Book Review – A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

The story starts with Miriam a young girl, the illegitimate daughter of a wealthy businessman, living a secluded life with her mother on the outskirts of Herat, Afghanistan. Mariam, grows to womanhood, and is forced into marriage with Rasheed and moves to the unfamiliar surroundings of Kabul where we are introduced to Laila. Laila is just nine years old and lives near to Miriam. She has been brought up by her father who has provided Laila with a loving upbringing and good education.

Events in the women’s lives are destined to merge. The story gives the reader an insight into life as a woman in Kabul and the oppression and struggles under the Soviet occupation, followed by the Taliban rule. Khaled Hosseini draws you in with the development of the characters so much you feel the emotion, joys and pains as it unravels in this classic novel.

a-thousand-splendid-suns-facebook-coverKhaled Hosseini is author of the best selling novel The Kite Runner and does not disappoint with A Thousand Splendid Suns. This is an exceptionally gripping and brilliantly crafted read that you will not be able to put down.

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I highly recommend this book, with my star rating of 11 out of 10, and one you should definitely add to your list of ‘must reads’.

To get your copy of A Thousand Splendid Suns Click Here

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Book Review – Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith

The struggle and fear people experienced in the Soviet Union is graphically brought to life with such skill in Tom Rob Smith’s novel Child 44 set in 1953 shortly before Stalin’s death. The main character Leo Demidov world is shattered, his job and relationship with his wife are thrown into turmoil following the death of a young boy the parents believe to have been murdered. Leo from being a war hero and having a successful career as an officer in the Ministry of State Security, and enjoying life’s luxuries that come with the job, suddenly becomes an enemy of the state in Stalin’s perfect communist society where there can be no crime as this plague only happens in the capitalist west.

The book follows Leo and his wife’s struggle to bring justice in pursuit of a serial killer in a world of corruption where the image and structure is more important than truth and fairness. The story based loosely on the real life crimes of Andrei Chikatilo in a later decade to what the book is set manages to capture and convey the events incomprehensible to someone who has not lived in that time and place.

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A sub plot to the main story I wanted to add a note on is, the romantic element between Leo and his wife Raisa as this has not appeared much in other reviews. This is a great love story where emotions and realities of their relationship are revealed.

Child 44 is exciting, emotional and of historical interest and one I will add to my bookshelf to read again.

To get a copy of Child 44 click here

New Sign on the M25

Last week I was driving down the M25 and I noticed a new sign they added. It seems everybody is heading to The Writers Forum.

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Click to go to The Writers Forum

Alright, I know it’s convincing but in truth I found a clever little app that allowed me to create this sign. However, The Writers Forum is the place to be if you have an interest in creative writing whatever your level. The website is something I and few budding authors set up a couple of months back and it is going from strength to strength.

It’s a great place to submit short stories and get feedback from others. We are now running our third flash fiction Competition and this month will see our first short story competition.

Ready to Start 2016

Made it! Survived January, what a month and I am kind of glad it is over with the loss of so many great celebs and Terry finishing off the list. RIP Terry and thank you for all the pleasure and good you have spread around this world.

Now back to normal, no more ‘Dry January’ as we hit boozie February. No I have promise I will be good. It is 8am 1st February and I still have not had a drink so I consider myself to be doing very well. Productivity is my word for the New Year. Big plans for 2016 with lots of short stories and flash fiction to come over the next couple of months and I target by the end of the year to have my first novel ready. Ready for editing at least but hopefully a little further down the line

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Also signed up for the A- Z April challenge where I will blog every day of April to a related letter A – Z. With only twenty six days in April it fits perfectly – maybe.

So I must be off now to start writing and try and find the key to the drinks cabinet. Where did I put it!

Bowie Rocks the Shelf

The big black speakers sat on the white glossed wooden shelves strategically placed at opposite ends of the living room. It was a Fidelity record music centre; the body grey and a plastic translucent top, resting on the teak record cabinet with two sliding doors.

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Sliding the left door would reveal my parents record collection, some compilation albums of middle of the road music and country artists. The right door opened a whole new world, my sister’s record collection. In there I removed a record, the plastic cover protecting the album sleeve indicating this was an item of value. Taking the black vinyl twelve inch record, each groove glistening as it is caught by the sunlight that shone through the window, the orange centre label displayed the album name and artist as I placed with care onto the turntable. I turned the On Off control to the right and there was a crackled static sound that coughed through the speakers. Between my thumb and forefinger I lifted the needle from its resting place and navigated to the first groove. Hearing the needle make contact I turned the volume knob a little further to the right. Captivated by the haunted rhythm of the drum and snare playing 6/8 time which was a sound I had not heard before. Followed by the unique vocal sound of this guy telling me that earth was really dying and we had only five years left to cry in. Mesmerised I turned the album and was half way through the B side when I was hit by the raw sound of guitar and Bowie’s voice blasted and rocked the speakers on the shelf with ‘Ziggy played guitar’ I was hooked for life.

And from that day I will always be eternally grateful for that moment and for the years that followed with the intoxicated sound and feeling that cannot be pinned into any one thing how the music bequeaths such emotion and feeling.

For me on that day in my parent’s living room was the day a genius was born.

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RIP David Bowie.

Dry January Starting Monday

Will you be joining me for a dry January? Starting from the New Year I am going to do a dry January, no alcohol for a month. Well starting from the first Monday in January if that is acceptable as there too much wine left in the house after Christmas. And as I spent most of Christmas at other people’s houses drinking their wine; it would seem rude not to drink some of the wine I had bought.

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This has become a little bit of ritual and this will now be my third year. One strange occurrence I noticed last year was my taste improved more so than when I gave up smoking.

Not sure what will improve this year but I will report back each week and let you know. Keep me updated on your progress I would love to hear how you are coping throughout January.

 

Ex Arsenal Player John Roberts dies aged 69

Sad news to hear about John Roberts death. John was part of the Arsenal team the year they did the double winning the league and FA Cup in  1970/1. Although I was only six at the time I still have a great memories of that game and got me thinking how many of the players in the team could I name.

My attempt without Googling is below. How many can you get without looking.

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Here was my attempt without Googling:

  1. Bob Wilson
  2. Pat Rice
  3. Bob McNab
  4. Eddie Kelly
  5. Frank Mclintock
  6. Peter Story
  7. George Armstrong
  8. Alan Ball
  9. Charlie George
  10. ?
  11. George Graham

I don’t think I did too bad!

Here’s a link to actual team.

FA Cup Final 1970/1 Teams