,204,203,200_I have just ordered a copy of Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls. This children’s book has 100 bedtime stories about the real lives of 100 extraordinary women and is illustrated by female artists from all over the world. Some of the stories even begin with the traditional “Once upon a time” approach but these real life Cinderellas don’t get rescued from poverty and slave labour to marry rich handsome men instead they grow up and really do become astronauts, ground breaking scientists, mathematicians, amazing artists, womens rights activists, authors, queens, politicians and so on. Don’t dream it – be it! – that’s what we need to teach our girls.

 

Gem: I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings

51LhIJz4gtL._SS500_Before I read this book I was a feminist in theory. Reading it when I was 17 changed my whole understanding of feminism and politics. For the first time I truly realised the the personal IS the political and how culture impacts on human beings. I’m proud to call myself an intersectional feminist, I know that although all women our opressed (yes, still) our levels of opression and the forms they take are different. I couldn’t stop and had to read the rest of her books, Maya Angelou took me from childhood to womanhood in my year of reading her and I will be forever grateful.

Kelly:

51VHe12RxJL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Thanks to the Virago Books twitter page, I have been thinking a little more about the books that made me a feminist over the last few days. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood is the one that springs immediately to mind: A story of a dystopian future in which many women are sterile, and younger women are used as a vessel for childbirth. It’s a chilling representation of the eroding of women’s rights, made all the more disturbing by the fact that the protagonist recalls memories from her life before. I re-read it recently for a feminist book group and found that not only does it stand the test of time, but its message is becoming ever more pertinent. No surprise then that in this new “post-truth” world, this book has been flying off the shelves. It shows how we still have a long way to go to achieve equality, and how precarious are the advances we have made so far.

Rachel:

50ShadesofGreyCoverArtI know that the others have all talked about inspirational women who have done great things but I could not concentrate on that. Last night I watched as much of 50 Shades of Grey as I could before my head exploded with rage.
Why on earth would you do that??? I hear you cry. Well, I wanted to see how they would handle/disguise the abusive elements of the relationship between Ana and Christian.
I was badly disappointed. They took almost every incident of abusive behaviour and lauded it as a sign of romance.
Therefore, I’m afraid that rather than celebrate the many many women who fight for the rights of women everywhere, I am compelled to add my voice to the hundreds and thousands that warn people off EL James.

EL James has not created a romantic fairy tale of true love conquering all. She has not created an epic love story depicting a loving relationship and a journey towards happiness. She has not even created a well-written story- her writing is shockingly awful.
She has created a story of oppression, a story of abuse, a story that not only blurs the lines of consent but also erases them entirely.. He frequently assumes that her silence is consent despite her verbal comments suggesting otherwise, particularly when it comes to the sexual elements of the story. At one point in the story, Christian sells Ana’s car without her knowledge or consent

Christian Grey is not a flawed romantic hero. He is an abusive controlling menace.

Ana Steele is not a strong confident woman who is seeking her fairy tale. She is oppressed, mislead and abused.

THIS IS NOT THE STORY WE* SHOULD BE CELEBRATING. THE STORIES ABOVE ARE THOSE WORTHY OF OUR TIME AND ATTENTION.

*The world at large/Hollywood etc. Obviously we BookEaters in no way celebrate E L James.

 

 

Tamara Thomas
I am the only girl and youngest of four children, I grew up in a home stuffed with books, and now some fifty years later, great piles of them still appear in every room I inhabit. I won’t waste my time reading books that leave me feeling sour, dirty or depressed; books are a source of light and inspiration in my world. Nevertheless, I love a book that makes me cry with loss or sadness such as Captain Corelli’s Mandolin or The Book Thief. Bliss is a winter’s afternoon on the sofa, snuggled in with my dogs, stove blazing and an absorbing book.

New Year, New Books!

With Christmas over for another year, many of us have book tokens burning a hole in our pockets. They must, of course, be spent wisely, so it’s time to have a nose at the publishing year ahead and pick out some of the books we are most excited about.


img_1564Norse Mythology
by Neil Gaiman

Fans of Neil Gaiman will know the importance of mythology within his work: from Sandman to American Gods, Anansi Boys to The Sleeper and The Spindle. In his own words: “what is important is to tell the stories anew, and to retell the old stories. They are our stories, and they should be told.” In this new book, Gaiman will focus on the gods of Asgard, from their beginnings through to Ragnarök and retell the stories in what I’m sure will be his own distinctive way. Published on February 7th.
( Also look out for the TV adaptation of American Gods which premieres this year- on Starz in the US and Amazon Prime in the U.K.)


img_1571Into The Water
by Paula Hawkins

The Girl on the Train shot Paula Hawkins to international stardom and sold millions of copies worldwide. It’s no surprise then that her next novel is highly anticipated. Into the Water focuses on the separate deaths of a teenage girl and a single mother whose bodies are found at the bottom of the river that runs through their town. Penguin Random House inform us that this will be “an urgent, twisting, deeply satisfying read that hinges on the deceptive mess of emotion and memory.” It’s published on May 2nd.

img_1569Macbeth by Jo Nesbo and New Boy by Tracey Chevalier

We BookEaters have been gobbling up the offerings from Hogarth Shakespeare with frenzied speed, so we are very excited that we have two new books to look forward to in 2017. Nordic crime writer and general polymath, Jo Nesbo recreates Macbeth which is to be published on April 2nd. Tracey Chevalier, author of the bestselling novel Girl With a Pearl Earring, retells Othello in 1970’s Washington DC which will be published on 6th June.

The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen img_1567

Already described as a must read for anyone in political office, this book surely should be essential reading for everyone. A collection of stories spanning twenty years explores immigration, family and love. Viet Thanh Nguyen has won multiple awards for his writing, including the Pulitzer in 2016. This, his latest book, is published on 7th February.

How to Stop Time by Matt Haig

Reasons to Stay Alive was one of the most important books I read last year, and I have been telling anyone who will listen to me about it ever since. How to Stop Time is his latest adult novel and is out in July this year.

In The Name of The Family by Sarah Dunant img_1566

Three years ago I read, and loved, Blood and Beauty by Sarah Dunant, a book about the Borgias that made it into my top 5 books set in Italy. I’ve been waiting patiently for the sequel ever since. And here it is. In The Name of The Family is set in 1502 and introduces Niccolo Machiavelli to the lives of the ruthless, dynastic Borgia family. For me, Sarah Dunant is the best novelist on the Italian Renaissance. It’s published on 2nd March.

img_1568House of Names by Colm Tóibín

The story of Troy and the ancient war between the Greeks and the Trojans has been retold down the millennia, influencing a multitude of authors. Colm Tóibín, bestselling author of Brooklyn (amongst others), is the latest to reimagine the tale, this time from the point of view of Clytemnestra, wife of Agamemnon, king of Mycenae. This book tells the story of a woman betrayed, and driven by vengeance to commit murder. Due for publication on 9th May, it’s set to be an extraordinary read.

So have we whetted your appetite? What books are you looking forward to this year?

Kelly Turner
My love of reading began at an early age. I am indebted to my parents for putting “Naughty Amelia Jane” by Enid Blyton in the loft when I was five, forcing me to read something else. At the age of sixteen I picked up my first Discworld novel and never looked back. As well as devouring anything by Terry Pratchett I am also a fan of other fantasy writers such as Neil Gaiman and Ben Aaronovitch. In addition I like to read historical fiction, and enjoy a love story or two.

The Five Bite Books of 2016!

So we all know 2016 has been a bit of a bad year for a lot of people, we’ve lost far too many talented artists from all fields and the political landscape is more like a battlefield than a diplomats dinner party.

But there have been some bright points to the year too, and for all of us BookEaters out in the world there have been some delicious treats on offer.

So here’s a round-up of the books published in 2016 that brightened our year and got the highest accolade available – 5 Bites! There’s over 20 books in here so something for everyone but of course we’d love you to tell us about any that brightened yours!

The Core Of The Sun by Johanna Sinisalo

imageThe Handmaids Tale meets 1984 meets A Brave New World! BookEater Gem was in feminist dystopian heaven with this Finnish author.

Read our full review here.

The Good Liar by Nicholas Searle

imageAn old conman is out to do one last gig – he’s picked his mark, the elegant Betty does not know what’s about to hit her! But while we se the shades of his old life will we see his redemption?

Read our full review here.

Beside Myself by Ann Morgan

imageTwins Helen and Ellie swap identities one day when they are just seven, then Ellie refuses to swap back, she likes being the popular one. Years later she’s in a coma and her sister comes to visit…

Read our full review here.

River of Ink by Paul M M Cooper

imageA poet in medieval Sri Lanka accidentally inspires a revolution against an invading dictator. Epic notes of love and betrayal are grounded by human flaws and failings.

Read our full review here.

Your Heart Is A Muscle The Size Of A Fist by Sunil Yapa

imageThe stories of six different people caught up in a peaceful protest that turns violent. Homeless Victor ends up with the protestors while his estranged step-father is co-ordinating the police response.

Read our full review here.

The Trees by Ali Shaw

imageThe apocalypse arrives in the shape of trees smashing up through the earth like a tsunami. Adrian Thomas wife Michelle is away when it happens. He has to find her and a group of misfits help him.

Read our full review here.

Schtum by Jem Lester

imageBen Jewell is failing to cope with thebreak down of his marriage and parenting his severely autistic son. The ugliness of life is expose and made beautiful in this story.

Read our full review here.

Bad Analysis by Colin Knight

41aL2YZ5p8L._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_This modern day thriller sees an aristocrat organisng an act of terror to be blamed on Britains Muslim community. Fast paced, well written and gripping from start to finish!

Read our full review here.

The Lubetkin Legacy by Marina Lewycka

imageThe author of A Short History of Tractors In Ukrainian came back with another corker this year – a love letter to London and to communities of all shapes and sizes.

Read our full review here.

The Vinyl Detective – Written in Dead Wax by Andrew Cartmel

Vinyl DetectiveA laugh out loud mystery, if you like Ben Aaronovitch and Nick Hornby you will LOVE this! BookEater Rachel devoured it in a single 3 hour sitting!

Read our full review here.

My Name is Leon by Kit De Waal

cover78296-mediumA young black boy is taken into foster care just before the Toxteth Riots, his white brother is adopted. We learn about family love and racism in England. Heartbreaking and life-affirming in equal doses.

Read our full review here.

Let Me Tell You About A Man I Knew by Susan Fletcher

5199g2QmCJL._SX325_BO1,204,203,200_In 1889 Vincent Van Gogh entered the hospital of Saint-Paul-de Mausole after cuttin goff his ear. There he met and painted Jeanne Trabuc. This is an intimate imagining of her life.  Soft and poignant.

Read our full review here.

Smoke by Dan Vyleta

imageAnother Young Adult book that crosses over. In this world, when people sin or think about sinning a visible smoke rises from their skin. The Elite control their smoke but are they corrupt anyway?

Read our full review here.

The Sudden Appearance of Hope by Claire North

img_2276A main character that can’t be remembered is exceptionally hard to forget! An exciting thriller and a meditation on memory all wrapped into one.

Read our full review here.

The Muse by Jessie Burton

imageA young girl fresh off the boat from Jamaica discovers a lost treasure of the art world. But there is so much more to the painting’s story than at first it seems. Passion, art, race and revolution combine.

Read our full review here.

One of Us – The Story of a Massacre and It’s Aftermath by Asne Seierstad.

imagePainstakingly researched and unflinching. No book has ever made BookEater Gem sob so much yet she still believes everyone should read it.

Read our full review here.

Nina Is Not OK by Shappi Khorsandi

image17 year old Nina’s partying is out of control, but then she has just been dumped and everyone parties don’t they? This 1st person narrative will have you in tears of laughter and sympathy.

Read our full review here.

Knights of The Borrowed Dark by Dave Rudden

Knights of the Borrowed DarkA Young Adult book full of magic but well written enough for any adult. A different world and fights from Harry Potter. BookEater Tam could not put it down!

Read our full review here.

Himself by Jess Kidd

Debut Novel

A handsome dark-haired lad returns home to Ireland to try and uncover who his parents were and lay some ghosts to rests – actual ghosts that he can see!

Read our full review here.

The Last Days of Leda Grey by Essie Fox

Leda GreyBookEater Gem was captivated by story of reclusive star of the silent era. this book is drenched with summer heat and technicolours – a visual and emotional delight!

Read our full review here.

Midwinter by Fiona Melrose

MidwinterAn argument between a father and son who don’t know how to talk to each other leads to a bleak winter. Will the sun ever return? This book is a quiet read with a big emotional punch.

Read our full review here.

The View From The Cheap Seats:Selected Non-Fiction by Neil Gaiman

9781472207999This collection of essays from one of the BookEaters best loved authors is made to be dipped in and out of – great for brightening up bleak days!

Read our full review here.

 

 

GemBookEater
I was reading before I started school and I have no plans to stop now! I usually have at least two books on the go at once, one non-fiction and one fiction. I like reading books based in reality that flick open the doors to the mysteries of the heart or of the spirit.

There’s More Than One Winter’s Tale!

It’s that time of year when the Daily Express and other ‘newspapers’ are full of dire warnings about blizzards, polar vortexes and all kinds of other extremely wintery weather! And it’s also the time of year when we all secretley wish we could be snowed in and have to while away the time with a good book!

But more often than not all we get is a grey sky and a bit of drizzle but don’t lose hope – even if there’s not a crisp wall of snow outside you can always find one inside – inside the pages of a book that is! Here are some wintery recommendations for you (and one warning!)

Minds of Winter by Ed O’Loughlin

cover92338-mediumCoincidently Fay Morgan and Nelson Nilsson have each arrived in Inuvik, Canada – 120 miles north of the Arctic Circle – searching for answers about a family member. Nelson is looking for his estranged older brother, Fay for her disappeared grandfather.  Another coincidence – these two men have an unexpected connection to one of the greatest enduring mysteries of polar exploration.

Through the frozen Arctic waste and the snowblinding passage of time this unlikely couple end up working together to try and figure out what could have happened to both men and in the process create a haunting story about obsessions, procrastination, the threat of war and the fear and pull of insignificance.

4 Bites

Thin Air by Michelle Paver

image1935, young medic Stephen Pearce travels to India to climb Kangchenjunga, the world’s third highest mountain with his brother, Kits. No one has scaled it before, and this team of five are following in the footsteps of one of the most famous mountain disasters of all time – the 1907 Lyell Expedition. Only two of Lyell’s expedition made it off the mountain then, but only four of the five left behind were buried.

Charles Tennant, the last survivor of the 1907 expedition, warns Pearce not to climb, hinting of dark things ahead. But Pearce and the rest are determined. But when they find macabre mementoes of the earlier climb on the trail and the ocygen levels drop as they get higher, he starts to see things. Is it just oxygen sickness or is it something much more sinister?

I’m never likely to try and climb Kangchenjunga and quite frankly if I had been planning to this would have successfully scared me off! Not only are the cold realities of climbing made painfully clear but in the wildness wild things live – and sometimes those wild things are the result of human depravity – this book will give you chills in more ways than one. Though is has some stunningly beatuiful sentances in so you’ll get your fair share of breath-taking views from it too!

4 Bites

The Midwife by Katja Kettu

Runemarks by Joanne M Harris

runemarksFive hundred years after the end of the world and humans no longer worship the old Norse gods, their tales are banned, magic is outlawed, and a new religion rules.

But fourteen-year-old Maddy Smith was born with a runemark on her hand and though she is shunned by her fellow villagers because of it One-Eye teaches her the powers it gives her.

She is thrown amongst living gods still battling one another and in this snow-locked land and learns some surprising truths about herself.

I listened to The Gospel of Loki not long ago after reaing BookEater Kelly’s great review of it but I have to say I think this might be even better! Maddy is a great protagonist and from page one I could imagine watching this during Christmas holidays with snow outside and a fire burning in the grate. Joanne M Harris’ writing is richly visual … treat yourself!

5 Bites

When The Professor Got Stuck In The Snow by Dan Rhodes

professor-in-the-snowThis book from a couple of years ago thinks it is really funny. I didn’t.  The premise of it is Professor Richard Dawkins trying to get to the village of  Upper Bottom to give a talk to their WI but getting stuck in  the nearby town of Market Horten because of a blizzard. He has no choice but to take lodgings with the local Anglican vicar.

For me the problem with the book is how utterly comptemptous the author seems to be of all his characters. Admittedly I didn’t get far into it, I just couldn’t take being in the company of a sneering bully for longer than about half an hour – and by that I am referring to the author though he had painted Richard Dawkins as being exactly that. The fact that he had made it abundantly clear that this was the real Richard Dawkins just in a fictional story didn’t help. I’ve no doubt the man is as far from perfect as I am but this wasn’t gentle ribbing – it was character assasination.

0 Bites

NB I received a free copies of all these books through NetGalley in return for an honest review. The BookEaters always write honest reviews

Previous reviews of Wintery books!

Winter’s Tale by Mark Halpern.

IMG_1352A couple of years ago I wrote a feature on this much loved favourite of mine (and of BookEater Tam’s) where I picked out just a few of the gorgeous sentances describing winter in New York around the turn of the 20th Century.  The story is magical and it’s a huge book so should keep you going through the long Christmas break this year – click here to see the feature and see if this could become your new winter tradition too!

Midwinter by Fiona Melrose

MidwinterA beautiful book of a father and son coming to terms with a past tragedy during a Suffolk winter.

Read more here!

The Gap of Time; The Winter’s Tale Retold by Jeanette Winterson

imageJeanette Winterson’s re-working of Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale stays true to the structure of the original but it’s emotional resonance is completely different.

Read more here!

 

 

 

 

GemBookEater
I was reading before I started school and I have no plans to stop now! I usually have at least two books on the go at once, one non-fiction and one fiction. I like reading books based in reality that flick open the doors to the mysteries of the heart or of the spirit.

By the Pricking of my Thumbs…

Hallowe’en has arrived. The pumpkins have been carved, sweets have been purchased and sit by the door waiting for the arrival of trick or treaters. But tonight isn’t about chocolate: it is a night when malevolent spirits roam amongst us. We BookEaters have gathered around the fire to tell you about our favourite type of evil creature: the witch!*

*Warning: Not all witches will be scary, some will be strong, brave, and others just generally not very good.

Charlotte:

img_1552Professor McGonagall is my favourite fictional witch. She is the perfect Head of Gryffindor House because she is brave, staunchly loyal to Dumbledore, and incredibly protective of her students. It is McGonagall who spots Harry Potter’s talent for quidditch, gives him the benefit of the doubt when he breaks school rules, and calls upon the defensive magical powers of Hogwarts in preparation for the final battle with Voldemort. She subverts every stereotype of the spinster cat lady. She is always strong-minded and fiercely independent. If you met her, she would look you in the eye and tell you the unvarnished truth.

Kelly:

img_1551My first real encounter with a truly terrifying witch was whilst reading The Witches by Roald Dahl. What could be scarier than witches that hated children? Bald, with clawed hands and toe-less feet, they have created a new way to rid the world of children, who smell to them like dogs droppings. Their plan? To turn the children into mice, which the adults will then kill. Making parents unwitttingly kill their own children! Horrific! It’s up to our hero narrator, who has overheard their plans during their annual meeting in Bournemouth, and his Norwegian grandmother to stop them. I don’t think I will ever forget the terror I felt when the Grand High Witch first reveals herself. A book that lives long in the imagination!

img_1553My all time favourite witch, though,  has got to be Granny Weatherwax. For me, she is one of the best characters from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, and no list of the best witches would be complete without her. Granny is strong willed, fierce and not to be messed with! She’s a mentor for the younger Witches in Lancre and The Chalk, including Tiffany Aching and isn’t afraid to tell them exactly what she thinks. Fellow witch, King, Vampire or general mortal, Granny treats everyone as an equal- one who knows less than she does!

Gem:

WitchesI’ve almost finished reading about New York in 1880 – home to two young(ish) witches. Adelaide Thom can see the secrets of the soul and Eleanor St. Clair is a healer and keeper of spells. They run a Tea Shop catering to Manhattan’s high society and when Beatrice Dunn arrives at their door seeking employment, it soon becomes apparent that she has magical talents of her own. Eleanor wants to tread lightly and respect the magic manifest in the girl, but Adelaide sees a business opportunity. But though there are men like Dr. Quinn Brody, who respect the talents and intelligence of the three women there are also men convinced they are evil. When Beatrice disappears they must decide if she has simply fled or if something more sinister has happened.

I love the time and place that this is set in – in the background there are women fighting for the vote and men exploring science. The old world and the new are colliding but through this turmoil the characters still shine through. It’s hard to pick a favourite witch out of these three, I’m just hoping it has a happy enough ending to open the door to a sequel!

 

Rachel:

I do love a good evil witch! Particularly those witches who actually aren’t evil! Given the problematic treatment of ‘witches’ throughout history, it’s always nice to see portrayals of witches as not inherently evil.

I couldn’t decide on my favourite witch so have opted for two.
manon-blackbeakFirst up is Manon Blackbeak whom can be found in Sarah J.Maas’s Throne of Glass series. A member of the Ironteeth witch clan, she has long white hair, gold eyes and, disturbingly, retractable iron teeth and claws. She’s also totally badass. Like, seriously. A fascinating character who is vicious, cruel, thoughtful and reflective, her questioning of her motives, actions and moral compass make her a flawed and multi-layered character. And she rides a dragon*

*not actually called a dragon in the books but near as makes no never mind!

 

mildredSecondly, Mildred Hubble! Oh Mildred, they call you The Worst Witch but you really really aren’t. You’re marvellous. You’re very clumsy but you mean well and you can’t help but get in to all sorts of pickles! I particularly enjoyed it when you turned your headmistress’s sister into a snail! You’ve got loyal and kind friends, an entertaining rivalry with another witch and you’re nice to cats! You’re definitely not the worst!

 

 

Kelly Turner
My love of reading began at an early age. I am indebted to my parents for putting “Naughty Amelia Jane” by Enid Blyton in the loft when I was five, forcing me to read something else. At the age of sixteen I picked up my first Discworld novel and never looked back. As well as devouring anything by Terry Pratchett I am also a fan of other fantasy writers such as Neil Gaiman and Ben Aaronovitch. In addition I like to read historical fiction, and enjoy a love story or two.

Black History Month: A Resource Guide To Black Science Fiction & Fantasy

This month is Black History Month. A very important celebration that looks back at the contributions made by black people all over the world. A chance to remember their struggles for acceptance and the need be treated equally, to learn of their stories and to understand how their lives were affected by indifference and hatred.

But I am a white man, living in a white culture with little experience of the struggles they have experienced over the decades. To my mind, that disqualifies me from spouting any further on that side of things. Though I do have an opinion and that is to say, it’s an unjust World we live in and change is well overdue.

I could talk about black Sci-Fi authors of the past, people like Octavia E. Butler, Nalo Hopkinson and Charles W. Chesnutt. There are many black authors who have contributed to the fine body of literature that is Science Fiction.

Instead, I’m going to give you a list of resources where you can find out more about past, current and future black authors. You will learn an awful lot more by discovering for yourself the contributions made than by revealing my own inadequate knowledge.

For Black History Information

Posts About Black Science Fiction Authors

Websites For Black Science Fiction

Black Science Fiction Authors

Black Science Fiction and the Media

Until I started doing the research for the links above, I had no idea what colour skin Samuel R. Delany had. In fact, that’s true for the majority of the authors that I read, I have no idea what colour they are. Besides it doesn’t matter to me and it shouldn’t matter to you. All that is important is that you read, buy books and support new and current authors. Go to it!

Bob Toovey
I started reading Sci Fi at around age 8, I’ve never looked back since. I was highly influenced by my father’s reading choices at the beginning. I soon branched out to many different authors and Sci Fi genre’s. Early influences include Asimov, Clark, Simak, PKD and other ‘golden age’ authors. On occasion, I like a good spy book and currently finding early religious history a fascinating subject – despite being an atheist.

Eight Books That Love The Bookish Life!

We all know that us readers love books, and most writers are readers first and foremost. So what can be better than a book that pays homage to other books? Here we have eight books that indulge that passion for books in different ways.

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend

RBWRSara, a 28 year old book shop assistant from Sweden, arrives in the small town of Broken Wheel in Iowa to visit Amy, an elderly resident of Broken Wheel, with whom she has developed a close pen pal relationship based around their mutual love of books. She has high hopes for the visit and is therefore stopped in her tracks somewhat when, upon arriving at Amy’s house, she walks in to Amy’s wake.

Unsure of what to do, Sara accepts the townspeople’s offer to stay as it ‘was what Amy wanted’. She ends up opening a town bookshop with Amy’s vast book collection, with the proceeds going to the town. Sara prides herself on finding the right book for everyone, finding that one ‘gateway’ book that will open the doors to a reading journey for everyone. These journeys not only change the town but also Sara herself. Read Full review here.

The Word Exchange

imageSet in modern day New York but a New York where books, libraries, and newspapers have already become historical items. Instead  entertainment is streamed to handheld devices known as Memes.  And don’t worry if you can’t remember what all the words on your Meme mean – these devices are smart enough to prompt us with words we can’t recall. Of course not quite everyone is in thrall to them, Anana has endured numerous lectures from her father -the chief editor of what is going to be the last ever edition of the North American Dictionary of the English Language. And now she’s starting to suspect that the growing “word flu” pandemic as being spread by them.  See full review here.

The Storied Life of A.J Fikry

9780349141077A.J. Fikry owns the only book shop on Alice Island and an extremely rare copy of Edgar Allen Poe’s Tamerlane.

Neither is bringing him any joy since his wife died. Then one night, when he’s passed out drunk, Tamerlane is stolen.  Shortly after a baby is left in his shop with a note from the suicidal mother. A.J does the right thing and calls the police straight away, but without quite knowing why,  A.J decides to adopt the baby and his life is turned inside out.

The story follows A.J and his new daughter through her growing up in his bookshop, him falling in love and the solving of the mystery of the missing copy of Tamerlane. Read the full review here.

Mr Penumbra’s 24 Hour Book store

imageHip graphic designer Clay Jannon has lost his job as an award winning web designer. A mixture of desperation and curiosity, has driven him into working the night shift at Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore.

Mr Penumbra is charming and affable and Clay quickly decide to use his marketing skills to attract more customers. The few the store has come in regularly, but they never seem to buy anything. Instead these ‘members’ borrow bizarrely obscure volumes from the back of the store, and it seems that each book leads them to the next in a very specific order. Intrigued, Clay embarks on a complex analysis of the customers’ behaviour.  But when Mr Penumbra discovers this investigation he sets him on a path to a far bigger secret. Read the full review here.

The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana

78769-coverGiambattista Bodoni, an older man who wakes from a coma with just a few scattered memories, mainly of things that he had no strong emotional attachment to. He tries to return to his old life with his family around him but soon he feels he has go back to his past in order to be able to really live in the present. This is a journey through the books, music and films of his childhood, a childhood dominated by the rise of Mussolini and Second World War.

Read the full review here.

How To Find Love In A Bookshop by Veronica Henry

imageNightingale Books, nestled on the high street in the idyllic Cotswold town of Peasebrook, is a dream come true for booklovers.

But owner Emilia Nightingale is struggling to keep the shop open. The temptation to sell up is proving enormous – but what about the promise she made to her father? Not to mention the loyalty she owes to her customers.

Read our full review here.

The Reader On The 6.27

cover78254-mediumGuylain Vignolles hates working at the book pulping factory, one particularly odious co-worker regularly gloats when feted books are destroyed, books he knows Guylain would like to read but hasn’t.

But he has but one pleasure in life. Every evening he has the job of descending into the jaws of the pulping machine where he rescues a few precious pages that have got stuck to the sides of the machine. Then every morning, sitting on the 6.27 train, he reads them aloud, something that all the passengers enjoy. Read the full review here.

The Little Paris Bookshop

Bookcover paris bookshopFrom a barge on the Seine, Jean Perdu runs a ‘literary apothecary’. A bookshop from which he prescribes the right books to soothe the troubled souls of his customers.

He is a man that loves books and reads them greedily, but not selfishly. To quote “Whenever Monsieur Perdu looked at a book, he did not see it purely in terms of a story, retail price and an essential balm for the soul; he saw freedom on wings of paper.”

When he unmoors his  floating bookshop and sets off for Provence, along with an uninvited panicking bestselling author, he learns that books have ways of connecting people in ways he hadn’t imagined. Read the  full review here.

So you have Eight recommendations from us but which book full of books do you recommend? Let us know in the comments below or over on our Facebook Page 

GemBookEater
I was reading before I started school and I have no plans to stop now! I usually have at least two books on the go at once, one non-fiction and one fiction. I like reading books based in reality that flick open the doors to the mysteries of the heart or of the spirit.

Six Times Dogs Were A Books Best Friend!

We all know that dogs are mans best friend but did you know they can also be a books best friend?  Here are six of our favourite times that’s happened but do add to the list in the comments if we missed your favourite pooch!

Unknown-1 Enzo – The Art of Racing in The Rain by Garth Stein 

Enzo’s is a dog that thinks he is human. Ok so his tongue is little use for forming words and his body isn’t made for racing cars but his mind and emotions are human enough. Through him we get an intimate portrait of his best friend Denny’s trials and triumphs as well as his own dreams and disappointments. It had me in floods of tears but I wouldn’t have missed reading it for anything. I awarded it 5 bites and you can read the full review of the book here.

Nellie – Cinema Lumiere by Hattie Edmonds Cinema Lumiere cover

Nellie is a real dog lovers dog.  She’s a british bulldog who knows her own mind and really only wants to go on walks that will incorporate frequent treats! She farts up a storm but still manages to be quite adorable. Maybe it’s I because she is the type of dog that doesn’t give too much credence to social niceties. She is a side-kick in this  4 bite story about her owner Hannah, but is beautifully written as is the rest of the book. See the full review here.

TheLastFamilyInEngland Prince – The Last Family in England by Matt Haig

Prince does his best to live up to the Labrador pact and protect his family (The Hunters) from trouble but it seems he is destined to fail. The teenage children are dating the wrong types and taking drugs and it seems even Mr and Mrs Hunter are being lead into temptation. Alongside all this one of his canine friends has been murdered, his mentor is missing and a springer spaniel is trying to lead him astray. Prince is a lovely character and Matt Haig writes from a dogs point of view really well. I gave the book 4 bites, read the full review here.

Flush – Flush by Virginia Woolf IMG_0615.JPG

This is the oldest book on this list, it was published 1933 and is set in the 1840’s. Flush is the beloved spaniel of Elizabeth Barrett- Browning, gifted to her several years before she secretly married Robert Browning and Woolf writes from  his point of view. She does so expertly too, he is always more interested in the things happening at his level and directly to him  so we only see Elizabeth as his owner rather than as a poet. Woolf does manage to subtly squeeze in some social commentary however! I awarded this book bites – read my full review here.

the curious incident of the dog in the nighttimeWellington – The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon

We never hear anything from Wellington in this book, he is neither the protagonist or the antagonist but is instead the catalyst. It is Wellington being found dead with a garden fork through him that sets Christopher off on his adventures. As Christopher investigates Wellington’s murder he interacts with many people; something that isn’t easy for him as he has a condition that places him somewhere on the autistic spectrum. He also discovers some disturbing facts about his own life. BookEater Abi reviewed this book and gave it 5 bites – her full review is here.

Manchee – The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness 220px-Knife_of_Never_letting_Go_cover

Todd didn’t want a dog, he wanted a knife. But a dog was what he got, and although he seems to just be a pain at first, slowly Manchee’s loyalty wins Todd over. As all humans can hear the thoughts of all other humans and animals we are treated to a running commentary of Manchee’s thoughts. He’s a dog, he doesn’t have a huge vocabulary, but it’s amazing how many different things he can express just by saying Todd’s name. This book got 5 bites from me and Manchee is a lot of the reason – head over to see the full review here.

 

GemBookEater
I was reading before I started school and I have no plans to stop now! I usually have at least two books on the go at once, one non-fiction and one fiction. I like reading books based in reality that flick open the doors to the mysteries of the heart or of the spirit.

Five Diaries to Die for!

Books based on diaries whether genuine or fictional are special. They inspire a feeling of intimacy like nothing else can, after all you are reading the most private thoughts and feelings of the diarist. Often things that they would not feel comfortable to say aloud.  Their deepest secrets. Yet, at the same time the writer is always aware that their words might be read someday, possibly by millions, so there is also that layer of artifice, where they are trying to put their best face forward. It’s fascinating stuff and here are five to dive into!

The Diary of a Nobody by George & Weedon Grossmith

diary of a NobodyThis accidental classic was first published as a satirical column in Punch in May 1888. It tells the story of Mr Pooter, a self-involved clerk and his wife and grown-up son. The columns were so popular that they were published as a book 1892 and they’ve never been out of print since.

Mr Pooter is everybody’s embarrassing uncle, he thinks he’s much funnier than he really is and that’s what makes this so relatable to generation after generation.

The Diary of Anne Frank

AnneFrankThe only diary on this list that isn’t a work of fiction, yet paradoxically the one I wish was. This diary of a young Jewish girl hiding from the Nazi’s with her family is heartbreaking as much because of what isn’t in it as what is in it. One of the best things about this is just how ordinary Anne is. She’s like any other teen girl just living in extraordinary circumstances, her diary re-affirms her humanity and that of all people that regimes anywhere try to de-humanise. Everybody should read this.

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 13 3/4 by Sue Townsend

TheSecretDiaryOfAdrianMoleThis book became a huge best-seller in the 80’s and was loved by children and adults alike.

Adrian Mole is a typical teenager whose diary pulls no punches about his parents’ marital troubles, or what an amazing poet he is, although tremendously misunderstood! It’s impossible not to laugh at this.

 

Bridget Jones Diary by Helen Fielding

bridgetjones1Bridget Jones spoke to a generation of woman about the pressures they faced over their jobs, their love life’s and even more importantly- their weight! The diaries of Bridget Jones’ misadventures again started life as a satirical column but once more the character was too big for such slim pages (pun intended) and she burst forth into her own book … then she went stratospheric with her own movie!

She was easy to relate to and made us all feel better about belting out ‘All by myself’ whilst simultaneously eating ice cream and getting drunk – still the best way to honour a broken heart!

A Life Discarded, 148 Diaries Found in a Skip by Alexander Masters

A Life DiscardedThis is an unusual one, the diaries are real, they were found in 2001, and this is Alexander Masters attempt to uncover the identity and real history of the author.  Is the author insane? Who is this person Peter who seems to be keeping them imprisoned? Do these diaries really have the power to ‘kill history’?

It takes five years for Masters to uncover the identity and real history of their author, and their are several surprises and unexpected revelations. Along the way this work becomes a kind of diary of that time in itself, equally as fascinating.

 

 

GemBookEater
I was reading before I started school and I have no plans to stop now! I usually have at least two books on the go at once, one non-fiction and one fiction. I like reading books based in reality that flick open the doors to the mysteries of the heart or of the spirit.

Ten Modern Day Fairy Tales For Grown-Ups!

Modern life can be a little gloomy sometimes and I’ve always thought that books can give you a brief respite – an escape if you like – into a world more beautiful than our own where there may be a good chance of a happy ever after!

So here’s ten recommendations for you – full of magic, royalty, talking animals and sometimes even love. But be warned, not quite all of them have traditional happy endings!

Some Kind of Fairy Tale

51iGDacIBML._SX322_BO1204203200_-195x300Tara was fifteen when she vanished after an argument with her boyfriend.  20 years later, Tara has just knocked on her parents door.  She’s  dirty and dishevelled, but barely looks a day older than when she left. Eventually she tells them she’d met a man and ridden on his white horse with him to his home. But she knew they’d be worried and tried to come straight home, for her only six months have past. But has she really been away with the fae or did something more sinister happen? Read the full review here.

The Other Queen

Other Queen Mary Queen of Scotland was a woman thrice royal, and like rapunzal she was held in a gilded cage at the command of her cousin, Queen Elizabeth, for 19 years.

This royal tale has it all – an ‘evil’ queen, kindly jailors, passionate revolutionaries, courting princes and even a practical wise- woman.

Read the full review here.

The Night Circus

51nLN7yvmnL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Chandresh Lefevre has a dream: to open up a circus with a multitude of different tents, each housing a different form of entertainment. Alongside associates from his Midnight Dinners and with more than a little help from his assistant Marco Alisdair, Chandresh is able to make his dream a reality. But his new Night Circus is not completely as it seems and for some, it will become an obsession. It also becomes the playground in a competition between magicians – each competing to create magic more breathtaking than the other. But there is a dark edge to this competition and one of them winning could mean both of them losing.  Read the full review here.

Neverwhere

NeverwhereA dark tale of self-sacrifice and heroism, Neverwhere is the story of Richard Mayhew, whose rather ordinary life is turned upside down  as a result of a moment of kindness. After rescuing a raggedy injured girl named Door from mysterious assassins, his dull existence in London Above (the London we know) is erased and he is forced to enter London Below (the London we really really don’t know) to track her down and try to restore his old life. Door, however, has her own problems.

Richard’s journey through the mysterious underside of London is littered with references to tube stations, notable landmarks and historical references. Of course there is an Earl in Earl’s Court, and why wouldn’t there be an Angel called Islington? Shepherds in Shepherd’s Bush? Yep, but you wouldn’t want to meet them! Knightsbridge? I think you’ll find that’s Night’s Bridge and it’s freaking scary! Read the full review here.

The Fairy Wren

image2-188x300Paul Fisher is having a bit of a pants time, his wife left him and has just taken an injunction out to stop him contacting her, his bookshop is struggling to stay afloat and now  developers are threatening to put him completely out of business.

Then a fairy wren drops his lost wedding ring at his feet, and Paul discovers that there’s more magic in the world than he thought. That or he’s going completeley mad.

The wren keeps appearing and trying to communicate with him – is his wife really in danger? And if she is can he be her hero?  Read the full review here.

The Fictional Man

61fGw0eg-AL._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_Set in a parallel present where ‘Fictionals’ (clones created to play specific movie and TV characters)  are a part of daily life in LA. Niles Golan, a pulp fiction author, has been hired to write a big-budget reboot of a classic movie.

Basically this is a modern day Pinocchio. Niles is temped into becoming Gepatto / God with the promise of his character Kurt Power being brought whilst we see life through the eyes of a fictional who wants to become a ‘real boy’ in the form of his current best friend. Read the full review here.

The Last Family in England

TheLastFamilyInEnglandGood fairy tales are full of guardian animals and in this story that mantle is taken up by Prince. A diligent dog determined to keep to the tenets of the Labrador Pact, and protect the Hunter family.

But Prince isn’t battling witches or warlocks – he’s battling the Hunter families self-inflicted problems. Mr Hunter is tempted by the beautiful, married, new neighbour. Mrs Hunter by husband,  13-year-old Charlotte is dating a local bad boy and 17-year-old Hal is taking drugs.   Prince may be forced to break the Labrador Pact and take desperate action to save his Family. Read the full review here.

Stardust

51hgg2p8kfL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_17 year old Tristran Thorn is determined to  cross the wall that seperates his town from the world of the Fae. He has to so he can find the star he saw fall in the hope that it will win him the hand of Victoria Forester.

When he finds the star, he discovers it is not a large lump of rock and metals, but a young woman by the name of Yvaine. However Tristran is not the only person looking for the star: the three remaining sons of the recently deceased 81st Lord of Stormhold are searching for the amulet around the star’s neck, the amulet that knocked Yvaine out of the heavens and which contains the power of Stormhold itself. The Lilim, ancient witch queens, need the star’s heart to regain their youth and beauty. All Yvanie wants is to return to her sisters in the sky.  Read the full review here.

The End of Mr Y

Click here to buy from Amazon.
Click here to buy from Amazon.

Ariel Manto, a PhD student is obsessed by the 19th century writer Thomas Lumas. He was the writer of the original ‘The End of Mr. Y’, a book that is now incredibly rare and rumoured to be cursed – everyone who has read it has died soon afterwards.

When she finds a second hand copy she is over the moon.  Lumas’ book is all about the “Troposphere” – a place where all consciousness is connected and you can enter other people’s minds and read their thoughts. It includes the recipe for a draft that Mr Y uses to enter the Troposphere.  Manto can’t resist recreating the recipe and on drinking it she enters the Troposphere herself.  Read the full review here.

Down Station

image-189x300Mary is trying to stay out of trouble, mainly to prove she can. So she makes sure she’s not late for her shift picking up rubbish from the tracks of London Underground.

Nearby, young wannabe engineer Dalip, is struggling to replace loose rails with Stanislav and his gang. He’s determined to learn every aspect of rail engineering.

When the tunnel shakes and a ball of fire rampages through the Underground, Stanislav’s gang runs, so does Mary together with her colleagues. They join forces but not all of them make it through the service tunnel. Reaching a door, the fire not far behind them, they step through…and find themselves not on a London street but on a wild shore backed by cliffs and rolling grassland. Will they get back home?  Read the full review here

GemBookEater
I was reading before I started school and I have no plans to stop now! I usually have at least two books on the go at once, one non-fiction and one fiction. I like reading books based in reality that flick open the doors to the mysteries of the heart or of the spirit.

Book to Film (Part 3): Even More Sci-fi Titles That Made It to the Big Screen

It’s time for another look at Sci Fi stories that have made it to the big screen. For this edition of Book To Film,  a couple of classics that everyone should be aware of!  Click for my previous posts, part one  and part two

2,000 leagues under the sea

20000 leagues under the seaFuturistic submarines, monsters and amazing adventures filled the original story. It has become a recommended read for anyone getting in to the genre. It was turned in to a film in 1956 and was personally produced by Walt Disney and directed by Richard Fleischer. The big stars featured in the film include Kirk Douglas, James Mason and Paul Lukas.

It’s a fun classic despite it’s age. Do the special effects stand up after all this time? With a great story and such a fine cast, does it really matter?

Battlefield Earth

Battlefield earthIf you are already in to Sci Fi films in a big way or perhaps appreciate the older and slightly off kilter authors, then you may have come across ‘Battlefield Earth’. It is considered be one of the most massive flops of all time. The book it’s based on (book and film share the same name) was written by L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology. Therefore, knowing that John Travolta was the lead actor and major force behind the film should be no surprise!

The film was criticised for just about everything, the acting, the dialog, the way it was filmed and so on! It has now become a bit of a cult, in a ‘so bad that it’s really good’ kind of way.

Hitch Hikers Guide To The Galaxy

Hitchhikers_guide_to_the_galaxyDon’t panic! Those are the reassuring words that are printed on the front cover the Hitch Hikers Guide. A guide carried by Ford Prefect and given to Arthur Dent. The original set of books about the guide and the adventures of Ford and Arthur was written by the late Douglas Adams. It was first turned into a radio series which became a cult hit.

Later the BBC turned it in to a TV series. In my personal view, the best version for the screen so far. Far better than the 2005 version featuring Martin Freeman, Sam Rockwell and the late Alan Rickman. For me, the voice of the guide will always be Peter Jones, sorry Steven Fry!

The story has proved so popular it has made it on to vinyl LP’s, comic books and even stage plays. It is one of those classics that can be enjoyed over and over.

Logan’s Run

Logans_run_movieThe original idea for Logan’s Run came from the book of the same name  by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson. A dystopian future where population growth is controlled and the city is where you were born, lived and died. Going outside was strictly forbidden.

The stars of the 1976 film include Michael York, Jenny Agutter and Richard Jordon. We must not forget Peter Ustinov and Farrah Fawcett also starred – quite a cast!

It’s a fine film and acted well but sadly someone has decided a remake is required. I can’t understand why anyone feels it needs one!

Ender’s Game

Ender's_GameI really enjoyed the original book by Orson Scott Card, and also its sequel, Speaker For The Dead. It was a good story that I have re-read a few times now.

When the 2013 film version came out, I was excited and looked forward to seeing how it would look on the big screen. Sadly I was disappointed. Like many others, I felt the plot was lacking far too many aspects of the original story. I’ve no problem with the acting and special effects, just let down by the adaptation.

Bob Toovey
I started reading Sci Fi at around age 8, I’ve never looked back since. I was highly influenced by my father’s reading choices at the beginning. I soon branched out to many different authors and Sci Fi genre’s. Early influences include Asimov, Clark, Simak, PKD and other ‘golden age’ authors. On occasion, I like a good spy book and currently finding early religious history a fascinating subject – despite being an atheist.

The Forgotten Women Of Science Fiction

The early days of Science Fiction was dominated by men. If I was to ask you to name a writer, I would be fairly confident you would say Jules Verne or H. G. Wells. Perhaps even Clarke, Asimov or Heinlein. If I was to ask you to name a female Science Fiction writer, you most likely reply Mary Shelly. Famous UK author Brian Aldiss claims that her work, Frankenstein, represents “the first seminal work to which the label SF can be logically attached”.

The first who enter and explore are always the best well know. So it’s not a surprise that Wells, Verne and Shelly are common names. As Science Fiction entered it’s Golden Age (generally agreed to be between 1938 to 1946), names that we know today entered the field. Such luminaries as Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clark and Philip K. Dick. This era was dominated by men but women writers were present, only they were often hiding behind pen names or sadly have been forgotten.

Their presence and contributions were never really celebrated as well as their male counter parts. It’s not until we get to the New Wave period where they start to get recognition. Women like Leigh Douglass Brackett (December 7, 1915 – March 18, 1978).

leigh_brackettLeigh was an American writer who wrote romances that spanned the universe. Her major contribution, other than her own body of work, was her script for George Lucas’s second instalment of Star Wars. According to her Wikipedia entry

The exact role which Brackett played in writing the script for Empire is the subject of some dispute. What is agreed on by all is that George Lucas asked Brackett to write the screenplay based on his story outline. It is also known that Brackett wrote a finished first draft which was delivered to Lucas shortly before Brackett’s death from cancer on March 18, 1978. Two drafts of a new screenplay were written by Lucas and, following the delivery of the screenplay for Raiders of the Lost Ark, turned over to Lawrence Kasdan for a new approach. Both Brackett and Kasdan (though not Lucas) were given credit for the final script.

While she does get a credit for her work, I’m sure no one today, outside of Star Wars fandom, would know of her.

James Tiptree, Jr/Alice Bradley Sheldon - source: Wikipedia - used under 'fair use'
James Tiptree, Jr/Alice Bradley Sheldon – source: Wikipedia – used under ‘fair use’

Then there’s Alice Bradley Sheldon (August 24, 1915 – May 19, 1987). Most of Alice’s work was published under the name of James Tiptree Jr, it was so she could get her works published in a male dominated world. Another name she used, from 1974 to 1977 was Raccoona Sheldon. In fact, it was not publicly known until 1977 that James Tiptree, Jr. was female.Quite a lot of her books explore the feminist side, using both humans and aliens alike to explore her ideas. She is so highly regarded that there is an award in her name – the James Tiptree, Jr. Award is given in her honour each year for a work of science fiction or fantasy that expands or explores our understanding of gender.

Though New Wave writing did spawn female writers who went on to become famous, like  Octavia E. Butler (1947-2006), there were some who started in the Golden Age, like James Tiptree.

Catherine_Lucille_MooreC. L. Moore (Catherine Lucille1911-1987) is a US writer whose work is still admired and read today. She had found fame with her own published stories before her marriage (1940) to another Sci Fi writer Henry Kutner (1915-1958). In fact, they had been collaborating since 1937. She stopped writing Sci Fi after her husbands death, she continue for a while writing for TV – Maverick and 77 Sunset Strip. Her Sci Fi work was know for it’s lyrical fluency and the power to evoke a Sense of Wonder.

320full-andre-nortonAnother women started out with an ambiguous name is Andre Norton (1912-2005). She came to fame with Sci Fi stories aimed at Children. The work that really marked her entrance in to the genre was her 1947 novel – The People of the Crater. Over her publishing career, her work matured and became darker. She was very well respected and won many awards and was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 1997.

These days, Science Fiction is loved and enjoyed by men and women alike. Only recently has it lost much of it’s ‘geeky’ image and the idea that only males enjoy it. The thing we have to remember is that women were there at the beginning, during the Golden Age and through the New Wave period. We must not forget they made a huge contribution to what we now enjoy.

Bob Toovey
I started reading Sci Fi at around age 8, I’ve never looked back since. I was highly influenced by my father’s reading choices at the beginning. I soon branched out to many different authors and Sci Fi genre’s. Early influences include Asimov, Clark, Simak, PKD and other ‘golden age’ authors. On occasion, I like a good spy book and currently finding early religious history a fascinating subject – despite being an atheist.

A Year of Books

Well what a year it’s been for us BookEaters! It was the first full year that we have been blogging. We’ve welcomed new BookEaters, had a first birthday bonanza and, most importantly, read some amazing books by a range of authors. So as 2015 draws to a close, we wanted to share with you some of our favourite reads of the year, as well as looking ahead to some of the books being published in 2016.  Happy New Year from all of us at The BookEaters!

BookEater Tam:

Kashmir

My favourite book of the year was The Kashmir Shawl by Rosie Thomas. On a straightforward level it is adventurous and filled with strong female characters. The sights and smells, both squalid and splendid, of the fading colonial India wrapped themselves around me as I curled up to read this epic and I found it really hard to put down. In fact the narrative is multi-layered and demands that attention is paid to the finer details as the author swops back from past to present to past again. The tale is packed with interest and the pace never flags and I remember finishing it with regret but promising myself that I would read it again this Christmas which sadly I haven’t had the chance to do.

BookEater Bob:

As we say goodbye to 2015, it’s time to briefly reflect on my reading pile. It doesn’t seem to run out, there are books that I keep putting off and there’s been a few that stood out.
old-mars-titan-books

My favourite read was the anthology I reviewed, Old Mars. I loved how new writers brought exciting new stories about Mars but told in a way that is reminiscent of the golden age authors. My current read is going to see me across the new year, The Sands of Mars by Arthur C. Clarke. The book I am really looking forward to reading, and it will take a while, is Dark Intelligence by Neal Asher. Very futuristic, well detailed and expansive. Looks as though 2016 is going to be a good year!

BookEater Gem:

As every reader knows, choosing your favourite book is as hard as choosing your favourite child, but that cruel BookEater Kelly has insisted we do just that! I gave out about 15 5 bite reviews last year and narrowed it down to five, then very painfully to two. Now I’m sitting here trying to decide between them … Aargh! Ok, deep breath, I think I’m going to choose ‘The Word Exchange’ by Alena Graeden. Is it better than Patrick Ness’s ‘The Knife of Never Letting Go‘? Maybe, maybe not, but it’s had a lot less publicity so I’d like to offer it up for you to decide for yourself.

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Looking forward to 2016 I’ve already been lucky enough to read a fair few books that haven’t been released yet … But you’ll have to keep your eyes peeled for those reviews! The one I haven’t read yet that I’m most excited too comes out in June and is called ‘Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet -A Novel’. It’s by an author I’ve never heard of (H.P. Wood) but just looks like such a great holiday read. Any other recommendations for me? Let us know in the comments!

BookEater Kelly:

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My favourite book of 2015 wasn’t one that I gave a five star review to, or even the best book the author himself had written. But it was the most meaningful to me. After the death of Sir Terry Pratchett earlier in the year, ‘The Shepherd’s Crown‘ was the last Discworld novel to be published. It follows the story of young witch Tiffany Aching as she tries to protect her home, The Chalk, from the rising power of the fairies.

Continuing the fantasy theme, I am very excited about the release of ‘The Hanging Tree’ by Ben Arronovitch which (hopefully) hits our shelves and e-readers in June. The book sees the return of apprentice wizard PC Peter Grant in the 6th book of the series.

Which books have you enjoyed this year? Happy reading!

 

 

Kelly Turner
My love of reading began at an early age. I am indebted to my parents for putting “Naughty Amelia Jane” by Enid Blyton in the loft when I was five, forcing me to read something else. At the age of sixteen I picked up my first Discworld novel and never looked back. As well as devouring anything by Terry Pratchett I am also a fan of other fantasy writers such as Neil Gaiman and Ben Aaronovitch. In addition I like to read historical fiction, and enjoy a love story or two.

What To Give The Book Lover In Your Life….

Although, as mentioned in last year’s post on the same subject, a book is always a very welcome gift, there are times when perhaps you aren’t sure on the giftee’s reading taste or it’s not practical to buy a book. Never fear, the Book Eaters are here to sort you out!

xmas

doodling

Aimless doodling when you’re bored? Never fear, the Doodling for Bookworms book is here! Packed full of literary prompts and creative exercises, you can while away the hours indulging in your love of books!

Design a ruff for William Shakespeare or draw a picture of a typical literary villain. Brainstorm your favourite literary heroine or design a perfect reading nook!

BannedbooksFor the rebels you know…. this is nod to some of the hundreds of books that have be banned at some point in history- The Catcher in the Rye, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, The Origin of the Species. Sit back with a steaming Banned Book Mug of tea and bask in the awed glances of your co workers- “why yes, I am this brave… I am this defiant… I have indeed read these tomes of rebellion!”

i_read_past_my_bedtime_copy_mediumAn acknowledgment of the giftee’s deep and abiding love of books is always an option. A literary gift print to forever remind them of their true love fits this bill- “I read past my bedtime”, “Home is where there’s a stack of books by the bed”, “Life is short. Read quickly.”
Each print uses a page of a book so no two prints are ever the same

harry-potter-bookcase-necklace-50486-pI love love love these ‘Coryographies’- clay necklaces with a variety of literary themes. My favourite is the Harry Potter themed bookcase necklace. Very detailed and actually pretty realistic but still teeny tiny and on a lovely chain. There are quite a few different varieties.

There are so many wonderful gifts out there for book lovers that I am going to stop my list there- I’m not sure there is enough internet in the world to host all of my favourites!

 

 

Rachel Brazil
Although well-known amongst my family for my habit of falling asleep with a book on my face, I’ve not let the constant face bruises deter me from indulging in my favourite pastime. There is no famine, only feast, in my house with every flavour of book available for consumption.

I’m happy to sample almost anything from the smorgasbord of literature available but can always be tempted with a juicy murder mystery or sweet little romance.

Today’s tragic teenagers

I was witness this week to a display of such utter ignorance of the unique magic of books that I was left wondering whether I had been sucked into a parallel universe where everything I hold dear is perceived as worthless.

It’s reading week at our tertiary college and one vibrant and passionate teacher has set about transforming an area into a book junkie’s delight. Colourful copies of a diverse range of extracts, shocking, amusing, saddening or uplifting have transformed a wall and virtually shout “Read me!” as you walk along. Tables are laden with books and magazines for borrowing or browsing, blind dates with the literary world lie discreetly packaged in brown envelopes for those who like a random pick and copies of brand new give away books are piled high.

I drew these goodies to the attention of my class of 16 year old students and said I would delay the start of our maths lesson just so they would have an opportunity to assess what they might want. There I was, anticipating the glee of children let loose in a sweet shop, so imagine my horror (if you can) when none of them even left their chairs!  Thinking they had misunderstood I repeated that all the books were free and that they could grab one immediately. No-one moved.  With a growing sense of bewilderment I tried again “Well when did any of you last read a book?” – general silence greeted me- “You must have read a book once” I tried. Finally one student piped up “The last time I read a book was in year 7”. A chorus of “yeah me too” comments echoed around the room. vicki pollard

Gobsmacked !!!!! My first emotions were sadness and pity for these girls who are missing out on one of the greatest pleasures life affords. The second wave of emotions was a combination of frustration and dismay. It is almost as if  the parents and  the education system believe that once a child has been taught the fundamental mechanics of reading then their responsibility is discharged.

In the USA the proportion of teenagers who “never” or “hardly ever” read has tripled since 1984 and a third of 13-year-olds and 45% of 17-year-olds say they’ve read for pleasure less than twice a year. Nielson books found in the UK that the percentage of non-readers in the age range 11 -17 grew from 13% to 27% between 2012 and 2013 . Yet research and analysis carried out by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development have identified that reading for pleasure at the age of 15 is a key factor in determining future social mobility, infact, it was shown as the most important indicator of the future success of the young person.

Surveys amongst teachers have regularly produced lists of the top 100 books they believed a child should read before leaving school. Time and again the same books are repeated. Many of these books and plays are classics but boy are they old. 35 years ago more than half of them were required reading when I in school and it seems little has changed; from Romeo and Juliet, via Pride and Prejudice to Animal Farm and Lord of the Flies. Pride and prejudiceThe books are frozen in time but our teenagers are not; their expectations, their learning styles, their environments have all changed. In this media savvy, technological age confident enthusiastic readers may stick at books they find challenging or irrelevant but those who are less confident or who find it hard work are hardly going to engage in them by choice.  I know loads of young people who never read the set texts for an exam, instead they rely on the reading notes and a brief skim of the first and last chapters. The books simply don’t excite them and forcing them to study books they can’t engage with risks poisoning the whole magic of reading for pleasure. I say let’s stop imposing middle-class interpretations of what should be read and instead encourage all youngsters to read for pleasure before we expect them to read for education!

I asked my fellow bloggers for some thoughts on what they would like to see on a GCSE reading list and these are some of their suggestions.

Girl at War, Sara Novic

The Palest Ink, Kay Bratt

The Fault in our Stars, John GreenNeil Gaiman

The Harry Potter series, the Northern Lights trilogy, and just about anything by David Walliams, Neil Gaiman, or Roald Dahl.

What would you like to see as curriculum reading and exam material from ages 12 to 16?

Tamara Thomas
I am the only girl and youngest of four children, I grew up in a home stuffed with books, and now some fifty years later, great piles of them still appear in every room I inhabit. I won’t waste my time reading books that leave me feeling sour, dirty or depressed; books are a source of light and inspiration in my world. Nevertheless, I love a book that makes me cry with loss or sadness such as Captain Corelli’s Mandolin or The Book Thief. Bliss is a winter’s afternoon on the sofa, snuggled in with my dogs, stove blazing and an absorbing book.

Book To Film (part 2): 5 More Sci-Fi Titles That Made It To The Big Screen

I previously discussed various books that had made it from print to the big screen. Books by authors such as Arthur C. Clarke, Harry Harrison and Philip K. Dick. Since then, other books have been used as inspiration for films, and in one case a TV series.

Planet of the Apes and their sequels

Planet-of-the-Apes-posterThe original books were written by Frenchman Pierre Boulle. In 1968, the first book , “Planet of the Apes”, was filmed starring Charlton Heston. It was a major success and promoted more films and a short lived TV series.

You may be interested to note that the film “Bridge Over The River Kwai” was based on a book by Boulle.

I enjoyed the films, good story, good characters and well filmed. How well do the latest reboots fair? Pretty good! Even though there’s heavy use of CGI, the stories are good and sort of close to the originals.

I, Robot

i_robot_posterMany stories were taken as inspiration for the film, all from the the book of short stories with the same name. Isaac Asimov is very well know for his robot stories, perhaps better known for them than his foundation series.

The film stars Will Smith and contains quite a bit of action. However, it doesn’t loose it’s theme of ‘what makes us human’. This I feel is a good thing as it not something that shines through strongly in Asimov’s tales.

On the whole, a good film that uses Asimov’s stories as a basis for the plot.

Man In The High Castle

man-inthe-high-castlePhilip K. Dick’s novel has been the inspiration for a TV series now being broadcast in the USA. You can watch it on Amazon Prime. I’ve not got round to reading the book, though it’s on my reading to-do list.

I haven’t seen the first few episodes as they appear to be US only at this point but by all accounts it’s highly recommended.

The Martian

the-martian-movie-posterThis is another book on my reading to-do list! The 2011 book by Andy Weir has made it the big screen. The film was directed by Ridley Scott and stars Matt Damon. One of the things that made the book popular and reason the film garnered critical acclaim, is the accuracy of the science seen and mentioned.

Therefore, both a recommend read and watch!

Colossus: The Forbin Project

Colossus_the_forbin_project_movie_posterThe book was written by English author Dennis Feltham Jones (D.F. Jones) in 1966. It’s a story, based in the time of the coldwar, where two super computers decide that man should no longer be in charge.

I have watched the 1970 adaptation a few times now and despite it’s age and how technology has moved on – it’s still worth watching. I suppose you could say the film is a forewarning of how intelligent computers and surveillance technology could eventually go. Though I don’t really think the author or director Joseph Sargent really had that in mind at the time!

Bob Toovey
I started reading Sci Fi at around age 8, I’ve never looked back since. I was highly influenced by my father’s reading choices at the beginning. I soon branched out to many different authors and Sci Fi genre’s. Early influences include Asimov, Clark, Simak, PKD and other ‘golden age’ authors. On occasion, I like a good spy book and currently finding early religious history a fascinating subject – despite being an atheist.

Vampires and Demons and Ghosts! Oh My!

All Hallows’ Eve is nearly upon us. A night where the borders between the worlds of the living and the dead are a little more fragile than usual. In celebration, the BookEaters have come out from hiding under their blankets and chosen their favourite scary stories. These books terrify but also inspire us. Read on…if you dare!

Sarah BookEater: The Shining  by Stephen King
imageI’m not sure whether it’s generally best to read a book before the film comes out, or watch the film first. In the case of ‘The Shining’ it was actually such a long time since I’d even seen the film that by the time I got round to reading the book it was like a completely new story.
In fact, even if I hadn’t seen the film it would have been like a new story, as the book and film are completely different; from the main characters’ names and personalities to the plot and the ending. The way the book was written focussed very much on Danny, the young boy, his scary visions, ‘The Shining’ – and also left the reader thinking that there WAS something evil about the Overlook hotel. Stanley Kubrick deliberately left the film very ambiguous. Was the hotel possessed? Did Jack Torrance go mad or was the hotel messing with his head? Did Danny have a gift for premonition and a psychic sidekick?
The film has a haunted maze, the book has hedges which come to life and chase Jack around the grounds (yes, really!)
There’s a foreboding throughout the book; a creaky old boiler that threatens to explode, taking the hotel with it. It’s not in the film, and in the film the family freezes to death but…I won’t ruin the book for you by telling you what happens to them.
If you enjoyed the film, and haven’t read the book, give it another read and see whether it gives you a whole new perspective on an old story…

Tam BookEater: Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger

Where better to set a supernatural imagenovel than in a cemetery and Highgate is the perfect choice for this twisted dark tale of love and loss. In Victorian times the cemetery was neat and tidy – a showroom for statuary and stage-managed grief, but maintenance costs were phenomenal so it fell into disrepair and nature took over. Tree roots destabilised some of the graves and the paths became dangerous, the plants spread colonising every surface and by the 1960s it had become a wilderness. Rumours of ghosts and vampires circulated and culminated on Friday 13th March 1970 in a sizeable crowd forcing their way passed the police presence to take part in a mass vampire hunt! However, this novel is not about that period but it draws on the associations we as readers subconsciously hold to create an eerie other-worldliness. The main characters have flats in a house directly overlooking this wilderness and the line between the living and the dead is more blurred than gravestones and marble angels would suggest.

Kelly BookEater: The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

imageArthur Kipps is a young solicitor who is sent out to attend the funeral of Mrs Drablow, a client of his firm’s. At the funeral, Arthur sees a mourner standing to the side of the others, a woman dressed in black. Yet it would seem that he was the only person to have seen her. Arthur stays on at Mrs Drablow’s residence, Eel Marsh House to settle some of the firm’s business. Separated from the nearby village by a causeway, Arthur finds himself increasingly isolated. He hears noises in the night and sees the woman in black prowling the grounds.

This is a classic ghost story. At the start of the novel, Arthur reminisces about his experiences in Eel Marsh House. The safety of the Christmas Eve setting of the beginning contrasts with the fear later in the novel, making it even more harrowing. It is wonderfully written. The terror felt by Arthur is palpable and the nursery scene kept me awake the night I read it. Word of advice: read it in the daytime!

Mai BookEater: The Owl Service by Alan Garner

imageMy first experience of this book was of seeing the BBC series. The opening credits are, I think, almost as spooky as the film in ‘The Ring’. Here are the links so you can decide for yourself.

Maybe one was inspired by the other.

The novel tells of an ancient myth about a wizard who makes a lady out of flowers for a great hero. While the hero is away fighting, she falls in love with another man and plots to murder her husband. When the plot fails, she is turned into an owl as punishment and it is said of the other birds:

‘It will be in their nature to harass you and despise you wherever they find you.’

The story is repeated through the ages until nearly present day where three young people are bought together and re-enact the story again and again.
And so we meet three new players: Roger, Gwyn and Alison. Unable to escape their fate they are drawn into re-living the ancient tale of murder, jealousy and obligation.

In the most terrifying part, Gwyn tries to escape the valley, the place where it all happens, but is prevented by the animals, the grass, the sky and all of nature.

Equally frightening for young and old, I would recommend both the book and the TV series to anyone interested in myth, nature and class conflict.

PS Do look out for the postscript in the 2007 edition where Alan Garner comments on the how it was to film in the actual setting. Spooky stuff.

Gem BookEater: The Raven’s Head by Karen Maitland

imageHorror and things that go bump in the night aren’t really my genre – I’m not going to lie, that stuff scares the pudding out of me! But lately I have been reading a little more and I seem to be developing a taste for the gothic.
I recently read Karen Maitland’s ‘The Ravens Head’. Set in Medieval France and England, it follows an apprentice librarian as he bungles into the plot of a group of Alchemists. All have their own intentions and are out to double cross the others but not until the blood of innocent children has been shed.
It is a dark and darstedly tale, perfect for the long winters nights. I was impressed by the way she managed to make the characters sympathetic and believable – even the baddies! They’ll be a full review up sometime soon, but don’t wait for that – read it and let me know what you think!

Rachel BookEater: The Amber Spyglass by Phillip Pullman

AmberIt feels a tad lame to be including this children’s book in a list of scary books but, as I avoid scary books at all costs, my choices for this post were somewhat limited! The brief was to think of book that terrified and yet also inspired me, and The Amber Spyglass fulfills both of those criterion. Specifically it is the concept of the ‘Deaths’ midway through the third volume of Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy… Your death follows you around for your whole life waiting for the moment to tap you on the shoulder and lead you off to the world of the dead? Yikes! Despite the fact that this has stayed with me, and causes some consternation whenever I think I catch a glimpse of something out of the corner of my eye, the trilogy itself is simply sublime. Magical, thought-provoking, heart- breaking and life- affirming, read it. Read it now!

Kelly Turner
My love of reading began at an early age. I am indebted to my parents for putting “Naughty Amelia Jane” by Enid Blyton in the loft when I was five, forcing me to read something else. At the age of sixteen I picked up my first Discworld novel and never looked back. As well as devouring anything by Terry Pratchett I am also a fan of other fantasy writers such as Neil Gaiman and Ben Aaronovitch. In addition I like to read historical fiction, and enjoy a love story or two.

Books That Pass The Bechdel Test – Hollywood ARE YOU LISTENING???

I’m an out and proud feminist, well why wouldn’t I be? I know loads of fabulous women that deserve respect, and frankly loads of wonderful men that suffer because we don’t have real equality yet.

I was amazed therefore a little while ago, when I found out that last year out of all the movies released only 55.4% passed The Bechdel Test. That’s the lowest rate since 1994!

But wait, what is the Bechdal Test and why am I talking about it on  a book review site?

Well the Bechdal Test is a  method for measuring female visibility in a film and it involves conforming to the following three following scruples:

  1. There have to be two named women
  2. They have to engage in a conversation with each other.
  3. That conversation has to be about something other than a man.

Fairly straightforward really,  so much so that I’ve read tons of brilliant books that easily conform to this. As Hollywood looks to literature for inspiration I thought I’d help them out by sharing 10 of my favourites that I’ve read and reviewed over the last year that I’d love to see as movies!

CalculatingGod Calculating God by Robert J Sawyer

This Sci-Fi classic sees a spider like alien walking into the palaeontology department of The Royal Ontario Museum to discuss the origins of life. Although the security guard thinks he is being pranked he calls the head of Palaeontology, Dr Jericho, who immediately recognises that in front of him is a genuine alien.

One of the many things I loved about this book is that about half way through we suddenly find out that the alien is in fact female. It would make a great film, there’s plenty of action, life and death and love and even God!

A Swarming of Bees by Theresa Tomlinson A Swarming of Bees

This book has two brilliant female characters, the powerful Abbess Hild of Whitby Monastery and her best friend the herb wife Frigdyth. As the Abbess hosts a synod that will decide the future of the church in England, Frigdyth is out to catch a murderer!

This story has a wonderful historical setting, action, political intrigue, crime and friendship – what more could you ask for?

vv-cover-cropped1 Viva Voluptuous by Sarah Clark

Hollywood loves a chick -flick and this offering from British author (and BookEater!) Sarah Clark could be the new Bridgit Jones they’ve been looking for! It centres around Ellie, a body positive blogger whose husband has just left her because she’s too fat.

Struggling to regain the confidence she spends so much time advocating she joins up with her two best friends and launches the Viva Voluptuous campaign. Visually this would be a real treat – especially the flash mobs but it’s also got real heart.

The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox  The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox

This is a tale of two women from different times struggling with problems thrown at them because of their gender. The first, Iris Lockhart, is busily running her vintage-clothing shop and trying to repel her married boyfriend’s attempts at commitment.

She doesn’t know anything about her great-aunt, Esme. She didn’t even know she existed. But after sixty-one years Esme is about to be released from a closing Mental Hospital.  But was she ever really crazy?  The book uses flashbacks to explore Esme’s story and juxtaposed against Iris’s life it shows a fascinating record of changing attitudes.

imageDeath Grip by Tracy Sherwood

An ordinary working class mother returns from active duty in Iraq to find she still isn’t respected by the local SAHM’s. What’s more her eldest daughter resents her and is embarrassed by her, her marriage is more than a little wobbly, she’s suffering from PTSD and she has to face her sister who lost her husband in an incident she survived. This has action, social commentary and tugs at the heartstrings… A Hollywood triple threat!

The Line by William GalaliniThe Line

This sci-fi novel has a strong female lead, great supporting characters and a really interesting plot.

Mary is part of a top secret mission exploring a form of time travel which allows people to travel back and observe history unfolding. Suspended in the nothing between parallel timelines, they know better than to try to change anything. But they are not alone. And the other traveler is shattering history – massacring some of the worlds most evil people. But the moral dilemma this poses is not the teams only problem.

Grab this from Amazon here or pop into your local independent book shop for a copy!
Grab this from Amazon here or pop into your local independent book shop for a copy!

The Dig by John Preston

Based on the excavation of Sutton Hoo just before the Second World War, this book has two very different female leads. First there is widowed Edith Pretty who owns the land and orders the dig. Then we there is Peggy Piggot, the honeymooner invited to join the dig with her professor husband. To be honest this only just passes the Bechdal Test, not because of the author or the characters, but because the situation kept these woman separate so they had little chance to converse. Still I’m including it because neither of their lives revolved around their husbands and they were both trailblazer’s.

Girl At War by Sara NovicGirlAtWar

This tells the story of the war in Yugoslavia from the perspective of a ten year old girl. At first it is as innocent as she but as she endures the horrors of ethnic cleansing and sees how war turns nice people into monsters, it rips the veils away from the readers eyes too. When it flashes forward to Ana’s life now, safe in America, it deals sensitively with the ramifications of her childhood.

Click the pic to grab a copy from Amazon, or wander to your local book shop on a lovely dark evening and look at the stars whilst buying your copy!
Click the pic to grab a copy from Amazon, or wander to your local book shop on a lovely dark evening and look at the stars whilst buying your copy!

The Falling Sky by Pippa Goldschmidt 

An astronomer stumbles upon evidence that turns the Big Bang theory upside down. As I’ve included it in this list you’ve probably guessed it’s a female astronomer! And not just female but a whole, flawed human being! The novel shows her struggles at work, in love and with her family and all seem to take equal precedence. There’s a healthy dash of black comedy in this as well as us girls like a laugh after all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GemBookEater
I was reading before I started school and I have no plans to stop now! I usually have at least two books on the go at once, one non-fiction and one fiction. I like reading books based in reality that flick open the doors to the mysteries of the heart or of the spirit.

Books to enjoy with young children

Our book group is occasionally asked to review books that are aimed at very young readers and that can be surprisingly difficult to do when you don’t have any little ones to try them out on! I quickly realised that there is a big difference between a book designed to be read to a child, and an early reader book designed for the child to read. The books I have selected are those intended to be shared and enjoyed by adult and child together, this allows for a greater range of vocabulary and the illustrations often provoke additional discussion.

Enjoyment is a key so the tale must be fun, the characters can get into scrapes and there can even be dangers lurking, but the tale needs to be entertaining and pleasurable with elements that the child can relate to or they won’t ask for it again. Worse still is that the adult should find it a tedious and unsatisfying read.

Eat DirtballsRecent review requests to the blog have included the Read and Bake series by Erin Kurt and Laara Exsnar, story cookbooks aimed at getting young children involved in creating and eating yummy food. In ‘Celia and Cedric Eat Dirt Balls’, they have taken that instinctive childhood desire to play at making mud pies, and turned it into a great story. After the children have fun making real mud pies in the garden Celia’s mum takes them into the kitchen and shows them how to mix up edible dirt balls using peanut butter, chocolate powder, seeds, raisins and maple syrup. Nutritional information, the full recipe and instructions are all included at the end of the book to inspire the adult and child to cook together. However be warned, if your child wants to make the dirtballs after every reading you may regret letting them pick the story.

One ThingMany of the great favourites that stand the test of time, have educational aspects subtly embedded in them to encourage early counting, shape, colour or design recognition. This October sees the eagerly awaited new release by Lauren Child, author of the Charlie and Lola series. Titled ‘One Thing’ the author has created a new story around how children use, and sometimes confuse, numbers and their meaning. Child sees numbers as joyful and fun and as she says “part of the learning process is the discovery of patterns and experimenting with them…numbers are in everything, they are everywhere”.

A world-wide hit that has sold over 30 million copies since 1969 is ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ by Eric Carle. It combines very simple text and illustrations with pages that have finger sized holes where the titular caterpillar has munched his way through. The story recounts the life-stages from caterpillar to butterfly, although the diet selected relates to the reader rather than a caterpillar. Images of fruit join with the use of numbers to encourage early naming and counting up to 5. HungryCaterpillar

 

A couple of other childhood hits to buoyantly survive the tides of children’s literature have been the 1983 Hairy McClary series, written and illustrated by Dame Lynley Dodd, and the 1999 phenomenon that is The Gruffalo, written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler.Hairy McClary  Both stories make use of rhyming verse with repetition of key lines (so young children can quickly pick it up and join in) and humorous, detailed illustrations provide additional objects for a child to talk about. The Gruffalo A more recent addition to the rhyming stable is the hilarious offering by Claire Freedman and Ben Cort titled ‘Aliens love underpants’. My (nearly) 80 year old mum came back chortling her head off, after reading this series to children in a nursery. I had to get a set of my own they sounded such fun and now I can’t wait to have some little ones to share them with.Aliens love underpants

Rhyming verse is a technique often employed in books for the very young but the problem is that bad rhymes and disjointed rhythm can ruin the essence of the story. Where the message in the book is of greater importance than the humour then it can be a wise idea to stick with ordinary prose. Pigeonhole books is a new series of books aimed at introducing children to the many different types of family unit that exist today. The author’s objective is to show children that non-traditional family units can be fun and loving, and that when for instance, parents separate or divorce, the new family units created can be secure, reliable and loving too. A brand new dayWhile I applaud the author, A S Chung for her motives, I can’t see her books becoming wildly popular. While the story content and the illustration of ‘A Brand New Day’ are good I struggled with the rhythm due to the constraints of the rhyme and would have preferred it in straight prose. Nevertheless it could be a very useful tool in the right situation.

My all-time favourite story to share with a child on my knee, is a book titled ‘Sorry Miss Folio’ by Jo Furtado and Frederic Joos. Released in 1988 this delightful book starts with a couple of pages of illustrations without words. From the picture you can tell that it is Christmas and a young child has been brought to the library to choose a book to read over the holidays. January arrives and the text begins. Sorry Miss FolioAccompanied by a double page illustration for each month, the text wittily encapsulates the youngster’s latest excuse for failing to return this much loved book. The excuses range from the common and probable to the outlandish and creative as the year progresses. Each month begins with the phrase ‘Sorry Miss Folio…’. Of course Christmas eventually comes around again and the book finishes with a happy ending.

Reading to a child quickly progresses to reading with a child and it is a vital step towards developing that child’s love of literacy. It is a gift that works both ways and from my own experience I can tell you that it is one of the memories you will treasure most – long after they have flown the nest.

 

 

 

 

 

Tamara Thomas
I am the only girl and youngest of four children, I grew up in a home stuffed with books, and now some fifty years later, great piles of them still appear in every room I inhabit. I won’t waste my time reading books that leave me feeling sour, dirty or depressed; books are a source of light and inspiration in my world. Nevertheless, I love a book that makes me cry with loss or sadness such as Captain Corelli’s Mandolin or The Book Thief. Bliss is a winter’s afternoon on the sofa, snuggled in with my dogs, stove blazing and an absorbing book.

Ocean’s Eight!

IMG_1580-0.jpgThis year the 8th of June was designated World Oceans Day by the United Nations. As they say “the ocean is the heart of our planet. Like your heart pumping blood to every part of your body, the ocean connects people across the Earth” so to celebrate we thought we’d look at books that have the ocean at their heart!

The Perfect Storm The Perfect Storm

In October 1991 the storm of the century hit – a tempest created by so rare a combination of factors that meteorologists deemed it “the perfect storm.

There was little warning. “She’s comin’ on, boys, and she’s comin’ on strong,” radioed Captain Billy Tyne of the Andrea Gail from off the coast of Nova Scotia. Soon afterward, the boat and its crew of six disappeared without a trace.

These real events were re-imagined with such horrific clarity you can almost taste the salt. From personal experience I would not recommend reading it in a cabin out at sea … particularly when the weather is rough!

IMG_1582.JPGLife of Pi

At the beginning of this book Pi lives in Pondicherry with his family and the inhabitants of their zoo; including a 450lb tiger named Richard Parker. Political turmoil leads them to move the zoo to Canada, they board a Japanese freight ship but it sinks just off Manila.

Pi manages to escape in a small lifeboat but he isn’t alone. A hyena, an orang-utan and a zebra are sharing his space. The Hyena kills the other two animals but before it can attack Pi, Richard Parker appears from under the tarpaulin and kills it. Pi is terrified and builds a raft alongside the dingy to try and keep far enough away from the tiger to survive.

In this book the ocean is both friend and foe, the book describes mystical happenings but by the end no-one is sure what is real anymore.

Master and Commander IMG_1584.JPG

The Master and Commander series is set during the Napoleonic wars and follows the lives of Jack Aubrey of the Royal Navy and naval surgeon Stephen Maturin. Patrick O’Brian wrote 20 novels following their lives and they have been widely praised for both their historical accuracy and the detailed physical descriptions of the ships.

But don’t let all that accuracy imply that the books are dry and dull … these are rip-rollicking adventures of the highest order!

IMG_1583.JPGMoby Dick

“Call me Ishmael” is one of the most famous opening sentences in literature.  Ishmael is the narrator who tells us the tale of Captain Ahab’s quest for Moby Dick – A white whale that had destroyed Ahab’s previous ship and severed his leg at the knee.  Ahab will have his revenge!

The ocean here is like a school playground, every part of it full of treaties and treacheries. Territories mapped and stolen.

But at the end of every playtime lessons must resume – and the ocean teaches old Ahab a thing or two about human pride too.

The Wild Sargasso Sea  IMG_1586.JPG

Jean Rhys wrote this prequel to Jane Eyre in 1939 describing the background to the marriage that Jane learns about after going to work for Mr. Rochester.

It is the story of Antoinette Cosway, a white Creole heiress. It begins during her youth in Jamaica through to her unhappy marriage to a certain English gentleman. He renames her to a prosaic Bertha, declares her mad, and requires her to relocate to England.

IMG_1589.JPG Das Boot

Life in the German U-boats was as harrowing for their crew as it was for the Allied convoys they stalked. This tale of one of their captains and his crew is funny, sweaty, gritty, and frightening. The captain is likeable and has no love for Hitler but as the hunters become the hunted, they lurk on the bottom of the Strait of Gibraltar, afraid to lower a toilet seat for fear of being heard, unable to keep a cigarette lit as the oxygen wanes.

Robinson Crusoe IMG_1581.JPG

Crusoe sees the seas as his escape, first from an unwanted law career, then from  slavery, then from poverty. And no matter how many misadventures happen to him on the ocean he can’t seem to keep away.

After several voyages Crusoe is shipwrecked and winds up on a deserted island. For years the sea becomes his prison but Crusoe is not one to defeated.

IMG_1585.JPGTwenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea

Professor Aronnax, his faithful servant, Conseil, and a Canadian harpooner, Ned Land, set off to rid the seas of a mysterious and terrifying sea monster.  But the “monster” turns out to be a giant submarine. It’s commander, Captain Nemo, takes them captive.

So begins  a truly fantastic voyage from the lost city of Atlantis to the South Pole.

 

GemBookEater
I was reading before I started school and I have no plans to stop now! I usually have at least two books on the go at once, one non-fiction and one fiction. I like reading books based in reality that flick open the doors to the mysteries of the heart or of the spirit.

Location, Location, Location

I can read anywhere. At home, travelling, outside, at work (lunch times, naturally!)- All it takes is an interesting book and I’m well away! But there are a few spots that make reading a book extra extra special; places that are comfy, cosy, interesting or just plain easy to read in!

Here’s my top five, in no particular order- how about yours?

comfy bedMy comfy bed (disclaimer: This bed isn’t mine, although my bed is this comfy). In the morning for ten minutes before getting up, at night for way too long before sleeping, occasionally all night or all day, my comfy bed is the location for many cumulative hours/days/months of reading. It’s especially nice when it’s windy, stormy or chucking it down outside and I’m snuggled up with the cat on my lap and a book in my hand. Bliss!

GardenMy garden. Sat next to the pond under the palm tree on my reclining chair with my husband cooking dinner on the barbecue. And eating an ice lolly. This location is generally reserved for the few days a year that it is actually summer, but it is so wonderful to relax in the sunshine. It makes me feel like I’m on holiday every time I do it!

TrainOn a train. I live thirty thousand miles away from my family (NB: high potential for exaggeration in this sentence) and so end up on long train journeys fairly frequently. I also go on long train journeys for work occasionally, and seem to end up on a train on nearly every holiday I’ve been on. Yes, there’s usually some lovely scenery, and yes, there’s usually some random train lady to talk to, but most times I just like to read a book, or two. Particularly if the view is a bit rubbish (see handy illustrative picture!). Few distractions, cup of tea, train biscuits and a book- magic!

Reading-on-the-sofaThe sofa. Of course. I like to think that reading is what sofas are made for but I have been assured that this is not so. I choose to disbelieve this as my sofa has definitely been made for reading. It’s the perfect length to stretch out on, the perfect width to hold myself, the cat, and assorted cosy cushions, and is the perfect distance away from my Tardis coffee table on which rests my hot chocolate and snacks. This much perfection cannot have come about by accident!
I wish I had a picture of my sofa to show you but sadly it’s not to be.

BeachBy the sea. Now, despite my picture being of one of the nicest beaches I’ve been on, I have to confess that when I say by the sea, I actually mean on a cliff top. Less irritating sand that way. There is something sublime about being outside, smelling the sea air and listening to the waves. Again, mainly a summer reading location but I am lucky enough to live close by so can have spontaneous summers!

 

Where is your favourite reading nook, cave, chair, whathaveyou?!

Rachel Brazil
Although well-known amongst my family for my habit of falling asleep with a book on my face, I’ve not let the constant face bruises deter me from indulging in my favourite pastime. There is no famine, only feast, in my house with every flavour of book available for consumption.

I’m happy to sample almost anything from the smorgasbord of literature available but can always be tempted with a juicy murder mystery or sweet little romance.

My Top 10: Books I Love To Read Again And Again

foundationI love reading Sci Fi books, I have a moderate collection of around 300 – 400 which I dip in to now and again. I’ve read most of them but there are a few that I will read over and over. I compare it to listening to your favourite album or rewatching a film. It’s the way they makes you feel or think that brings you back to them.

Really great authors have an amazing way of taking you in their worlds. They take your hand and lead you through their worlds but leaving you to create the images of how they look in your own imagination.

This my list of ten books have had that affect on me. No matter how many times I read them, I still get that feeling…

Isaac Asimove: Foundation

I first picked up this book in my early teens. Since then I’ve re-read it many times. I still find as entertaining as I did back then. It was one the first books I had read that had a broad and exciting plot. The fall of the galactic empire, the rise of another – all foretold by a mathematician.

Arthur C. Clark: A Touch Of Moon Dust

What made this book stand out for me is that it’s high drama. High drama in outer space that didn’t involve aliens or ‘weird’ stuff. The prose and it’s pace that kept me reading even when I was too tired to continue!

Arthur C. Clark:2001 A Space Oddessy

The film and the book were created almost simultaneously. And as good as the film is – which I have watched over and over – I still prefer the book. It’s a fantastic journey which I love to take, mainly because of the story telling and the imagery.

James Blish: Cities In Flight

This is a 4 volume series which was one of the first saga’s I had read. The time period covered is about two thousand years and covers the entire galaxy. The broad reach of the books grabbed my imagination and still does today.

Harry Harrison: The Stainless Steel Rate

I first read this book, the first of a series, when I was a teen. The hero, Slippery Jim DiGriz, was the first character I had come across that was a law breaker and cavorted around from planet to planet. It’s a great fun read and I love the scrapes and dangers he has to face.

Kim Stanley Robinson: Red Mars Trilogy

What I really like about these books is that you get to care about the characters and their future. They are developed so well that you want to know what they do next. The science comes across as real and woven in to the story without taking over. Of all the characters in the story, Mars is the most interesting.

William Gibson: Count Zero

This was my first introduction to the new wave of science fiction of the 80’s. The world it occupies is so different from the books I had read before. Clean and ordered gives way to gritty, urban and messy. A high-tech future where nothing has really changed.

Isaac Asimov: Caves Of Steel

A murder mystery on an Earth that is overpopulated. Again, this is a book that I read as a teen and still love to read today. Features robots and Spacers, great for a young readers but I still get something out of it each time I read it.

Cordwainer Smith: Norstrilia

I first read Norstrilia a few years ago. Once I finished the book I had to find more and more to read by the same author. It’s an incredible future with people are fashioned out of animals, humans linking to cats during space flight to ward off malevolent entities. It’s all very strange, a future of human kind like you’ve never read before. I love anything by Cordwainer Smith!

Philip K. Dick: Beyond Lies The Wub

This is actually an anthology of short stories. While PKD is famous for his books, he is so much better in short story form. I love to dip in and read a few when ever I get the time and I never get tired of them. From outer-space to rural farms, nothing is straight forward with PKD…

Bob Toovey
I started reading Sci Fi at around age 8, I’ve never looked back since. I was highly influenced by my father’s reading choices at the beginning. I soon branched out to many different authors and Sci Fi genre’s. Early influences include Asimov, Clark, Simak, PKD and other ‘golden age’ authors. On occasion, I like a good spy book and currently finding early religious history a fascinating subject – despite being an atheist.

The Hall of Fame- Literary Characters on Screen

So, you may have heard the odd one or two things about this man recently…

Aidan Turner as Ross Poldark- all broody and slightly grubby!
Aidan Turner as Ross Poldark- all broody and slightly grubby!

Aidan Turner has now brought two literary characters to life (Ross and Kili from the Hobbit), and has delighted audiences across the country in the new Poldark adaptation…. and he took his shirt off which many found particularly pleasing! But more than that, in my office at least, he sparked off conversation about characters from books that have been portrayed wonderfully on screen, be it in films or on TV.

We weren’t necessarily talking about Aidan (although that’s because he’s only been on for two episodes and not because we think he’s rubbish!), but it did get us thinking about characters that have been portrayed to perfection. Characters that really stay true to the book and the essence of the character in the book. Characters that, even if the adaptation itself wasn’t amazing, really stood out as having been played well.  This is subtly different from characters that have been played marvelously. For example, Benedict Cumberbatch is a delight and a joy as Sherlock in the BBC adaptation but neither he nor the show itself is faithful to the book.

After much heated debate, I (or more accurately, the collective minds of my office) would like to present to you the  5 characters/ actors that deserve a place in the Hall of Fame for excellence, believability and faithfulness:

NB- These are not in order of greatness. It took us long enough to decide on these!

 

Emma Thompson as Elinor Dashwood
Emma Thompson as Elinor Dashwood

Elinor Dashwood. Emma Thompson’s portrayal was simply brilliant. Elinor is reserved, thoughtful, able to govern her feelings, and the embodiment of the ‘sense’ in Sense and Sensibility. Emma Thompson was restrained, measured and graceful in her depiction of Elinor and contrasted wonderfully with Kate Winslet’s more openly passionate Marianne. One of the things that always struck me about Jane Austen’s Elinor was that she was never less passionate and emotional than Marianne, she was more guarded and less free to express her emotions.

Elinor and MArianne The moment which really seals the deal for me on this one is when Elinor cares for Marianne after she falls ill. Marianne is potentially on death’s door and the wealth of emotion shown in this scene is just fabulous. A close second is the way Emma Thompson reacts to the news of Robert’s marriage.

 

Jessica TandyNinny Threadegoode. This bit will be short. It will have to be short because if I think too much about Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe I will cry. Buckets. However, we are agreed. Jessica Tandy’s portrayal of Ninny Threadegoode is sublime. As the narrator of the Ruth and Idgie story, and throughout the development of Evelyn’s and Ninny’s friendship, Jessica Tandy’s performance earned her an Oscar nod and my undying admiration. Now someone go find me some tissues…!

 

poirot8bgHercule Poirot. One of Agatha Christie’s most marvellous creations, the fussy, pedantic, precise Belgian detective has never been played more accurately than David Suchet’s portrayal. He perfectly epitomises the persona and essence of Hercule Poirot. His reliance on his little grey cells, his strong moral compass, his dramatic denouements, his inquiring mind, his charm and ability to really listen to people- all of these important character points shine through every one of Suchet’s performances. Interestingly Suchet credits an appalling performance as Inspector Japp in an earlier adaptation of Poirot as the reason he was able to take the role later in life! Not one to lie, I’m going to openly admit to occasionally watching the TV version at the same time as I’m reading the book!

 

Beth-MarchBeth March. Claire Danes’s first film after her stint in My So-Called Life saw the best portrayal of the third March sister to date. Beth’s tender nature and concern for her family are faithfully portrayed in Danes’ characterisation. There is a real sense of shyness in how Claire Danes speaks and moves within her scenes- the delicate countenance calls to mind the weakening state of Beth’s health. Of the sisters, Beth is the one who remains at home, remains private and committed to her small core family and Claire Danes nails it! (She was also pretty incredible as Yvaine from Stardust by Neil Gaiman so I think that gives her extra points!)

 

Jude-the-Obscure-Jude. I first watched Jude when I was too young to really get what was going on (well, I was 15 but not that great at picking up on things!) and then I read the book, and still didn’t really get what was going on. But one thing I did get was that I really believed what the lead man was telling me. Christopher Eccleston shines as Jude in this film. I mean REALLY shines. He has always had an ability to slip under the skin of his characters and produce unsettling, fantastically complete performances and he really does this here. Further viewings and readings (well, one further reading, it is oppressively depressing after all) cemented my view that Ecceleston has portrayed Jude’s ambition and tragedy wonderfully well.

I’m pretty sure that you won’t all agree, and I’m pretty sure that I’ve left some out…. let the debate begin!

Rachel Brazil
Although well-known amongst my family for my habit of falling asleep with a book on my face, I’ve not let the constant face bruises deter me from indulging in my favourite pastime. There is no famine, only feast, in my house with every flavour of book available for consumption.

I’m happy to sample almost anything from the smorgasbord of literature available but can always be tempted with a juicy murder mystery or sweet little romance.

The Top Five Favorite Books of Romance Author Jennifer Snow

Us BookEaters are honoured this week! We have talked esteemed Romance Author Jennifer Snow into sharing her top five favourite books with us as part of her blog tour promoting her new Brookhollow book. (Read our review of the whole series here.)

seriesspotlight.jpg

So without further ado, here she is!

Asking me to decide which five books are my all time favorites is like asking me to choose between children-I stopped at one child for exactly that reason lol 🙂

But…If I have to list only five…here they are:

  • Malibu Summer by Francine Pascal

As a teenager, I was a huge Sweet Valley Twins/High fan. I couldn’t get enough of the books. And Malibu Summer was my first real ‘romance’ book and I was hooked. I have such great emotional memories attached to the book that I refuse to re-read it now in adulthood for fear that it won’t have the same impact on me.

  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Pretty sure no explanation needed for this one-Hello? Mr. Darcy 😉

  • Something from Tiffany’s by Melissa Hill

The opening scene in this book is so cleverly written, it hooks you right from page one. It is set in New York at Christmas time, so to me it’s the perfect romance story. And the ring is from Tiffany’s-what more could a lover of romance ask for?

  • P.S. I Love You by Cecelia Ahern

I actually saw the movie first, then I went back to read the book and I loved both. The book is particularly great because it shows more of the husband’s story and how he sets up the letters he leaves behind for his grieving widow. I get choked up just thinking about it lol, so that’s a sign of a wonderful book.

  • Debbie Macomber

Okay, so I’m cheating a little, but there’s no way I can choose just one of Debbie’s books. I love them all, I re-read them all…Her holiday titles were what inspired me to start writing, so I owe a lot to her wonderful stories.

Jennifer Snow
Jennifer Snow lives in Edmonton, Alberta with her husband and four-year old son. She is a member of the Writers Guild of Alberta, the Romance Writers of America, the Canadian Author Association, and SheWrites.org.
She is also a regular blogger on the Heartwarming Authors site and is a contributing author to Mslexia Magazine, WestWord Magazine and RWR. Her 2013 Holiday Romance-The Trouble With Mistletoe was a finalist in the 2014 Golden Quill Contest and the Heart of Denver Aspen Gold Contest. More information can be found on her website