Leibster Award

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A huge thank you to the Resurgent Bookworm for this nomination. It was a very pleasant surprise.

Rules of the Leibster Blog Award

List 11 facts about yourself.
Answer the 11 questions asked by whoever nominated you.
Ask 11 new questions to bloggers with fewer than 200 followers. You cannot re-nominate the blog that nominated you.
Go to their blog and tell them that they have been nominated!

11 facts about me

1. I am married with one son.

2. I love the sun. Living in the north of England this is a particular problem for me. I feel I should have been born in Spain and if I ever win the lottery that is where I will be heading. 🙂

3. I love going to folk music festivals. They are very family friendly and as well as the organised music and dancing there are lots of impromptu sessions which are great fun.

4. As you may have guessed I love reading. Shock! I have always loved reading from being a small child with my Enid Blyton books. I think my love of reading must have come from the library at school as no-one in my family was a reader. My parents did not own one book between them. My mother started reading when she was older and I think she picked the bug up from me.

5. I love football and cricket. One of my favourite books is Half of the Human Race by Anthony Quinn which is about the suffragette protests and cricket. Wicked! I am going to do a review of this book but want to re-read it first.

6. I love purple. Anything purple brightens my day up.

7. I like running.

8. I would love to travel across America in a VW campervan.

9. My favourite film is Educating Rita.

10. My favourite song is Mr Tambourine Man by Bob Dylan. (Has to be by Bob Dylan.)

11. I like drinking wine. 🙂

My answers to the Resurgent bookworm’s questions

1. What made you star blogging?
I just wanted to see if I could explain the way a book felt in my head if I put it down in print.

2. One author whom you absolutely adore (to an extent where you’ll pick a fight with someone who criticises that author)?
LoL, I’m not sure I’d ever go to the extremes of picking a fight over an author, but I get your drift. I have a few authors that I really like and cant wait for their next book: P.D. James, Jo Nesbo, Ian Rankin. But top of the list has to be Sharon Bolton (formerly S.J.Bolton) I love every word she has ever written.

3. Is there any book that you picked up based on the blurb then felt let down when you actually read it?
Lots, is the short answer to that. The most recent that springs to mind is The Unlikely Pilgrimage of harold Fry by Rachel Joyce. I couldn’t finish it.

4. How did it all start? Which is the one book that sent you on the path to being a bookworm?
I can’t remember exactly but I would think it would be one of the Enid Blyton books: The Secret Seven or Malory Towers.

5. Your take on genres-should people be open to all types or be content with their favourites?
I think if people are reading but they stick to one genre: at least they are reading. But it is a bit limiting, you don’t know what you’re missing. I will try any books but I’m not so keen on sci-fi. But if someone were to recommend a book in this genre I would certainly give it a go.

6.Top 3 books you would recommend to any bookworm willing to listen (like myself, for example)?
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Now You See Me by S.J. Bolton

7. Your most favourite and least favourite book-to-movie adaptations?
My favourite is Silence of the Lambs, that film is almost better than the book. I don’t have a least favourite, but to be honest most of them don’t live up to the books.

8.Movies or TV shows that you will watch 100 times?
Breaking Bad
Educating Rita
Agatha Christie’s Evil Under the Sun

9.Have you ever wanted to be a character from a book?
Not really, all the characters that I admire tend to have really bad times that I could do without.

10. It’s raining cats and dogs outside and you have run out of books. What would you do?
Download off Amazon.;-)

11. What are your guilty pleasures in books/TV/movies/even food?
Don’t really feel guilty about anything whether it’s a soppy romance or a chunk of choc cake. Embrace it all.

My Nominees

These are some of the blogs that I have enjoyed reading:

Alexalovesbooks
morethanjustabook
hellota-ta
fromthetbrpile
fuzzycoffeebooks

My questions for you

1. What started you blogging?
2. What makes you smile?
3. You are hosting a dinner party, who would be your 3 guests?
4. Who is the character that you have hated most in a book?
5. If you could live anywhere else in the world,where would you choose?
6. What book would you take on a desert island with you?
7. What music do you like?
8. When you are not reading, what do you like to do?
9. What is the best present you have ever had?
10. Do you prefer a physical book or kindle?
11. What is your favourite film?

Off The Road

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Off The Road
By Carolyn Cassady

This book provokes all sorts of emotions: anger, shock, horror, disbelief, mortification, but most of all sadness. The story tells the other side of the Neal Cassady – Jack Kerouac – Allen Ginsberg show, that Kerouac wrote about in On The Road, which was published in 1957 and became a cult novel selling millions.

This account comes from the point of view of Carolyn Cassady, wife and mother of three of Cassady’s children. The writing is very good, she is always interesting, making it a real page turner. She is also very honest, unflinchingly honest and it is heartbreaking.

She met and married Neal Cassady when she was 24yrs and he just 21 yrs. She was in trouble from the start. There were always other women and a fly-by-night attitude to everything. She fell pregnant quickly and two more children followed in quick succession.

Their lives, together with the lives of Jack Kerouac and the poet Allen Ginsberg, are brought to life vividly by Carolyn, aided by the many letters sent between the four parties.

Off The Road is the counterpoint to the rollicking adventures in On The Road, showing the other side of the men’s lives, how they loved, laughed and, in the end, tore themselves apart.

Carolyn is magnificent. I cannot imagine a lady with more strength of character, and how she needed it. She gave her life over to Neal Cassady who, whilst he may have loved her in his own way, repaid her by breaking her heart countless times and, unforgivably, humiliating her. But Carolyn does not come across as bitter or resentful. Once she realised her dream marriage was never going to happen, she accepted it and carried on.

Her affair with Jack Kerouac, a period of time she calls “having two husbands”, happened at the behest of Neal and seemed to bring her most happiness. The only thing keeping them apart in the end was the greater love for Neal on both sides.

When Neal is jailed for two years on drug charges, Carolyn manages to get a nice life for herself and her kids, finally realising that she doesn’t want to go back to the way things were. Alas, take him back she does. When, unsurprisingly, he goes back to his old ways, he lands her a blow that she cannot recover from and she divorces him. No-one on earth could blame her, but she is regretful and feels that she took away the support pillars that he relied on to keep him level. Why she feels her life should be nothing more than a support for a grown man who constantly throws all her love back in her face is anyone’s guess.

The downward spiral of both Cassady and Kerouac is sad to behold. Their depressions, aided and abetted by drugs and alcohol, turned them into shadows of their former selves and eventually killed them both.

The faith that Neal and Carolyn had together sustained Carolyn through the good and bad times and she comes out of this as an amazing woman.

The term ‘genius’ is bandied about in regard to Neal, but he didn’t seem to do anything except to inspire others and it seems to serve as an excuse for his bad behaviour, but he chose his path and went willingly down it.

For Jack, if he had met Carolyn first maybe things would have been different for him. He seems to have loved her more than Neal ever could and maybe they would have been happy together. We’ll never know.

I can’t recommend this book highly enough. If you have read On The Road, then this is the other side of the story and beautifully told. If you haven’t read On The Road or even heard of the protagonists, it is still such a wonderful book about relationships and the human condition that it should not be missed.
*****

The Moonstone

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The Moonstone
by Wilkie Collins

Described by T.S. Elliott as ‘the first and greatest of English detective novels’, The Moonstone is a long but very readable book.

The story begins in 1799, when a Yellow Diamond is stolen in India, by a British soldier, during the battle for Seringapatam. It is brought back to England and is eventually given to stubborn heiress Rachel Verinder on her birthday. It goes missing that very night.

The celebrated Sergeant Cuff of Scotland Yard, whose real passion seems to be for the growing of roses, is brought in to solve the mystery.

The story is told as a series of narrations by some of the principal characters. These serve to really bring the characters to life and to give a much more rounded experience than just the plot.

Betteredge, the old family retainer, is the first narrator and, at over 200 pages, the longest. His character comes through in his loyalty to the family he works for. His love for, and belief in, Robinson Crusoe is amusing. It is not merely a book but a way to live your life, according to Betteredge.

His narrative does sometimes get a little tedious. He can be charming and humorous but his overlong ramblings takes its toll. I found my own mind wandering. However once Sergeant Cuff arrived the book perks up immeasurably. The dialogue is much snappier, the plot moving along, much sharper, more engrossing.

Miss Clack the self-righteous second narrator is laugh-out-loud funny with her clumsy attempts to foist her beliefs on anybody and everybody whether they are willing or not.

There also follows narrations by other characters. The different perspectives give a fresh feel to the book, also you are never quite sure if you can trust the narratives: after all someone is guilty.

The story is full of clues, red-herrings and misdirections. The denouement is excellent. But it is not only a detective novel, it is also a love story and a reflection on the times.

Sometimes the language feels dated but as it is 150 years old, that is hardly surprising. It is certainly not PC. Having said that some things never change; as Betteredge says, speaking of Rosanna coming to work for his lady:
“Rosanna had been a thief, and not being the sort that get up Companies in the City, and rob thousands, instead of only robbing from one, the law laid hold of her…”

****