I read one book by Tasha Alexander, which I loved and so I borrowed A Terrible Beauty before lockdown from my library.
It is an odd read. It isn’t a high-octane thriller. It has intrigue, crime and mystery – a dead man comes back to life!
I feel like the emotional depth of the story and its characters took centre stage. There were a couple of surprise moments and excitement towards the end. The build-up of the story is slow. I don’t mind slow. The setting of Santorini and Greek myths was a distraction. My best description of A Terrible Beauty can be found in the text, in this quote, ’High stakes but seemingly endless time in a prolonged state of expectancy’
I spent a good chunk of time trying to find one of my favourite reads from my childhood last week and, after finding it, I went on to find other books that unlocked memories. I was born in 1995, not a time of great diversity in publishing if we’re looking at this list and as for Diary of a Chav <puffs out cheeks> I should mention a lot of these books I read because they were there and I could find them in charity shops or the public library. Trying to read a series of books (in order) proved impossible and I liked authors I knew had other books to read. I found comfort in familiarity. I might try getting a hold of some of these books and re-reading them. Possibly setting myself up for disappointment.
Dustbin Baby – Jacqueline Wilson
The Granny Project – Anne Fine
The Famous Five – Enid Blyton
Diary of a Chav – Grace Dent
Just Henry – Michelle Magorian
Noughts and Crosses – Malorie Blackman
Lucky Star – Cathy Cassidy
Ally’s World – Karen McCombie
The Babysitter’s Club – Ann. M. Martin
Blitzed – Robert Swindells
The Shell House – Linda Newbury
Pink Knickers Aren’t Cool – Jean Ure
There’s a Pharaoh in our Bath – Jeremy Strong
Matilda – Roald Daul
Lady Daisy – Dick King Smith
Trust me, I’m A Troublemaker – Pete Johnson
What do you think, have you read any of these books?
The story of Henry Applebee is primarily narrated by the man himself, although characters Ariel and Travis do take parts in being protagonists. The timeline of the story switches between past and present. I was unsure of this book at first, until I got the gist of which path the story was going to take. Not that it is predictable. There is a huge build up, you have to wait for it though. I liked the setting of the train station in the present and loved being in Blackpool for the past. This is a story of lost love and once you discover how Henry met this woman and lost her because of his insecurities (and mobile phones hadn’t been invented) it did make my eyes mist over.
Unfortunately, the story lost its way in its conclusion. I felt like the author was trying to repeat what happened to Henry with Ariel and Travis, who all meet on the train. I didn’t feel invested in the other characters as much. The ending is not automatically a happy one, which is realistic.
My final thoughts are I loved (ha) the love story in Finding Henry Applebee. The other parts not so much. It is set partly during World War 2, so if you like reading historical fiction books, I’m sure you will like this. I’m probably going to read this book again and love it.
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I found myself nervous writing reviews for collections of poetry. I must give that context, in terms of my depression and where my confidence is. I found myself reading other people’s reviews and they were like works of art. They could be describing the book in a couple of sentences, saying what they think and making it sound compulsory to read that poetry collection. I mean, I can get in a real funk with my need for perfectionism. It makes me procrastinate and urgh, give up sometimes. Because how on earth do you reach perfectionism? I forget I pretty much write reviews for myself to begin with, to get my thoughts down, to discuss and ask questions. Most of the inspiration felt in reading poetry collections usually prompts my own poetry. I find it easier to be afraid people will tell me I’m wrong about my opinion in a review, than in my writing because I’ll tell them to piss off. Poetry can take up any form and it’s subjective. Not everyone will like what you write. It’s the same with why I gave up writing fiction. If I stray from poem form, I feel uncertain. I think I’m not a fiction writer. When you can learn to be. It isn’t easy. But I can learn about those things I struggle with, like structuring chapters, the story arc and all those other bits with fancy names. Then maybe I can finish that story, which has been 13 years in the making.
This only comes from myself, by the way. I don’t have terrible memories of people criticising my reviews, or my stories. I can remember people not being keen to read my writing. Obviously, I remember teachers at school trying to teach me about putting paragraphs into my writing and how capital letters were important. But I was privileged that I got a lot of what they taught me, I loved reading fact books and encyclopaedia’s, enjoyed spelling tests and treated times tables as if they were Brussel Sprouts and I have always had ideas. My imagination has always been active. In secondary school writing became my outlet for being socially inept, so thankfully I did have my primary school education. Writing is instinctive.