So where's the snow?

Muddling through in Austria; God, life and a small black dog


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Writer Review: Alex Cotton

I felt bound to do an author review as I haven’t enjoyed someone’s work so much for a long time!

I picked up the first of Alex’s books on the freebies and I was so hooked, that I had to read them all. Born the same year, we share many of the same experiences from childhood through to teenage and marriage – but  I’m not saying exactly which apart from the country dancing!  However, what struck me through reading these parallel experiences, is as you’re growing, you feel that you are unique and have no conception that others are going through the same experiences and same culture shock – and although we don’t share this one, I never realized just how many other kids went off and got the make-up out after David Bowie’s Starman performance on TOTP until I heard it on a tv programme!

The now completed Quadrology (my word) takes us through Alex’s marriage, birth and  childhood of her daughter until today, and her family doesn’t get any less wacky. The four could easily make one volume, hilarious and well rounded.

Alex has a unique and funny style. The books could have been written as deeply dark and traumatic, but no, they’re treated with humour, tolerance with a straightforward voice that keeps you gripped and want to read on. I hope she never has an editor tell her to change her style, do this and that to the editing of the works, she is unique, but I imagine form reading her work, she would probably just tell the aforesaid editor to get stuffed! I’d love to see her try some fiction!

So any ladies born in the early sixties, who were teenagers in the 70s, read and just enjoy, and see a another perceptive on your own growing years!


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The Mayor’s daughter and the Farmer’s son by Erin Cressey

I haven’t felt writing a book review for ages, and I don’t really like doing negative ones, but this book had me spitting bricks. The premise of the story, the plot and the writing are actually quite good. BUT the writer has written a book set in the USA in the 40s and 50s and tried to pass it off as being in the UK during the war. She hasn’t done any proper research, and I didn’t get more than a quarter though the book before I slung it. Of course, I may be completely wrong, and she’s English which makes it worse!

Worst bits- someone starting a Jam shop during the war -um, sugar was rationed, there wasn’t enough to go around. It started in 1939 in the UK but 1942 in the US. Occasionally mentioning the war, oh yes, there were some bombs – just remembered to put that in half way through, even teenagers were aware of things like the black out!  The heroine’s father being the Mayor of the town – as if it was a life job like a Lord.  The hero finding a job on a fishing boat – considering most of the coast was closed and patrolled. Finally a ‘Calling Letter’ it was a Call-up card. The writer tries to get around her lack of knowledge by saying the facts and events are different to reality -cop out. Why set it during war of it’s not going to have a bit of fact? Set the book in the USA and be done with it.


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The Illegal Gardener by Sara Alexi

The Illegal Gardener (The Greek Village Series)

What a thoroughly beautiful, tender book, that transcends the filth that is topping the book lists at the moment.  Set in a small Grecian village, we meet Aaman an Illegal immigrant who is hiding,starving and looking for work.  He succeeds in finding it in the garden of Juliet, an Englishwoman, creating a  life for herself  in a new land and language.

The cultural differences are spelt out so clearly when she forgets to  give her workmers food and water, but she learns quickly. Then the  gently growing friendship builds as each act as a sort of catalyst to look at their pasts and forgive and move on.

Aaman is far more than just an ‘illegal’ he has dignity and pride, something our present culture does not necessarily admit.  This is also a love story with dignity and joy and compassion.  It has enough narrative tension and drama that you are carried with them to the end, while being, as I read, it a gentle  tale.

I would never have thought that I could read an entire novel in the present, but this works so well, its doesn’t jar and gives such an immediacy, that you are really pulled into the outlooks of both characters.

Dear reader, you will have to read it to find their story out!  Lovely!


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Book of July;The Tower of Babel by G.T. Anders

The Tower of Babel (Vaulan Cycle)

Exciting, new, fresh, a complete suprise!

Having been asked to review this book, I was looking forward to a dip into Science Fiction  being a child of the Asimov generation, but not having read much SciFi for years.

A dying world, where a new Tower of Babel is being built.  A hero who is an artist and a sort of  mystic and a  call to go back to complete a mission.  What’s going on?  I’m not going to tell. Suffice to say, this is a book with a plot that is fulfilled in all the literary ways.  It has drama and great suspense, and it’s unique.  The words of the hero Austin is often more poetic than prose. G.T Anders has experimented with new ideas with prose, and they work, they aren’t intrusive, they build this fantastic, sad world. There are monsters and mysteries and bad baddies and a narrative that spoon feeds you nothing. No long-winded explanations, you have to work at it like the characters but you are carried along.   The ending is beautiful in it’s technique and the final divine love that comes through.

Amazing.  This book needs to be picked up by a Publisher.  Now.


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Ducks! Romantic Short Stories for Animal Lovers

Yes, I’m shamlessly plugging my next opus.  This is just a little it of light reading to enjoy with a coffee, or even in the sun on the beach. Its only on Kindle at the moment but things will change.  Here’s a snippet of the first story, maybe you’ll want to read more!!!!! 

DUCKS

Waking up to a cacophony of bird song in a narrow, lumpy bed was not my idea of the best start to a summer holiday.  The sun was already burning its way through the gingham curtains, yet my watch swore it was only six a.m.  A hard shake didn’t change its mind, so I sank back beneath the quilt to try and recapture that evasive sleep.

It was no good.  From the next room I could hear rustlings, scrapes and muffled giggles. Why should I be overwhelmed with dread?  Surely I should be filled with joy, but the next two weeks yawned like an abyss in front of me.  The concept of quiet leafy woods and idyllic picnics had felt like heaven in a slushy February city, but the reality was as disheartening as the mud I’d trodden through to get into the cottage.  What do you do with two eight year olds for a fortnight when there are no playgrounds or burger bars?

Then I noticed the rustlings had grown ominously quiet.  I couldn’t believe they’d gone back to sleep and sat bolt upright, hitting my head soundly on a quaint oak beam.  Dazedly I staggered into the other room to find only a deserted bombsite.  They’d escaped before the day had even begun.  Rubbing my bump I went to the window to see if the horrors were in the garden.

At first I thought I was hallucinating, so I rubbed my eyes in the best film star fashion and looked again.  There really was a large white goat lying in a flower bed contentedly chewing on my best T-shirt.  I must have dropped it while unloading last night.  I didn’t know what to do – would the     T-shirt be swallowed before I could reach the garden?  As I dumbly watched, a tall dark haired man leapt over the wicket fence between the two cottages and grabbed the goat by a collar on its neck.  He pulled the sodden cloth from between the chewing jaws, then tugged the goat towards the back gate.  My blood began to boil, he could have at least left the T-shirt dangling on a bush rather than shoving it into his back pocket.  So much for honest country folk I snorted with indignation as I made my way back into my room to get dressed.  I was scrambling into my shorts when a loud screech came from the other side of the house. Leaving my nightdress on, I slithered down the steep stairs and into the back garden.

The children were huddled together on the path, slowly backing away from a monster which hissed and snapped at them.  Its black and white body had webbed, yellow feet, its head a fiendish red mask and gaping jaws.  The irate duck was bearing down on my terrified nephew and niece, who for once were silent, dumbly appealing for rescue. Overcoming my own fear, I ran towards the duck, shouting and waving my arms.  My actions only made it angrier, it now flapped huge wings and struck repeatedly at me.

‘Get off you brute!’ and various expletives had no effect either but at least I was between it and the children.