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Peggy Farooqi is a participant in the Amazon EU Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising programme designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

31 May 2014

Newbooks is a magazine for book lovers and reading groups, published in the UK bi-monthly. 

Can I first say that I am in not affiliated to the magazine, but love not only reading books, but also read about books / authors / what's new / what are others reading etc. I'm a subscriber to this magazine. Apart from author interviews and book reviews, the magazine usually offers some of the books they reviewed for free to the readers (you will need to pay P&P though which is £3 per book).

Books which are reviewed in the magazine and which you can order for free (pay £3 P&P per book)
Every review always also features an extract from the book
(Please note: I have not read yet any of the books below and the synopsises and some other extracts have been in part taken from my copy of Newbooks magazine.)

1. We need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo

Darling and her friends live in a shanty called Paradise, which of course is no such thing. It isn't all bad, though. There's mischief and adventure, games of Find bin Laden, stealing guavas, singing Lady Gaga at the tops of their voices.
They dream of the paradises of America, Dubai, Europe, where Madonna and Barack Obama and David Beckham live. For Darling, that dream will come true. But , like the thousands of people all over the world trying to forge new lives far from home, Darling finds this new paradise brings its own set of challenges - for her and also for those she's left behind.

2. Butterflies in November by Audur Ava Olafsdottir

From the author:
'Butterflies in November is the story of a woman at a crossroads in her life deciding to go on a road trip around her island - taking her summer holiday in November. She is dumped twice the same day, by both her husband and her lover, and than wins the lottery twice. [sic] it is a love story, but not an ordinary one, since there is one woman and three men, plus a deaf-mute child my heroine is temporary taking care of.'

3. The Book of You by Claire Kendal

Psychological thriller. Following a hazily remembered one night stand, Clarissa is being stalked by her creepy colleague, Rafe. A call to undertake jury service seems to provide the perfect opportunity to escape Rafe's unwanted attentions. As the trial unfolds, however, Clarissa sees disturbing parallels between herself and the victim.

4. Arms Wide Open by Tom Winter

Story of non-identical twins Jack and Meredith, yearning for the father they never knew. Their mother is succumbing to early-onset dementia, a rare and hereditary form of the disease. Over a period of days and weeks, Jack and Meredith are forced to ponder both the past and the future: their memories of their mother, their hopes of finding their father and the fear of what's in their bloodline.

5. Lost and Found by Tom Winter

Acc to the author he 'seeks to treat difficult subjects with humour'
Amazon:  Meet Albert and Carol, two lost souls, brought together through a series of unforgettable letters.
'Carol wants a disease. Nothing deadly, and nothing crippling. She doesn't aspire to disabled parking, for instance, despite its obvious advantages.'

Other books featured in the magazine (some with extracts)
  • The Bookshop that floated away by Sarah Henshaw
  • The Road to Reckoning by Robert Lautner 
  • City of Lies by Ramita Navai  
Crime Supplement:
  • The Deliverane of Evil by Roberto Costantini
  • The First Rule of Survival by Paul Mendelson
  • Letters to my Daughter's Killer by Cath Staincliffe
  • Precious Thinn by Colette Mcbeth
  • If I should Die by Matthew Frank
  • Eeny Meeny by MJ Arlidge
  • After the Silence by Jake Woodhouse
  • Sara Sheridan talks about her Mirabelle Bevan Series
  • The Good Priest by Gillian Galbriath
  • Run by Greg Olsen (+ author Q+A with Greg Olsen)
  • Death in Pont-Aven by Jean-Luc Bannalec

The Book Lover's Companion - What to read next (formerly the Book Club Bible) - looks like a must buy to me. This book covers over a hundred books, with 'each title having suggestion discussion points to stimulate debate. '

Other features 

  • interview with author Alexander McCall Smith
  • the life work of Australian novelist Alex Miller - an introduction to the author, his books and a closer look at his latex novel, Coal Creek
  • an introduction to four translation publishers - Alma Books, Pushkin Press, Hesperus Press and MacLehose Press
  • The Directory - selection of titles recently published or about to be published (Now that is one of my favourite parts of the mag )

30 May 2014
Feature and Follow is a blog hop hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read. Head over to their blogs to check them out. 

Feature and Follow is exactly what it says… a weekly feature of two chosen blogs, and a question or a task for us to participate in. 

This week's featured blogs are : Margo L Dill and  Think Books

so check them out as well

The aim is to get new followers to your blog and, of course, follow other blogs out there and get to know other bloggers, browse their blogs, leave comments and find stuff which interests you. For me, apart from books of course, this is what book blogging is all about - connect with others and chat about our favourite hobby.

The rules are all explained here in detail by Parajunkee.

How important is good writing to you? In an ideal world, a book would be beautifully written AND have great character development, plot, etc. But in the real world, which do you prefer: (1) Great characters and plot with lousy writing or (2) Middling character development and plot but gorgeous writing?

Honest? If I had to chose one, it would begreat plot and characters. While not very nice (and good editors should take care of this!), lousy writing, bad grammar etc is very annoying but if the plot and characters are great, I can actually forgive that. 

29 May 2014

The Bone Garden
Tess Gerritsen
Bantam Press
Publication Date


A gruesome secret is about to be unearthed…
When a human skull is dug up in a garden near Boston, Dr Maura Isles is called in to investigate. She quickly discovers that the skeleton - that of a young woman - has been buried for over hundred years.
But who was the young woman? And how did she die?
It is the 1830s, and an impoverished medical student, Norris Marshall, is forced to produce corpses in order to further his studies in human anatomy.
It's a gruesome livelihood that will bring him into contact with a terrifying serial killer who slips from ballrooms to graveyards and into autopsy suites.
And who is far, far closer that Norris could ever imagine.

My review:

Crime and medical thriller with a great historic twist - another solid read from the never-disappointing Tess Gerritsen. 

The story of this book plays out in two different times with an interlinking plot. 

In the present day, divorced teacher Julie finds a skeleton whilst doing some gardening in her new house in Massachusetts. Tests quickly discover that the skeleton is more than 150 years old, and belonged to a young woman who was most likely murdered. Curiosity raided, Julie starts to make enquiries and discovers a murder series in Boston from 1830.

The story than takes us back to 1830 and to Irish immigrant Rose Connolly who witnesses her sister's death in hospital from puerperal fever after childbirth. Rose takes baby Margaret who survives and vows to look after her. But it becomes clear that people are interested in Margaret and want to take her away from Rose, so she starts to hide in the poor areas and underworld of the city. At the same time, we get introduced to Norris Marshall who studies medicine at Boston Medical College. As a poor student he finances his studies by digging up bodies from graves and selling them for medical research. The other students,mostly from rich families, look down at him. Than murders start to happen, and Norris always seems to be near when the murders happens. The college is under pressure to suspend him. He will cross paths with Rose who can give him an alibi and they will come together to discover a secret which will link back to Julie and the skeleton in present day Massachusetts.

This book was a true page turner for me. What will remain in my memory is the dreadful medical conditions at that time (many medications were yet to be discovered and hygiene standards of course nowhere near as to what we know). The hospital and all those women who gave birth deteriorating and dying from childbed fever - something which, as we now know, was mainly caused by poor hygiene standards during delivery and would be easily treatable now, but caused many maternal deaths at that time. Gerritsen describes the smell of death and the devastation in the hospital vividly and I felt myself shudder at the thought. (We easily forget that it is not that long time ago and what difference the good medical care makes to our lives!)

The other thing which will stay in my mind is the business with the dead bodies, the body stealing which was apparently not exactly uncommon, as it was very difficult for medical colleges to get the bodies to do their training / investigations - medical science as we know it was only starting up. 

Rose is a very likeable character and I started to feel for her straight away. Norris is a bit of a different story and in fact, I was not quite sure about him right until the end (without wanting to give too much away) - this is of course how Gerritsen manages to create the tension for us. 

You will love this book if you love a good mystery and are interested in the history of medicine.

About the author:

Biography (from Amazon)

Bestselling author Tess Gerritsen is also a physician, and she brings to her novels her first-hand knowledge of emergency and autopsy rooms. But her interests span far more than medical topics. As an anthropology student at Stanford University, she catalogued centuries-old human remains, and she continues to travel the world driven by her fascination with ancient cultures and bizarre natural phenomena. She started off her writing career with romance novels, now published by Mira. But in 1996 she switched to writing thrillers with her novel HARVEST, inspired by the anger she felt about the illegal trade in human organs. It was her first New York Times bestseller. Since then she has become an internationally bestselling author of crime novels, and her thriller series starring Boston detective Jane Rizzoli and medical examiner Maura Isles is the basis for the hit television series "Rizzoli & isles." She lives with her husband in Maine. For more information on Tess Gerritsen and her novels, visit her website:

28 May 2014

Pet Sematary 
Stephen King
Publication Date
04 Nov 1983
Horror Novel


The house looked right, felt right, to Dr Louis Creed.
Rambling, old, unsmart and comfortable. A place where the family could settle, the children grow and play and explore. The rolling hills and meadows of Maine seemed a world away from the fume-choked dangers of Chicago. 
Only the occasional big truck out on the two-lane highway, grinding up through the gears, hammering down the long gradients, growled out an intrusive note of threat.
But behind the house and away from the road: that was safe. Just a carefully cleared path up into the woods where generations of local children had processed with the solemn innocence of the young taking with them their dear departed pets for burial.
A sad place maybe, but safe. Surely a safe place. Not a place to seep into your dreams, to wake you, sweating with fear and foreboding…

My review

Classic Stephen King, and a must for any fan, and also a very good introduction for anyone wanting to give King a go and may be 'frightened off' by horror books. 

Dr Louis Creed moves from Chicago to Maine to be the University's resident doctor, and with his with and young children, moves into a house in a small town in the countryside. Everything seems perfect with the house and Louis and his wife Rachel are happy they can bring their children up in this sheltered environment. They become friends with their neighbour, Jud who tells him about the history of the town. He also warns them about the road which runs through town - not very busy, but trucks who come through are a danger and many local pets get killed on that road. There is a pet cemetery behind Louis' house where all the pets get buried how have been run over on that road.

So, you can almost guess what happens next…one day when Rachel is out of town with the children, the family's pet cat Churchill gets run over on the road. Louis is very upset and can't think of how to tell Rachel and the children and he seeks advice from Jud. Jud than takes him to the pet cemetery, and shows Louis an ancient burial ground from an Native American tribe which is just behind the pet cemetery. They bury Churchill the cat in that ancient burial ground. The next day, Churchill walks back into the house…but nothing is as it was. And Churchill will not remain the last victim of the road.

This is one of King's earlier books. When the realisation hit me about what is going on here, I was a bit shocked and stunned, and drawn to the story at the same time. You know, when you think 'Oh my god!' but can't stop reading at the same time. (I did first read it when it first came out so was not so much used to paranormal horror like this). How does he come up with stories like that - what an idea. I understand that King initially did not want to submit the book, thinking that he has maybe 'gone too far'. Well, I loved the idea behind it and hope you will as well.

As always, there are a few references to other King's stories in the book. Jud mentions to Louis a 'rabid St Bernard who's gone mad' - a reference to Cujo. Also, when Rachel drives back home, she sees a town sign 'Jerusalem's Lot' - mentioned in Salem's Lot.

27 May 2014

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intro is hosted by Diane at Bibliophile By The Sea.

This is how it works: Write down either the first paragraph of a book your are currently reading / intending to read or read in the past and share with us. I do like a good opening!

I have signed up for Mental Health Awareness Month at Leah's blog Uncorked Thoughts.


As part of this, I am reading The Shock After the Fall by Nathan Filer:

First Chapter:

I should say that I am not a nice person. Sometimes I try to be, but often I'm not. So when it was my turn to cover my eyes and count to a hundred - I cheated.

I stood at the spot where you had to stand when it was your turn to count, which was beside the recycling bins next to the shop selling disposable barbecues and spare tent pegs. And near to there is a small patch of overgrown grass, tucked away behind a water tap.
Except I don't remember standing there. Not really. You don't always remember the details like that, do you? You don't remember if you were beside the recycling bins, or further up the path near to the shower blocks and whether actually the water tap is up there? 

Teaser Tuesday is hosted by MizB at Should be reading. 
These are the rules  :
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

From The Shock after the Fall by Nathan Filer:

"The next thing I knew Mum was turning up the volume of the radio, so I wouldn't hear her crying."

I haven't started the book yet, but hoping to do so this week. My daughter and me are going to read it, maybe me first because I'm a faster reader than her. Sorry Ruby :)

Happy reading my bookish friends
Peggy x 

26 May 2014

How to write for magazines … in one weekend
Diana Cambridge
Canal Street Publishing Ltd
Publication Date
Writing guide


Diana Cambridge, Writers News' agony aunt, shares her secrets in this book.
It will change your writing life! Whether you want to get a reader's letter
printed, a travel article, or a feature for a women's magazine, Diana shows
you how, step by step in just one weekend.What's stopped many writers from
seeing their work in print is NOT rejection letters, Diana says. It's the
fact that they never finish their articles or send them out. You, maybe?
But Diana understands - and she can help.
My Review

I just love to read books / guides on 'How to write' . I can't remember who, but  one famous writer once said 'If you need a guide book on how to be a writer than you will never be one, it has to come naturally.' Ok fair enough, maybe that's why I'm not a bestselling author :) However, my favourite author Stephen King said, and I paraphrase: "The only way to write is… to write." 
And this craft also need to be learned and polished. 

The magazine market in the UK is huge - just go to any large newsagent and the shelves are filled with a large amount of magazines catering for everything from the popular one's like beauty, sport etc to more obscure like little known hobbies, collecting etc. If there is a hobby there is a magazine. And all those magazines need to be filled with articles. So, if you like to write, and like magazines, than this book will provide you with excellence guidance on how to write to magazines from start to finish.

The author recommends you take 48 hrs - start on a Friday night - no interruptions - and work through the book. By the end, not only should you be well aware of how to write for magazines, what to look out for etc, but should also have your first written submission ready to go. Of course, taking 48 hrs out is easier for some of us than others (I haven't managed yet - anyone want a husband, 3 children, a dog and 5 cats for 48 hrs :), but the idea is good and it will work, I'm sure of it. 

You will work through the book and cover the following:

  • first steps
  • what do magazines want
  • letter to the editor …how/what
  • what type of magazines i.e. travel, women's, hobbies, food
  • take yourself to the market
  • moving on
There is a lot of brilliant ideas and infos incl. top tips, and many examples to make everything clear. The writing is very easy to understand for someone not in the publishing industry. For a beginner, this is a great guide if you want to get into writing for magazines, maybe starting small with a few submissions and build up on it. Of course, many magazines also pay for submissions. 

Of all the writing guide books I have, this was one of the easiest to understand and a very 'hands-on' step-by-step guide if you like this kind of writing. If you are already an established writer and maybe had a few submissions paid for, than most of it in this book is probably less use to you.

This is being hosted by Leah @ Uncorked Thoughts and Ula @ Blog of Erised to spread awareness of Mental Health Issues and how it effects people and their family and friends. I think it's definitely something which needs to be brought to a much wider attention in society. In my line of work sadly I see a lot about the devastating effect mental health problems can have on people and their families / friends. I also feel that the perception of mental health issues needs to be changed and books can play a very important part in that. 

My daughter and me will read The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer (fresh purchased yesterday) for MH Awareness months and both post a review here on my blog. 

Head over to Leah's or Ula's blog to sign up. And thank you Cynthia @ Jellyfish Reads for bringing it to my attention :) 

Here is what Leah tells us about Mental Health Awareness Months in her blog:

Hey guys! Mental Health Awareness Month is something I've been tweeting about quite a lot lately and I'm really excited to share with you guys what I've got planned. MHAM is a month in which myself and Ula @ Blog of Erised  want to spread awareness about mental health issues and how they affect people. We're really excited to be hosting this MH month; it's something which is close to both of us and I hope you guys want to take part! Here's some information about the month on the blog:

What is Mental Health Awareness Month?
It's an idea that me and Ula came up with to draw attention to all things MH. It doesn't get enough attention and there's still far too much stigma attached to it! I thought the best way for us book bloggers to do this was to dedicate June to reading and reviewing/ discussing books that discuss Mental Health. There's going to be a variety of things going on on mine and Ula's blogs, as well as others. There will be guest posts, interviews, giveaways, challenges and all sorts of events going on as well as reading books that explore issues of MH!

When is MHAM happening?
It starts June 1st and runs through until the 30th of June.

What are the rules?
There aren't any rules really! Whether you're a blogger, vlogger, on Goodreads, an author or anything feel free to take part! The more the merrier. The aim is to spread awareness about Mental Health!

What books are there on MH that I can read?
I've been preparing a shelf on my Goodreads profile especially for this month! Here's a little list to get you guys started. Just follow the link for more :)

Playing Tyler - T. L. Costa
Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock - Matthew Quick
Girl, Interrupted - Susanna Kaysen 
Thirteen Reasons Why - Jay Asher
Amy & Matthew (Say What You Will) - Cammie McGovern
The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
It's Kind of a Funny Story - Ned Vizzini 
The Shock of the Fall - Nathan Filer

We're going to be using the hashtag #MHAMJune on Twitter when talking all things MH! 

25 May 2014

This Changes Everything
Sally Ember
Publication Date
18 Dec 2013
Sci-Fi, Alien


Many Worlds Collective Chooses Dr. Clara Branon, Ph.D., as 1st Liaison!
Are You Ready for the Changes?
Sci-fi, Romance, Paranormal, Aliens, Multiverse, Utopian, Speculative ten-Volume Series for Adults, New and Young Adults: The Spanners, starts with This Changes Everything.
Find out how Earthers cope with becoming a member of the Many Worlds Collective. Read how multiverse timulter, Dr. Clara Branon, Earth's first Chief Communicator, deals with being with/not being with her on/off love, Epifanio Dang. Meet Esperanza Enlaces, her Chief Media Contact, Clara's son, Zephyr, and the rest of her family and friends to find out how they deal with the psi wars and psiskills training programs and the thousands of other changes in Volumes I - X of The Spanners Series, starting in late 2013 - 2018, with one new Volume every six months. 
My review:

Finally, a Sci-Fi Series that is not exclusively aimed at teenager. Don't get me wrong, there is a market and this book can be read by everyone. But it does challenge you mentally. What I like is that the main characters are not teenagers caught in some intergalactic wars. 

Dr Clara Ackerman Branon, a middle aged Ph.D. school teacher, narrates the book (in most parts). She gets contacted by aliens from the MWC = Many World Collective. Led, Mick, Ringo and Janis - Diana (as Clara names them *geddit?*) appear to Clara in her bedroom as holograms  and tell her that she is chosen to be earth's first Chief Communicator with the MWC. They have come to prepare earth for membership of the MWC. Clara is not too spooked by their appearance, as she had visions since childhood. For me, she is a very likeable character and I took to her straight away - she has a great sense of humour. 

These aliens are actually friendly, and want to help earth and all its inhabitants (and that incl human and all other life) to live peacefully together. Reference John Lennon and "Image" here! Being aware of everything that went on at earth, they feel now the time is right to come forward and help earth with its transition to a more peaceful future.

While the book in most parts is narrated by Clara, the chapters are also interlace with interviews, press conferences and diary entries written by others. This may sound confusing and it was at first when I read the contents pages. But the title of each chapter, whilst long, explains exactly what it is, so you will always now where and when you are. And there are a lot of ideas to take in, so a very helpful section at the end explains main phrases / concepts / abbreviations. But while it challenges your reading experience, it is not difficult to get your head around the ideas presented here. 

I found the idea that the MWC have been watching earth and are responsible for some of the disasters on earth (when things have gone wrong…) thought-provoking and absorbing. The concept of 'timulting' was more difficult for me to take in - Clara (and others) can see different timelines at any one stage. And than there is Clara's love interest Epifanio whom she is / isn't married to depending what timeline she is in and I struggled a bit with it. But I think I 'got' it at the end. I loved the idea of a 're-set' on your life where you can change an event once. For Clara, that was the fact that she had a car accident as a teenager which left her with a degree of disability, which than ruled her life. When she can 're-set' this event and watches how her life plays out without this disability in a different timeline, she realises that she would certainly be more outgoing, but the life of those around her (mostly her son) would also change significantly - at a price. Loved that. So, would you 're-set' if you could? 

This book is the foundation for the Spanners Series, and while I understand that the following books can be read independently, I really think one ought to read Vol I to get the main ideas and concepts on which the author can now build upon. There is certainly a lot of scope to develop the ideas introduced in Vol I. 

About the author:  


Sally Ember, Ed.D., author of sci-fi/ romance/ speculative fiction/paranormal/ multiverse/ utopian ebooks for Adult/New and Young Adult audiences, "The Spanners Series," has short stories and articles published in "Out of the Kitchen" and has co-written, edited, and proofread many nonfiction books and worked for several magazines.

"The Spanners Series" starts with Volume I, "This Changes Everything," released 12/19/13 worldwide. Volume II, "This Changes My Family and My Life Forever," pre-orders 4/18/14 @ $1.99 via Smashwords; release date 6/9/14 Amazon, everywhere @ $3.99. Volumes III - X are planned and in various draft stages.

Sally was raised Jewish and is a practicing Buddhist meditator. She is also an almost-daily swimmer, a mediocre singer/pianist, avid feminist, dreamer, and devoted mother/ sister/ aunt/ daughter/ cousin/ friend. Her website includes a blog that touches on these topics as well as reviews, interviews, guest blog posts, and excerpts from Volume I and soon to have excerpts from Volume II. Visit and comment, follow, "like," and share!

In her "other" professional life, Sally has worked as an educator and upper-level, nonprofit manager in colleges, universities and private nonprofits for over thirty-five years in New England (every state), New Mexico and the San Francisco Bay Area (where she now lives). Sally has a BA in Elementary Education, a Master's (M.Ed.) and a doctorate in education (Ed.D.).

The Sunday Post

This is is Meme hosted by Kimba @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer and here are the rules.

It is your chance to re-cap your bookish week, what did your review last week, any new purchases, what will be coming up in your blog next week or generally anything you feel you would like to share with the blogging community.

So, what did I do last week?

As always, busy week at work… but hey, that's life I suppose. I have to be grateful that I do have a job, and even though stressful, not a bad one I guess.

Last Sunday the weather was beautiful here with temperature in the low 80's. My sons managed to repair our shed. Amazing, I had been nagging them for weeks and than it was only a two-hour job and all was done. We cleaned out the yard and I treated them to a spontaneous BBQ which was just the perfect end to a lovely day. It's not often any more that we all do things together.

This weekend, it's a long weekend here in England (Bank Holiday weekend), and I kind of hope that I can use Monday to pre-write some posts for the blog. Weather is not very nice, has been raining continuously, so can't sit outside unfortunately :( 

On the blog last week


Memes / Features:

Finish / Start


This Changes Everything by Sally Ember, Vol I of The Spanner's Series (review to follow soon)

This Changes My Family and Me Forever by Sally Ember, Vol II of The Spanner's Series

Around the Blogosphere

Added to my stash

I received a few books this week for review, and also for review my first 'proper' book in the post (rather than Kindle download) which was kind of exciting! 

Received for review:

Harbour Views by Philip Chatting

Pegasus to Paradise by Michael Tappenden

The Terrorist's daughter by Brian Arthur Leven

And look what found its way into my shopping bag when hubby and me went to the local mall yesterday?? Love the cover btw. 

This is what I'm planning for next week on the blog


This Changes Everything by Sally Ember (The Spanners Vol I)

How to write for magazines … in one weekend by Diana Cambridge (non-fiction)

Pet Sematary by Stephen King

The Bone Garden by Tess Gerritsen 

Memes / Features:

This week: Top Ten Tuesday Freebie! Pick your own topic!

Feature and Follow hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read: this week's question: How important is good writing to you? In an ideal world, a book would be beautifully written AND have great character development, plot, etc. But in the real world, which do you prefer: (1) Great characters and plot with lousy writing or (2) Middling character development and plot but gorgeous writing?

Have a great week everyone and Happy reading
Peggy xxx