The Coconut Girl is a collection of poems containing material that is from the Indian, female point of view with an insight into Punjabi culture. We also follow the author through the hallucinogenic state of the brain following cancer treatment and in her experience of life in multicultural Britain.The protagonist in the poems is at the same time deeply vulnerable and strongly independent. Overall her strength of character shines throughThe Coconut Girl features poetry of deep imagery, not least in some of the poems exploring the experience of the female body post-operatively, such as in My Womb Is A Park Of Carnage.
SUNITA THIND is a Bedford born Derby-based published female, Asian British BAME poet and writer. Her debut collection of multicultural poetry (Black Pear Press, 2020) focused on living between two cultures, British and Punjabi. Sunita is a workshop facilitator, speaker and performance poet. She has had poetry and short stories published in various literary magazines, e-zines and journals.
The Princess of Felling was published in April 2019 by Northumbrian publisher Limelight Classics. The book describes my childhood and adolescence growing up on Tyneside in the 1970s and 1980s.
The book features a Foreword by TV, radio and book author Michael Chaplin, photographs of Felling taken in summer 2018 by Bulgarian photographer Rossena Petcova and unique maps inspired by my memories by poet and artist Steve Lancaster.
It also features appearances from David Almond, the Rev Richard Coles, Tracey Thorn, Sir Kingsley Amis, Bloodaxe Books, Nick Heyward and Gyles Brandreth.
The Princess of Felling resonates with readers of all ages in the North East and beyond.
As actor and Felling lass Jill Halfpenny says in the book, “Reading Elaine’s stories and poetry takes me back to my childhood in Felling and all of the smells, sounds and tastes of that time. Her words allow me to remember things that I didn’t know I’d forgotten.”
Buy your copy in person from selected outlets including Hexham’s Cogito Books, Felling Volunteer Library, Newcastle Central Library, Happy Planet Studio and Gallery in Whitley Bay.
The author says “The Felling I describe belongs to me” and that personal connection dominates the writing and makes it immersive. The introduction describes how The Princess of Felling got its name and the years of memories, scrapbook items, notes written from conversations with her family and old poems and writing that the author kept for several years before this book’s creation.
The writing uses the dialect and words used by those who lived in The Felling, for those who are unfamiliar with it, there is a helpful glossary at the back of commonly used colloquial words. How she learnt to say familiar words like street names is the subject of an early chapter, and it makes me think back to my childhood, and what it was like in the 1970s, when I was growing up.
The Princess of Felling is a beautifully produced bright and glossy book that contains engaging writing and lovely photographs.
The book has been promoted by differing events every month including a gig in a pie and mash shop in Tynemouth and a London book launch in a Bloomsbury pub.
The Princess has ruled my life since 2017 when my Mam died after living with dementia for almost four years. The 2,000 word essay I was working on morphed into a 22,000 word manuscript.
The Princess project includes a prequel, The Princess and the Goose plus a “mini musical” called The Princess and the Piano. I’ve written with musician Mike Waller. The vibe is Gilbert and Sullivan meets Rogers and Hammerstein. We’ve performed it about five times this year and at the weekend we recorded the songs. I will be releasing them on digital platforms and possibly as a limited edition CD in the spring.
“It’s perfect! I picture it like the Hundred Acre Wood…only in Felling. Just as magic, though.”
“Was so tempted to gobble this down in one sitting but forced myself to savour small delightful morsels. Just beautiful. And I’d forgotten all about skinshees!”
“In parts it’s educational, nostalgic, humorous, sometimes evoking sad memories for me and lovely memories too. The story telling is seamless and impressive; I summed it up as being a delight!”
“It isn’t long enough! You get to the end and you want more! I love that it’s full of nostalgia and gentle pathos, but shot through with such a delightful, whimsical humour. It’s made me do what I never imagined I’d do: roam around the streets of Felling on Google Earth, looking for the places where these magic events occurred.”
Billionaire terminal cancer patient John Longmire’s going to die today, and he’s going out in style in the classiest euthanasia clinic in the world. But the strange nurse with the clipboard and the look of a goddess is spoiling the mood, with all her irksome questions about how he’s lived his life.
Recent retiree Gerald loves his wife Barbara and he loves his garden, but Barbara hates the garden. Because the garden’s taking Gerald over, and Barbara says he has to stop before he has another ‘incident’.
Bullied, ridiculed and unloved, moustachioed schoolgirl “Hairy” Mhairi Barry has never had any friends but the ones she finds on the shelves of the library where she’s spent most of her lonely childhood. But tonight, she’s going to a party with all the cool kids, to show them what she’s learned in all those books.
A suspicious smelling smorgasbord of lovelorn psychopaths, vengeful mugging victims, pawnshop philosophers and rhyming Glaswegian alien abduction, Tales of the What the F*ck is a dark, touching, horrific and hilarious collection of short stories, flash fiction and epic poetry from People’s Book Prize-nominated author D.A. Watson. Things are about to get weird.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
I enjoy reading well-written flash fiction, short stories and verse and this is an addictive medley of all three.
The overriding theme is darkness, within individuals, within society and within the other worlds, we can only imagine. Despite the noir ethos of the majority of stories, there are many satirical inferences, which make you smile. The author manages to capture the poignancy of life experiences and engenders empathy in characters, some of which may not deserve it.
The mix of genres is eclectic. Crime, horror and paranormal are predominant. The writer’s originality draws the reader into forbidden worlds, which are disturbing and horrific.As a reader, you don’t want to be there, but you do want to know what next, so you keep turning the pages and read on.
The commentary on the current state of the world and its inhabitantsis astute. It showcases the darker side of human nature, probably present in all of us somewhere.
All the stories and verse reveal their secrets in an engaging way, each one reads like a longer story with a beginning, middle and ending that may shock, but does satisfy a reader’s need for completion.
Full of vivid imagery, it’s easy to visualise what is happening. I enjoyed the variety and the balance of prose and verse, it is a riveting book, kept me reading until the end.
D.A. Watson was halfway through a music and media degree at the University of Glasgow and planning on being a teacher when he discovered he was actually a better writer than musician. He unleashed his debut novel In the Devil’s Name on an unsuspecting public in the summer of 2012, and plans of a stable career in education left firmly in the dust, later gained his masters in Creative Writing from the University of Stirling.
He has since published two more novels; The Wolves of Langabhat and Cuttin’ Heads, a collection of short fiction and poetry, Tales of the What the F*ck, and several acclaimed articles, poems and stories, including Durty Diana, which was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in the US in 2016, and the Burns parody Tam O’ Shatner, prizewinner at the Falkirk Storytelling Festival and Dunedin Burns Poetry Competition, and nominated for the People’s Book Prize in 2018.
Watson’s writing has appeared in several anthologies and collections including 404 Ink, Dark Eclipse, Speculative Books, Haunted Voices and The Flexible Persona, and he is also a regular spoken word performer, with past gigs at Bloody Scotland, Tamfest, Sonnet Youth, Express Yourself, Clusterf*ck Circus, and the Burnsfest festival in 2018, where he appeared on the main stage as the warm-up act for the one and only Chesney Hawkes, a personal milestone and career highlight.
His fourth novel Adonias Low will be released by Stirling Publishing in 2021. He lives with his family in a witch infested village on the west coast of Scotland and continues to write some seriously weird sh*t.
The prose poems in I Can See The Lights are earthy and raw, but also incredibly sensitive. It’s pretty much guaranteed that more than one of them will bring you to tears. Characters are vividly brought to life, and stark but warm environments evoked in a down to earth, yet almost painterly manner by Russ Litten’s uncompromising voice.
Tales of home, of un-belonging, of strife at sea – of a northern city’s beating heart. Told in a mesmeric, stripped-down tone, this collection is a work of genius.
I received a copy of this book from WildPressed in return for an honest review
Edgy, eloquent and emotional, the poetry in ‘I Can See The Lights, shows the darker side of life, the things people prefer to forget or turn away from. It showcases the human fear of being alone and vulnerable. The forgotten groups in society who are becoming too numerous to ignore.
It’s a collection of feelings and thoughts. Showcasing the world’s cruelty, the way we fool ourselves, the inherent human need to search for the light and something good to hold onto.
The writing is emotional, honest and poignant. It makes you think and saddens you. It’s not all darkness, as you read you can see the good, the happiness and the light, and it’s worth looking for.
This is a collection of poetry and stories you can read again, and see something different. When it ends you wonder what happens next, or what if.
If you enjoy poetry that reflects today’s world, this is for you.
The prose poems in I Can See The Lights are earthy and
raw, but also incredibly sensitive. It’s pretty much guaranteed that more than
one of them will bring you to tears. Characters are vividly brought to life,
and stark but warm environments evoked in a down to earth, yet almost painterly
manner by Russ Litten’s uncompromising voice.
Tales of home, of un-belonging, of strife at sea – of a northern city’s
beating heart. Told in a mesmeric, stripped-down tone, this collection is a
work of genius.
I received a copy of this book from Crumps Barn Studio in return for an honest review.
This book of verse is in part, autobiographical, and the emotion shines through in every poem. There is a preface to this book of verse, sharing the personal inspiration behind ‘Moments’. Read this first. It gives important insight into the author’s motivations and helps you to understand the book’s ethos.
I am no expert on poetry schematics, but I do enjoy reading it, so the thoughts I share are my emotional responses to the verse.
The first poem ‘Sweet Dreams’, about a mother watching her sleeping child, is charming and will resonate with every parent.
‘Precious Time’, is poignant and thought-provoking. When something bad happens, or you realise how many years have passed, it makes you think, and want to make the most of now, and what is yet to come.
Many of the poems explore contemporary issues, such as bullying and why people bully, emotional abuse, stress, addiction, facing life-changing news. There are elements in the verse that I can relate to, and it’s this personal connection that makes them relevant, something to look back on.
The poems about the inevitability of death, and facing the illness of a loved one, are beautifully written, honest, raw, simple, they leave their mark.The poems about friendship are heartwarming and relatable, as are the verses about self-awareness, learning to love who you are, and letting that person see the sunlight.
There is something for everyone in this book, it’s a realistic observation of life as a woman, mother, wife, and of those around us, some we know, some we only know by sight. Poetry like this can be read many times, and that’s what I shall do with this.
You’re not lost. You’re just looking. #AugustaHope
Augusta Hope has never felt like she fits in. And she’s right – she doesn’t. At six, she’s memorising the dictionary. At seven, she’s correcting her teachers. At eight, she spins the globe and picks her favourite country on the sound of its name: Burundi.
And now that she’s an adult, Augusta has no interest in the goings-on of the small town where she lives with her parents and her beloved twin sister, Julia.
When an unspeakable tragedy upends everything in Augusta’s life, she’s propelled headfirst into the unknown. She’s determined to find where she belongs – but what if her true home, and heart, are half a world away?
I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins UK – Harper Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Perhaps, it is a societal backlash that novels’ featuring, main characters who aren’t accepted because they don’t conform to society’s unwritten expectations, despite their obvious intelligence, and generosity of spirit, are so popular now.
Augusta Hope, a twin born in August, is a cuckoo in the nest, she and her twin appear opposite in every trait. Augusta is a caring, clever, curious child, devoted to her sister, but it seems, a mystery to her almost stereotypical middle class, conformist parents. This leads to some humorous incidents during her childhood. Overall her memories of childhood are poignant. Even at a young age, she realises she isn’t like her sister and will never secure the parental love she needs.
Parfait is the eldest of a loving family, but living in war-torn Burundi, means that his happiness is transient. His journey to happiness is pathed with tragedy.
The two points of view tell their respective stories in tandem, but with little obvious connection, until serendipity gradually draws them into each others’orbit.
The writing style is part of the charm of this story, and one l enjoy. Words are important and used well here, regardless of whether they are strictly necessary, or fashionable. On a literary level, this is lovely. The plot tells an epic story, which some may not connect to. The characters are well created, believable, and you want them to find each other, and somewhere they can be themselves and flourish.
Parts of this story are difficult to read, but they are all necessary to the telling.
Something for everyone who enjoys an emotional story with vivid imagery and a hopeful outcome.
I received a copy of this book from the Illustrator in return for an honest review.
A lovely medley of poetry, hand-drawn maps, illustrations and photographs make ‘The Cotswold Calendar’ something to treasure. Whether you live in the area, are planning to visit, or like me, appreciate beautiful things, there is something for you here.
The poet’s impressions of each month in The Cotswolds, form a chapter in the book, accompanied by places of note, also described in verse. At the beginning of the book the author describes the verse form, and its technicalities, so even a layperson like me, can understand how the verse is structured and its intended impact.
The poetry is full of imagery that brings to mind the spotlight month. Similarly, notable calendar events are described in verse for many iconic Cotswold villages and towns. Accompanied by monochrome photo images and illustrations, which enhance the verse and reinforce the poetic images, it makes a wonderful guide book to the area.
Easy to read, for lovers of verse, it is also a wonderful reference work for The Cotswold tourist, to ensure you don’t miss, the beauty and community of this English treasure.
It’s ages since I’ve done a writers Q& A tag and I loved doing this one from my lovely friend Shehanne Moore and the hamstah dudes. I hope my answers meet their exacting literary standards. 🙂
Shehanne’s blog and website is a delight you can visit by clicking on the images below
What is your favourite line of poetry about a hamster? Oh okay, we mean a small furry creature, or animal
I don’t remember a poem about hamsters but I do like this poem by an Unknown Author about-‘A Dog’s Soul’. The line that encapsulates a dog completely is this one:
Altho’ his heart may break in two
His love will still be whole,
Because God gave to every dog
An understanding Soul!
.What was your favourite children’s book if it was not Mrs Tiggywinkle?
I loved horses as a child and read so many books about them, but the one that sticks in my mind is ‘Black Beauty’ by Anna Sewell. The chapter about ‘Ginger’ the abused carriage horse still makes me so sad.
You’re in the forest, it’s dark, it’s cold, it’s mysterious, suddenly the bushes part and there snarling before your is a savage, giant hamster. What happens next?
I reach in to my pocket and pull out a… Peanut in its shell guaranteed to calm down even the most ferocious and hungry hamster. Maybe I would need more than one for a giant hamster?
Is there any place in the world you would like to set a book or poem and why?
I always feel inspired to write in English country or coastal settings. Northumberland and the Lake District where I set The Dragon Legacy’ are particular favourites.
My first book inspired by the Lakes
You can have dinner with your favourite book hamster, character. Who is it and what will the first course be? Recipes are welcome. Of course if you can’t find a hamster, just choose another animal.
I would love to have dinner with T.S Elliot’s Cats, such an interesting group of individuals. Naturally they would like cream and I love strawberries so the first course would be shortbread biscuits with extra thick double cream and fresh strawberries. mm delicious.
Tell us a bit about what you are working on now.What was the last book you read?
I have recently finished ‘Past Shadows’, ‘a historical mystery romance with a paranormal twist’. The story is set in Regency Derbyshire. I am currently working on a romantic mystery thriller, after the surprising success of The Dangerous Gift. More about this next week on my blog.
How much of you is in your characters or your poetry?
Probably more than there should be. However the elements of me are not necessarily me now, but me when I was younger.
Forget all this hero stuff. You’re being cast as the villain and it’s your choice who you pick so long as they are from a book.
I do love villains. I must admit I loved Xavier, my villain in The Dragon Legacy who was definitely not what he seemed…
Who or what inspires your writing?
Places inspire me first. When I visit a beautiful place or an unusual historical house, it always inspires me to write a story about it. For example when I visited Hardwick Hall a couple of years ago. I was struck by the coldness of some rooms and how ill they made me feel. I’ve stored these feelings away for use in a future story.
How often do things end in life and you wish for just one more conversation, one chance to say what you needed to say, ask what has been burning in your heart, and hear the other side of what it was really like, who you really were? Poetry, prose and essays take you through the journey of Hiraeth and Phoenix. They choose to give each other the gift of the other side of the story and what follows is a dialogue that cuts to the core of the reality they created and called their own.
Packed with emotion, this short read is hard to put down, it draws you in and lets you relive Hiraeth’s and Phoenix’s love story, through their eyes. Accusations, complacency and desperation give way to acceptance, forgiveness and hope. The author cleverly uses poetry to reinforce the messages implicit in the previous chapters of prose.
This story is original and realistic and worth reading.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.