Book Review -We are completely beside ourselves

Book Review -We are completely beside ourselves

we-are-completelyWe Are Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler, 2013.

The book begins in the middle of the story and is told by Rosemary, better known as Rose. It is about her two siblings; Lowell and Fern and herself and their idyllic life or so it seemed to five-years-old Rose on a farm with loving parents and surrounded by people. However when Rose is five-years-old she is sent away to live with her parents for how long she does not know, but after she wanders off alone her father is sent for and she goes home. She falls asleep on the way home in the car. When she wakes up in a bedroom that contains her things, but does not look anything like her own room, in a strange house and Fern is missing. Her father tells her Fern is living on a beautiful farm and for some unfathomable reason she cannot work out her mother is in bed sick and Lowell is angry about something. Shortly after her arrival home Lowell packs and bag and leaves, but no one will talk about it or where he or indeed Fern are or why she cannot visit them. The story then moves 15-years into the future and Rose is now a college student. Lowell, now known as Travers visits her and begins to tell her the story she has never been told before about what happened to Fern and why she couldn’t see her and where Travers has been all those years – but i am not going to tell you!

The novel is part dramatised fact and part fiction and will leave you with plenty to think about. If you are like me, you will come up with every reason as to why Fern went away, but it is not until you are a third of the way through that you begin to suspect and then are told a little bit about Fern. Personally i didn’t work it out until the book told me and it wasn’t any of the things i thought it was. Don’t read around the book, such as the blurb or reviews, but pick it up and start reading, i don’t think you will be disappointed. I found it intriguing and thought provoking.


st-jacquesThe Violins of Saint-Jacques by Patrick Leigh Fermor

This is the library book group read and i think it will have surprised some of those reading it. It was originally published in 1953 as a fictional novella. It tells the historical story of the Island of Saint-Jacques which is said to have been vanished into the ocean after a volcano on the island, split the it in two during the Grand Ball. An travel writer meets an elderly female painter on a island and when he asks her about her paintings she tells him the story of the Island of Saint-Jacques.

Fermor was a well know travel writer of the time and write beautiful colourful prose that will put you in the middle of the ball and then the catastrophe that follows. You will see the characters and feel the heat of the party all around you and then the terror of the few who were out at sea, such as the painter, who could only watch as the volcano erupted and very soon all was lost to the sea.

It was only 140 pages in length, but it still took me a while to read it, but it was worth it in the end.


Book Pile-The Secret Keeper ~Kate Morton

Book Pile-The Secret Keeper ~Kate Morton

secret-keepersThe Secret Keeper ~ Kate Morton.

The thing about Kate Morton is that she always writes a all round, fantastic story, which may give you pause for thought, but never make you think ‘what the heck?’

The Secret Keeper begins in 1960’s at a farm house in the country. Laurel is 16-years-old and is passionately in love with Billy, or at least she believes she is. It is her baby brother, Gerry’s second birthday and she is expected to gather by the river with the rest of her family, but under the pretext of playing hide-and-seek she has hidden herself in the tree house in the hope that no one will miss her and she can sneak away to meet Billy. However things do not go to plan.

As Laurel lays daydreaming she hears her mother returning to the house and is curious as to why and then as she sees her mother leave the house carrying Gerry and the cake knife. When through the garden gate comes a man, a stranger. It is not until years later that Laurel begins to wonder who the man is and what connection there was between him and her mother, Dorothy.

The book is set in 1941 and 2011 and it is what connects these dates and these people that causes Laurel and eventually her brother to seek out the answers to the riddles of their mother’s past life. The answers are not what either of them expect, but it adds to an interesting twist in the tale.

It is about being brave. It is about taking a chance and changing your life, forever. It is about love and loyalty and in the end truth. Who is the Secret Keeper?

I loved it, but i always love a Kate Morton novel.


Book Pile ~ Book Review ~ The Intuitive Dance by Atherton Drenth

Book Pile ~ Book Review ~ The Intuitive Dance by Atherton Drenth

intuitive-danceThe Intuitive Dance: Building, Protecting and Clearing Your Energy by Atherton Drenth. My copy is a pre-published ebook from Netgalley. The book is due to be published in December 2016. 288 pages 6×9 inches. 

In the introduction it states that this book is ‘about learning how to master your ego by utilizing your innate intuitive abilities and finding a way back to inner peace and harmony.’

This book teaches us how we are both spiritual and physical at the same time and that every person we meet is innately the same as us. That as we grow from new born to adult we become less sensitive to our intuition as the ego continually natter in the back of our minds, filling us with useless negativity. It teaches that Intuition is “The ability to understand something immediately, without the need for conscious reasoning.” (Oxford Dictionary). It is that deja vu feeling we often get when we either some place or meet someone for the first time, when really it feels like we have been there before or known that person for a long time.

The books also teaches us about; the four types of intuition; Clairvoyance – the ability to see things in the mind as images and pictures, Clairaudient – meaning clear hearing or the ability to hear information in the mind, Claircognizant – meaning clear knowing, information through a hunch or an impression, Clairsentient – meaning clear feeling or the ability to feel or sense information within our bodies. There is a quiz to help you determine which intuitive power is most dominant; for me it was Clairaudient and Clairsentient, which came as no surprise to me. We are all a bit of all of them.

It teaches us about energy and how energy can be both good and bad; those feelings you get when you walk into a place for the first time and it either feels good or bad. How we can protect ourselves from negative energy from other people who she calls ‘Energy Tyrants’ who will completely deplete all our energy leaving us completely drained. Unfortunately i think at times that can be me, but at least now i know. The book also details how to create powerful shields as protection against other people’s energy, which is especially useful if you are clairsentient as you pick up every bit of energy from everyone and i can tell from my own experience it can wipe you out – and carry it around with us.

The book talks about 3 Energy Cords that we all have; Soul cord, which connects us to the divine, Love cord, which connects us to the people we love and the Fear cord, which is the mean one and attaches us to other people usually after some kind of antagonism. It details how the most significant and intense feelings that comes when the Love cord is broken is when a loved one dies as the cord is broken instantly and that why it is often so difficult for parents to come to terms with the death of a child. Not sure if i completely agree with her on this point as i believe love goes on through eternity and never ends.

I spent some time working through some practices, in the book, to break the Fear cord that was linking myself and another person together in a very negative way. Atherton uses angels and angel power in her practices but she says that you could use whoever you pray to. In this instance i used the angel given, which was Angel Michael and i can say that i was left in no doubt that the fear cord between us was gone when i was finished and it only took a few moments – it really did feel as if Angel Michael had stood there with his big sword and cut it and then pulled it from me, leaving me in tears of relief.

If i was to say anything negative about this book it would be that i am not sure who it is written for, as i tried to explain a small portion of it to my daughter today and she didn’t understand or accept that what i was telling her could be possible. However, those who have an acceptance of being spiritual and the fact that we are all connected energy will learn a lot from this book. Some of the wording is repetitive but as this is a pre-published copy, this may be different when the book is released. Also i think the author needs to state once that (maybe in the the introduction) that although she uses Angels in her practices that we can use whatever personage we feel happy to call upon for help and then not repeat the list of personages throughout the book as it feels like she is apologizing for her use of angel power. However, i have learnt lots and lots and certainly deepened my understanding and if i ever find time i will be back to read it again.

I am giving it 4 out of 5 only because i am not sure it is a book anyone can pick up and read as i think it would literally ‘blow someone’s mind’ not because it not well explained it is very deep and not everyone is ready for that information.

Reading Next

Into the Heart of Mindfulness: Finding a way of well-being




The Book Pile

The Book Pile

light Light Shining in the Forest ~Paul Torday.

Paul Torday is also the author of ‘Salmon Fishing in the Yemen’ and there is an element of Governmental senselessness and absurdity in ‘Light Shining in the Forest.’ Norman Skokoe as been appointed as the new Children’s Czar in the UK, but before he was able to set up his new office, officialdom had shelved the whole project, leaving Norman, having left London, living in Newcastle. He has a shiny new office and secretary, good pay, but absolutely nothing to do and no one seems to know what to do with him. When first two and then another child goes missing he almost oblivious, that is until a local newspaper journalist, Willie convinces him that there is more to the case and the Police are turning a blind-eye. What begins as a story of bureaucracy gone mad, turns into murder-mystery-comical-crime-thriller with an unlikely hero. Get passed the first couple of chapters and it becomes reading with Torday’s easy style leading the reader on towards the end.


Still Reading (and still loving)


Reading Next



The Book Pile

The Book Pile


Ascension by Steven Galloway.

ascensionSteven Galloway also wrote the ‘Cellist of Sarajevo’ and this book, is again, worth every minute of your reading time you spend on it.

The opening chapter introduces us to Salvo Usari who is about to wire walk between the twin towers. There are several things yoy need to know if you are going to walk the high wire; 1) you need to forget how to fall, because falling means death. You cannot fall, no matter how high the wire you are not allowed to fall. 2) You need to know how to able to stand still for as long as necessary. 3) Whilst up so high you need to be aware of the wind, which can appear at any time and knock you off. 4) Very high buildings move when the wind blows slackening the wire, but it is not the slackening of the wire that is the problem, but the tightening afterwards, which can cause you to spring upwards from the wire leaving several inches between you and the wire. 5) You never let go of the pole; the pole is balance and balance is safety. 6) While walking the wire, you must forget everything else.

The beginning of the book is also the end. Does he make it? You will have to read it to find out.

The chapter begins when Salvo, a Rom is 10-years-old, living in Hungary with his parents, brother Andras and baby Etel. No one likes a Rom and most people keep clear of them as they think they are bad luck. When Salvo’s father fails to secure the church cross back to its original place, on the tower and it falls killing the Priest, they try to flee, but Salvo and Andras are not in the house the angry villagers come to their house and when they won’t come out, set fire to it. Salvo watches the house burns and then flees. Andras comes back to the house and finds Etel alive and believing Salvo to also be dead he leaves.

Salvo turns up at his Aunt’s house in Budapest. She takes him in and tends to him for several years until he does something that turns them against them and he is made to leave. He is now 15-years-old. He begins to do balancing acts and is eventually found by a man who employs him in his show, wire walking, this is in Europe. At one of the these shows is a man from one of the big circus families in American and Salvo, his brother, his sister and a friend Migrat end up performing all over America. Until one tragedy after another strikes and after several years of fame and fortune the circuses and Usari’s are no more.

And the story within this book goes on and on and you don’t want it to end. Beautifully written. Wonderful, believable characters. It will make you tingle one minute and hold your breath the next.  And before you know it you have been led through 55-years of history of the circus in Europe and America and you are back with Salvo walking the wire for the last time before he retires.

If you enjoy a good story this is definitely one to read. And if like i, you find out after you have read a few pages that you have read it before, you will still want to carry on reading yet again.



Light Shinning in the Forest by Paul Torday,

(Also wrote; Salmon Fishing in the Yemen.)


The Intuitive Dance by Atherton Drenth.


A Netgalley pre-published book, which is due out on the 8 December 2016. This is one for those mystics among us and according to this book, we all are to some degree or other. About a third of the way through, not only is it well written, I am learning a lot too. Full review to follow on completion.

Book Pile

Book Pile

Only it is trying not to be a Book Pile anymore – or indeed a pile of books. There will always be books to read, but i have come to the conclusion that i can only read 2-3 books in a month and one of them is the library reading group book, so that only leaves me 2. I have decided not to buy any more books until i have read all the ones that are waiting on my shelf, that was after i sent 25 books to the local charity shop, some read, some not, some i have had years and not read and some i have had no time at all, but still they haven’t been read. This year is all about ‘change’ and with change comes ‘acceptance’ and ‘taking control.’ I hope you enjoy the little selection i have for you this week.

the-tenderness-of-wolvesTenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney

This was one of the library’s summer reads and whereas i would normally gather up as many of them as i could this time i chose just this one, and i must say i chose very well.

The Tenderness of Wolves is a murder-mystery set in the 1860’s in Canada, when Canada is more wilderness than community and it is set in winter and in Canada in the winter it snows. This was Stef Penney’s first novel and was published originally in 2006, this being its 10th anniversary and i cannot believe that it has taken me this long to read it.  She may talk a lot about snow, they may be lots of snow around, but it is so beautifully written i couldn’t put it down. In fact, i told my daughter to read it because i wanted to write like Stef Penney!

A French Trapper, Laurent Jammett is found brutally murdered in his cabin at the edge of the town of Caulfield. A young man by the name of Francis Ross goes missing shortly after the body is found by his mother and is suspected of the crime, Company men set out to find him, arrest him and bring him back for trial.  However, while they are away another trapper, Parker is arrested as he is seen coming out of the Jammett’s cabin.  There is no jail and so he is locked in a barn, from where he escapes, and he come to Mrs Ross for help and together they set out into what is little more than wilderness to find Francis. Then another group of men set out to look for Parker and Mrs Ross, but by this time, which as been several weeks in bad weather they believe they will be bringing back bodies.

Snow or no snow there is enough intrigue to carry you the reader forward through the snow storms. The trudging through snow does cause the story the story to sag a little in the middle, but it soon picks up again. If you haven’t read this yet, this could be your winter read, whilst you are all snuggled up indoors under a blanket.

5 stars

lost-childThe Lost Child by Caryl Phillips – Library reading group read

As i read the first chapter of this book i was hook. It was beautifully written historical fictitious account of the arrival of Heathcliff and his mother to England via ship from the New World.

The second chapter was set in modern times and left me confused as to what the book was about. In the end i read the blurb on the back on the book and was left wondering how that actually connected to the book at all. The second chapter was very different, but well written and so i decided to carry on reading to see where it would lead. It was a big mistake. I should have cut my losses and run – fast!!

In the middle of the book there is another chapter written in the same likeness as the first about the Bronte sisters, but yet i have no idea how it connected to the book in general. From there on until i gave up reading it (about 3/4) way through it was all down hill. I can’t waste my time on saying any more…

2 stars

Read Next

Ascension by Steven Galloway



What to Read & What to Read Next

What to Read & What to Read Next

What to Read

burial-rites-978144723316901Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
This was the Library Book Group choice for August. First impressions were that it looked alright and as I am not one to read the blurb on the back of books, I sat down at the end of the day to begin reading. However, I woke the following morning to find I hadn’t finished the first chapter before falling asleep. This went on for several days and was about to give up when I decided to sit down through the day and read a larger chunk of the book. About halfway through the book the words and the story began to pull me in and the characters began to feel real and likable.
The book is set in Iceland in the 1820’s. The weather is bleak and the way of life is too. The protagonist, Agnes Magnusdottir or the daughter of Magnus, along with Frederic and a young woman servant, Sigga, are accused of the murder of Natan Kettilson and his friend at an isolated farm they were working at. Agnes is sentenced to death, but instead of her being kept prison she is sent to live with a family. She requests the help of a young Priest, who at first comes reluctantly to her, but in the end he promises her that he will be with her till the end and he is.
The word I would use to describe this book is bleak. Iceland is bleak. The weather is bleak. The life-style is bleak. Agnes’ life is bleak from the beginning to the end. She does find some comfort from the family she spends her last days with and Totty, the Priest.
I kept hoping for a different ending, but the ending is as you would expect it to be in the beginning. In the end Agnes tells the story of what happened to the Margret, the mother of the family she is staying with. The book is loosely based upon what actually happened or supposed to have happened to Agnes Magnusdottir who lived and died in the 1820’s, Iceland.
Hard to get into, but a good ending.

What to read Next