Memoir, Review

You’re Being Ridiculous! by C.E.A Forster – memoirs of a foster carer

Today I would like to share with you a memoir by C.E.A. Forster. The author is a foster carer and she has decided to share her stories within the pages of her book, You’re Being Ridiculous!

A new authorial voice relaying true stories that are likely to both horrify you and make you laugh out loud. Events and conversations are told with pace, humour and humanity as the author shares with you her memories of the situations she has lovingly endured while at the mercy of her numerous foster boys. It is heart warming, heart breaking and heartfelt in equal measures. It is a memoir of sorts but it is definitely not a misery memoir.

http://ceaforster.com

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Synopsis
C.E.A. Forster is youngish, conceivably pushing middle age, although she would argue as to where that line is drawn, and she is just wanting to share with you the trials, tribulations and sheer joy of her time as a foster carer.
She writes of the sounds of bystanders that she can still to this day hear ringing in her ears, tutting at her apparent inability to control the children in her care and of the mayhem that follows theme everywhere, along with her repeated admonition to them of “you’re being ridiculous!”.
Claire has experienced this awful questions in the most public of places concerning the differences between boys and girls and has been informed by a six year old on the habits of mating Turtles. Have you ever heard of pee wars? Have you ever crash landed in a World War II plane and lived to tell the tale? Not to mention some of the topics discussed at the dinner table that would make even the most bold of us blush.
Claire won’t mind you laughing at her or with her and she will leave you knowing, in no uncertain terms, just how much she grew to love these boys and how they will always have a special place in her heart. She hopes that maybe one day they will come back into her life to remind her of their own memories.

You can feel the love and compassion Claire has felt for each and every one of the children that have shared her home. It is not a light undertaking being a foster carer, to provide a safe haven for these troubled young souls who for whatever reason have found themselves in need of temporary shelter.

Each child that she talks about within the book has obviously had a massive impact on her life and we can hope the their stories each have happy endings but one thing we can be sure of is that for a brief time they were able to be with someone who shared with them her zest for life, sense of humour and who was willing to love and care for them unconditionally, providing them with a brief respite before they moved on to whatever the future has in store for them.

Claire decided to share her life and her home with children who were in need of care, love and an escape from the difficulties they faced. She is very considerate and discrete in her narration. This isn’t about the horrors and heartbreak that the children may have come from. It’s not about the effect their young experiences have had on them but it’s about nurturing and helping those fragile beings so they leave a little brighter and a little happier than when they arrived. This book is a celebration of her decision to become a foster carer and the kindness and love she has been able to provide these children during the time they are with her. The children may have only been with Claire for a short time but I can tell she will always carry a little of them with her and I imagine that they will carry something of her too.

A light-hearted, funny and yet at times sad book, this was a pleasure to read. As a parent I can understand some of Claire’s more cringe-worthy encounters but she seems to have addressed some tricky (and at times very embarrassing moments) with a cool, calm head. Any parent will tell you that you learn on the job and no two children are ever the same. For a foster carer this can be even more of a challenge as they have such little knowledge of the small but powerful personalities presented before them and are left to constantly think on their feet.

I feel that it is wonderful to know that there are people such as Claire out there ready to be there for these children, whatever circumstances they may be coming from.

Thank you Claire for inviting me to read and review You’re Being Ridiculous!

You can discover more about Claire by visiting her website here or follow her on Twitter @cea_forster

Adult Fiction, Love, Science Fiction

The Light Between Us by Katie Khan

A classic unrequited love story…with a twist.

The brilliant new novel from the author of Hold Back The Stars

Thea and Isaac were close, but they’ve grown apart.

Thea world tirelessly, convinced that she can prove everyone around her wrong – convinced she can prove that time travel is possible. But when her latest attempts goes awry, she finds herself picking up the phone and calling her old friend.

Issac is in New York – it’s the middle of the night, but when he sees who’s calling him, he cannot ignore his phone. At Thea’s request, he travels home, determined to help her in her hour of need.

But neither of them are prepared for what they will discover when he gets there.

The Light Between Us is a story of second chances and time travel. It begs the dangerous question that we all ask ourselves – what could have been? “

Katie’s novels are completely unique. They are love stories that are complex with plots that are smart, thought-provoking and brave. She makes us question the reality that surrounds us and just how far love can take us.

The Light Between Us is a story about love, yes, but it is also about the choices and actions we take and the effect they have on the world around us. There is also a very powerful message about mis-understanding, lack of communication and jumping to conclusions.

I don’t want to go into too much detail about the story as I wouldn’t want to give anything away.  I thoroughly enjoyed discovering as I read and I urge you to do the same. This is science fiction slap bang in the here and now, totally relatable and current. The writing as always is brilliantly sharp.  Setting, character and place are brought to life wonderfully; there is also adventure, danger and of course a love story.

She feels the thrill of excitement – her skin tingles with the power of the laser, magnified by the glass house; the hairs on her arms stand up and she can’t help but smile.

Is it working? There’s the smell of electricity in the room, and a sound of crackling, underpinned by a thrumming hum. It must be working – she knew it would. She was right all along.

She hopes Rosy’s all right in the glass house, and that it’s not too warm. She should check on her.

Thea shields her eyes with her arm, peering towards the glass house where, inside, Rosy should be standing – is she there. It’s too bright to see. Thea moves gingerly towards the cubicle, protecting herself from the light, when –

‘Fuck!’

A blinding colourless brightness, then the power goes out with a womp as the lab falls into total darkness.

‘Oh, hell.’

They stand at the centre of it all, surrounded by the black.

‘I think we did something bad.’

The Light Between Us by Katie Khan

I love a novel that leaves my mind full of images at the end. This story has certainly stayed with me and the vividness, light and emotion along with it. Katie has the ability to capture the magic, wonder and fragility that encompasses love.  As always there is an element of heartbreak, light and darkness but I absolutely love the way Katie ends her novels. This one was particularly memorable and as with Hold Back The Stars, I can see The Light Between Us coming to film or tv.

Katie is an exciting, intelligent author and I have loved both of her novels so far. I can’t wait to see what comes next.

Thank you so much to Hannah Bright for sending me a copy of The Light Between Us, it was an absolute joy to read.

Also by Katie Khan…

Hold Back The Stars

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Ninety minutes.

A few years from now, not too far in the future, two people meet.

It is a classic story of boy meets girl.

Except that it’s not.

When we find them, they have an hour and a half left. 

Unless they can save themselves, they won’t survive.

The clock is ticking.

Bittersweet and life-affirming, Hold Back the Stars is the love story of the year.

Beautifully written, this stunning, unusual debut weaves its way through an intense, all-encompassing first love.  A love forbidden by the times in which they live and yet one that they’ll risk everything not to lose.

Hold Back the Stars is set in a future where the world has been ravaged by war and a new society introduced. The earth is now peaceful but this comes at a price. There are rules and one of the rules is that you don’t fall in love until you reach the appropriate age.  Yet the heart rarely follows rules and when Carys and Max meet its ten years before either should be thinking of settling down.  They are young, rebellious and maybe the system no longer works for their generation.

Throughout the novel Carys and Max are desperately trying to find a way to survive after their ship is damaged and they are stranded in space and rapidly running out of both air and options.  I loved discovering their relationship as Khan dips in and out of their past moving us towards the moment that brought them to be being in space and the catastrophic situation they find themselves in.  It is intense and Khan conjures up the sheer vastness of space and their desperation as they watch the minute’s tick away taking them closer to death.  Yes this is a novel about survival but ultimately it is a unique love story about how true love can turn our world upside down and also, maybe it can be the very thing that saves us too.

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Katie Khan

I write books about light and space.”

To find out more about Katie you can visit her website here.

You can also follow Katie on Twitter: @Katie_khan

Art & Exhibitions, Time to talk

Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up at the V&A Museum

Kahlo has been dubbed the original selfie queen.

quotation taken from Sponsor’s Foreword by Craig McWilliam from p9, Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up published by V&A Publishing, 2018

Frida Kahlo has always intrigued me. She is someone I had heard of but knew very little about except that she was a famous artist who created self-portraits full of colour and beauty. So when a friend offered to take me to the V&A Museum to see an exhibition celebrating this unusual artist, I jumped at the chance.

I am incredibly drawn to colour. The bolder and brighter the better and Frida Kahlo is one that seems to have embraced that within her life. I knew that she had, rather sadly, died young and I have come across some of her more famous work from time to time but otherwise my knowledge has been sketchy. This wonderful exhibition has completely changed that. It has been expertly curated, bringing together her work alongside some truly fascinating personal items of Frida’s. It really helps to bring to the life the artist behind the art. Her work was always deeply personal, an extension of her most intimate self and so it seems fitting that it should be presented to us now in such a manner.

In 1954, following her death, Frida Kahlo’s possessions were locked away in the Casa Azul (Blue House) in Mexico City, her lifelong home. Half a century later, her collection of clothing, jewellery, cosmetics and other personal items was rediscovered.

quotation taken from, Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up published by V&A Publishing, 2018

Frida Kahlo’s life was filled with pain, ill health and massive obstacles to overcome and yet she was able to fully embrace her love of life, beauty and passion.  She used art to radically change the way we see the world, examining our sense of self and the world around us.  Her self-portraits are haunting and although she painted many, each one has a different feeling, a different message to convey.

As with many of Kahlo’s art works, the power of the self-portrait lies in its sense of anguish and a tense ambiguity about who is regarding whom

quotation taken from p13, Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up published by V&A Publishing, 2018

As a child she suffered from Polio which left her disabled and then in her late teens an accident involving a tram left her bedridden for a year with injuries that would plague her for the rest of her life.  This is when she began to explore her artistic side and reinvented herself despite her disabilities.

Her imagine was completely of her own making, Frida herself becoming a work of art as well as the practical purpose of hiding her disabilities. Although battered and bruised she celebrated her body and turned it into a platform to exhibit her art, be it through the beautiful, bright clothes she chose to wear, the flowers taken from her garden and worn in her hair or the paintings she decorated her body casts with, Kahlo sought to bring beauty to everything.

The exhibition is interesting, full of information and fascinating relics. Visually stunning, at times it took my breath away with the colour, the stature, the intimacy. Her art was an expression of herself but also a way for her to explore her heritage, her gender, her political beliefs, and her broken body. There is so much to read into her work and the objects that we are now fortunate enough to see.

Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up offers a fresh perspective on the life story of this extraordinary artist, whose charisma and powerful sense of style continue to captivate. Specially commissioned photographs show her distinctive Mexican outfits along with her self-portraits, an unprecedented pairing that is enriched by iconic images of the artist.

quotation taken from, Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up published by V&A Publishing, 2018

The accompanying book, Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up is full of fascinating essays and stunning photography. If you can’t make it to the exhibition then I recommend this as a brilliant substitute. If you are lucky enough to be be able to visit then allow yourself plenty of time to immerse yourself in the exhibits. Don’t miss a thing. And do take home the book if you can. It adds another dimension to what you see within the exhibition and allows you to study it in your own time.  It not only gives greater depth to the exhibition but gives a fascinating background to the world and time that Frida lived in.

Visiting the V&A and witnessing this exhibition has allowed me to see so much more of Frida Kahlo.  I was touched by a great deal within the exhibition and the book is allowing an even greater insight.  She was incredibly talented and incredibly courageous.  Her life was short but her time still fills our world with colour, beauty and the desire to question and look within; to not only know ourselves better but to strive to be the very best, most enquiring, courageous, openminded and beautiful versions of ourselves.

The exhibition, Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up, will be running at the V&A Museum until Sunday 4th of November.  Tickets cost £15 but entry is free to members.

You can purchase a copy of the accompanying book, Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up direct from the V&A at a special exhibition price by clicking here.

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Uncategorized

Letters From The Lighthouse by Emma Carroll

Meanwhile, over on Tales Before Bedtime Juniors…

Tales Before Bedtime Juniors

Summer is here and the holidays are almost upon us so I thought I’d start sharing my recommended reads for children to help keep those heads in books over the coming weeks. Banish those calls of ‘I’m bored’ and keep them entertained no matter what the weather brings with fantastic books for all ages.

I’m a big fan of Emma Carroll and so it felt only right that I kick off my summer reads with one of her books.

Letters From The Lighthouse by Emma Carroll

img_0010Emma is a children’s writer who takes moments from history and turns them into exciting adventures that are massively relatable to children today. Her stories continue to delight and move me, and Letters From The Lighthouse is another gripping historical tale.  It also happens to be the very worthy winner of the Books Are My Bag Award for Best Middle Grade Book of 2017.

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Adult Fiction, Crime, Thriller

Coldwater by Samuel Parker – sinister and dark, this is a thrilling read.

The Vigilantes behind him are nothing compared to the enemy within.

Having forfeited his youth to the state prison system, Michael moved back to the still vacant house of his parents in a town with one stoplight.  A town that hated him.  Had always hated him.  And was ready to pick up where the prison system had left off.

Now he’s on the run from men who’ve tried to kill him once; but Michael is more than an ex-con.  A powerful, sinister force skulks within him, threatening and destructive.  What – and who – it will destroy next is the only real question.

From the bold voice that brought readers down with ‘Purgatory Road’ comes a new pulse-pounding, spine-rattling tale of vengeance and justice.

There is something rather delicious about a good thriller.  The kind of thriller that sweeps you up in the story, pushing you on to the next chapter, making you turn page after thrilling page. With Coldwater  Samuel Parker has created such a story.  From the first page this was absolutely gripping.  I was completely enthralled.

THE DAY WAS BORN IN DARKNESS

Michael opened his eyes and saw nothing.

Blackness.

The motes in his eyes drifted across the void.

His mouth was sealed with what felt like tape.  Michael tried to lift himself and felt the hard knock of wood against his forehead.  A light sprinkle of sand fell on his face, but he was blind to its source, he could only feel it as it dusted his lashes, scratching at his pupils.  He raised his head slowly again until he felt the board press against his skin.  He lay back down.  His shoulders ached, his back.  He tried to move his hands up to his eyes to rub the grit out of them but found they were bound together.  He stated breathing faster, nostrils flaring in the dark.

He was as a newborn cast out into the vacuum of space.  He could feel his heart beat faster as his mind raced to keep up with this discovery of himself.  Michael could feel his nerves begin to fire in all his limbs as electric panic coursed through his body.  He lifted his head again and hit the boards, a few inches above him.

And so it begins…

There is a sinister force running throughout this novel and there were many times that I questioned who was actually the monster.  The level of hate towards Michael, a man who had served his time in prison,  a prison in which he had been sent to as child and emerged a man.  Yet we would be led to believe that he is evil, damaged and a danger to all those he comes in contact with.  Even Michael himself who longs only to be accepted, to be left alone,  knows that he will never be able to live a normal life.  And yet he wants to live.  He still has hope.  So he runs from his pursuers, the vigilantes who have taken it upon themselves to rid their small town of this man who they believe does not deserve a second chance. Yet their very actions bring them closer to becoming the monster they are trying to destroy.

Michael is an incredibly complex character.  He has so much going against him and although his crime was heinous, I did begin to feel a certain amount of empathy towards him.  This novel is a wonderful metaphor for the effects of crime on those who commit it, their victims and anyone who has to deal with the aftermath. Once Michael committed the fateful act, the evil awoke within him and infiltrated everyone and everything he came into contact with.

It gave me much to think about but in essence this is a wonderful novel that was thrilling to read.  I’m so delighted to have discovered Samuel Parker and I look forward to reading more from this exciting author.

Thank you so much to Rhoda Hardie for the review copy – you said I would love it and I absolutely did!

You can purchase a copy of Coldwater from Amazon. or any good bookshop.  The ISBN number for the paperback edition is: 978-0800727345 but it is also available in Hardback and on eBook.

Coldwater was published by Revell part of the Baker Publishing Group.

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If you’d like to read more about Samuel Parker then please do visit his website here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tales Before Bedtime Juniors

Meanwhile over on Tales Before Bedtime Juniors – Time School by Nikki Young – Blog Tour

Today I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour to celebrate the publication of Time School by Nikki Young. A power cut and a series of mini disasters means friends, Jess, Nadia, Tomma and ash barely make it to the station to catch their train to school. What they find is a far […]

via Time School by Nikki Young – Blog Tour — Tales Before Bedtime Juniors

Adult Fiction, Crime, Fiction, Guest Post, Liz Robinson Reviews, Series

Sarah Hilary – A Liz Robinson Author of the Month

Sarah Hilary is my author of the month, her DI Marnie Rome crime series from Headline Publishing is one of my favourites, and I get way too excited when I know the next book is due. Her series starts with Someone Else’s Skin, which simply blew me away. It won the Old Peculiar Crime Novel of the Year in 2015, and is followed by No Other Darkness, Tastes Like Fear, Quieter Than Killing, and her latest Come and Find Me which for me is quite possibly, her best yet.

I recently saw Sarah talking at ‘Cream of Crime’ held at the Steyning Festival, she chatted alongside Erin Kelly, Mark Billingham, and William Shaw. It was a fabulous evening and gave me a real insight into the way Sarah writes and thinks about her books. Sarah said that she particularly enjoys writing about the psychology of a crime, she really doesn’t want to write about good and bad, and questions who the monster really is. To write about darkness you also need light, and she doesn’t ever want to feel numb about what she is writing about.  Sarah doesn’t like to plan, she just jumps off and starts to write, letting the plot surprise her. She has a friend who keeps a spreadsheet detailing every character in her books so she doesn’t get lost, as her fear is writing herself into a corner.

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Sarah Hilary talking at Steyning Festival’s ‘Cream of Crime’.

Liz – What is your first book memory, is it a happy one, does it have any reflection on, or link to what you write today? What were your childhood must reads.

Sarah – My first is a very happy memory: my grandmother reading a book called ‘Helen’s Babies’ to me and my siblings as we rolled around with laughter. We were a great family for books. All my earliest reads were recommended by my mother who introduced me to Georgette Heyer, Arthur Conan Doyle, Edgar Allan Poe and Mary Stewart. As a small child, I love the Faraway Tree and Malory Towers by Enid Blyton, but also the Greek myths and short stories by Eleanor Farjeon some of which have really disturbing themes. I loved being scared by stories, even then.

Liz – For how long were Marnie, Noah, and Stephen in your mind before they escaped onto the page? In which order did they appear and did they exist first or the story?

Sarah – Marnie had a walk-on part in an earlier story where I needed a detective. The first time she appeared she was undercover in biker boots and a punk wig, which I’ve always thought oddly appropriate. In fact, that might be why I gave her such a spiky vibe, and the backstory about her teenage years as a rebel. Noah came much later, and made a far calmer entrance. There’s a solidity and a happiness to Noah which readers love (and I love, too). Stephen was the last to appear. He likes to stay in the shadows, as you might expect for a double murderer who’s keeping terrible secrets.

Liz – I’m rather taken with Stephen as a character, what is it like to have Stephen prowling around in your mind, how often does he knock at the door of your consciousness and how does he speak to you?

Sarah – Stephen is one of my favourite characters to write, although it’s really all about the tension in the scenes between him and Marnie. Stephen doesn’t speak to me much, but he has a habit of standing at my shoulder as I write, or else watching me with his dark eyes from across the room. I find him quite frightening, but I do love writing (and reading) these very dark characters.

Liz – I love your integrity on social media, if something riles you, do you wait, strategise, or launch straight in?

Sarah – Oh blimey ..! Sometimes I don’t wait, although I always try to because it never helps to just add fuel to a fight. There’s an awful lot of bullying and bigotry online. I cannot bear bullies so I find it hard to ignore that sort of thing. It’s becoming harder and harder to be on social media, though. Trump and Brexit have both had the effect of giving nasty people a sense of validation – I’m constantly staggered by the malice and ignorance I see online.

Liz – Who would have the best social media presence and why… Marnie, Noah, or Stephen?

Sarah – Noah, for sure. He would post pics of him and Dan dancing, plus Jamaican recipes and sunny words of wisdom. I don’t think Marnie would go near social media. As for Stephen, can you imagine his Twitter account? “Mood: murderous”. Maybe an Instagram account with photoshopped pictures of him and Marnie as siblings …

Liz – Is there a question you’ve never been asked and wish you had?

Sarah – I love to be asked who I think the real monsters are in my books. Stephen is many things, but I don’t think of him as a monster. There’s a woman in ‘Someone Else’s Skin’ who works in a refuge. She’s one of the worst monsters I’ve ever written.

LizThank you Sarah, fabulous answers – and just to let you know, I now really want to see Stephen’s instagram account!

You can find Sarah at http://sarah-crawl-space.blogspot.com

Sarah can be found on twitter as @sarah_hilary she has a strong social media presence, and is wonderfully approachable.

Come and Find Me was published in hardback and eBook on the 22nd of March and will be published in paperback on the 4th of October 2018.

Book six in the series, Never Be Broken, is due to be published in May 2019 and so now is the perfect time to discover this fantastic author if you haven’t done so already.