Peeking Inside the Book Blogger’s Bag

Dr Carol Cooper has interviewed me about blogging and writing. it was fun to be answering someone else’s questions for once. Read it here at:

Peeking Inside the Book Blogger’s Bag

 

 

I have sent this out again as the ‘re-blogging’ function didn’t work properly.

 

Love blogging, reviewing and moving authors to tears

Please see my blog at jessiecahalin.com to read my reviews and subscribe to receive the weekly updates.

Thank you to everyone who regularly visits my website and a massive thank you to my wonderful subscribers.  I have been overwhelmed with the praise for my website and book reviews.  Angela Petch captured my motivation perfectly when she wrote that ‘your blog shows me that you are a true book lover.’

I am dedicated to reviewing authors’ books as it is simple act of kindness that lets them know that they are valued.  For instance, Sue Moorcroft responded to a review with ‘There are few things that give me greater pleasure than people enjoying my book.’ Carol Drinkwater wrote that my review was a ‘wonderful surprise’. Authors are the wordsmiths, the dream weavers and storytellers and it is an honour to read their work.  It has made me so happy to discover that Angela Petch was ‘moved to tears’ by my review, and Jan Ellis said that my review made her ‘well up’.  It was a delight to receive Diane Need’s comment that she was ‘so thrilled with the review of her debut novel’.

In addition, to writing the weekly review, I have also enjoyed interacting with the authors about their characters.  Angela Petch has updated me on Giuseppe, Marisa, Francesco, Anna, Ines, Danilo and the little horses of San Francesco from Now and Then in Tuscany. Diane Need has sent messages from Beth in Press Three for Goodbye. Jan Ellis has kept me posted with regard Eleanor’s social life in A Summer of Surprises. I have exchanged postcards with Leah in Just for the Holidays and as Sue Moorcroft said, ‘it was so much fun’. I will catch up with Leah again soon when I read the book.

This week I am reviewing Practicing Normal by Cara Sue Achterberg and feel honoured to have read this before the official release.  I know that I will not be able to resist reading Sue Moorcroft’s Just for the Holidays and The Bookshop Detective by Jan Ellis.  Angela’s Tuscan Roots is also speaking Italian to me.  The Vineyard in Alsace by Julie Stock is tempting me with dreams of wine. I wonder if any other authors will be moved to tears of joy by the reviews?

 



Please visit jessiecahalin.com to read my reviews and subscribe to receive the weekly updates.

The trouble with my handbag adventures

Connecting with the virtual world of WordPress, Twitter and Facebook has encouraged me to find a message in the ordinary world around us.  I am always looking for photograph opportunities to support a tweet, Facebook post or blog. My mind is constantly buzzing with ideas and it’s great. These adventures can result in some fulfilling interactions in the real world, but my photographing adventures can also get me in into trouble.

On the whole people are very accommodating and let me take photographs of their shops, museums, pubs, gardens, houses etc.  For instance, the porters on The Grand Hotel, in Brighton, were happy to let me capture the glamorous setting with my camera. I needed the photographs for Ally Bunbury’s book review and interview.  The helpful porters even cleared some luggage to enhance the shot.  Later that day, a kind gentleman pointed out various signs for me to capture in his grocer’s shop, but I did get a little suspicious when one of the signs read: ‘New husband for sale’.

During my adventures, I have learned to smile at the museum curators and carry on.  Unfortunately, I was chastised for photographing Churchill’s writing desk. Though, I was delighted to be informed that Churchills would ‘fight me on the beaches’ if I dared to take photos.  Another curator pretended not to see me taking a view of the garden from the window.  One antique shop owner looked at me suspiciously when I declared, ‘I need pictures of old spades etc to display as murder weapons.’  I intended to use these in a murder story lark developed, on Facebook, with Angela Petch and Patricia Stoner.  On this occasion, I didn’t use the photos but they will be useful at some stage.

Walking through the Beacons, I decided to write a blog about the inspiring environment.  I spied an opportunity to throw a stone in the water to represent a big splash.  The splash would represent a thought or an idea.  Unfortunately, I was chased away from the lake by the people who were fishing for trout.   I did ask if they would like me to ‘sling my hook’ but they weren’t amused.

Sue Moorcroft’s ‘Just for the Holidays’ got me into the most trouble.  I required some images of holiday items as mine weren’t glamorous enough for a friend of Leah.  While shopping in a supermarket, I saw lots of holiday goodies. Bingo! I set to work removing the various items, placing them in better light and clicking my camera phone.  The Canadian security guard was not impressed with me and said, ‘Ma’am, would you please follow me?’  I followed him.  Disappointingly, I was led to his security post and not his horse.  He was very polite and soon accepted my explanation.

The most frightening experience occurred when I was taking a photo of a street sign for Muddles Green.  That day, I was in a muddle with editing so the sign was perfect.  I stood in the middle of the quiet country lane to snap the image.  A motorbike almost ploughed into me as it raced around the corner. It was worth it when lots of authors connected with the message.

Not everyone can connect with my adventures.  I asked shop owner if I could place Jan Ellis’s The Bookshop Detective’ in his window display and then take a photograph.  Sadly, he wouldn’t allow it as he was concerned that there would be breakages.  How did he know that I am clumsy?  Maybe, he thought that I was the detective and wanted to get inside of the window display.

It is great fun to think about representing my adventures through social media. It is a bonus that my everyday experiences and thoughts mean something to like-minded people out there in the world.  My handbag adventures have enabled me to connect with a wealth of creative people who challenge and inspire me.  These connections wouldn’t have happened without social media, and now I am exploring how I can further develop some creative collaborations.  I am looking forward to working with Jenni Lopez from @TheJennieration.  

 

More of my adventures can be found at Handbag Adventures and see my blog at jessiecahalin.com 

Joyful Trouble in my handbag

Joyful Trouble

Patricia Furstenberg

 

 

 

 

I jumped aboard a fast paced, fun story and travelled back to my childhood.  The Great Dane, Joyful Trouble, didn’t need a ticket and neither did I, but I packed plenty of imagination.  Like Ana and Tommy, I sat beside my grandfather and listened to the ‘dog–faring tale’. I snuggled into my armchair: luxuriated in the heart-warming story, packed up my troubles and followed ‘the special dog’ called Joyful Trouble.  I was placed in the ‘middle of the action’ with the ‘very clever dog’.

This charming story of a ‘fine dog’ is based on the true story of ‘Just Nuisance’ – a dog enlisted by the Royal Navy.  Both the real and fictitious adventurers hail from Simon’s Town, in South Africa.  But the spirit of the dog is brought to life by the author’s lively storytelling.  I fell in love with the enthusiastic puppy and wanted to know how he got his name.  I laughed out loud at the scene where the dog sat in the Commander in Chief’s chair.  I applauded the dog when he received his seaman’s cap.

Besides entertaining, the story also educates children about how to deal with difficult situations.  The story shows children that ‘Determination and faith …will always get you through the tough times.’  Joyful Trouble’s friends must ‘work together’ to resolve a problem thus exploring the importance of teamwork to neutralise conflict. Despite his reputation, Joyful Trouble is a good role model as he ‘didn’t like to see people fighting’. As Ana listens, she is comparing the dog to a younger sibling and learning to understand his exuberant behaviour.

Once the story was completed, I thought of the sailors stepping over the dog, and I laughed. Then I remembered that:

‘The little girl laughed and the old man laughed and the stars and the moon and all the stuffed toys at the foot of the bed laughed.’

Children will lose themselves in the story while also learning about key qualities and the cycle of life.  Maybe parents will be forced to pack a picnic, the book and read the story with their children beside a rambling river.  Parents may even be convinced to buy their children a dog…

The story could be narrated to young children or read independently by older children.  The story is ideal to use as a springboard to discuss positive values and to emphasise understanding when dealing with younger siblings.

Patricia Furstenberg is presenting a guest post tomorrow and introducing her trio of new books: ‘The Lion and the Dog’, ‘The Elephant and the Sheep’, ‘The Cheetah and the Dog’.  I am excited to be hosting the cover reveal of these children’s books tomorrow.

More about the author, Patricia Furstenberg

Patricia Furstenberg is the author of the Bestseller Joyful Trouble, Based on the True Story of a Dog Enlisted in the Royal Navy.

Patricia enjoys writing for children because she can take abstract, grown-up concepts and package them in a humorous, child-friendly language and attractive pictures, while adding sensitivity and lots of love. She enjoys writing about animals because she believed that each animal has a story to tell, if we only stop to listen.

Her latest illustrated children’s books are: Puppy: 12 Month of Rhymes and Smiles, The Elephant and the Sheep, The Lion and the Dog, The Cheetah and the Dog.

Patricia lives in sunny South Africa with her husband, children and their dogs.
Author Website: http://alluringcreations.co.za/wp/

Huffington Post SA http://www.huffingtonpost.co.za/author/patricia-furstenberg/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/PatFurstenberg

 

Please see all my reviews at Books In Handbag and my blog at jessiecahalin.com.

 

Book dust and the curious world of ‘Book-ish’

It was like opening a book jacket into a giant book, when I opened the door into ‘Book-ish’, located in Crickhowell.  I looked up at the words ‘Book Dust’ above the shop door and let it settle on me.

I was Alice in Wonderland, as I explored the various rooms; and it became ‘curiouser and curiouser’.  Besides the books, treasures greeted me in every nook and cranny.  There were: cards, bags, soft toys, baubles, ornaments, but no sign of Captain Hook.

Passing through magical corridor from the main bookshop, I heard a little boy saying, “Wow!” to his mother, as they followed a staircase down into the children’s section.

And I hope that the little boy managed to find Harry Potter under the stairs, or perhaps he found some ‘read me labels’. Beyond the magical corridor, I was greeted with the aroma of coffee, alas there were no seats.

A gentleman, wearing a white shirt and waistcoat, looked up from his book. “Oh dear!” he declared. “I think there’s more seating upstairs.” he muttered, into his book.

Upstairs, there was a beautiful loft with a picture window framing a view of the Brecon Beacons, and plenty of seating.  A selection of wine was on display behind the bar that was decorated with lots of books. Various word and book games were scattered around for the customers to enjoy.  Clearly, this bookshop has been set up by a true book lover who values time to read, chat and eat. The ‘Book-ish’ cake menu has been designed to tempt the reader to stay. I chose The Queen of Hearts’ Bakewell Tarts. ‘Book-ish’ is a haven from the chaotic pace of modern life and a bibliophile’s dream.

I was writing for some time and taking pictures of the treasures, but no one asked questions.  I had entered a world of like-minded bookworms.  It felt as if I had travelled into cyberspace to meet my virtual friends.  Indeed, I was delighted that Sara Gethin’s book, ‘Not Thomas’ was there to keep me company.  The bookshop also hosts events in the loft space, and I couldn’t help wondering if Heidi also lives up there too.  I did find out that ‘The Snowman’ will be brought to life in the bookshop by Looby Lou.  I stayed in the shop for some time and imagined hosting a Books in Handbag meeting. I visualised bags and bags of books like a stairway to Heidi’s star filled sky.

I purchased a book entitled ‘Kindness: the little thing that matters the most’, by Jaimie Thurston. Indeed, the bookshop owner is spreading kindness to her customers by providing a reading space and not limiting time in the shop.  My Twitter and Facebook friends will understand my delight when I was handed my treasure in a brown bag that read, ‘BOOKS ARE MY BAG.’ I also discovered that the bookshop opened in the same month I launched my Books in my Handbag Blog.

Closing the door on the Bookish Narnia, I felt happy that I would return before the ‘Book Dust’ settles.  In the meantime, I must spread the word amongst my bookish community. Please don’t be late for this ‘very important date’ at ‘Book-ish’: a feast for the bookworm’s senses!

‘Sharing good news spreads positivity, changes attitudes and ultimately leads to more people feeling happy and encouraged.’

Kindness: the little thing that matters the most’, by Jaimie Thurston

 

Please see all my adventures at Handbag Adventures and my blog at jessiecahalin.com.

 

Characters Trapped in the Mind of a Book Blogger

Please visit my website at jessiecahalin.com  

This week has been a busy adventure for @BooksInHandbag.

I have been communicating with fictional characters and trying to get into their world.  I feel as if have been residing in a corner of my mind that is neither reality nor fiction and it’s a great place.

Leah, from Just for the Holidays, has been sending me postcards about her dilemma out there in France, and other characters from the books that I am reviewing have asked for help.  Annoyingly, the author, Angela Petch is also travelling to Leah’s holiday destination and she has been trying to get into the heart of the gossip.  I am sure that Angela wants material for her next book.

I have been desperately trying to get out to France to support Leah, but it is proving to be quite a challenge.  Locating a ferry ticket has been an absolute nightmare, holiday shopping has been horrendous and I am petrified of driving in France.  As I write, I am planning how to get out there to Leah and find out what is happening.  It is difficult because I can sense that she doesn’t want me to go out there for some reason, but doesn’t want to offend. I need to see Leah face to face. It is a concern that Angela will hunt out any gossip and spill the beans in her next novel.  Despite my reservations about driving in France, I will just have to get on with it and race out there.

Must stop!!! Someone is knocking at the door and the next-door neighbour’s dogs are going mad.  Who is it?  I can see a camper van outside. I will be back soon…

It’s me…I am back again.

The characters from my debut novel You Can’t Go It Alone were knocking on my door. Sophie and Jack have arrived in a camper van and they have said that I can borrow it for the journey to France.  It is so typical of Sophie and Jack to think of others when they are going through so much.  However, I don’t know why they have changed the lovely tangerine orange colour to a yukky pale blue.  I might have to take them up on their offer, if I can find an available ferry crossing.

I hope that I get to France on time!

It’s frightening as the characters, from the books, are taking over and I am not sure what is reality and what is fiction: all I do is write, write, write the events of my day.  It’s great fun, and it’s amazing to connect with the creative minds of other authors.  I may never have to face reality again thanks to Twitter and the power of the imagination. The author Linn B Halton has just messaged me to say that there ought to be an ‘Authors Anonymous’ to assist with our addiction to writing.

Are the characters, in the books that I am reviewing, taking over my life?

Please visit my website jessiecahalin.com to find out more about these authors.

#PostcardsJFTH

 

Books abandoned for sculptures…

I had the pleasure of visiting Yorkshire Sculpture Park last week. It is an open-air art gallery, set in the grounds of an eighteenth-century mansion.  The landscaped gardens work together with the sculptures to create an amazing creative harmony.

There is such a variety of sculptures and each one inspires questions.  Indeed, it is amazing the way in which perfect strangers are happy to discuss the sculptures without worrying about their interpretations. Perhaps the visitors feel uninhibited as they are not confined by the walls of gallery that echoes with knowledge. Who knows?’

During the walk, we stumbled on many people from different nationalities.  An Australian woman told me that she had been ‘startled’ by a wonderful sculpture of a woman’s head.  We agreed that the spirit of the woman seems to beckon you.  From a distance, the sculpture looks like a projected image – prompting: is she real or imaginary? As you approach, the sculpture is flat – like the silhouette on a stamp.  It is a beautiful form that seemed to appeal to women rather than men, on that day.  Despite the grey sky, the light was adding a mystical quality that gave the sculpture an air of confidence.  What this suggesting something about the modern woman?

Further into the walk, we were greeted by Highland cattle.  These creatures were so still, and at ease with the visitors, that we wondered if they were sculptures.  We also found a dead tree with ancient looking bark and a very twisted form.  Had the tree been left there to demonstrate how natural objects can also be sculpted by the elements? We were having this debate when another visitor overheard and said, ‘What a load of arty farty nonsense!’  This brought us completely down to earth and reminded me of how everything is open to interpretation.

Still laughing at the comments, we found some steps that were carved into the earth paving a way to some open woodland.  I decided that the steps were a sculpture but my husband was sceptical at this point; he had been influenced by our fellow Yorkshire folk.  A plaque marked the spot as if to reassure me.  It felt as if someone was presenting a hopeful message about the climb.  Pardon the pun, but I went a step further and commented that to me they represented the struggle for independent authors.  But that was my interpretation at that point in time: I was influenced by my emotions, experience, the weather and, of course, ‘arty farty nonsense’.

The Yorkshire Sculpture Park is a wonderful place to visit.  I wonder if you would be able to spot the sculptures that instigated our discussions?  Would you agree with the interpretations?  Did someone deliberately construct a place when art can be read according to mood, weather and other factors?  I don’t know the answer to this but invite you to have a look.  Perhaps some of the questions should be placed next to the sculptures?  Maybe, there will be a sculpture of a handbag in the future, or possibly a sculpture constructed of books.

Following the visit, I was brimming with questions and ideas.  Reading the sculptures inspired my own writing, and reminded me that it is so important to take some time for reflection.  I placed picture postcards of the sculptures in my handbag, rather than books.  However, I know that I will return to ask more questions and to find a suitable reading spot – or maybe several.

Please see my blog at jessiecahalin.com and subscribe to it.