Review of The Anniversary (short story collection)

The Anniversary by Veronica Henry

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Cover – The Anniversary. Image by KL Caley


📖 A collection of short stories which all revolve around an anniversary of some kind (finished off with a few recipes from the Hairy Bikers). This book contains short stories from Fanny Blake, Elizabeth Buchan, Rowan Coleman, Jenny Colgan, Philippa Gregory, Matt Haig, Veronica Henry, Andy McNab, Richard Madeley and John O’Farrell.

✍️I’m pleased to say that the entire collection was enjoyable and featured quite a range of stories, timelines and writing styles. See below a quick summary of a few of them to whet the appetite:

The Other Half by Fanny Blake is about a young single mum who has taken on a taxi job to support her family after her husband ran off with her best friend. It’s a funny, warm, light-hearted story with a great ending.

Moment of Glory by Elizabeth Buchan is a wonderful flash into the second world war. Ellen, now a stay-at-home mother, was working at a top-secret signals base. She gives us a little insight into life at the station. It’s a sweet uplifting story, championing motherhood. The type of tale you would expect to find in a people’s friend magazine.

Birthday Secrets by Rowan Coleman is an intriguing little tale giving an insight into families discussing LGBTQ+ within the household and opening up to partners/parents about it. It’s a kind, positive story and handled with a brilliant sense of positive normality.

May Day by Philippa Gregory was my favourite story of the bunch. It follows Henry VIII sixth wife, Katherine Parr but more interestingly it tells the story of St Tryphine, a woman forced against her will to marry her father’s husband. Exploring her husband’s castle, she finds some secret rooms which contain several of the murdered remains of her husband’s previous wives. The two stories are brilliantly woven together. Historical fiction at its finest.
💭 Overall View: Needless to say, I liked this book. It is part of the “quick reads” collection which I like to intersperse between larger novels. The idea of this collection is exactly as it says on the tin (or should that be cover), a shorter than normal book by world-leading authors. Well worth the £1 cover price and highly recommended.

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The facts are only ever a part of a story. Philippa Gregory
The facts are only ever a part of a story. Philippa Gregory Quote.

Review of Six Foot Six

Six Foot Six by Kit de Waal

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Cover – Six Foot Six

📖 This is a really cute little book. A fun and easy read.

✍️Timothy flowers is six feet six inches tall. The story follows Timothy as he goes about his day on his 21st birthday. However, when he is in the midst of his day he meets Charlie who is a builder and offers him a day’s work. It becomes clear that Timothy has some kind of learning disability and is more childlike than an adult. In many ways, Charlie takes advantage of Timothy using his size for both menial labour and for a bit of intimidation. Yet the friendship between the two flourishes into a heart-warming tale.

📖 I liked this book. It is part of the “quick reads” collection which I like to intersperse between larger novels. The idea of this collection is exactly as it says on the tin (or should that be cover), a shorter than a normal book by world-leading authors (less than 100 pages). One of the things I quite like about these books is that they force the authors to cut out a lot of the waffle that sometimes goes on in books. This keeps the stories quite fast-paced with a lot happening in less time.

🗣 I often think it’s useful to see an extract of a book to get an idea of the writing style. Here is a brief extract so that you can see a sample of the writing yourself:

Charlie parks outside the house with the basement and tells Timothy to get out.
‘I’ll be back in a bit. You just carry on.’
Timothy doesn’t move.
‘What you waiting for?’ Same job as before. Go on.
‘I don’t want to go down on my own.’ Timothy is thinking of the broken room and the Brute hiding in the corner.
Charlie looks up at the ceiling of his van and shakes his head. ‘Christ. Come one then. But I’m not paying you to be sitting on your arse all bloody day.’ He starts the engine and drives off. ‘When we get back, you’ll have to work twice as hard and twice as quic. Got it?’

👓 This book covers some really complex issues (disability, vulnerability, domestic abuse) but the author handles them in a subtle, gentle way. I became invested in Timothy (and Charlie) and I really wanted the day to go well.

☠️ Any Negatives: Not a negative as such, and I have never read Kit De Waal’s work before so this may already exist, but I would love to see this story in a longer works or a sequel.

💭 Overall View: It is well worth the £1 cover price to read this. An unexpected but pleasant little tale. Another “quick reads” win which I would highly recommend it to any (mature) reader.

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The Loneliness of a Wild Lake – A short story.

She stared out across the water. Her mind lapping like the waves on the edge of the lake. Repeating her story to herself, but adding another line each time. Her life had changed, her plans gone awry, was there signals she missed? Probably. She had wanted the cliché. The house, the husband, the dog and the kids. She fought with everything she could, sometimes risking that which she hadn’t meant to. She had almost got it all. Almost.

The dog was an easy win, who doesn’t love dogs? Convincing him of the house move trickier but manageable. Some thought her husband meek but he could be stubborn when he wanted to. The wedding was a much harder challenge but eventually, she got there. Finally, she was ready for the children to come along.

Yet… as more and more time went in, the dreamed of pregnancy just didn’t happen. Cracks in her perfectly laid plans began to appear elsewhere. Strains that had been glossed over now bowed under pressure. Eventually, the talk was had. The perfectly planned life unravelled. One got the dog, the other the house. The title of husband and wife was vandalised with the “EX-“ prefix. So here she was, alone, in front of the wild lake.

Yet, life gave lessons, not curses. The wild lake representing what she needed, giving her time to cleanse, revive and refresh her life. Time to make some new plans…

“So lovely was the loneliness of a wild lake.”

Edgar Allan Poe

Originally written in response to Writer’s Quote Wednesday Writing Challenge (#WQWWC) and FOWC with Fandango — Meek.

“As exciting, difficult and memorable as our past can be, there comes a time when we have to get on with living.”

Patrick Carman, The Tenth City

I realise this is quite a melancholic post this week. I have someone on my mind. Someone I used to know well but life presented some challenges, as life often does, and now they are no longer part of my life. Even though that is the case, I still wish them luck and happiness on their quest. Water after all is the best symbol for refreshment there is.

Take Care.

KL

The Next Step – A short story.

He stared down at the newspaper. He really should call the newsagent and cancel the delivery but so far the thought of one more person apologising for his loss was too much. Better to just let it be, it was only a paper. Making his way to the kitchen he popped the kettle on then opened the fridge door. Row upon row of milk bottles lay unopened. He really should call and half the delivery. He paused. On second thought, a cuppa out would be a nice treat.

He grabbed his jacket and swapped his well-worn slippers for a pair of dress shoes. He wasn’t sure if they went with what he was wearing, Judy would have told him that, he shooed the thought from his mind. It didn’t matter, he had no one to impress anyway.

He walked down the street, hands in his pockets, keeping his head down, terrified a neighbour would stop him and offer more condolences. He knew they were trying to be kind but right now more condolences felt like the last thing he needed. He kept his head down and kept walking.

He stopped outside the café and looked in the window. Should he go in? His mind flashed back to sitting inside, waiting whilst Judy had her hair cut, after what felt like hours she’d appear. What do you think? She’d say with a huge smile. “Beautiful Darling”, he’d say, never really noticing the difference but her smile was all that mattered and that was truly beautiful. He turned to leave, he couldn’t go in there, not yet.

Across the road was a new café. It looked too trendy, one of these barista type affairs. Not a proper café. Still, he’d made it out the house, made it this far, maybe he should go in. No, I’m not young enough he thought, imagining the hipster type with their skinny jeans frowning at his questionable attire. But as he stood and watched a woman walked to the door and stepped inside, as she did, her scarf blew in the wind, causing her to drop her handbag, contents spilling across the pavement. Without even thinking, he crossed the road and knelt to help her. He picked up the pages of her newspaper and tried to sort them into some kind of order.

“Don’t worry about that, I’m not really a newspaper girl anyway, more of a book fanatic”, she said then gave him a beaming smile.

“Me too”, he said then chuckled. He handed her the scrunched newspaper and turned to leave.

“What kind of books are you into?” she asked.

“Oh, a bit of everything.”

“Ever read Fahrenheit 451?”

“Of course, a few years ago now, but it’s a book that sticks with you?”

“Great.” She beamed her smile at him again. “I am meeting my book group over by the window, why don’t you join us? This month’s book was Fahrenheit 451.”

“Erm…”

“We’re a friendly bunch, besides I think I owe you a cuppa for helping me but I’d feel bad holding the group up any longer.” That inviting smile came out again. He looked up and down the street. He had nowhere else to be.

“Sure. Why not?” He said. Together they stepped through the door. Despite the nerves, he felt excitement, a new chapter was about to begin, it only took one small step.

“As exciting, difficult and memorable as our past can be, there comes a time when we have to get on with living.”

Patrick Carman Quote

Originally written in response to Writer’s Quote Wednesday Writing Challenge (#WQWWC) hosted by Marsha Ingrao at Always Right.

“As exciting, difficult and memorable as our past can be, there comes a time when we have to get on with living.”

Patrick Carman, The Tenth City

Change is often both terrifying and exciting whether that be a new house, a new job or even just a new chapter in life. I’m always curious about how people come to the decision to make that change, I find it’s often one small moment that causes them to take that leap of faith. Hope you enjoyed my tale capturing that moment.

I’m hoping to create a local book group to share my love of all things book related. I attended one years ago, it was at a local arts centre which sadly lost funding and closed. The group tried to keep going but the right venue was never available, pubs were too noisy, or had awkward seating or couldn’t reserve tables, the local bookshop and library both close at 6pm so were unusable and we couldn’t guarantee the numbers to hire a dedicated space, so it fizzled out. I am hoping to start a new one, hopefully with fresh eyes and excitement after (reportedly) more and more renewed their love of reading in lockdown. Wish me luck.

Take Care.

KL

Review of The Skylight by Louise Candlish

The Skylight: Quick Reads 2021 by Louise Candlish

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


The skylight is a crime thriller set in a built-up suburban area. Simone and Jake live on the top two floors of a shared building. Their neighbours Gus and Alina live downstairs and live a life Simone is envious of. Simone soon realises she can watch them through their skylight (and does frequently).

When Simone sees Jake, her partner spending time over at the neighbours house her envy steps up a gear and Simone begins a neighbourly feud which could have deadly consequences.

I liked this book. It is part of the “quick reads” collection which I like to intersperse between larger novels. The idea of this collection is exactly as it says on the tin (or should that be cover), a shorter than normal book by world-leading authors. One of the things I quite like about these books is that they force the authors to cut out a lot of the waffle that sometimes goes on in books. This keeps the stories quite fast-paced with a lot happening in less time. The Skylight is a fast-paced plot-driven story, it meets the quick read criteria perfectly.

I often think it’s useful to see an extract of a book to get an idea of the writing style. Here is a brief extract so that you can see a sample of the writing yourself:

‘I just saw Alina in the hall,’ he tells me one evening.
‘Oh yes? How is our local mean girl?’
‘Simone,’ he protests.
‘Well, she is.’
‘I’m sure she’s okay underneath it all.’
What, without her clothes on, I think.

This story is told from the viewpoint of Simone, a classic unreliable narrator. Simone tells the reader a story that cannot be taken at face value. It’s difficult to tell if she is insane, deluded or just malicious but you can feel the tension from her from the very first page. This makes the story all the more believable, how many people can’t stand their neighbours. Add in extreme jealousy to that mix and it’s a boiling pot ready to bubble over.

I don’t know how others would take it but I particularly loved the ending. Sharp and clever.
My first time reading Louise Candlish’s work but I would definitely be interested in reading a full novel if this is her calibre of storytelling.

Overall View: Under 100 pages. Dark, deceptive, witty, tension-filled. Amazing work in so few pages.

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Extract - The Skylight

Beyond The Door – #Writephoto – naamayehuda

A sweet little entry provided by naamayehuda
Thank you so much for your fantastic entry and for taking part in #writephoto – Beyond the Door



She stood before the wall. The exit. The entry.

Hesitant though the thunder of her heart under her chin sang of excitement.

And trepidation.

For how could she not be somewhat wary, going where she was about to.

See more at: https://naamayehuda.com/2021/03/16/passing-through/

Much Love
KL ❤

To view the original post and see many other creative entrants please visit Sue Vincent’s post here.

Beyond The Door – #Writephoto – rivrvlogr

A sweet little entry provided by rivrvlogr
Thank you so much for your fantastic entry and for taking part in #writephoto – Beyond the Door



Never far,
yet always distant.

Darkness or light?
What is the relevance?

….

Read on at: https://rivrvlogr.com/2021/03/15/the-waiting-portal-writephoto/

Much Love
KL ❤

To view the original post and see many other creative entrants please visit Sue Vincent’s post here.

Beyond The Door – #Writephoto – ruthscribbles

A sweet little entry provided by ruthscribbles
Thank you so much for your fantastic entry and for taking part in #writephoto – Beyond the Door



Entrance to beyond

Searching for buried answers…


Read on at: https://ruthscribbles.com/2021/03/15/my-take-beyond-the-door-writephoto-renewal/

Much Love
KL ❤

To view the original post and see many other creative entrants please visit Sue Vincent’s post here.

Beyond The Door – #Writephoto – geofflepard

One of the funniest stories so far has been provided by geofflepard
Thank you so much for your fantastic entry and for taking part in #writephoto – Beyond the Door



‘What do you mean? It just appeared. Doors don’t “just appear”.’ Reginald Twart, fifteenth Baron Doobelderry of Much Havoque pointed his sword stick at Taut Muscell his gamekeeper. ‘I pay you to stop doors appearing willynilly across the estate.’ He waved in the vague direction of the line of roofs that indicated the beginnings of Much Havoque’s newly built estate of artisanal dwellings. ‘Good god, Taut. Allowing a door to take up residence without the proper formalities could lead to all sorts of incursions. Imagine if it opened? Any Tom, Dick or Harriet might emerge and then what?’ Reginald glanced at the door and shuddered. ‘Yes, just imagine what might be in there…’


Read on at: https://geofflepard.com/2021/03/14/the-comeuppance-writephoto/

Much Love
KL ❤

To view the original post and see many other creative entrants please visit Sue Vincent’s post here.

Beyond The Door – #Writephoto – Ladyleemanila

A very clever blitz poem has been provided by Ladyleemanila
Thank you so much for your fantastic entry and for taking part in #writephoto – Beyond the Door



Beyond the door

Beyond the wall

Wall of mystery

Wall of rock

Rock and stones

Rock of horror


Read on at: https://ladyleemanilablog.wordpress.com/2021/03/14/beyond-the-door-writephoto-renewal-wall-with-friends/

Much Love
KL ❤

To view the original post and see many other creative entrants please visit Sue Vincent’s post here.