Sunday Salon – February 2021

May not be an accurate representation of my salon

I have not invited anyone to a Sunday Salon for a year; blame that on Covid, we’re not allowed to have visitors! I also got behind with reviewing the books I have read – and got behind with actually reading books. I also like to review television programmes and films. I have not been to the cinema for ages, who has? But I did get to watch that Korean film on Netflix… meanwhile here are some of the books I have enjoyed. As usual Amazon rejected all my reviews and it’s not just books. I have needed to order a lot on Amazon this past year, essentials and presents, nearly always with success…except for the picture frame. It came with the glass broken! So when Amazon asked if I was happy with the delivery I put a sad face and wrote a review, which they rejected! The story had a happy ending as I also noticed you could email the frame company direct and they replied quickly and sent me a replacement that was plastic.

 All these reviews are on Goodreads and on my Facebook Author page. I am not a book reviewer, I write short reviews, but I do aim to review every book I read and flag up my enjoyment or interest.

May not be an accurate representation of my office.

You Beneath Your Skin  by  Biswas Damyanti – 5 Star review

I enjoy reading about other countries, other cities and interesting characters and situations. This is a powerful story of complex characters with a jigsaw family put together in a loving home contrasting with the hard life of the streets and the various layers of society in a foggy New Delhi. Crime, corruption and touching love at the heart of a difficult investigation keep us totally absorbed.

Marriage Unarranged   by Ritu Bhathal   – 5 Star review

I have not been to India, but the pictures the author paints are how I imagine from stories told by British Asians ‘going home’ and others visiting for the first time. This is a romantic story, but also an amusing one, young people on holiday to India without their elders hiring drivers and keeping to an agenda. They want to visit a real cinema, not the new multiplex, travel around like locals. There is glamour, for this is also a business trip for Aashi’s older brother who wants to reinvent the family fashion shop, but solemn moments as they contemplate dark historic events. As the five visit the Golden Temple there is an insight into the faith of the Sikhs. New friendships are made, Aashi’s broken heart might be mending, but how will life work out when they all return home to Birmingham?
I would love to see this as a Bollywood movie, the settings in India and the wonderful clothes they have a chance to model, fashions they hope to take back to Birmingham.

Little Big Boy   by Max Power    5 Star Review

This is a story about a little boy’s first love, his mother. It is not autobiographical, but is so powerful readers might assume it was, with its vivid evocation of early childhood. It is more than that, a story of families, of Ireland in the early nineteen seventies. There are many things that are dark inside and outside the home, that will make you angry, but the tale also bursts with life, of young boys exploring and having adventures with their friends.

Warning Signs  by Carol Balawyder   5 Star Review

More vivid than a television murder drama, this is an intelligent psychological thriller with the killer trying to understand why he could be tempted to kill and how he can stop himself. It is also the story anyone will recognise of young women looking for love, the dating game. Everyone is a stranger when you first meet them, when do we start trusting a person and when you begin dating someone how do you know if you are safe? A great story that kept me on edge all the way through.

With Love Comes Hope      4 Star Review

A poignant and rare opportunity to have in one book views from many different parts of the world. All the contributors are writing in the first half of 2020 about the first half of 2020; their impressions, worries and hopes about this unique experience that has affected every human being. The atmosphere of the first lockdown now seems quite different from the various lockdowns we have had since, will we see again streets quite so empty? Every country has had different approaches to containing the virus and we have only seen what’s happening outside our own countries from news programmes. This book gives us the insiders’ views.

Sunday Salon – July 2020

I haven’t done a Sunday Salon for a while ( ages ) and still have reviews to do and lots of interesting story collections I am dipping into on my Kindle. Here are three very different novels I have recently read on my Kindle. I have posted these 5 star reviews on Goodreads and my Facebook author page. As usual it looks like Amazon is going to reject my reviews. I am also featuring a very old paperback I picked up at the charity shop which is suddenly relevant.

Little Big Boy by Max Power

This is a story about a little boy’s first love, his mother. It is not autobiographical, but is so powerful readers might assume it was, with its vivid evocation of early childhood.  It is more than that, a story of families, of Ireland in the early nineteen seventies. There are many things that are dark inside and outside the home, that will make you angry, but the tale also bursts with life, of young boys exploring and having adventures with their friends. I have included a link to one of Max Power’s blogs in which he talks about his mother.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25442729-little-big-boy

https://maxpowerbooks.wordpress.com/2020/06/30/the-space-in-the-break-of-my-heart/

Warning Signs  by Carol Balawyder

More vivid than a television murder drama, this an intelligent psychological thriller with the killer trying to understand why he could be tempted to kill and how he can stop himself. It is also the story anyone will recognise of young women looking for love, the dating game. Everyone is a stranger when you first meet them, when do we start trusting a person and when you begin dating someone how do you know if you are safe? A great story that kept me on edge all the way through.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/49733864-warning-signs

Marriage Unarranged  by Ritu Bhathal

I have not been to India, but the pictures the author paints are how I imagine from stories told by British Asians ‘going home’ and others visiting for the first time. This is a romantic story, but also an amusing one, young people on holiday to India without their elders hiring drivers and keeping to an agenda. They want to visit a real cinema, not the new multiplex, travel around like locals. There is glamour, for this is also a business trip for Aashi’s older brother who wants to reinvent the family fashion shop, but solemn moments as they contemplate dark historic events.  As the five visit the Golden Temple there is an insight into the faith of the Sikhs. New friendships are made, Aashi’s broken heart might be mending, but how will life work out when they all return home to Birmingham?

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/49901585-marriage-unarranged

The Decameron Vol 2 by Giovanni Boccaccio  is the second part of a collection of rather saucy short stories written during the plague of 1348. My paperback copy is not quite that old, published in 1959 and costing three shillings and sixpence. I read it a while back, but when I saw this item in the newspaper I took it off my shelf again. The stories they tell each other are a lot of fun with the ladies often managing to trick the men, but a lot of trickery in general.  I guess this little group had more fun in isolation than lots of people this century.

Sunday Salon

I haven’t posted any reviews since last year… for a good while actually. All these reviews are on Goodreads, but I am still not having much luck with Amazon. I reviewed ‘Daddy Won’t Let Mom Drive…’ last year and Amazon rejected it. I submitted my review for Dog Bone Soup yesterday and the rejection email came back in ten minutes! The other two reviews I submitted today, but have yet to hear back.

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I’m starting with the poems of Frank Prem, because the fires in Australia have been on all our minds. He has been posting new poems about living in fear and smoke and I have put a link to one of his recent blogs.

Devil In The Wind by Frank Prem

When I started reading Devil In The Wind I couldn’t have imagined that the latest fires in Australia were going to build up to the most terrible conflagration ever known. Frank Prem’s unique style of poetry tells of the 2009 Black Saturday in Victoria. His opening dedication says ‘For all those affected by wildfire. May our love for the bush remain, while our hearts grow ever more resilient.’ Words needed more than ever.

As soon as I started reading, the voices were real; what people saw, trying to explain how it happened. His brief lines, often just one word, no punctuation or capital letters, tell the story perfectly ‘…anyway … out of the smoke came a sort of convoy…’   ‘she could see the glow from over murmungee way…’

This is the second book I have read by the author and I am looking forward to reading his third volume. Looking back at the words of Devil In The Wind I find myself reading it again. 5 Stars

https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/111750606/posts/29533

 

Daddy Won’t Let Mom Drive the Car:: True Tales of Parenting in the Dark

Kindle Edition
by Jo Elizabeth Pinto (Author)

We all love to peek into other people’s real lives and I expect most of us who are sighted played that game when we were children, screwing your eyes tight shut to imagine what it is like to be blind. Computers have made the world more accessible for the visually impaired, as long as they have the right technology, but this author tells us about the domestic side of life, shopping, cooking and caring for a child. The title came about when the young daughter was envied because her mother was allowed to bring her dog into school. The teacher asked what it was like to have a blind mother; silly question because the child knew nothing else, but this little girl sounds a very sparky character and replied ‘Daddy Won’t Let Mom Drive The Car’. The short episodes from the lives of the mother and daughter are told with humour and the problems faced are not always the disability, but other people’s attitudes. A big positive side is the time together; walking everywhere means time to talk and a child looking about her so she can describe the world to her mother. How much better than being stuck in the back of a car. Most of us find it hard to cope with a lively toddler. This book mainly covers 8 and 9 years old, I would love to read about the early years. 5 Stars

 

DOG BONE SOUP (Historical Fiction): A Boomer’s Journey Kindle Edition
by Bette Stevens (Author)

If you are not from the USA or have never been there you will surely know this country through the eyes of your television set. Starting with Hollywood and moving on to the television era this was the first country to project an image to the English speaking world and beyond. By the fifties and sixties other countries were catching up with television, but most of us will have grown up with American programmes, funny or glossy. As adults we know life is not always as portrayed on television. The story of Shawn and his family is totally captivating. Poverty is relative; if everybody is in the same boat there is no shame. Shawn’s family are struggling to eat, no running water, but they have a television set. Most children at their local school are living the good life portrayed on television. The late fifties and early sixties were prosperous, the space age had started, but not everyone was sharing the good times. For everyone there will be the shock of Kennedy’s assassination. Shawn as the eldest has to use all his ingenuity to keep the family going. This is also a universal story that happens in every time and place; the woman who soon finds out she’s married a loser, alcohol leads to domestic violence. The story wisely starts and ends with Shawn leaving to join the army; a poignant ending because he has achieved his aim, but at what price with Vietnam surely his destination?
5 Stars

 

The Chalky Sea by Clare Flynn

Two lives and two stories, people torn apart by war and brought together. The author has written engagingly about life during the war for ordinary people and the ironies; soldiers signing up to fight then finding themselves in limbo. There is the unique situation that usually only comes with war, when some couples were separated for years, not every soldier got to come home on leave; some are lucky, some families won’t survive the war, let alone see each other again. 4 Stars

 

If you enjoy crime fiction and television adaptations take a look at yesterday’s Silly Saturday.

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Here is the reply Amazon sent me for Dog Bone Soup

Thank you for submitting a customer review on Amazon. After carefully reviewing your submission, your review could not be posted to the website. While we appreciate your time and comments, reviews must adhere to the following guidelines:
Amazon Community Guidelines

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A few common issues to keep in mind:

Your review should focus on specific features of the product and your experience with it. Feedback on the seller or your shipment experience should be provided at http://www.amazon.co.uk/feedback.
We do not allow profane or obscene content. This applies to adult products too.
Advertisements, promotional material or repeated posts that make the same point excessively are considered spam.
Please do not include URLs external to Amazon or personally identifiable content in your review.
Any attempt to manipulate Community content or features, including contributing false, misleading or inauthentic content, is strictly prohibited.

UPDATE

Today, Tuesday, I received the same rejection e-mails for Devil In The Wind and The Chalky Sea.