Book Review. Innocent Blood by P. D. James.

Philippa’s parents both went to prison for the murder of a twelve-year-old girl. The father died in prison, but her mother is alive, and just about to be released. In the book Philippa has turned 18 and is on a mission to find her birth parents.

The other character, and element, crucial to this story, is the murdered girl’s father Norman. He wants revenge, and plots to murder the mother.

Philippa offers to flat share in London with her mother, because understandably she wants to find out who she is, for a few months.

I actually enjoyed the viewpoint of Philippa, going into to London to find a cheap flat, and buying furnishings, and cleaning the place out (even if I did wonder where the author was going with this) It’s an exciting time moving into a new home, and with all the possibilities of new beginnings. This book was published in 1980, so the prices, and the little details of London are different from today. Which was pretty interesting.

With Philippa, and the mother, installed into a flat in London, Norman proceeds to stalk their movements, and tries to figure out how he is going to murder this woman. 

I didn’t like the characters. I don’t think you’re supposed to in a book of this genre, are you? With everyone having their own dubious motives. I liked the dialogue, the way the story has been set up, and its setting.

This is a character study, an exploration of blood ties, and family. It is not a pacy book, and the ending fizzles out disappointingly.

The character of Philippa, and her adopted parents, are well educated, wealthy people, and I personally felt that they were looking down on the peasants as it were from their lofty position. I’m working class, and certainly have not had the opportunity to study at Oxford, or Cambridge, so I wasn’t likely to be a fan. There is also a line ‘someone had said – he couldn’t remember who – that an artist should suffer in childhood as much trauma as could be borne without breaking,’ Philippa wants to be a writer, and her experiences with her mother are referenced as could be used for material to write about. Come on. Do you have to suffer to be able to write something good?

No.

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Book Review. For Every One by Jason Reynolds.

Dreams don’t have timelines, deadlines and aren’t always in straight lines

For Every One Jason Reynolds

For Every One is a spirit lifting, creativity stirring, encouragement giving, pep talk written by Jason Reynolds and runs as a single continuous poem on dreams, achieving them, hope and continuing even when it seems to be fruitless. It will apply to a number of different people, as it says ‘dreams aren’t reserved for the creatives’ and ‘that we are right for trying’

You hope the bubbling never dies down and the yearning to break out and break through never simmers

For Every One Jason Reynolds

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Book Review. Don’t Tell Me To Be Quiet by Christina Hart.

Your attempts at happy are half-assed and that works for you because you don’t think happy is meant for you anyway, do you?

Don’t Tell Me To Be Quiet Christina Hart

Don’t Tell Me to be Quiet asks of the reader Did you question what you ever did to deserve this? But you know you have to keep going, don’t you? Do you wonder what made you hard to love? Do you know you are worth more than the answers you may never get? and more.

But this isn’t a quiz and there are no answers, it’s enough to reflect on the metaphorical questions whichever of those might apply to you personally and take something from them.  

I found this collection heartening and stirring.

Usually you swing and miss but hope has a shiner on its right eye from the last time you socked it

Don’t Tell Me To Be Quiet Christina Hart

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Who else hated P.E when they had to participate in it at school?

Who else hated P.E (physical education) when they had to participate in it at school?

I can’t recall P.E being a problem when I was a very small child. P.E was moving and running and jumping about. What joy. (Well, not entirely) Then I remember in year 6 boys and girls were split into their respective genders and put into separate classrooms to change into the P.E kit. Because we were ‘growing up’. That was a time us girls started to feel we needed to ask our mums to buy us vests to wear year-round. Because we were growing, well, outwards rather than up.

What changed in secondary school?

I did not like the intimacy of changing into my kit in a changing room full of girls. I was the last to wear a bra, and I knew it would be totally mortifying if I were to flash my boobs at my classmates.

As you can probably guess, not wearing a bra meant running was awkward. I could not do a long jump or trampoline without a bra on. Especially if the boys were also having their class in the field next to ours. Having boys laugh and point at your unleashed boobs is something that still haunts my nightmares today. I hated the kit that we had to wear. As soon as I could, I swapped the shorts for trousers. Trousers with pockets, so I could sneak in sweets. Unfortunately, I couldn’t do a deal more with the thin t-shirt. I disliked having my arms out even then.

So there was an awareness of my body (and the bodies of others) which puberty made me loathe and I then hated the performative nature of P.E. I didn’t want to do netball, with the competitive girls who used their elbows to knock you flying. I didn’t want to do rounders, because of the aforementioned running part of it. I didn’t want to get into pairs and do sit ups, because I didn’t have anyone who wanted to pair up with me.

I decided eventually to not participate. It became a problem. When depression came in and fucked with my head, I lost control at times and I didn’t feel I had control, so I would kick off. I thought school was pointless. P.E was a lesson I would try my hardest to skip. Because once my classmates realised I was someone who kicked off and would disrupt lessons, there was always a – I don’t know. They knew there was a good chance I would refuse to do something that the teacher had asked. They thought it was hilarious. I’m not someone who likes attention. It was embarrassing. But how else was I supposed to tell the teacher I was, to put it mildly, pissed off? We clashed because I was a problem and my behavior was not conforming to their rules. Rules which my depression and I had had enough of. It wasn’t the teacher’s fault, but they made my life so difficult. I was self-harming at that time and if I was mad at them and how they had treated me, I would go home and self-harm and punish myself for not being ‘normal.’

Thankfully, I was allowed to quit P.E when they realised, I was not going to bow to pressure. I was put on a reduced timetable, which had a few lessons on it and I would come into school for those. And I spent the rest of my time in my bedroom, trying to pretend I didn’t exist. Because my mum didn’t want me at home, doing absolutely nothing in her eyes. It wasn’t the best solution for me, brilliant for the school, but not for me. I was bored. I needed help.

I think about it now and I was heading for trouble, anything to numb feeling.

And this is why I now live a mainly sedentary lifestyle.

Book Review. Lethbridge-Stewart: A Very Private Haunting by Sharon Bidwell.

For the first time, the Shopkeeper laughed. ‘Well, Edison did refer ta them as his ‘little monsters.

A haunted house. A talking doll. A village populated with residents who are suspicious of outsiders. A Reverend. Gold treasure. Roadkill that doesn’t look like any kind of identifiable animal. Disappearing youngsters. Secrets.

There were many ideas in A Very Private Haunting written by Sharon Bidwell and I enjoyed reading and wanting to find out how the strands of story all come together. Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart begins the story, from an encounter with an alien presence in a hospital and then he is on leave, only to get the call from the son of an old friend who needs his help. That takes him to Scotland. Ann Travers travels with the Brig. The friend’s son, Arthur, was a good character and I was able to empathize with him. He has gone to Scotland to check out a house that had been passed down to him, that he doesn’t want to take responsibility for. I think the writer set up his character and his story well. I liked the other characters too, like Duncan and Tomas. I loved that part of the story, where the teenagers Duncan and Scott and Saundra and Aileen, begun to question their parents and what part they might have had in their friend Tomas’s disappearance, and how that follows a pattern. I was not expecting what happened in the end to Tomas. We got his perspective and I thought he would be fine.

A Very Private Haunting was creepy and gripping. The first-hand perspectives did swing from one character to another, which worked I think with the narrating of the story on a whole. It was great too, to be back with Lethbridge-Stewart and UNIT.

‘Believe me. Mr. Campbell, I have dealt with far worse things than any angry father. We’re not leaving here until you explain your son’s whereabouts.’

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A Very Private Haunting sees Arthur Penrose finally take ownership of a Scottish manor house thats been in his family for generations. There are many secrets in the house, but what connects them to the mysterious shadow creatures that Lethbridge-Stewart and his men are investigating? 

A brand-new adventure featuring Brigadier Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart in the classic era of Doctor Who, based on concepts created by Mervyn Haisman, Henry Lincoln and Marc Platt.

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