The Books Piled Beside the Bed: Pt 3

Christmas always brings me a new range of books courtesy of my dear eldest daughter, The BookRep.  This past Christmas was no exception, despite the fact that we had all agreed  ‘We Aren’t Doing Christmas This Year!’.  She sends me enough reading matter to get me through to Mother’s Day, I think it’s the second Sunday in May here.  Then I take delivery of a few more books to get me through to my birthday in early September, which in turn stocks me up til the following Christmas.

Aren’t you envious?  I LOVE my regular restocking of the pile of books beside the bed.  It is an eclectic and enjoyable pile – books I’ve never heard of, books I want to read, books of fiction, fact, good literature, old literature, poems, essays, short stories; books instructional and uplifting, books containing new thoughts and information, books by loved authors and books by new authors.

And it’s not just books supplied by the BookRep in that pile – oh no! Sometimes I even purchase a book or two myself, sometimes I am gifted books by other kind folk – the pile is a never ending, always changing heap of anticipation and delight.


Surveying the new pile brought me up with  jolt as I realised I still hadn’t completed intended reviews of books that were once in the pile but which have now been removed to the ‘read’ shelves in the living room.

My blog posts slowed down considerably last year, did you notice?  I was busy organising myself and apparently can no longer multi-task.  So, here I am to celebrate kicking off 2017, let’s take a look at a second novel from a fellow blogger:

My Father and Other Liars by Geoff Le Pard


In my last book post I reviewed Geoff’s first book ‘Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle’ which, despite the title was a great read and, maybe because of the title, is a comedy waiting to be made.   So I was looking forward to settling in to read his next one.

‘My Father and Other Liars’ is very different.  I should have known by the cover, which had always quite puzzled my eye and scrambled my brain in some odd manner…….  This is a complex, multi-charactered look at a complex, multi-layered issue of today.  Complex family relationships, particularly father and child, are interwoven with a dramatic, fast paced story (so fast paced, I sometimes had to back track to sort out who did what) and the interweaving of religion and science.

The main characters, Maurice (Mo) Oldham and Lori-Ann Beaumont knock into each other at a Pro-Life Rally.  He is looking for a story to impress his absent father and she needs rescuing from a group of interrogative journalists grilling her about her father’s church.  They think never to see each other again, but some months later Lori-Ann turns up on Mo’s doorstep, bruised, destitute and desperate to track down her missing boy-friend.

Moving between the US, the UK and Nicaragua, the novel introduces us to the Church of Science and Development, one where religion and science unite with embryonic research at the core.   Throw in political investigations, mysteries from the past and a few dead bodies and the result is a fast paced (did I say that already?) thriller dealing with complex issues of ethics in scientific research, family secrets, personal and religious beliefs, and political interests with their own agendas.  And just in case you are wondering, there’s a quiet, slow blooming of a little romance as well.

When I finished this book I was struck by how well the characters were developed.  Despite my own personal views, I felt for those protagonists whose actions and beliefs were so very different to mine.  Geoff Le Pard has a real gift in presenting characters as human beings one can empathise with despite their behaviours or different beliefs.  Life is rarely black and white, and perhaps ultimately this book reveals the layers of grey that make up our relationships, our history, our beliefs, our actions and our world.

The thing I most delight in with Geoff’s writing is his ability to switch genres at the drop of a hat.  The inside of his head must be a maze of ideas and words and pictures running the gamut of all possible genres and then some.  To have a look at what I mean visit his blog TanGental and read some of his short stories or accompany Geoff and Dog on one of their meanders about the streets and parks and sights of London, I’m sure you’ll find something to delight you.


Regular readers of my blog know we lost a great poet a few weeks ago. I always intended to write a review for Cynthia of her book.  But, alas, I waited too long.  She knew what I would say though, so here I write it just for you:

A Certain Age, Poems by Cynthia Jobin


I’m no poetry maven, I’m just a person who knows what she likes.  My friend Cynthia passed away on 13th December last year.  Her collection of poems has sat beside my bed, or on the arm of my chair for the past couple of years.  Her ability with and knowledge of poetic forms was vast.  She wrote poems that tore at the gut, making me wonder what it had cost her to go so deep and express so eloquently.  She wrote poems that caused a gurgle of laughter to erupt, a sigh of empathy to escape, a moment of silence to linger on.  She wrote words that made me look anew at nature, at my actions and even at my thoughts.  She was a woman who had grown through pain and loss into extraordinary kindness and appreciation of the simple things in life.

I read her poems again now, with an even greater appreciation for her ability.  Bennison Books is working with John Looker to publish a second collected works of Cynthia Jobin, in the meantime we have ‘A Certain Age’ to enjoy again and again and again.

So, two writers who come much recommended by me for your new year reading lists.  I hope you will meander through their blogs and find something to enjoy.

Thanks for coming by today, I love that you did!


The Books Piled Beside the Bed – Pt 3

This edition of the Book Pile features reads from some fellow bloggers – I hope you will check them out and see for yourself what has so pleased me.  And as a complete aside, today happens to be my third anniversary on WordPress – what a great three years it has been – thanks to all you lovely folk out there xoxo

Bits of a Boyhood

An on-line biography found here subtitled ‘Growing Up in New Zealand’

I have never liked reading electronically, though many have told me the kindle is eye friendly- I just like books! I like the weight of them and the smell of them and the feel of them. I like reading covers and back covers and author profiles. I like rifling the pages and fiddling with my book mark which is tactile and friendly in my hands when the story is winding down or I am winding down ……….  Despite that, late last year I spent some time reading an on-line biography written by Mr Bruce Goodman of Weave a Web fame. Covering the fifties and sixties and set in rural New Zealand the story is told compassionately and humorously of growing up in a large, rambunctious, Catholic family.    I know much of the era and the areas and the descriptions resounded strongly for me.  The pathos and humour of a boy sometimes struggling to understand the complex world of older siblings and grown-ups was a delightfully innocent read.  Do wander over and have a read, it’s free and it’s delightful and give my friend Bruce a thumbs up.

And, coincidentally, Just to stay in a similar vein, I began this past months reading of real books with the delightful

Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle – Geoff Le Pard


I should start by admitting I’m not much given to reading a book where the protagonist is a nineteen year old youth …..  and I continued past the first pages only because I had promised to read and review Geoff’s book.  And yep, was I glad I did!

I’m a fan of Geoff’s writing style –  found on his blog TanGental.  I loved his month long supply of short stories back in November and marvelled over his ability to swap genres and weave on-going dramas for the same character.   My question was would his ability with short stories bear up in the quantum leap to a novel?

I can’t remember when I last read a book where the story unraveled so clearly and independently before my eyes in the form of a movie.  There is something in the author’s writing style that allows the reader, or at least, me; imaginative space to ‘see’ the characters and the context in it’s entirety, the whole scene unfolds like a movie – the entire book is a movie waiting to happen!

The story is wryly witty, the ongoing movie informed me when incidents evolved into laugh out loud comic moments or segued into moments of despair or desperation.

In the end what I loved most was the manner in which the story unfolded and revealed itself only as much as it did to the poor befuddled teenager, Harry.  Girls are a mystery to him and these ones were to me as well.  His parents behaviours and words make no sense – what is going on?  Harry’s love and care for his grandmother is a tender side story that weaves throughout, though even she is now a mystery to him.   As Harry twigs more to what is going on, so do we.  The characters reveal themselves sometimes in surprising ways and the end denouement is exactly what Harry himself would have wanted!

I’ve got another book by Geoff Le Pard in the pile.  I deliberately didn’t pick it up straight after finishing this one – I was so tempted, but I wanted to give this book time to settle.

[But I’ll tell you about the next one, next month, because now this post is up, that book is open!]

So I started in on

The Sunday Philosophy Club – Alexander McCall Smith

I actually struggled to get into this little book. I found the character of Isabel Dalhousie a bit stiff and unreal and not quite right…….  I wonder if it is because it is a man writing – and his descriptions of a woman’s thought processes and emotions are not necessarily actually accurate.   Or maybe I have just never known a woman of such a degree of philosophical ilk.  Despite this, the thing I really like and appreciated was that the story stayed real, quite relatable to how real people I know might have responded in such a scenario.  In other words, no derring-do, no flights of fancy, no taking on the baddies in the face of great odds.  Just a slow peramble through gentle nosings and visits and the unravelings of the mystery.  When the gripping bit does come it is actually chillingly real. I know I’d respond the same way.    I don’t know if I’d read another one, but I might.  If you are a fan, please do share your thoughts on these books, I’d love to hear them – I might be being totally unfair and judging prematurely and thereby missing out on further good reads.  [Heaven forbid!]


Included in the ‘currently reading pile’ are two little volumes I’m opening at random and reading a page from most evenings.

One –  [A Compendium of Inspiration]

The first is a gift sent to me by my friend Norah which I mentioned in my last post.  The photo shows the cover which bears the inscription ‘How many people does it take to make a difference’ alongside the giant digit one.  Inside the front flap poses the thought: Instead of asking ‘What can I get from life?’ watch what happens when you ask “What can I give?”  Which is a philosophy I thoroughly approve of!



It’s filled with little inspirational texts and quotes to ponder and muse over and take into sleep.  I feel really honoured that Norah thought of me when she saw this book and went to the trouble of sending it to me.  It’s appreciated and enjoyed Norah, thank you.  It makes a lovely gift!

A Certain Age – Cynthia Jobin

The second book I’m picking up every evening is an anthology of poetry from the pen of the rather delightful Cynthia Jobin who blogs at littleoldladywho where you can savour her words both written and spoken.


Cynthia writes about the commonplace, the every day, she writes too of love lost and love found.  She writes of her animals, her family, the seasons and festivals.  And sometimes she writes and I wonder, ‘Now, what triggered that?’

The art of the poet, I feel, lies in making the reader share the experience, in causing the breath to catch, the eye to burn, the ‘Oh!’ to form or a chuckle to rise and so often, having read, to sit and let silent contemplation fill the soul.  I so often experience one or more of these responses when reading the work of Cynthia Jobin.  Do wander on over and see for yourself.

That’s it for this month on the reading front.  Do share what you are reading and add in any thoughts to the books I’ve mentioned.

Thanks for coming by today, I love that you did.






A Touch of Spring

The days are noticeably lengthening, the air is light and warm and there is the soft  scent of new mown grass on the air.  Blossoms adorn the edges of branches that have been bare for too long – yellow flowers bob up and down the grassy hillock where Siddy runs on his daily walk.  He sniffs them warily, licks one bright head ‘hello’ and moves on.  The daffodil blooms on.  I skirt the still muddy areas of the park.  Ground laid bare by days of rain and frosts and ice and happy dogs turning it all to sludge.  Gone is the heavy padded jacket, the woolly hat, the scarf wrapped about three times for maximum warmth, the array of colourful Mimi mittens that have adorned my hands on our morning walks.  Gone the thick boots made for water protection, slip proof [mostly] and warmth.

I walk lightly – hatless, scarfless, gloveless.  Siddy looks up at me and smiles and we walk on both of us enjoying the warm still air, the golden light, the scents of spring.

Spring enters into my work room too.  My rediscovered love of working with beads evident everywhere.  Light catchers sparkle en masse in front of the window.   This is a wee peek at ‘The Purple Bohemian’ a new one destined for my shop, it’s really pretty!

2purple 4

Beads scattered over the work table catch and reflect sparkles of sun light.


I play with the idea of beaded bracelets – trying things out, working out how to arrange sizes, shapes and colours pleasingly; how to start and how best to finish things off.  I don’t know why I’m doing this.  Perhaps this first touch of spring makes me want to have some pretty beads to wear.


I’ve read a few books this winter.  Not many, I don’t read as much as I used to – I don’t know why.  Again, for unknown reasons, I steered clear of philosophical or spiritual content and read only what I had been given.

I read a surprising amount of first novels

‘Wise Men’ by Stuart Nadler, his first novel.  The story kept me interested and I appreciated the writer’s ability to have his protagonist have an incidental real life while keeping us enthralled with the mysterious pull of times past.

‘Station Eleven’ by Emily St. John Mandel.  The Georgia Flu has wiped out 99% of the population and in this horribly realistic view of life twenty years after the event the author invites us to consider the place of fame, of theatre, of relationships, that reach through time and events and touch and sustain our lives.

‘The Miniaturist’ by Jessie Burton.  A first novel.  I struggled with this book – I kept reading a little more every night and in the end read it to finish it.  It is an odd tale, atmospheric yet cold.   Maybe not such a good thing in a novel.  Did you read it and feel differently?

‘The Paris Architect’ by Charles Balfoure.  Another first novel.  I generally don’t like reading about war and man’s inhumanity to man, but this novel grabbed my interest.  I loved how the story revealed the architect’s evolution from cool disdain  to caring about the fate of others and how in times of desperation, we find those we need to find.

‘Bits of a Boyhood’ by Bruce Goodman.  An on-line book found here   Written with integrity and honesty and not a little humour Bruce reveals what it was like growing up in New Zealand in the 1950’s.  I laughed and sometimes cried my way through this first part of Bruce’s autobiography.  I’m waiting for the next installment!

A man of fine education and not a little talent, Bruce blogs at Weave A Web if you want to read one of his [mostly] bizarre or odd little stories every day.

Finally – Siddy waiting for his fans.  Siddy does Hollywood

Thanks for coming by today, I love that you did.