Tell me a story!

Roll up! Roll up… Sue is offering everyone the chance to share a story on her blog, why not pop along and have a look? KL ❤

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

You don’t have to be a writer… you can be an editor, artist, musician, traveller or poet… just be you. That is always enough and means there are always stories to share.

Why not share them here and reach new readers?

Click for guest post guidelines

Perhaps you have a strange-but-true story to share, an encounter or moment where reality has shifted and taken on a different hue for you?

Click for Elusive Realities guidelines
and links to previous articles in the series.

Email me at findme@scvincent.com to discuss being a guest on this blog. All I will need is your article, bio, pics and links.

Why not be my guest?

View original post

Advertisements

Day of the Dead

She covered her arms, her face and her chest in the luminescent paint.

 

Day of the Dead Image - Google

Day of the Dead image courtesy of Google Images

 

Quiet and unassuming, normally no-one noticed her. Today was different. Today was the day of the dead. Her heart beat fast at the thoughts of the festivities that would unfold over the next two days in an explosion of colour and life-affirming joy.

More importantly, she would see him again. Each year she made the offering to the dead and each year he had stayed a little longer. This year she was finally prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice. Herself. He would be hers for eternity.


Written in response to Daily Posts daily prompt. You can join in this challenge or have a gander through the many interesting posts by clicking here.

I hope you enjoyed my 100-word story.

If you want to find out a bit more about Day of the dead – this National Geographic article is really interesting – http://www.nationalgeographic.co.uk/travel-and-adventure/top-10-things-know-about-day-dead

Review of Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman – 5 stars.

Orange Is the New BlackOrange Is the New Black by Piper Kerman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Like everyone else that comes across this book these days, the main reason I was attracted to it is that I love the TV series. However, it is important to note this book is not like the show. The TV series primary function is entertainment mainly in the form of humour. This book is a memoir, therefore like life, there is some humour but a fair whack of heartbreak and struggle too.

I really wish I had read the book before I watched the series as I did find little bits distracting, my mind drifting off on its own wondering such things as I wonder if Pop is the character Red in the tv series (I am pretty sure the answer is yes btw, feel free to let me know otherwise XD). This being said – the book is brilliant.

So, what’s it about. Piper Kerman, at twenty-something, gets bored of her plain white life ends up shacking up with a woman who works as a drug runner. Naively she underestimates the seriousness of this until a time she is asked to carry cash for the drugs trade. Not long after Piper gets out of the relationship (and the business) but as is usually the case her past catches up with her many years later when she is living a quiet comfortable life with her devoted boyfriend Larry. When she ends up with a custodial sentence her world becomes a very different place and Kerman recalls the stories of the women who help her see her prison time through.

I often think it’s useful to see an extract of a book to get an idea of the writing style. Even more important for a memoir as you are committing to read someone’s life and if it’s droll you will soon lose interest. Kerman’s voice is very readable, here is a brief section which I think is a beauty:

“I never understood why laundry soup was the one free thing provided to us (other than toilet paper rations, which were passed out once a week, and the sanitary napkins and tampons stocked in the bathroom). Laundry soap was sold on commissary; some women would buy Tide and give away their eight free soap packets to others who had nothing. Why not soap to clean your body? Why not toothpaste? Somewhere within the monstrous bureaucracy of the Bureau of Prisons, this all made sense to someone.”

I learned a lot reading this book. For example; Kerman was sentenced on a US drug conspiracy charge so her sentence was based on the total amount of drugs involved in the operation, not her small role in it. A stark warning for anyone in the trade.

So, all in this is a pretty great book. Really it’s a story about staying strong and about appreciating the inner strengths of others too. Everyone has their own battles, strengths, weaknesses, secrets and successes. Kerman captures such a variety of those beautifully and writes about them with both empathy and respect.

Please leave a like/helpful vote if you think my review/feedback of the item was helpful to you. Alternatively, please contact me if you want me to clarify something in my review.

View all my reviews

The Shelter of the Shepherd – #writephoto

They had heard the planes before they had seen them. The hum distant at first, then getting louder and louder, a thunderous roar approaching. At first, the villagers did not understand. The village was made up of farmers, market traders and weavers. Those that took the village produce to the big town markets knew of the war, but they were not soldiers, they had no reason to be involved in the war, so, they presumed, no reason for the war to come to them. They were wrong.

A few of the men recognised the planes as they came into sight. Their dark shadows and flight formation now looked so similar to the photographs printed in the paper. Panic filled the men and they began to shout orders to those around them. Others did the same and soon the village woman had grabbed the children and headed for the church but as they approached the priest came running through the doors. He had assessed the simple structure and knew that it would not do to protect his people.

As hysteria began to surface amongst the group, a man stepped forward. A strangled hush came across the group with the thundering plane engines providing most of the noise. Few of the villagers recognised the man, he was a shepherd who usually followed his herd amongst the mountains, it was rare he stepped foot into town. Today the villagers were lucky.

He said only one word, “There”. Pointing his hand towards the mountainside. Then he quickly began to walk.

 

Shelter-Mountain-Cave-Image by Sue Vincent

Shelter Image by Sue Vincent

 

The villagers followed his gaze and although few could see what he was talking about all immediately followed his quick step. They made it to the trees and some of the agitations dispersed as the group huddled and walked, step after step. They were not in the treeline long when they heard the first bomb drop on their town. The ground below them shook and immediately cries escaped them. The priest shushed them gently, as they gathered themselves, they noticed the shepherd kept walking. They scrambled to keep up with him and soon once again the huddle was moving this time, each member of the village was on full alert.

Several more bombs made their way to the ground until the noise was no longer as shocking to the villagers. A few times the shepherd stop and held up his hand to stop the travelling group. As the priest moved towards the man he saw the reason for stopping. Flying low above the trees the planes seemed to be searching. Only once the shepherd moved again did the villagers follow suit. It was pitch black by the time the villagers made the mountain. They all crammed to get inside the cave first, whilst the priest instructed some of the stronger men to begin to gather wood to make fires.

“No”, said the shepherd whilst the priest was mid-way through the instruction. The priest tried to question but the man only shook his head and continued past him into the cave. Reluctantly the priest followed.

After several hours the majority of the group fell into a restless slumber, the planes had left but the shepherd sitting near the entrance and had given no hint that the villagers should leave. The priest was unaware that he too had fallen into an exhausted sleep until he found himself shaken awake by the shepherd. He waved his hand towards the entrance beckoning the priest to follow him. Understanding dawning on him, the priest made his way to the cave opening. The shepherd pointed down into the town and sure enough in the pitch darkness, lights could be seen moving amongst the town.

“Soldiers?” the priest questioned, and the shepherd nodded in response. To back up his point random gunshots filled the night air and the priest squirmed knowing that it was probably a sick or elderly villager whom in their haste they had left behind.

The shepherd pointed along the treeline surrounding the village and the priest once again followed his instruction. Lights were entering the treeline and the priest gasped.

“Are we safe here?” the shepherd shrugged non-committedly in response.

“Well, what should we do?” the priest gasped exasperated.

“Pray”, the shepherd finally provided the priest before he walked back into the cave and returned to his place, from his shirt he pulled a beaded necklace, a cross dangling from it. The beads clicked together as the man continued to move the item around his idle hands.

The priest looked out into the darkness, following the lights moving in the deep night. Reluctantly he turned to the cave once again. This time he dropped to his knees, closed his eyes and prayed, not only for those in the cave but for the poor souls who had already been lost to a war they did not understand and had never wished to be part of.

The priest found himself being shaken awake once more, this time by one of the men from the village. Light flowed into the opening of the cave and as he came around he noticed more and more faces looking at him. He turned around looking for the shepherd but could not see him.

“He left at daybreak,” the man from the village provided. Stiffly the priest got to his feet and emerging from the cave he looked out towards the village. He gasped when he saw the charred remains of what had been his beloved church. Then he shunned himself as his eyes continued finding where homes had once stood only burnt out skeletons of the structures remained. He crossed himself when he remembered the sounds of the gunshots that had penetrated the night. He nodded to the men that surrounded him and slowly they made their descent back into the woodland.

As they entered the village, cries of despair broke out amongst the villagers as they looked around at the carnage of what had been their homes. The priest continued to walk up to where the church once stood. The remains of the stone baptismal font seemed to rise from the wreckage and the priest stepped around the rubble towards it. He reached his hands into the bowl and pulled out a beaded necklace with a cross from it. To the villagers, he may have seemed mad as he dropped to his knee, pulled his hands together in a gesture of prayer and thanked the lord.


Written in response to Sue Vincent’s prompt – #writephoto. You can join in this weeks image or have a gander through the many interesting posts inspired by this wonderful photo by clicking here.

Just a quick note, although this feels like a religious post, I am not overly certain why this post took on a religious storyline. I am from a mixed religious background with both my parents and grandparents coming from different religions, also my family spans both Scotland and Ireland so I tend to shy away from any religious involvement having seen so much arrogance, hatred and unnecessary arguments that seem to stem from religious beliefs. However, I cannot deny the comfort religion provides people or the fact that unexplainable miracles happen all the time.

The stem of this story for me, I think, was inspired not only by Sue’s wonderful photo but a recent visit to Malta, (which indeed is a very religious island). Despite being a tiny island of only 246 square kilometres (95 sq mi), Malta was of huge importance during the war due to its strategic position. On 10 June 1940, Mussolini declared war on the United Kingdom and France. Upon declaring war, Mussolini called for an offensive throughout the Mediterranean and within hours, the first bombs had dropped on Malta. It is so sad to think that within hours this island of vineyards, farming, caves and catacombs was transformed instantly from a place of peace to an island of turmoil.

Anyway, I am no war historian or any kind of historian for that matter and I am sure there are loads of accuracy plotholes within my tall tale (men with rifles following a few hours behind planes with bombs, probably not?) but I liked the story and I hope I may have shared just a little bit of my inspiration with you and even that you may have championed (even just for a second) the shepherd and his cave.

Review of The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey – 4 Stars.

The Daughter of Time (Inspector Alan Grant, #5)The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is pretty much as the back cover describes. Inspector Alan Grant finds himself cooped up after suffering from a broken leg. When his friend Marta brings him a jumble of historical mysteries the portrait of Richard III immediately intrigues him. Soon the inspector is pulling every historical source he can find to determine the truth, did Richard the third truly murder the princes in the tower.

When I started this book it took me a really long time to adapt to the slow and methodical writing approach. It is deliberately done this way so that the reader gets caught up in Alan Grant’s viewpoint of ‘don’t believe everything written in the history books’, take things one step at a time. The author also has a good way of drip feeding bits of British History without it becoming a cumbersome read. However, as this novel was first published in the 1950s the writing is a little old-fashioned and takes a bit of time to get used to, for example;

 

“If anyone, looking into a crystal ball at that party, had told Cecily Nevill that in for years not only the York line but the whole Plantagenet dynasty would have gone forever, she would have held it either madness or treason.”

I did enjoy the story of this book but found the character Inspector Alan Grant to be a bit bland. However, I do confess when reading this I had no idea it was a series and had assumed it was a standalone (it was pleasantly readable as a standalone), so I do wonder if perhaps I had read the others in the series first I would have enjoyed this character more.

I really loved the concept of the book; trying to solve an old murder mystery from centuries before with just the materials you can lay your hands on at the time. I must say considering the novel is nearly seventy years old it has aged brilliantly and is still very readable. It is a quirky novel, well researched and an intriguing addition to the Richard III and the murder of the princes’ debate.

Please leave a like/helpful vote if you think my review/feedback of the item was helpful to you. Alternatively, please contact me if you want me to clarify something in my review.

View all my reviews

Review of The Fraud by Barbara Ewing – 5 Stars

The FraudThe Fraud by Barbara Ewing

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I actually finished this book a few weeks ago but hadn’t found the time to write the review. I am now really glad that I had that time for reflection as it has actually increased my liking of the book and appreciate some of the world captured in these pages the more. Let me explain…

The premise of this book primarily is about a brother (Phillip) and sister (Grace) who despite being from a noble family find themselves going through financial hardships at a very young age and decide to re-establish themselves. The family has a talent – art. Phillip being a young man is invited to join a merchant ship and tour Europe, whilst his younger sister Grace is sent to a workhouse. Several years pass when Phillip returns for Grace having cast aside the tainted English family name he has reinvented himself as Filipo an artist from Florence and invites Grace to join him by running his house in London disguised as his Italian sister Francesca. Francesca agrees, desperate to escape the workhouse but soon regrets her decision when her brother quashes her dreams of becoming an artist in her own right. How far will she go to see her own dreams fulfilled?

The settings of this book are primarily around London (although a slight inclusion of Bristol and Amsterdam are also featured). The author really does a great job to capture the hustle and bustle of the Georgian streets of London with the market, crowds, cockfighting, pickpockets and prostitution all woven cleverly into the storyline.

The Fraud Cover

The Cover of the Edition I purchased.

Whilst I wasn’t overjoyed with Grace/Francesca as a character during the reading of the novel. She certainly left an afterthought with me. Her single goal in life was to be recognised as an artist in her own right. After finishing the book this struck a chord with me. Despite (many) years ago studying Graphic Design which includes Art History as a module, I struggle to name many historic female artists. The author captured this lacking in society so well in the book, that inequality throughout life, that Grace’s fighting spirit almost becomes a shining example (despite the decisions and frauds she makes to try to achieve her dream).

It is worth mentioning here something which can appear a little confusing in the book is the writing style of the author. The story is told in the third person (e.g. Francesca does this, Fillip says that) but then in chapter six the author switches to first person (e.g. I did this, I said that) and zooms right into Grace’s storyline, this alternates to the end of the book. Whilst originally I found this switching slowed the pace of the book a little, I really enjoyed the ending which brings some of the reasoning behind this storytelling method to light, so I guess I am saying stick with it. Here is a brief extract of the author’s writing style.

“I took off all my clothes; I was shaking slightly and I told myself not to be so foolish and I looked in the mirror, at my naked body, never in my life had I looked at it in a mirror before and I could hardly bear to look at it now for the dirt and shame of what it had done – but it had arms and legs like the statue in Philip’s studio, and it was the body of a woman.
I took a deep breath, I picked up a piece of charcoal, and I began drawing myself.”

As a woman, I find this paragraph quite empowering.
One of the best things about this novel was that there was no obvious plotting. I did not know what would happen next and as an avid reader, it is rare that this is the case. Our heroine was certainly flawed and there were a fair few bad guys hanging about still I had no idea if and when they would get their comeuppance or if it was even viable for our heroine to get a happy ending. This more than encouraged me to keep turning those pages.
Please leave a like if you think my review/feedback of the item was helpful to you. Alternatively, please contact me if you want me to clarify something in my review.

View all my reviews

Just sayin’… the ups and downs of blogging

Lovely post to have a quick read of about the realities of blogging, stats, friendships & the unexpected “changes in the code”.

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

Image: Incygneia at Pixabay

So the Happiness Engineers have obviously been tinkering. Again.

The blogging community is just getting on with it. Have we given up railing against the changes, or are we just grumbling away quietly, knowing we are at the mercy of engineered happiness? There is a spectre of doom and gloom hovering…

Since the reblog button went missing with all the ‘redundant code’ they deleted a few weeks ago, things have not been quite right around here. Blogs are being unfollowed arbitrarily… odd new functions have quietly slipped beneath the radar, minor-looking tweaks have been sneaked in with little or no warning and the available stats seem to be riding a rollercoaster without rhyme or reason.

Although that last is not unusual…  stats do weird things.  Go away for a few days and it is a real eye-opener. You can understand it if you just stay off…

View original post 330 more words