Today I was lucky enough to attend my friend’s book launch. Jennifer C. Wilson first attended Elementary Writers in 2014 and, as Jen put it today, ‘we were great writing acquaintances’. In the last year, or so, though, we’ve become really great friends, realising that we have a great deal in common.
Jen has an incredible work ethic: ‘Kindred Spirits: Royal Mile‘ is the follow-up to ‘Kindred Spirits: Tower of London‘. Jen also manages to work full-time as well as running all manner of events as part of The Next Page with Elaine Cusack and Sandy Chadwin.
Today was a wonderful celebration of Jen’s hard work paying off. The room at the Town Wall was full of people who wanted to toast Jen’s success. It was brilliant to hear Jen read from ‘Kindred Spirits‘ as well as having the opportunity to hear her talk about writing during the Q&A.
Jen is already working on the third in the series and, having heard extracts in the writing group, I am already looking forward to that book coming out (and the inevitable party to celebrate its release!).
Stephanie Butland’s third novel, Lost for Words, is being touted as a book lover’s dream book and I’m rather inclined to agree. Loveday Cardew works in a second-hand bookstore and prefers books to people. She has her favourite first lines tattooed on her body and an acerbic wit to keep people at bay.
Loveday is prickly to say the least but I, like several of the characters in this book, love her. The relationships between the characters are really intelligently written and are therefore totally believable. The attention to detail in this novel really adds to the story. I loved the scenes in which Loveday would discover notes in the margins of books or past treasures hidden in between the pages.
Stephanie Butland has created a compelling yarn, combining romance with deeper, darker questions and a well-drawn cast of characters that I was fully invested in. The flashbacks are skillfully woven into the present-day narrative to give the reader just enough information to keep them guessing.
I absolutely loved this book, for a bibliophile, it really has it all – performance poetry complete with original poems, relevant literary references everywhere you look in addition to characters to care about. It, like the bookshop, is utterly charming.
And as a Spotify fan, I’m thrilled to say there’s a playlist to listen to as you read.
In the words of Shelley Harris: ‘I cried like a motherf***er.’
Posted in Books, Review
Tagged book, Books, characters, narrative, novel, poems, poetry, relationships, story, written
If you haven’t already read Six Stories, I recommend that you rush to your nearest bookshop and purchase it now. And then read it. Most likely in one sitting.
Six Stories, published by Orenda Books, is the book everyone is talking about and I, for one, would be happy to wax lyrical about it until… well, the end of this blog post but you know what I mean. In fact, I loved this book so much that if you meet me face-to-face, you will undoubtedly hear me refer to this book at least once during our conversation. I appeared at Pure Fiction on Thursday night and mentioned Six Stories during the Q&A. I did also mention other books too, obviously.
Anyway, Six Stories is a real stroke of genius. Following on from the success of podcasts like Serial, Six Stories revisits a mysterious death that occurred on the fictional Scarclaw Fell in 1997. The official verdict was death by misadventure but, twenty years on, the podcast aims to reexamine the circumstances and relationships surrounding teenager Tom Jeffries’ death. The elusive presenter, Scott King, interviews the key players and encourages listeners to draw their own conclusions.
You can tell Wesolowski has taken a real interest in podcasts and he mimics the style of them with considerable aplomb. As with Serial, Six Stories builds up a picture each week and, just as you think you can conclude something, you’re given a new piece of information that confuses or confounds your theory.
This is a brilliant character study and an interesting take on the benefit and wisdom of hindsight. I also loved the sinister undertones (although it made walking around my house at night slightly terrifying).
Six Stories is utterly compelling and despite being entirely engrossed, I defy you not to be shocked by the ending.
An original concept with skilled execution – totally unputdownable!
Tomorrow, I will be reading excerpts from Fix Me Up at Pure Fiction. Tickets are £3 and you can pay on the door.
I’m very nervous about the reading but previous ones have gone alright so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this one is as successful.
Appearing alongside me is my old buddy, Rod Glenn, who will be reading new work too.
Hope to see you there!
Billy Bootleggers, the dive bar we didn’t know we needed, opened its doors on 31st March and if you haven’t sought out this place yet, I encourage you to do so immediately. On Nelson Street, directly beneath No28 bar, Billy Bootleggers is the antithesis to the commercialised chains it sits opposite.
Inspired by US dive bars and Americana, Billy Bootleggers is a unique live music venue. Director Elliot Towsey is hyped about ‘bringing some of London’s basement bar culture’ to the North East. The Boy Wonder and I attended opening night on Friday, 31st March and I have to say I loved it.
It’s intimate (it holds a maximum of 60 people) and the music – provided by the supremely talented King Bees – really added to the atmosphere. The decor is authentic, with graffiti adorning the stairwell and rustic furniture. The bar is well-stocked with bourbon, beer, prosecco and cocktails, not to mention freshly brewed Apple Pie Moonshine.
Oh, and the food? Supplied by Snappy’s: hot dogs, fries and wings – delicious. Again, following the dive bar theme, there’s nothing flash about the food but it’s tasty – what more could you want?! Open 7 days a week, 5pm to 2am, Billy Bootleggers is definitely the place to be.
What I loved about Billy Bootleggers is that there’s zero pretension – you can go there and be yourself. You don’t have to get dressed up to go but you will have an awesome night. Promising to give a space to local musician, Billy Bootleggers will announce forthcoming acts on its Facebook page.