Friday, 30 May 2014

The Cephalopod Coffeehouse May Meeting 2014


The Cephalopod Coffeehouse is an online gathering of bloggers who love books hosted by 

The idea is simple: on the last Friday of each month, post about the best book you've finished over the past month while visiting other bloggers doing the same.  In this way, we'll all have the opportunity to share our thoughts with other enthusiastic readers.  Go to the link above to post a link for your favourite book read this month. 

My favourite book this month and a 5* rating from me is another book from Louise Penny, the third book in her series of books set in the fictional village of Three Pines a little way from Quebec and featuring Inspector Armand Gamache from the Sûreté du Quebec.   You can read this book as a stand-alone book but if possible read the first two books in the series before as it will help with the characters.   

There are ten books published in this series and another one in the pipeline. 

Chief Inspector Gamache Books

Approx. 458 pages

This is the third book in a series starring Inspector Armand Gamache from the Sûreté du Quebec and again is set around a death in the fictional village of Three Pines. 

‘Once found Three Pines was never forgotten but it was only ever found by people lost.’

Although you can read all of Louise Penny’s books as stand-alone novels, it is probably better to start with the first one as many of the characters develop as the series continues and to date there are ten books in the series. 

It is a nice meaty book to get in to with flashbacks to a previous controversy concerning the Inspector which is explained, to an extent, as the book progresses.  Louise deals with the insecurities of people’s characters, intertwining their strengths as well.  The intricacies of living in a small village that boasts a set of shops and a bistro where people gather who are looked after well by the extrovert couple of Olivier and Gabri who also run the local B & B.

It is early April, Easter weekend and eggs are being hidden for the local children to find and a séance has been organised for the adults presided over by a visiting medium/psychic.   A haunted house and a death follow, fear and terror and horror invade all those attending.  The Sûreté du Quebec become involved when it is realised the victim didn't die naturally as was first thought. 

Louise Penny is able to describe the village, its inhabitants, the after effects and consequences of a sudden death, drawing you intimately into the village and the people who live there.  We also find out more about the characters of the Sûreté du Quebec involved in the investigation. 

A good book is one where the characters stay with you long after you have put the book down and this is one such book.

I will certainly read the rest of the books in the series.  Highly recommended for those who like mystery/thrillers in a Agatha Christie type of style with other themes running through following the lives of all the characters.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Failure - Write Edit Publish Blog Hop May 2014

May challenge - FAILURE...or is it?

Write your stories, poems or get your artwork or photos ready!

You can link up immediately or with your direct link afer you post on your blog.

Edit your work. Word limit of 1,000 words for stories, poems or photo essays. 

Publish on your blog between May 21 - 24. Leave a message at WEP when you do.

Comment on other entries.

Visit our host: for further info.

Here is my flash fiction on the subject of 'failure.' 


Gingerly Nina placed one foot outside of the bedclothes, flattened out her instep as she brought her other leg over the edge of the bed and placing weight on it, grimaced as the pain shot up her leg.  Doubled over in pain clutching her ribs, biting her lip hard she balanced herself and steeled her mind to take her weight.  

Nina hobbled to the bathroom, pulled the light switch on and blinked hard against the harsh glare of the overhead fluorescent light.  The cold of the porcelain sink shocked her as she raised her head to the image in the mirror. 

Two black eyes, stitches across her right eyebrow, that image was the result of another failure, another night when she couldn’t talk him down so he used his fists and feet against her. 

The ambulance men and a kind police officer insisted she spent hours in Accident and Emergency at the local hospital.  Sitting on the hard black plastic bed, the curtains pulled around for a semblance of privacy, listening to the swearing and vomiting outside a semi- sterile cocoon of misplaced safety at ten o’clock on a Saturday evening.    

She knew it would probably get worse before it got better.  She had no idea how the doctors and nurses dealt with the failures that turned up here every weekend patching them up so they could do it all over again.  Legalised drugs of alcohol, non-legalised drugs of dope and coke and cocaine and LSD, teenagers high on whatever social party drug they could get their hands on.  

Holding on to the sink Nina sighed and then wished she hadn’t, as she coughed her bruised ribs protested painfully at the intake of her breath.   Where on earth did they find the money to purchase the booze and the drugs and whatever else they sniffed, snorted and injected?

Stupid, stupid woman! Look what he did to you just to take the last fiver from your purse.  Look at last week when you nearly ended up in this very same place just because you were too slow getting your purse out. 

Nina splashed cold water on her face.  It was much better to block out the previous evening especially when she wouldn’t press charges.  She finished her ablutions as much as she could and limped back in to the bedroom.  She dressed in the loosest clothing she could find that didn’t press on her bruised ribs and kidneys, a tracksuit would be her attire today.

WPC Henning rang the doorbell of No. 2 The Green.  This was the second time this month she had called here.  Nina Chapman was a victim, of that WPC Henning was sure but getting her to press charges was going to be a long, hard struggle. 

Nina opened the door to the lovely young policewoman who tried hard to keep the shock from showing on her face.  She ushered her in to the spotless living room, no signs of the struggle from the previous night showing, even the blood spattered rug from Nina’s split lip had been removed, probably by her daughter. 

‘Mrs. Chapman,’ began WPC Henning, ‘I would like to take your statement about the events of last night.   I know it is hard but I am here to help you.’

Tears spilt down Nina’s face, she felt the gentle squeeze on her hand as she looked up in to the young policewoman’s kind eyes. 

‘I know you do but I can't, I just can’t.’  

Nina dashed away her tears, sniffed and blotted her face with a tissue.  

‘I’m such a failure I don't want the whole world to know what a bad mother I am.’

Both women looked up as they heard the back door open, Nina held her breath hoping it wasn't Sam returning but it was her daughter, Lucy who dashed across the living room floor to her mother.  

Lucy looked at the policewoman, ‘can't you make her press charges?  We all know it was my useless brother who did this.’

WPC Henning closed her notebook and stood up.  

‘It is not her fault.  She is not a failure. The only way to stop this and to help Sam is to make him responsible for his actions then we might be able to get somewhere.  Until then I’m afraid I can't do anything.’  

Shaking her head in despair the policewoman made for the front door.  ‘Please Nina, I don't want to come back here and see you in such a sorry state again.’

Lucy put her arms around her mother as she heard the front door close.  She hugged her gently aware of the severity of the bruising.  She put her hand under her mother’s chin and lifted her face up to examine her eyes. 

‘Oh mum,’ she cried, ‘why do you let Sam do this to you?’

The same old story, her mother didn't know how she had failed to bring Sam up properly when Lucy was such a good girl and no trouble to her at all.  Nina couldn't understand what had gone wrong, first at school and then the trouble Sam had got into as a teenager and now he was mixing with such a bad crowd, high on drugs that he didn't know what he was doing when he hit her. 

Lucy lost her rag and shouted back at her mother.  

‘Take a look at what he has done.  You didn't fail him.  I turned out alright.  It wasn't your fault.  He is just a mean, violent man and you let him treat you like this.  One day he will go too far and you will end up dead on this living floor expecting me to forgive him as you do every day!  That will never happen.  He is not your son anymore.  Help him and then you won't be a failure!’

Sobbing her heart out Lucy knelt by her mother. The two women held each other as their tears fell both feeling they were failures.

Word count:  999

Monday, 19 May 2014

Hallucination - WWBH Short story

This week's Blog Hop is to write a 500 word story around the following two pictures:

The rules are as follows:

1) Try to keep your word count down to around 500 – no worries, we’re not counting. Just try to keep from getting too lengthy.

2) You must use the above 2 pictures this week 

3) Link your story up using Leanne's, Debb's or Tena's websites.  Stories submitted will be announced in next week’s blog hop kick-off

4) This is most important… Have fun with this and let those creative juices flow
This week we have two pictures.  As per rules above, you must incorporate both pictures into your story (and please try to keep within, or close to, the 500 word limit – really makes it easier for people to read if not too lengthy & we are doing short stories here.

Here is my story:

Driving along the motorway on automatic pilot, Carol blinked her eyes a few times.  She was hallucinating, all she could see was COFFEE, big and bold letters, it couldn't be in front of her.  That would be ridiculous to be following a lorry of coffee.  Shaking her head Carol squinted as the summer haze blurred the letters; she pressed on the accelerator and edged a little close.  

Yes that was a tanker lorry full of COFFEE.  Coffee, could she stop soon and have a cup of coffee?  She could taste it, smell it, savour it on the tip of her tongue, tantalising, her lips hovering over the rim of a coffee cup.

The blaring of a car horn brought her back into the present and out of her daydream.  She had wandered over the lanes.  She must concentrate, a cup of coffee would revitalise her and put some energy in to her body and make her more alert.  

Thank goodness, there was a sign for the services, she couldn’t quite see how far as the vans and utility trucks on the inside were blocking her view.  It couldn’t be too far away.  She had been driving for nearly two hours.  She had to stop soon for some refreshments. 
Pulling over to the nearside lane ready to leave the motorway Carol noticed the tanker with COFFEE written on the back was also going to take a break.  At least that would mean the coffee would be fresh. 

Ensconced at a little table in the furthest corner of the  self service café with a large cup of coffee and a jam and cream scone Carol put the cup to her nose and smelt the delicious aroma, just as the delectable perfume reached her brain her phone rang. 

She looked down, smiling at the caller’s number.  It was a text message.  She pulled it up and was greeted by the sight of Bella sitting on the arm of the sofa patiently looking up into her husband’s face. 

That adorable little cat was the pride of their family, a spoilt girl who ruled the roost.  They knew who was boss in their house.  A meow or a purr or sometimes a silly little squawk would get Carol and Rob guessing what she wanted.  Bella made her wishes known, whether she wanted feeding, stroking, pampering or just attention; their adorable cat would be the mistress of their home no matter what.  

Carol replied to the text saying she was just enjoying a cup of coffee after following a Coffee Tanker for several miles on the motorway.  Rob replied saying she was obviously hallucinating as, to his knowledge; coffee didn't travel well in tankers, only petrol and pesticides so she must be careful she wasn't drinking contaminated coffee. 

He was a laugh-a-minute was her Rob and she was so glad she’d married him last Easter; texting was as good as a conversation these days, wasn't it?

Word count: 490