Thursday, May 31, 2018

Smash all the Windows

Smash all the Windows by Jane Davis

For the first time in my reading life, I finished a book, turned back to page one and started reading it again. The story and characters so compelling, the story telling so complex, complete, and often subtle—I simply couldn't just move on to another book.

But the more urgent need for the immediate reread came from the emotions evoked.

Tragedies happen all the time. People are killed—floods, fires, airplane crashes, auto accidents, tsunamis….

They happen far away to people we don’t know. We, on the other hand, are tucked away in our safe little corner of the world, cocooned by family and friends, smug in our security, subconsciously believing “that will never happen to us.”

Focusing on a few of the individuals connected to a Tube accident in London blamed on the dead, Davis shows the harshness of the impact on the families of the dead and the burden of sorrow they carry that lasts forever. Davis shakes us out of our complacency and rightly so.

What inspired the novel?

Davis says: The novel began with outrage. I was infuriated by the press’s reaction to the outcome of the second Hillsborough inquest. For those who don’t know about Hillsborough, a crush occurred during the 1989 FA Cup semi-final, killing 96 fans. A single lie was told about the cause of the disaster: In that moment, Liverpool fans became scapegoats.” Read more HERE 
Smash all the Windows
It has taken conviction to right the wrongs.
It will take courage to learn how to live again.
‘An all-round triumph.’ John Hudspith

For the families of the victims of the St Botolph and Old Billingsgate disaster, the undoing of a miscarriage of justice should be a cause for rejoicing. For more than thirteen years, the search for truth has eaten up everything. Marriages, families, health, careers and finances.

Finally, the coroner has ruled that the crowd did not contribute to their own deaths. Finally, now that lies have been unravelled and hypocrisies exposed, they can all get back to their lives.

If only it were that simple.

Tapping into the issues of the day, Davis delivers a highly charged work of fiction, a compelling testament to the human condition and the healing power of art. Written with immediacy, style and an overwhelming sense of empathy, Smash all the Windows will be enjoyed by readers of How to Paint a Dead Man by Sarah Hall and How to be Both by Ali Smith.

If you do read Smash all the Windows, I'd love to hear what you think of it.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Books, books, and more books.

News of the World: A Novel by [Jiles, Paulette]
What is the easiest thing for an author to talk about? 
Books of course.

Like most authors, I'm an avid reader and can't imagine a day with out reading. Evening is the best time for me--when the day's to-do list has been completed (or as much of it as possible), when the household  chores are done, dinner eaten, dishes washed and restored to their rightful place in the cupboard.
Now, horizontal on the sofa, I read while my husband watches TV. How so, you ask? I was a teacher for many years. I know how to shut out extraneous noise.

What is the easiest thing for an author to do after reading a book?
Tell everyone they know to read it too.
In the spirit of that sharing (no, not being bossy at all), I offer you a couple of books to consider.

News of the World by Paulette Jiles - I loved it so much, I'm rereading it.
In the aftermath of the Civil War, an aging itinerant news reader agrees to transport a young captive of the Kiowa back to her people in this exquisitely rendered, morally complex, multilayered novel of historical fiction from the author of Enemy Women that explores the boundaries of family, responsibility, honor, and trust.

n the wake of the Civil War, Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd travels through northern Texas, giving live readings from newspapers to paying audiences hungry for news of the world. An elderly widower who has lived through three wars and fought in two of them, the captain enjoys his rootless, solitary existence.

In Wichita Falls, he is offered a $50 gold piece to deliver a young orphan to her relatives in San Antonio. Four years earlier, a band of Kiowa raiders killed Johanna’s parents and sister; sparing the little girl, they raised her as one of their own. Recently rescued by the U.S. army, the ten-year-old has once again been torn away from the only home she knows.

Their 400-mile journey south through unsettled territory and unforgiving terrain proves difficult and at times dangerous. Johanna has forgotten the English language, tries to escape at every opportunity, throws away her shoes, and refuses to act “civilized.” Yet as the miles pass, the two lonely survivors tentatively begin to trust each other, forming a bond that marks the difference between life and death in this treacherous land.

Arriving in San Antonio, the reunion is neither happy nor welcome. The captain must hand Johanna over to an aunt and uncle she does not remember—strangers who regard her as an unwanted burden. A respectable man, Captain Kidd is faced with a terrible choice: abandon the girl to her fate or become—in the eyes of the law—a kidnapper himself.

Mudbound by Hillary Jordan - the characters are still with me and I will reread this book too, but I will not go to see the movie.

In Jordan's prize-winning debut, prejudice takes many forms, both subtle and brutal. It is 1946, and city-bred Laura McAllan is trying to raise her children on her husband's Mississippi Delta farm—a place she finds foreign and frightening. In the midst of the family's struggles, two young men return from the war to work the land. Jamie McAllan, Laura's brother-in-law, is everything her husband is not—charming, handsome, and haunted by his memories of combat. Ronsel
Jackson, eldest son of the black sharecroppers who live on the McAllan farm, has come home with the shine of a war hero. But no matter his bravery in defense of his country, he is still considered less than a man in the Jim Crow South. It is the unlikely friendship of these brothers-in-arms that drives this powerful novel to its inexorable conclusion.

If you do read or have read either of these, I'd love to hear from you.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Now, to handle the media....

Facebook, The New York Times, Twitter, CNN, MSN, magazine, gossip rags, blogs ... really, what is one to believe?
Now, to handle the media....
Meditation and yoga to help kids? You hit the share button. Then someone comments, "Who are the behavioral specialists and who pays them? This seems like it would take some extra funding. They do this in Baltimore in a underprivileged neighborhood? Really?
Mind moves to, "All schools should do this, if it's true."

Now, to handle the media....
4Ocean--two young guys trying to do their bit by cleaning up garbage from beaches. Awesome! Let's send a donation. Then someone claims it's all a scam. You do some digging. Scam. Scam. Scam. But wait, the BBB says they are legit. But, is the BBB site you're looking at legit?
Mind moves to, "How can I help, if it's true."

Now, to handle the media....
Headlines scream from the magazine rack. Brad and Jennifer reuniting now that they're both single. Not a chance, screams the next.
Mind moves to, "Ooh, how romantic! If it's true."

Now, to handle the media....
Twins? Wait a minute. The palace always makes formal announcements. Not a family member herself.

Mind moves to, "Gotta be fake, but ... perhaps best to wait and see.
So do we give up? Stop reading the news? Research endlessly before we decide to believe? Go with our gut? Or, move to a desert island?

Thursday, May 24, 2018

The thrill of finding a new (to me) author - Jane Davis

Scrolling through my Paperwhite recently, I happened on An Unknown Woman by Jane Davis and, intrigued by the sample, decided to buy it.
"Where has this writer been hiding?" was my first thought as I read. Only later did I realize she's written several books. I've since read her I Stopped Time and have added more of her work to my e-reader.
And now this:

Jane Davis Launches ‘Unpredictable’ Eighth Novel
Fans of Davis’s fiction have stopped trying to predict where she’ll take her writing next. Since winning the Daily Mail First Novel Award in 2008, she’s become known for writing about big subjects and giving her characters almost impossible moral dilemmas. She’s said in the past that what interests her is how people behave under pressure, because it reveals so much about them. And as the tagline of Smash all of the Windows suggests, her new offering is no exception.

When life steals everything you love, is anger the only answer?
Says Davis, “This book started life as my reaction to the outcome of the second inquest about the Hillsborough football stadium disaster, when the ruling that had laid the blame at the feet of football fans was overturned. The expectation was that now justice had been delivered, the families could ‘get on with their lives’. My question was, What lives?

In creating my fictional disaster, I combined two of my fears – travelling in rush hour by Tube, and escalators – plus a fall I suffered on my way to a book-reading in Covent Garden. I was overloaded, having just finished a day’s work in the city. I was carrying my laptop bag, my briefcase, plus I had a suitcase full of books in tow. The escalator that I normally use was out of order and we were diverted to one that was much steeper and faster. I pushed my suitcase in front of me and it literally dragged me down head first. Fortunately, there was no one directly in front of me, but things could have ended very differently.”

Jane spent her twenties and the first part of her thirties chasing promotions at work, but when she achieved what she’d set out to do, she discovered that it wasn’t what she had wanted after all. It was then that she turned to writing. Her debut, Half-truths and White Lies, won the Daily Mail First Novel Award. Seven further novels, which straddle contemporary, historical, literary and women’s fiction genres, have earned her comparisons to Kate Atkinson and Maggie O’Farrell. An Unknown Woman, was Writing Magazine’s Self-Published Book of the Year 2016.
Smash all the Windows
Genre: Modern and Contemporary Fiction (FA), Literary, General fiction
‘A dazzling high wire walk through interwoven strands balanced so carefully you know you’ll never fall.’ Dan Holloway, novelist, poet and spoken word artist
‘Just fricking perfect. An all-round triumph.’ John Hudspith
‘This is an astounding read. I was completely captivated.’ Liz Carr

It has taken conviction to right the wrongs.
It will take courage to learn how to live again.
For the families of the victims of the St Botolph and Old Billingsgate disaster, the undoing of a miscarriage of justice should be a cause for rejoicing. For more than thirteen years, the search for truth has eaten up everything. Marriages, families, health, careers and finances.
Finally, the coroner has ruled that the crowd did not contribute to their own deaths. Finally, now that lies have been unravelled and hypocrisies exposed, they can all get back to their lives.
If only it were that simple.
Smash all the Windows will be released on 12 April, but you can pre-order it now for the special price of 99p/99c (Price increases to £1.99 on 12 March. Price on publication will be £3.99). The Universal Link is

From 13 February to 10 March, US readers can also enter a Goodreads Giveaway for a chance to win one of 100 eBooks.


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Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The Munchkin goes to school in Mexico

We're in small town Mexico for a month over Christmas holidays and the Munchkin has a chance to go to school for a couple of hours one morning with her best friend. This is one of the schools she has gone to with her mother to talk about pet care and to explain about the free spaying and neutering clinics offered twice a year.
Today, she'll just be another student in her friend's classroom.
The Munchkin goes to school in Mexico

The school isn't fancy, but the rooms do have air conditioning. The playground, as you can see, is cement. At recess the kids improvise a soccer game using a small plastic cube for a ball.
The cafeteria, manned by a couple of local women, offers (mostly) healthy food at a nominal price.
The Munchkin goes to school in Mexico

The Munchkin goes to school in Mexico