Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Book review - Roadblocks to Nirvana, by Patricia Halloff

The difference between a fine novel and a mediocre one is often found in the strength of its characterisation. In this respect Ms Halloff does not disappoint, and it is, above all, the detailed and powerful portrayal of the various players in this drama that gives the work its strength. The facility with which she speaks with each character’s voice, not just in dialogue but in her narrative, so vividly coloured with the different points of view, makes the book a delight; and not just the voices of the characters, but those of the various newspapers and pundits surrounding the book’s events. I almost screamed with laughter reading the Transcript reports, with their English translations of Latin phrases; the tone of the tabloid reporter, writing about comments by an educated person which he only half understands, was priceless.
This lightness of touch, with its sprinkles of comic relief, prevents the book’s essential sadness from becoming overwhelming, and allows the reader fully to enjoy its marvellous graininess.
The few depictions of sexual activity were handled with beautiful restraint, and I could only marvel at the writer’s ability to convey the sordid bestiality of a really down-and-dirty encounter without descending into the merely graphic.
All in all, a book by Ms Halloff is a rare pleasure, and Roadblocks to Nirvana is no exception.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Book review - Naked Determination, by Gisela Hausmann

This charming little book from the author of Naked Determination offers us a selection of good advice for life, from a cat's perspective, and illustrated with photographs of the beautiful Artemis. It's well presented and would make a great gift.

Ferret Ormiston-Smith has asked me also to say, from a cat's viewpoint, that Miss Artemis Hausmann is an extremely attractive young lady whom he would enjoy meeting (paraphrased somewhat).

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Book review - Writing Tips From Authors by Patti Roberts

This little book is packed with useful tips from working writers, and should be on every new writer's bookshelf.

There are some wonderfully trenchant comments in particular from David Bishop and Donya Lynne on so-called "writer's block", and on writing in general. I can't resist quoting a couple:

"The most successful way to market your work is to write it exceedingly well." (David Bishop on marketing)

"You can't edit nothing, but you can always edit crap" (Donya Lynne on keeping at it)

"Turn it off" - Donya Lynne on Facebook when writing

"My plumber doesn't only fix my plumbing problems on mornings when it isn't raining and when the moon was full the night before." (David Bishop on writer's block)

Interestingly, I was very surprised to note how few of the featured authors had apparently chosen to have their contributions edited. As a working editor myself, I was especially narked that one writer who is my client did not ask me to cast an eye over it. But, edited or not, the many different viewpoints in this collection were refreshing and there is good advice there for everyone.