Sunshine – Kim Kelly – book review

SunshineSunshine by Kim Kelly

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I read this through the Pigeonhole, so thank you to them. I loved this book. It’s set in Australia, just after the first world war, when ex-soldiers were given the opportunity to buy land – a mixed blessing in Australia. It touches on the horrors of war, Aboriginal rights, PTSD, but with a light touch: all is integral to the story.

The main characters are 3 ex-soldiers – one of them of Aboriginal descent – and an ex-army nurse (who has experienced as much trauma as the rest of them) – and the Australian landscape. Kim Kelly has the knack of describing a landscape she obviously knows and loves as if she is seeing it for the first time. She captures the beauty of Australia, but also the scariness of that great empty land.

It reminded me of being in the art gallery in Adelaide, and wandering round the landscape paintings. At first, they all look like versions of Europe, and then suddenly it’s as if artists could really see Australia and paint it as it was. Kim does that in words.

If you want a break from winter, read this book. It’s a delight.

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In at the Deep End – Kate Davies – book review

I read this through the Pigeonhole, so it came in staves. It’s a great way of reading – slows me down a bit. It also means I’ll take a chance on a book I might not normally choose – like this one. I’m very glad I did. Kate Davies introduces us to Julia, who is in the process of discovering herself and her sexuality.

First of all, the sex. There is a lot of sex. A lot. However, while there’s a lot on the mechanics of it all, there’s also a whole range of emotional contexts to go with it – bored sex, happy sex, guilty sex, edgy sex. The sex is nuanced, and it feels like an integral part of the plot, and the character development.

If you took the sex out, though, you’d still have a good read. The characters feel real, the situations are believable, and while the first three quarters of the book are very much about the intensity of sexual relationships, they also hint at the other things we need to attend to to be satisfied with life – and towards the end, these are the things that blossom.

Is it a feminist book? I wondered while I read it – I mean, I wondered if you could have a lesbian romance that isn’t feminist. Certainly, in what is a fun read, Kate Davies manages to explore some interesting power dynamics, and look at power imbalances in relationships. The feminism is in realising that you have to rescue yourself. You might open yourself up to other people to achieve that, but you are seeking support, not rescue.
It’s also very funny. Snorty funny. And moving. And has the best therapist ever.
In at the Deep End
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I Owe You One – Sophie Kinsella – book review.


When I was a teenager, one of my dearest friends was a big fan of Georgette Heyer. I read a couple of them, and enjoyed them, but for me they lacked something. Dragons, mainly.

What I’m trying to say here is that I think everybody has a “comfort read” – a genre they reach for when times are tough, and they want to escape. For me, it’s fantasy. What can I say? If I’m going to escape, I want to make it into another reality.

So, I wouldn’t normally have picked this up, but…I’ve kind of got hooked on The Pigeonhole.  which is an on-line book club. It’s fab. Don’t tell anyone about it. I have to say, most of the books I’ve read through them have been quite dark psychological thrillers – again, not my usual escape, but I’ve had a great time reading them. And then this came along.

I had a ball.

I mean it. It was great fun. And part way through, I realised that it reminded me of Jane Austen. Fixie is a Fanny Price who grows up and gets real. The bad guy would look good in a red coat, playing billiards with Wickham and chatting up heiresses. The supporting cast are just a shade odder (and funnier) than real life. The plot centres on romance (of course) and…money (as did Auntie Jane’s, when you think about it).

And Sophie Kinsella makes it look effortless. In my experience, melodrama is much easier than humour, like a chocolate fudge cake is easier than a souffle. She really knows what she’s doing.

Next time, she could maybe add some dragons?

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‘GROUNDSWELL’ – Film & NHS Info inc.Upcoming Screenings — John Furse

We are hoping to launch ‘Groundswell: The Grassroots Battle For The NHS And Democracy’ on the internet and DVD after Christmas. This will be the feature-length 78-minute version. Meanwhile we have some more screenings and Q & As coming up in January and February. These events have attracted strong and positive reactions (see Reviews) and […]

via ‘GROUNDSWELL’ – Film & NHS Info inc.Upcoming Screenings — John Furse

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Cancer toolbox – 1. YOU app

This is the first of an occasional series, in which I share some of the things that have helped me remain active, sane, positive and cheerful over the last few years. I mean, it’s pretty crap having metastatic cancer – I’m not gonna lie – but most of the time I don’t think about it too much.

I probably actively avoid thinking about it. I trundle along, and with each bit of progression I have a bit of a jolt, do some time processing, and then put it all back in the box on the shelf. Is that a healthy way to deal with things? I’m not sure. I know I could paralyse myself with this, and that there have been some pretty dark and difficult times, and as a coping mechanism this seems to work for me.

That means these ideas are not just for people experiencing cancer. I think they’d be helpful for anyone with a long term illness, with a life that’s throwing crap at them, with a need to take a little care of themselves.

This is going to be an occasional series. Things pop up, I get enthused, and want to share them; or I realise that something I’ve been doing for a while is actually really helpful for me, and want to share that. It will be erratic and irregular.

This is the first one, then. The YOU-app. I’ve been using this for a while now –  a few  years, in fact. I might have read about it in an in-flight magazine – I really can’t remember now. It’s a lovely idea, put out by a group of young and beautiful Scandinavians – but don’t let that put you off.

At its most basic, it offers you a small action each day – a physical activity, something mindful or heartfelt – that will make your day a tiny bit better. You can record the action, and if you particularly like it, you can choose to make it a regular part of the day. If there’s something you want to work on, there are additional packs – some free, some for a nominal sum.

It’s a great combination of action and reflection, and I’ve found it surprisingly simple for something so apparently simple.

Oh- and you can build up a community there by following and being followed. If you decide to download it, let me know, and I’ll follow you – if you want. Have a look at it anyway, see what you think.

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I am an alien with two hearts

and so are most of the women I know.

Yes. Her. Weirdly, I feel like I’m best represented by a regenerated alien with two hearts and a sonic screwdriver.

There’s so much I love about the new Doctor, and so much that reminds me of myself, and the many wonderful women I know. What sort of things, I hear you ask? Well, first of all, she’s a woman, but actually, she’s a person who happens to be a woman. That’s quite different from most women I see on screen. She’s not playing on her femininity, or her sexuality. She’s just a person, doing a job.

She wears sensible shoes. Oh boy. I am so sick of seeing strong, capable women running empires in ridiculous heels. The Doctor looks like she could stand all day, run up and down stairs, and climb a mountain in those shoes, and still have comfortable feet.

She’s got expertise, and she’s completely comfortable taking on a leadership role when it’s appropriate. She’s also happy to listen to other people and learn from them. And she knows there are things she’s not so good at, and that’s OK. She’s not good at small talk. She gets a bit over the top at times. Her friends still love her, despite her oddities.

She has an ethical viewpoint, that’s about being reasonable, working together, taking care of each other, but still standing up to things that are wrong. That’s brilliant to see.

She wears clothes. I know we all wear clothes, but she wears sensible, practical clothes, that aren’t designed to be alluring, or super-sexy. She can move in her clothes. She can bend over without worrying about her skirt length.

She’s smart, and she’s not embarrassed about being smart. She takes care of herself and those around her, she takes responsibility. She doesn’t manipulate people. She just gets on with it.

It’s amazing to have a woman like this on our screens, on a family show. She’s a great role model for our children – boys and girls! – and for us, as well. And I feel like I know her. I look around the clinic I work in, and it’s full of women in sensible shoes, and nice, but not terribly exciting clothes, getting on with doing responsible jobs in a responsible way, and taking care of each other. It’s full of women trying to do the right thing in the right way. It’s full of women with flaws, who are still amazing.

And, of course, lots of the men I know are aliens with two hearts, as well.

Even though none of us have a sonic screwdriver.

I got this image from Geek Tyrant. 


Image result for jodie whittaker doctor who image

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Time’s Fool – Alys Earl – Book Review

Time's FoolTime’s Fool by Alys Earl

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this book through the Pigeonhole, so thank you to them.

This is a tricky review to write, because I don’t want to spoil the creeping realisation that you get initially. What I will say is that it’s a very skilful update of a story that you know, and that it brings things into a modern world of mobile phones and night clubs and dinner parties.

It’s also about choices, and how people can make bad – terrible – choices. How complicit can someone be in what is ultimately an abusive relationship? What does friendship mean? How far do we take our fantasies.

It’s a book that takes a whole load of cliches – starting with the creepy house scene – and plays with them knowingly. It’s very cleverly done.


If you’re happy with spoilers, read on:

This is an update of the classic vampire story. Every trope is pulled out and played with – the mirror thing, the need to be invited in. The difference is that these are modern people  with modern needs and issues, and the monster has to deal with it’s own needs in a modern context. It’s dark and sexy and quite troubling, with one of those endings that satisfies, but also leaves you with a lot of questions.

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