Books and Reviews ...

Carol Ann Duffy ... The World's Wife

A Wonderful collection of easy access tales about women ususally excluded from myth and history. Powerful, funny, entertaining, thought provoking.

Choose from: Mrs Midas, Anne Hathaway, Medussa, The Kray Sisters, Mrs Aesop, Queen Kong ... or just read them all !

Our Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, was born in Glasgow in 1955 and grew up in Stafford. She attended Liverpool Uni, receiving a degree in Philosophy.

The secret lives of people in love by Simon Van Booy, has been my read for the week.

Simon Van Booy

Hmm ... What can I say? Van Booy's stories have lulled me into a calmness that makes me not want to bellow out words of enjoyment or disapproval. Not that I disapprove. Van Booy's mystic aura and poetic narratives make you feel as though you’ve been transported to another place, to a soundless island where loneliness abounds. A place steeped in sadness and loss where no-one ever wants to be.

You might think this doom and gloom read is not for you. Van Booy's stories drape the sense of losing someone around your shoulders. Motherless youths, drowning sailors and redundant parents place you in the depths of lost relationships. Simon singles out the loneliest people on the planet and peers into their lives through a magnifying glass. The only sense of relief is knowing you haven’t had to endure the life Van Booy's characters have suffered.

Unlike some short story writers and a fashion that enjoys leaving the reader in the lurch at the end of the tale, Simon often gives some indication of resolution and for this, I thank him. I don't always have time to think too long about what might have happened.

Some of his expressions are so fresh and crisp or so lavishly intense, that I found myself re-reading them just for the pleasure. The calming narrative will make you want to celebrate life and people. Give it a go. It can only help you breathe life more passionately.


As you probably know, World Book Day and Night has come and gone. 'A Millions Reasons to Read' was the slogan used to promote ... books. One million books were given out FREE to 20,000 givers who distributed or maybe still distributing the books. Well, there's nothing wrong with a free book, is there?

The concept sprang from The Book Industry Conference in 2009. Jaimie Byng of Canongate books is said to have started the idea which was later steered by a large committee including Random House, Penguin, Harper-Collins, Faber and Faber, Clays ... et al. So it's no surprise then, that giving out Free books might have meant cheap advertising. I'm not wanting to be sour about the promotion, clearly the book suppliers want to create awareness, especially in this techno-e-reader era but I found that the interest shown when giving out the books was quite amazing. The giving and receiving process somehow seemed to make people feel special. When I offered the FREE book to one lady, she asked, 'How much is it?' not believing something was actually for free. Some people seemed to mist over at the sight of a book. I could almost see their thoughts formulating ... a book? to read? Then a smile ... and once they'd accepted it, I could tell that reading one might be a pleasant experience.

World Book Day and Night encouraged a lot of interest, from large gathering for readings in Trafalgar Square, author readings and promotions in libraries to small reading groups; people getting together creating community spirit. And there's nothing wrong with that, is there?

I have 10 books left: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon. If you would like a copy, just email me at and I will post it to you. [FREE!]

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time is about an autistic boy who finds a neighbour's murdered dog in the garden and investigates the mystery. Viewing everyday events and emotions from the character's perspective, there is much to learn from Mark Haddon's novel. Humbling and enlightening, a delightful read.


King Crow by Michael Stuart

So, later that night, when all in my household had eaten their supper and fallen into one of two categories ... dozing on the sofa or showering for an night out, I slipped out to the library - yet again. To tell you the truth, it was a different library to my earlier 'Author Visit' and I consider myself very lucky to have three libraries reasonably close [although I have to admit, I wouldn't like to walk to any of them].

I arrived early - something of a rarity, and finished a few emails in the car whilst waiting for he alloted time. I entered the library with three minutes to spare and typically for me, everyone had begun; the audience glued to the speaker, the speaker, presenting his work. Pink-cheeked apologies later, I slipped into the back row. The truth stared at me from the hand-out. 'Award Winning Author, Michael Stewart: 7.15p.m.' I was clearly fourteen minutes late.

Fortunately, Michael stopped, said 'Hello' and blended back into his story, making me feel totally at ease. With the same ease, he read, explained and discussed his novel, his characters, publication and personal background with an interest and warmth that was captivating in itself.

The novel? Oh yes, that sounds really interesting too. I haven't read it yet because I wanted to listen first, then read, for a change. So I've typed out the blurb for you and here it is :~
'Ashley is everything Cooper isn't, he's tough and good looking, with so much street cred he can divvy some up for Paul as well. When they get into trouble with a local gang, they steal a car and head for the Lakes - Ashley because he thinks he may have killed somebody and Cooper because he wants to seee ravens. Their fight is hectic and intense, and in the middle of it all one of them meets a girl and the other feels pushed out. The three of them find refuge for a time in Helvellyn, but things ar falling apart and soon their road trip makes national headlines ... for all wrong reasons.'

'Michael Stewart is a fascinating new voice, and King Crow is a fine debut novel. Part action thriller, part psychological drama, part birding manual, I've come across nothing quite like it. It's a fantastic example of modern fiction at its innovative best.'
Melvin Burgess

Go to:

Can't wait to read it.


If Only I Could TALK by Tony Lewis:

I've had a busy day, collecting 50 books for World Book Day/Night and giving them out to people. I had the opportunity to attend two author visits; afternoon - listening to famous author, Tony Lewis talk about his debut novel, If Only I Could Talk: A Canine Adventure and later, an award winning author, Michael Stewart [more on next blog - we don't want any fall-outs]

Tony Lewis, born in Cumbria, oh God I wish I'd listened, did he say born or lives ... ? I think he said born, so we'll go with that. The general gist is that he plans, writes and tours walkers in France for most of the year. He obviously loves the outdoors and ... dogs ~ hence the novel.

Lewis portrays the inimitable friendships between fellow dogs and their two-legged companions. We see things through a dog's eyes and feel the engrained effect the dog has on three separate families. Lewis's book explores the delicate and remarkable bond which is formed between an autisitic child and one special dog.

If Only I Could Talk comes with a warning direct from the author at the library reading: The first chapter is a tear-jerker. After that, a tale of Three Families ... Two Worlds ... One Dog and a happy ending, well almost.

'Emotional and touching ... a story told from the heart, with great love and compassion for animals ... They do talk ... it's just that we can't understand them.'

Sheila Belshaw, author of Fly with a Miracle.

'An amazing story of two brave dogs ... very funny as well as emotionally satisfying.' Gerry McCullough. N.Ireland.

Order online at or


The Gift by Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy and Artist, Rob Ryan

I was sooo lucky at Christmas, spoiled rotten by my daughter ... amongst my many thoughtful and fun gifts, was this ...

The Gift, by our very own Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, is the story of a girl's journey through life, and the desires that shape it. Beautifully illustrated and created by London artist/lasercut artist, Rob Ryan [ Shop: 126 Columbia Road London] ...
A pure Gift.