Crongton Knights book review

I’ve recently started work in the library at a local comprehensive school in mostly white, middle-class suburbia in the South East of England and was pleasantly surprised to discover this on our shelves. I didn’t realise it was the middle book in a trilogy until I’d finished the book, delighted to say it stands on its own two feet, I didn’t feel I’d missed anything by not reading the first book (however, I shall be checking we own all three, such was the power of this book). It moved me, it shook me and it made me laugh. Somehow, this book, written using street talk I am totally unfamiliar with, set in a fictitious inner city, full of gangs and a culture I am so far removed from, struck a chord deep inside that will stay with me for a long time. It proved to me, once again, that the power of words can reach out like a winding rope and wrap around you and reel you in and you don’t want to escape, you want more, you want to ride alongside the characters, you want their safety, you want their bonds to include you and you want them to live. Read it.
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<a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/8573306-debra”>View all my reviews</a>

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A Trailing Spouse By Any Other Name

I was going through my inbox earlier today and came across this blog. I read it at the time and it spoke so loudly to me that I kept it. On re-reading it, I decided to share it. June is a month when many families are moving countries and/or repatriating so it seems the right time to share this. I hope you find strength and value in this and in yourself.

Wine and Cheese (Doodles)

vintage travel 10Trailing spouse. It’s a term most expats are familiar with and many, including myself, use it for lack of a better alternative. A recent post by a fellow expat caused me to re-explore my feelings about the term and truth be told, the more I think about it, the less I like it.

If I was on the fence before, her vivid description of toilet paper stuck to the bottom of a shoe made me come down firmly on the side of dislike. Because in a nutshell, trailing spouse has the  implication of someone following behind and picking up all the debris and crud the person in front of dropped along the way.

The last person in a race trails. Burning exhaust fumes trail. A caboose trails. Spouses shouldn’t trail. Who wants to be compared to a caboose toot tootling along behind the shiny diesel engine?

More than insinuation or semantics, what bothers…

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So good I just had to share it.

I chose this book for our Book Group last year. I confess I didn’t read it. Life unexpectedly got very busy and I was unable to go to our next meeting and I wasn’t going to be there to talk about it, sad but that’s how life is sometimes. However, I recently downloaded it as an audio book and have just spent the last two weeks listening to all 19 hours of it and it is still inside my head and won’t go away.  You know when you’ve read a good book, it stays with you and when you have a quiet moment it pops into your mind and you enjoy it again. This one doesn’t wait for a quiet moment, it shouts at me to take more notice, urges me not to forget any of it and to really hear the messages it delivers. So, here I am, listening to the voices in my head and sharing what I think.

This is the book.

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This is my Goodreads review.

“Probably one of the best books I’ve ever read. One of those books that really gets into your psyche. How do you review a book like that? I suppose I could go on about the plot, how it’s based on the author’s father and draws on his contemporaries’ memories, about how is deals with love on so many different levels, about the times on the Burma railway. There is so much in this book, where do I start? I suggest you read the other reviews, they will explain it better than I can but I can tell you that I read it and then I listed to the author narrate it over 19 hours; he nuanced every single word, he drew out every single pause and gently read the most traumatic scenes with devastating effect. The book addresses the issues of good and evil, right and wrong, nature versus nurture, cause and effect so simply and honestly without being preachy and allows you to make up your own mind only to turn your decision on its head in the next chapter. It deserved the Man Booker Prize of 2014. As the chair of judges said that year “some years, very good books with the Man Booker Prize but this year a masterpiece has won it” Need I say more?”

A Book You’ve Been Meaning to Read

It’s the end of February, the second month of the year and I’ve finished my second book of the Reading Challenge I’m following. I chose Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and here’s my review I wrote for GoodReads (no point reinventing the wheel!)

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Mixed feelings about this book. It goes without saying that the writing is superb. I was taken to an America I didn’t know existed. She wrote about her life as a young Black girl in a way that told of that experience I’d never connected to before. That makes me feel naive but I actually think it’s down to her skill as a writer. That said, I was disappointed in her re-telling of her life once she’d left Stamps for the final time. I felt it was rushed, lacked the private thoughts she’d previously shared and which had made such an impact on me, for the sake of delivering the chronological facts. All that said, what a book.

Now, what shall I chose next?…..

 

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A book you can finish in a day

Reading challenge – the first book.

I love my Kindle but was delighted when my daughter asked me for a book list so she could chose one from it to buy me for Christmas in print form. What a joy it was to scribble down books that had been in my head for a while. She chose The Santa Klaus Murder by Mavis Doriel Hay. It is published by The British Library as part of their Crime Classics series and was first published in 1936. Here’s my review for Goodreads.

A good old-fashioned murder mystery in a Downton Abbey-esque setting albeit not quite so grand. The patriarch is murdered and everyone is a suspect including Santa Klaus. The investigator is the Chief Constable who, of course, is a family friend but remains impartial. The bulk of the story is told from his point of view but various other characters are asked to write their account of events in a story form and these are integrated into the tale. I loved the writing style, so true of the upper classes of the 1920s-30s yet Hay also writes in dialect and it’s perfectly done. I’ve never read Agatha Christie but I suspect they would have similar styles. I would have liked a longer epilogue, I felt it ended quite abruptly but I suppose there wasn’t really any more to say.

Reading challenge 2016

In honour of Debbie Alvarez, woman, wife, mother, teacher librarian and all round incredible human being who died at the end of December 2015, I am taking the Reading Challenge suggested by some of Debbie’s friends. I love reading, always have, so this isn’t difficult but I’m doing it because Debbie read. I can be a lazy reader; it’s all to easy to pick up old favourites or an easy read and there is nothing wrong with that but Debbie always looked to learn something from her reading, she loved finding out new facts, discovering new authors, delighting in illustrations and illustrators, uncovering a hidden gem, realising she could match a book with a reader; I saw her do this every day for a whole year when I worked alongside her at Bradbury School Library in Hong Kong.

So this year I am going to be disciplined about my reading and continue to learn from Debbie. Her life continues, just in a different way.

 

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Comunidad para mi hermana…

startwithsparkles

Community: 

A unified body of individuals.

The people with common interests living in a particular area. 

I am always astounded at how many beautiful people there are in the vast communities that surround my tiny nuclear family. In the last twelve days this community has exploded into a vast array of artists, writers, teachers, friends, family members, doctors, nurses, musicians, and humanitarians.

If you look for the bad in (hu)mankind expecting to find it, you surely will.-Wise words from Mr. Lincoln.

I like to think of it this way: When you look for the good in people you will surely find it… -A Rachel take

In a time of grief and loss there are no words that can absolutely console or express the feelings that reside within. Although, all I have left are words in fact. These words helped guide me through the last handful of days. The first day…

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