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About RebeccaM

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    Lincolnshire, UK
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    Books, food, animals, chess.

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  1. Rebecca's Reading List 2018

    LAST LETTER FROM INSTANBUL – Lucy Foley NO SPOILERS Last night over dinner, I found myself retelling small incidents and observations from this book to my husband, so clearly, in spite of my initial reservations and prejudged dislike, Last Letter from Istanbul has made an impression on me. During the first world war, Istanbul is occupied by allied forces. Nur, an Ottoman woman, has taken into her care an orphaned Armenian boy and when he becomes dangerously ill she takes him to the military hospital. The hospital is in her former family home, where George, an English doctor treats him for malaria. And of course, as with all good tales they reluctantly fall in love…but their people are enemies. That is enough plot outline as any more will become a spoiler but there is plenty in the back stories of the characters to provide more insight and interest. It is a tale of gradual respect which grows to become a love that cannot be, but is not a soppy romance. It touches a little on the horrors of war and the damage caused to people and the reasons why the love affair is impossible. The author’s writing style takes a little getting used to. A large amount of very short chapters, each from a specific character’s perspective, skipping back and forth in time and place. A vast amount of incredibly short sentences, some only four or five words long and the most prolific use of the colon I have ever come across! At times it reads like a play, with stage direction and the setting of scenes but once you overlook the awkward, erratic punctuation there are moments of absolute beauty and the use of the present tense is, as always, very evocative. Pomegranate sales will soar! Why Lucy Foley chose this setting, this city in particular, I do not know. The book displays no personal affection nor knowledge of the city and its depiction lacks intimacy. As a reader, I did not feel I was there and I did not feel any sense of shared experience. I would have liked more journalistic detail about the culture and more about how the occupation impacted on the citizens on a personal level and the country as a whole; I like to learn as I read and this book did not tell me anything I did not already know…but then that would be a whole different book. There is just enough here to make sense of the plot, and if that is all you seek, then this book will please and possibly delight you. There are a couple of “Heart in mouth”, “Hold your breath” and “Quick, quick turn the page…” moments. One big problem for me is the cover and the prejudice it elicited in me. I would never normally pick up a book with such a jacket picture and had already decided I would not enjoy it and I think this clouded my opinion for the first half; I believe I looked for reasons to dislike it. I did think, in these days of marketing genius, that we really can judge a book by its cover. I was wrong. Whilst it is not a book I would have chosen for myself, I am glad to have read it. I love The Boy and the man he becomes in spite of or because of the situation. It is not the last letter which remains me but his last act.
  2. Rebecca's Reading List 2018

    Thank you
  3. First line of current book - 2018

    "I'm writing a history of the world," she says. Moon Tiger - Penelope Lively
  4. Rebecca's Reading List 2018

    ELEANOR OLIPHANT IS COMPLETELY FINE – Gail Honeyman NO SPOILERS Eleanor Oliphant is not just completely fine…Eleanor Oliphant is completely absorbing. A dependable office worker, reliable and mostly inconspicuous, Eleanor spends her evenings and weekends sticking to a strict diet of pasta and vodka, reading, listening to the radio…and taking a weekly telephone call from Mummy. And, of course, there is a dark secret and she is far from fine. But there is so much more to this book. Eleanor is markedly lacking in social skills, taking everything at its literal meaning, which made me wonder why the rest of us tend not to and how much simpler life would be if we did. It is, after all, others who disrupt and complicate her routine. But through a burgeoning friendship at work and a misguided love she begins to acquire an understanding of and liking for human interaction. She approaches social occasions as projects to be researched, learnt and successfully accomplished, discovering as she does so that some aspects are actually enjoyable…try not to smile next time you hear The Village People. She slowly realises that there could be more to life than accounts payable, even for Eleanor, no matter what Mummy says and her acceptance that change is possible and empathy not beyond her, leads to…well, no spoilers here! I generally like quite “high brow” reading, something which requires a good deal of thought but now and then I like an easier read, although I am usually put off because often, an easy read is too easy and too simply written. This is neither but nevertheless this is a brilliant, easy read. Throughout the book the voice and language are Eleanor’s, the perception is Eleanor’s. All are a little quirky, pedantic and painfully precise, displaying a naïveté which I found charming and an awkwardness which is awkward only to others. The correctness of phrase, Eleanor’s own words, does not hamper the flow of reading, but presents her as the somewhat reserved, inhibited, faltering woman that she is when out of her familiar and regimented comfort zone. I liked the style but then I liked Eleanor, very much. There are quite a few laugh out loud moments and many moments of gentle, often dark (though not to Eleanor) humour and many, many moments of pathos. This book requires some thought and involvement and belief so will satisfy those who like to think as they read. It’s not soppy, it’s not florid and it’s not predictable. It is funny, it is moving and it will perhaps make you see others differently, especially those who don’t fit in so readily. Everybody has a story, we all have something not visible at first glance and we are all moulded by something which has gone before…but moulds can be broken. This is Gail Honeyman’s first novel and for me, what makes it so great is not the plot, which frankly is nothing new, but her creation of Eleanor, who is so believable that I am convinced she is the real author. Whilst I look forward to the next book, it is really Eleanor’s voice I look forward to hearing again, such was my fascination with this unfortunate, likeable soul and such is my hope of once again sharing a cheese scone with her.
  5. Rebecca's Reading List 2018

    A GRAND OLD TIME – Judy Leigh NO SPOILERS Since losing her husband, Jim, seventy-five year old Evie Gallagher has lived at Sheldon Lodge, a care home for the elderly. After a routine, excruciating visit from her son and his wife, she walks out, re-invents herself and rediscovers her joy for living, but then, because the tag line on the cover suggests this is “Brilliantly funny, emotional and uplifting!” you wouldn’t expect anything else, would you? So, whilst this is not my preferred genre, I was hoping for some humour, if not the laugh out loud type then at least a little chortle or two, perhaps some dry wit and, of course, a happy ending. After a handful of chapters it occurred to me that this book is written in the style of a short story which one might read in a magazine in the dentist’s waiting room, something quick and easy, not too deep, just a little character insight and no author observation. It is simply a chronologically written story in the “then it was now” style. After a couple more chapters I read the blurb about the author, Judy Leigh, and discovered she has indeed written several stories for magazines and this is her first novel. So, as an easy going, not too taxing, extended magazine story to pack for a holiday, this will please many. You can pick it up and put it down between sips of something cool by the pool and never lose the thread. The chapters are short which always helps when needing a break to attract the waiter! (I also learnt she is a fellow vegan and will be looking up her vegan blog online.) As much as possible, I try, always, to look at things from all points of view. Just because something is not to my taste, does not mean it’s not good and others will not love it. Wagner sets my teeth on edge but I do marvel at his skill and I know people who cannot get through the day without hearing his work. But for me, Judy Leigh is no Wagner and a grand old time I did not have. I could never put together enough sentences to produce a novel which is why I don’t write and I admire anyone who has the patience to do so. But I do read so I feel I have some qualification in expressing an opinion and this book is just not for me. I found it dull and predictable, without enough humour or style to compensate. At the beginning of each chapter I knew exactly where it was leading. I can honestly say there was not a single surprise in the entire book. The improbability of the story (somehow it doesn’t seem complex enough to be a plot) was too ridiculous for me…not so much the getting from the start to the finish, but the “lucky that happened” moments on the way. For some, as a feel good distraction it could work and if you do like this genre, don’t dismiss it. For me, I kept thinking I was wasting valuable reading time but as I say, not my preferred genre and it has not converted me.
  6. Bobblybear's Book List - 2016

    I love Yann Martel's Life of Pi, Self and The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios. I've just read Beatrice and Virgil in one sitting I really have no words to express how it has made me feel. Stunned is the closest. Stunned in a good way. Speechless though. My husband noticed I didn't do my usual thing of talking non-stop for half an hour about the book I've just finished.
  7. I'm new!

    Hello and welcome
  8. I'm assuming your making notes on your computer; if so, can you not have two windows open side by side? (I use two monitors for this) Or make your notes on paper with the text on your screen?
  9. Wild World

    A piebald squirrel! Not unheard of but not very common. How lovely to see one. Apparently they are more common in urban areas.
  10. Imagining books in your head

    All I can say is in my mind’s eye, unless specifically stated, the major character/object is always on the left. A window in a room is always on the right.
  11. Matt Haig

    I first discovered Matt Haig when I read Shadow Forest and The Runaway Troll to my stepson. He loved them so much he woud ask for an early bedtime. On the strength of these I read The Humans, which I really enjoyed and A Boy Called Christmas which I thought was dreadful. I like the sound of How to Stop Time so that's on my ever growing TBR list.
  12. I hadn't thought of self published that way and you guys are right, it is published, no matter by whom. I stand corrected.
  13. Wild World

    I've always been potty about wildlife, especially foxes and rabbits but I'm fairly new to birding. We have a very small paved, suburban garden and last year I hung over twenty feeders and I love love love sitting in the kitchen watching all the birds. I had to add a bird section to my blog so my mother can see them! I try to encourage more people to appreciate wildlife, both flora and fauna, telling them "Once you open your eyes you see so much."
  14. What's Up in May? - 2018

    I've been vegan for 25 years and vegetarian for 15 before that. These days I wonder what I ever did with an egg!