Monthly Archives: May 2017

All the Good Things by Clare Fisher – Review

Yesterday I shared with you Clare Fisher’s guest post on self-acceptance and it was a piece I asked her to write considering that it was mentioned as a theme in her debut novel. Huge thanks to the publisher, and Josie, for finding my blog and sending me a copy of the book (Plus a nifty themed notebook). My review is not affected by this. I will share my honest opinion below. 

I gave the book the somewhat arbitrary rating of 4.5 stars on Goodreads. I struggle with giving numbers but do it anyway?! I tend to not be a reviewer who rounds up half stars either and reserve my 5 stars for something Je Ne Sais Quois. Do you know what? I think I need to come up with my own qualitative rating scale. I really can’t stand numbers. But other people look at them and … anyway. Back to the book. 

This is an accomplished debut. Clare has succeeded in creating a character in Beth that is so flawed, so complex, so bloody human that I have a million different thoughts about her. Good books change you, and I think reading books means different things to you at different points in time when you read them. When I read this again, which I hope to, who knows how my thoughts will change. 

If you’ve read reviews of mine before you might be aware that I don’t always write about things like the use of language and other objective stuff. I write about how the book affects me. That’s because to me reading is about emotion. About ideas and stories and it is about how it connects with me. I can make objective statements about books but I prefer to make subjective ones. Because you know what. My opinion will never be the same as anyone else’s. I break one of the cardinal rules of reviewing but it’s my blog so *pokes tongue out. 

Back to Beth. She is 21. She’s in prison. She refers to a bad thing that she has done. Her counsellor Erika asks her to write down all of the good things in her life. 

I loved how the chapter titles were the summary of the good things, and especially that one is left blank. It was such a clever device and structured the book so well. 

We hear from Beth’s point of view in first person narration. We are limited to her view but we can see outside it. Can read between the lines. So clever. I love how she talks. I love that she’s a reader. Booky people are just awesome. 

But Beth thinks she isn’t awesome. Beth has done something bad and bad people don’t deserve to be happy. Except that there are rarely, if ever, truly truly bad people, we are a product of genetics and circumstance. And Beth doesn’t have the best lot in life. 

Does that excuse the bad thing? 

No. 

Does that make the bad thing understandable?

Maybe. 

Does it mean she never deserves a moment of happiness? Never deserves good things?

No. 

Crime and punishment is such an interesting topic and as an Occupational Therapist who has studied Psychology, Sociology and of course Occupation I am so interested by this. Hate the act. Hate the outcome. Try to understand the person. 

So. Why didn’t I give it 5 stars? Reading my review I don’t really know. I hope Clare won’t mind being tagged in this review because I’m going to be honest. It just didn’t. I did kind of guess the bad thing early on – not that it truly mattered really except in that I felt it was made up to be such a big thing that it felt slightly anticlimactic. And you know what. That was possibly the point. 

I also felt it ended a little abruptly and with lots unanswered. Again this isn’t at all a bad thing and wanting more is the sign of a good book. 

In summary, if you’ve actually read my waffle (well done if you have – please let me know somehow), if you are interested in humanity, in why good people do bad things or why bad people do good things, in how you define good and bad. Read this book. I hope you won’t regret it. 

I think I’m going to use my branded notebook to write about All the Good Things in my life. Because there really is some shit at times. But even with the shit there is some good, and that’s what we need to find. The glimmer of hope. 

Clare. Thank you for your glimmer. 

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All the Good Things by Clare Fisher – Blog Tour Guest Post 

From the editor who brought you Emma Healey’s Sunday Times Top Ten Bestseller Elizabeth is Missing

Twenty-one year old Beth is in prison. The thing she did is so bad she doesn’t deserve to ever feel good again. 

But her counsellor, Erika, won’t give up on her. She asks Beth to make a list of all the good things in her life. So Beth starts to write down her story, from sharing silences with Foster Dad No. 1, to flirting in the Odeon on Orange Wednesdays, to the very first time she sniffed her baby’s head. 

But at the end of her story, Beth must confront the bad thing. 
What is the truth hiding behind her crime? And does anyone – even a 100% bad person – deserve a chance to be good?

All the Good Things is released on June 1st by Penguin Viking. 

Guest post on self acceptance for women writers by author Clare Fisher. 



I Dare You to Fail

 

There’s a voice.

You know the one.

It goes something like this: You’re not good enough. You’re not enough. Too much. Not enough. Not good… And repeat.

 

No doubt plenty of men hear this voice. But I believe it’s a particular problem for women. We grow up bombarded with messages about how we should be better, kinder, cleverer, prettier, thinner, more caring, quieter, better buyers of better brands of make-up, etc, etc. Over years and decades we absorb them until we don’t hear them anymore; we mistake them for ourselves.

 

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard my female friends introduce a meal they’ve made, a poem they’ve written, or even just an opinion, with an ‘It’s probably no good…’ or ‘I think I did it wrong’ or even just an ‘I’m sorry.’ It pisses me off when other women do it. It pisses me off when, despite knowing how annoying it is, I do it myself. Sometimes I succeed in not doing it for a time. But then I let down my guard, and there I am, back in the same old trap.

 

Writing is never the most practical thing to do. It is never practical at all. There is always a shirt to be ironed, a carpet to be vacuumed, a loved one to comfort, a meal to cook or an email to write. What it is is a step into the unknown. It is terrifying. What if people hate it? What if you hate it? What if your house turns into a hovel in the meantime? The voice, if you let it win, will tell you not to bother. It will tell you to focus instead on those activities that are expected of you, and which have a certifiable gain at the end of them. It will sound a lot like the truth.  

 

If you want to write, you must answer back. Try: fuck off. Or: tell my husband to pick up the vac.

 

If you want to write, write. Write even if you feel it’s no good. Write even if you feel it is maybe a bit good and then you send it off to a magazine or a competition or two or three and are slapped with an endless no. Write some more. Write because you want to. Write for you. Write through your fear and out the other side. Write until you look around, you see your imperfections, you look back to that moment when you began and it’s hazy; somehow, in all this writing and trying and wailing and failing, you’ve come home. Writing means taking what for way too many women will feel like the biggest risk of all: to be something other than perfect: to say this is who I am and what I want: to fail. But as someone who, for the longest time, believed it was a) possible and b) desirable, I will tell you now: perfect is not possible. It’s dull. No good writing will come out of it. Letting yourself be imperfect is letting yourself be vulnerable. It’s not always easy, but it is more satisfying and a LOT more fun.

 

If that voice is still there, take it to the tip. Banish it to the cellar. Replace it with other, kinder ones; supportive family and friends, writers whose words make you tingle, writing friends with whom you can swap work. Find a writing group or a spoken word night. Try a writing course. Keep submitting to competitions and magazines. Share your writing-related insecurities: discover — shock! horror! — that others have them, too. Recognise good criticism as a chance to become a better writer not a reason to stop.

 

All the Good Things is about one woman’s journey from feeling like a bad thing or ‘no thing’ to seeing that she is, despite being in prison, good. That she deserves to be a human who takes up space, makes mistakes, tries and fails. This is a process we all have to go through, particularly if you want to write. It’s hard. It’s terrifying. But it’s definitely, definitely worth it.

Huge thanks to Clare for this inspiring piece. 

Do check out the other posts on the Blog Tour, and come back here tomorrow to see what I thought. 

The Salvation Project by Stewart Ross – Cover Reveal

Here it is. The cover for the third book in the The Soterion Mission series which is due out on 20th June. I’m hoping to take part in the blog tour and catch up with the first two books in the series. Sounds like it will be thrilling. 
 


Summary:

 

Humanity’s hope of salvation lies within a single laptop…

 

A mutation in human DNA means no one lives beyond nineteen. Scientists working to reverse this pandemic died before their Salvation Project was complete, leaving behind the results of their research in a sealed vault – the Soterion.

 

122 years have passed. The civilisation of the ‘Long Dead’ is almost forgotten, the Soterion has been burned to ashes, and communities of Constants are tormented by brutal tribes of Zeds. Cyrus, Miouda and Sammy flee their burning city with a laptop rescued from the inferno. They believe it contains the key to the Salvation Project. But its batteries are dead, there is no electricity to power it, and murderous Zeds will stop at nothing to get it back…

Find it on Goodreads here


Author Information

 

Stewart was born in Buckinghamshire and educated in Oxford, Berkhamsted, Exeter, Bristol, and Orlando, Florida. He taught at a variety of institutions in Sri Lanka, the Middle East, the USA, and Britain before becoming a full-time writer in 1989.

 

With over 300 published titles to his credit, he is now one of Britain’s most popular and versatile authors. His output includes prize-winning books for younger readers, novels, plays, three librettos, a musical, and many widely acclaimed works on history and sport. Several of his books are illustrated with his own photographs.

 

Stewart also lectures in France and the UK, gives talks, runs workshops, and visits schools. He is an occasional journalist and broadcaster. His brother, Charlie Ross, is the celebrated auctioneer.

 

In his spare time Stewart enjoys travel, restaurants, sport, theatre, photography, art and music. He lives near Canterbury with his wife Lucy, and – occasionally – his four children and two grandchildren. Each morning he commutes 10 metres to work in a large hut in the garden.

 

Website: http://www.stewartross.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Booksmyth

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/The-Soterion-Mission-194311443946577/

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/jstewartross

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