Friday 30 August 2013


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

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. 

This is my first outing at the Cephalopod Coffeehouse and I know I’m in good company and look forward to being introduced to other books and authors.
During August I read nine books including one anthology of short stories.  Four authors were already known to me and three were new authors.  One new author I liked so much that I read a second book by her this month.
My favourite book this month was Up Close by Henriette Gyland

The book is set in Norfolk in England in a small, rural community with all that entails in nosiness and everybody knowing everybody else’s business.  Lia’s grandmother suffers a fatal heart attack and it falls on Lia to return from the US where she is working as a doctor in ER to put her grandmother’s affairs in order.  
This is a gripping tale, suspenseful with several twists and turns.  What I particularly like about Henriette’s writing is that all her characters (even the minor ones) have enough depth to them to make you want to know more about them whether you like their characters or not. 
There are ordinary details in this book that are described so well that they are never boring or tedious to read, for example, a wayward heating system, a clapped out car and of course, Jack the dog.
I read this book every minute I could spare because although I worked out ‘who’ was responsible I still didn’t know ‘how’ until the very end. 
It could be classed as romantic suspense or chick lit but either way I found it a very enjoyable book to read.

Wednesday 28 August 2013


Mandatory words:
Here are the reminders of how the blog hop works. If you have never joined in, please do! Invite a friend, too.

1) Use the photo and the 5 words provided in your story
2) Keep your word count 500 words or less.
3) You have until next Tuesday to link up your post.
4) Link up with your blog hostess (Nicole, Carrie, </ a>Tena or Leanne)
5) Have fun, don’t stress, let those creative juices flow.


Alison was fed up.   The bulldozer moving the heaped soil from one side of the demolition site to the other was getting on her nerves.   The noise was endless, humdrum, oscillating in and out of rhythm.   There was a brief respite when the driver stopped to eat his lunch.  She secretly observed him from the small window in her flat in the last anonymous tenement block, due its own demolition later on in the year.
A young man descended backwards from the cab.  As he jumped the last foot down to the ground she could see a splash of colour in his otherwise serviceable working uniform of dark blue hard-wearing trousers and T-shirt of the same bland material.  She peered harder through the small casement window and, yes, looped around the tabs on his trousers was a tartan corded belt.
She watched as he strode purposefully over to a pile of rocks and picked up a backpack and retrieved his lunch box from inside.   He put his earphones in and fiddled with his MP3 player.  She wondered what he was listening to, probably some heavy metal rock band unlike the sweet tones of Vivaldi that she would listen to when all the construction crews had gone home. 
So many days had gone past that she had lost count of the last time she had donned her business suit, made her face up and spent an hour teasing her hair into a more business like style that the financial sector seemed to like.  The large investment banking corporation she worked for had decided that there was nowhere for her to go and consequently dismissed her with a month’s notice and a redundancy package.
The official line had used all the modern buzz words, blue sky thinking, glass ceiling, to name just a couple but with the recession she had lost her home, became divorced and now sat in her solitary sitting room trying to conjure up the energy to force herself out of her prison like cell that her home had become.
A movement caught her eye and she waved back at the stranger who acknowledged her watching him with a slight nod of his head.  He started his engine up, caterpillar treads rolling forward, the bucket pushing the granite rocks and debris in front to join the piles already waiting on the side.
At five o’clock the noise ceased, Alison breathed a sigh of relief as the workmen downed their tools and locked up their beasts of machines.  She filled the kettle with water and waited for it to boil as she leant against the stainless steel sink.  
A gentle knock on the window pane that was set in to her front door startled her as she wondered who on earth had come to call.  Leaning languidly against the door jamb was the bulldozer driver who awkwardly thrust a posy of wildflowers into her hands with a slight, sexy smile on his face.
Word count:  494

Wednesday 21 August 2013

Katy's Camping Holiday

This is the first challenge for Write...Edit...Publish - a monthly bloghop.

August 2013 CHALLENGE

Katy’s Camping Holiday
Katy was excited.  Her mum and dad said they were going to Paris, to a theme park.  It must be Disneyland Paris. They would be driving to France and camping but first they have to get across the sea or rather they would go under the sea using The Tunnel which was boring because you couldn't see anything.
Camping for a fortnight with no television!  There would be swimming pools and her mum and dad were going to send her brother and herself off to ‘camp activities’ every morning so that they could have some peace. 
There would be other eight year old girls from England and her stupid brother could go off and be a nuisance playing football with the other boys.  She supposed she’d have to do face painting and pretend to be an animal and listen to stories and run races.
The tent was alright but she had to share a compartment with Bobby who used all his space and then pinched her space as well, then she got told off by her mum for not being tidy.  She tried to tell her mum that Bobby had taken all the space but her dad butted in and told her to stick up for herself.  Sometimes grown-ups really didn't understand what it was like to have a big brother.
Camping was fun but the arguments over taking the dirty dishes down to the washing area were getting on her nerves.  Dad was supposed to go with them but he usually disappeared off somewhere once he had shown them what to do.  Bobby insisted on washing-up but he didn’t do that properly and she had to put the dishes back in the water so then he would splash her and start shouting at her.
When they eventually got back to the tent her dad told her to stop sulking but he wouldn't listen to her explanation of what had happened.  He just said they were all on holiday and they all had to pull their own weight.
Yeah, right, she thought, you don't do much to help, mum’s always cooking just as she does at home.   Perhaps I should have been born a boy; they get away with a lot of stuff. 
Their campsite was on the outskirts of Paris and on the day her dad got them up early so they could drive to the other side of Paris to reach the theme park as soon as it opened.  Mum wasn't any good at reading the map and she didn't like driving on the wrong side of the road so Dad was always yelling at her for not telling him quickly enough which way to go. 
Bobby was asleep in the back of the car so that he didn't have to listen to the rows, Katy tried to sleep as well but she could still hear dad bickering at mum.   She was really thirsty but didn't dare ask for a drink, then a few minutes later dad pulled into one of those roadside cafés.  They got out, stretched their legs and had an ice cold bottle of Coke as a treat as it was too expensive to buy at home.
‘I want to see Cinderella at Disney,’ Katy said with a mouthful of croissant.  A look from her mum made her swallow the crumbs quickly and pick up the serviette.  It was stupid really, she was only going to get more around her lips, she might as well wait until she’d finished eating.
Mum looked at Dad who said, ‘perhaps next year.’
Katy couldn’t believe it, not Disneyland.  Why would they lie?  Bobby nudged her hard, making faces at her when their parents weren’t looking.
The explanation came from her Dad.  ‘So you know the Romans came to France before they came to England, Katy?’ He didn't bother waiting for her to answer.  
‘They’ve got a comic about it and now they have a theme park called Parc Astérix.  There are Romans, Gauls, Greeks and lots of others we can find out about.  They’ve got roller coasters and water splashes and all sorts of things.  Oh and they’ve got a dolphin and sea lion show as well.  It’s going to be great fun.’ 
He smiled at Katy and took her hand, squeezed it lightly and then went back to drinking his coffee.
Oh yeah, fantastic, Katy thought. It was such a boy thing to do, Romans fighting, ancient Gauls fighting and Greeks and whoever else.  The only thing that will be any fun at all will be the dolphins and I bet we won't have time to do that either by the time we’ve waited in line, queuing for hours on end to get on a stupid roller coaster. 
She could see her mum blinking hard. The girls in the family they were never, ever allowed to do what they wanted.  Last year they’d had to traipse round a tank museum for goodness sake!  Tanks and guns, more boy things.
Katy liked roller coasters, in fact she quite enjoyed the thrill of it all so long as it wasn't too high or sharp.  Her mum didn't like the rides and would always wait for them outside but they did persuade her to go on a Ghost Train once.  That was so funny.  She freaked, especially when they came out and the life-sized dummy spoke to her.  Dad and Bobby were waiting for them to come out and laughed and laughed at her mum when she jumped out of her skin. 
Much later that night Katy admitted tiredly that it had been a fun filled day. She had enjoyed meeting Obelisk and seeing the olden villages and Roman gladiators and the dolphin show.  She would dream well tonight of a sword fight to save a princess.  She would make sure her dad took them to Disneyland next year.  She could save some of her pocket money to help out.

Word Count: 994

Monday 19 August 2013


Your (randomly generated) mandatory words:
Prank   printer   profit   capsicum   goal

The rules:

1)       Use the photo and the 5 words provided in your story
2)       Keep your word count 500 words or less.
3)    You have until next Tuesday to link up your post.
4)    Link up with your blog hostess (NicoleCarrie, Tena or Leanne)
5)    Have fun, don’t stress, let those creative juices flow.

Thank goodness that sales meeting was over.  Why the Area Sales Manager thought they didn’t know how to attain the monthly goal he’d set for the team was beyond Dean’s comprehension.   He always hit his targets and he never went over his budget, in fact for the last three months his area had been in profit.   Dean was never thanked for all his hard work which rankled him on occasion.
He returned to his office and glanced over to his printer.  Sitting in the print-out tray were two tickets for the evening game next month.  His colleagues must be playing a prank on him.  He knew how difficult those tickets were to get. He pulled the paper out and examined them closely.  They did look bona-fide. 
He woke his computer up and scanned the emails.  He’d been gone just the hour and there were hundreds of emails in his inbox.   He smiled to himself as he remembered what his mother always used to say to him when he was enthusiastic about something. 
‘Dean, I’ve told you a thousand times not to exaggerate.’
His dear mum, he could picture her now in her kitchen cooking up a storm.  One of her favourite meals when they were kids in the summer was to char grill capsicum so that the yellow, green and red skins of the peppers would burst and they would burn their fingers trying to peel the skin off before they had cooled down sufficiently.  
He would Skype his mum tonight when he got home and touch base with her and his step-dad.  He would take some time now to work out how he was going to tell her his news without sounding trite and clichéd.  He knew she hated the way he used the buzz words from the office but that was the environment he lived in these days.
Eleanor was waiting for him when he got home that evening; she greeted him with a smile.  He flourished his game tickets at her and caught her expression just before she turned away to pour the coffee out.
‘Hey, you know something about this, don't you?’
Eleanor came over to Dean, placed her hands either side of his face, stroking his cheeks.  ‘Oh darling, when is your birthday?’
‘Next month – oh,’ Dean was flabbergasted.  ‘Did you arrange these?’
Eleanor nodded, smirking gently.  
Dean picked her up and whirled her around the floor. 
Laughing Eleanor protested half-heartedly to be put down gently.  ‘Although there is one snag,’ she whispered.
Dean looked at her quizzically, the wine bottle he was about to open in celebration paused midway up his chest.
‘Your boss has insisted on coming as well.’
‘With his wife and their teenage children.’
Dean sat down at the kitchen table, plonking the wine bottle down firmly.  Eleanor looked at him and waited for him to speak.   She knew how hard this would be for them both meeting his ex wife again after all these years.
Word Count: 498

Monday 12 August 2013


The large wooden shack painted a duck egg blue drew their eyes towards the assorted items on display.   The carousel colours attracted a lot of tourists who just stood and gawked at the showcase.
Brian took Shelley’s hand, brought it up to his lips and gently kissed her fingers.   
‘Was it worth getting up at sunrise to travel to this little, forgotten piece of boating history?’
Shelley looked at Brian, his golden hair stood on end where he’d been raking his fingers through the wayward curls.
‘But of course,’ she sighed.
Why he had to be everywhere so blooming early was beyond her comprehension sometimes.  She supposed it came from being tied to a timetable; he couldn’t afford to be late to class, especially as he loved being a school teacher.   She didn't know how he could be nice to children all day long and it was becoming a bone of contention between them as to when they would start their own family.
She felt in the back pocket of her jeans to reassure herself that her passport was still there.  She checked it twenty times a day if not more; she panicked if she couldn’t feel the comfort of that very important document.
‘You know I think we can hire a boat and go out on the river.  It wouldn't cost much.’  Brian looked askance at her. 
He knew she hated the water so why would he want her to go on a boat?
‘Do you think we could get a drink and a snack first?’  Shelley tried to play for time hoping that by the time they’d had refreshments a queue would have formed and they would find something else to do.
‘Are you hungry again?   Are you eating for two?’
The scowl Brian received for this quip would have floored many a man but he just shrugged his broad shoulders not really understanding his wife’s attitude.
He put his arm around her shoulders giving her a gentle squeeze as they made their way up the quayside to the small quaint café.   With their brunch placed in front of them, a cappuccino for Brian and a hot chocolate for Shelley, the atmosphere still felt a little tense.  Shelley was just about to say something when Brian started by clearing his throat.
‘I love you, Shelley.  If you are not ready to start a family then I can accept that.  I knew you weren’t sure on having a family when we married but I did think I would change your mind over the years.’
Shelley sipped her drink and listened.  The minutes stretched on.  A family bustled in to the café; Brian smiled at the two little girls, with their hair piled on top of their heads in cute pony tails.
‘I can’t,’ Shelley whispered as she took in the scene.  She place her finger on Brian’s lips, ‘no, don’t say anything.  You will just have to trust me on this.   We can't have children.’

Word count:  496


Thursday 8 August 2013


100 Word Challenge for Grown Ups – Week#101
Posted on August 6, 2013 by jfb57
…after all the excitement…

As usual, you have just 100 words. Please make sure it is suitable for a PG certificate and do visit each other.

Here is my contribution:
The time and day she couldn’t remember
She was told it was a day in late September
She had erased it totally from her memory
Her skin felt tight and clammy
After all the excitement she’d been told about
They were so sure, she knew there could be no doubt
She refused to believe it but knew it must be true
Her body was beaten, bruised black and blue
Courage was hers to take so they said
Her eyes scanned the writing, her brain read
Her name now was so very different
It felt so fraudulent
She signed the testament.

Tuesday 6 August 2013


Picture credit: Marc Falardeau
myth -  string  - snore  - yacht -  stage
Here are the rules:

1) Use the photo and the 5 words provided in your story.

2) Keep your word count 500 words or less.

3) You have until next Tuesday to link up your post.

4) Link up with your blog hostess (Nicole, Carrie, Tena or Leanne)
5) Have fun, don’t stress, let those creative juices flow.

Tina believed it was a myth that if her son ever came out of this building he will be institutionalised, unable to cope with ordinary, everyday life.  Her family will help him, his uncles and aunts will help him find his feet again for this new stage of his life.  He will make a new life with his girlfriend and the new baby.
Every night since he was incarcerated in this building, with its windows of despair looking out on to the street, Darren hadn’t been able to snatch a good night’s sleep.  Apart from his worries and his brain that was never still, going over and over, again and again what happened that fateful night, the snores and grunts and groans and bodily noises that emanated from his fellow detainees were something he would never get used to.
Why nobody believed him he could only blame on his youthful indiscretions.  He freely admits he wasn’t a good boy at school; in fact he was expelled at age nine.  His mum was at her wits’ end with him, it didn't help that his parents were just splitting up.   His goody-goody sister, butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth, got all the good reports, she got all the good bones in her body and they seemed to have missed him out altogether.
Lisa wondered why she let herself get involved with a bloke like Darren.  He was such a charmer when he wanted to be, a great bloke, fun and sexy and the last thing she thought would happen to her was that she would fall in love with a ‘bad boy.’  In some ways that had made it exciting and exhilarating, thrilling and wonderful but now he was behind barred windows and she was left with their new baby girl. Tilly was so beautiful her wise eyes looked at her mum, mirroring her father’s looks.
Lisa sighed heavily as she thought of the missed opportunity, the job on a luxury yacht as a personal trainer, offered by the wealthy tycoon she’d met at the health club where she’d worked up until she left on maternity leave.
Darren knew his court case was coming up in a couple of weeks’ time.  He was trying to prepare himself for the worst case scenario. His solicitor had laid it out straight on his last visit.  So unless a new, credible witness came forward he was tied up tight in police procedures and forensic evidence but that vital piece of string he kept telling people about was still missing. 
His mum cried and said, Darren, I love you so much but I can't take much more of your lies.  There was no rope, there was no string, there were no marks, there is no hope, you won't be out of here for eight years.  Your boys will be teenagers and your new darling daughter won’t know you. 
Darren, his voice breaking, called out, ‘I’m sorry, sorry, so very, very sorry.’
Word count: 496