How Not To Write Female Characters

Female characters. When fifty per cent of your potential target audience is female, if you’re not writing them in your screenplay or novel? You’re making a BIG mistake!

But how should you approach your female characters? That’s the million-dollar question … After all, women in real life are complex, varied and flawed. Knowing where to start in creating three dimensional female characters for your story is extremely difficult.

So … perhaps it’s easier to figure out how NOT to write female characters?

Script editor, novelist and owner of the UK’s top screenwriting blog www.bang2write.com, Lucy V Hay has spent the last fifteen years reading the slush pile. She has learned to spot the patterns, pitfalls and general mistakes writers make when writing female characters – and why.

In How Not To Write Female Characters, Lucy outlines:

•WHO your character is & how to avoid “classic” traps and pitfalls
•WHAT mistakes writers typically make with female characters
•WHERE you can find great female characters in produced and published content
•WHEN to let go of gender politics and agendas
•WHY female characters are more important than ever

Lucy is on a mission to improve your writing, as well as enable diverse voices and characters to rise to the top of the spec pile.

 

REVIEWS FOR LUCY V’S WRITING ADVICE:

‘A timely guide to creating original characters and reinvigorating tired storylines. ‘
– Debbie Moon, creator and showrunner, Wolfblood (BBC)

‘Lucy V. Hay nails it’
– Stephen Volk, BAFTA-winning screenwriter: Ghostwatch, Afterlife, The Awakening

‘Packed with practical and inspirational insights’
– Karol Griffiths, development consultant and script editor, clients include ITV, BBC, Warner Brothers

‘A top-notch, cutting-edge guide to writing and selling, not just practical but inspirational. Lucy’s distinctive voice infuses the entire journey. Quite brilliant. Here’s the woman who’ll help you make things happen.’
– Barbara Machin, award-winning writer & creator of Waking the Dead

‘Delivers the stirring call to arms that writers must not only write, but take their work to the next level themselves, making sacrifices and taking risks if they want to see their stories on screen.’
– Chris Jones, Filmmaker, Screenwriter & Creative Director at the London Screenwriters Festival

‘Writing and Selling Thriller Screenplays is a must-read for any writer, producer or director looking to create (or in the process of creating) a thriller production. It could also be immensely useful for those generally curious about the genre or looking to learn more.’ – Film Doctor

‘Lucy V Hay explains what a script reader and editor’s role in filmmaking, tells you to work on your concepts and that dialogue is the last thing to work on in her new book.’ – Brit Flicks

 

My review

This is a short and snappy writing guide in which Lucy delivers lots of advice and guidance for all writers from wannabe to well-established. There’s something for everyone to think about, take on board and implement. It’s not just for novelists, but for screenplay and script writers too.

There are useful periodic ‘In a nutshell’ summaries that reinforce the point that’s just been made, and those help the information sink in, whether it’s about focussing on good writing, overdoing it with a Kick Ass Hottie or how much agency to allocate to your female characters.

I guarantee you’ll come away from this book with some new ideas and approaches for your own writing.

 

Author bio

Lucy V. Hay is an author, script editor and blogger who helps writers via her Bang2write consultancy. Lucy is the producer of two Brit Thrillers, DEVIATION (2012) and ASSASSIN (2015), as well as the script editor and advisor on numerous other features and shorts.  Lucy’s also the author of  WRITING AND SELLING THRILLER SCREENPLAYS for Kamera Books’ “Creative Essentials” range, as well as its follow ups on DRAMA SCREENPLAYS and DIVERSE CHARACTERS.

 

Social Media Links –

Synopsis

When Joe Harkness suffered a breakdown in 2013, he tried all the things his doctor recommended: medication helped, counselling was enlightening, and mindfulness grounded him. But nothing came close to nature, particularly birds. How had he never noticed such beauty before? Soon, every avian encounter took him one step closer to accepting who he is.

The positive change in Joe’s wellbeing was so profound that he started a blog to record his experience. Three years later he has become a spokesperson for the benefits of birdwatching, spreading the word everywhere from Radio 4 to Downing Street.

In this ground-breaking book filled with practical advice, Joe explains the impact that birdwatching had on his life, and invites the reader to discover these extraordinary effects for themselves

 

My review

There’s a Chinese proverb that says: A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song.

This is wonderfully relevant to this book, not only because it reflects the joyous magic of our feathered fellow inhabitants of this planet, but because it can be applied to the author too. Joe Harkness does not offer this book as the only solution to anxiety and other mental health issues, but it worked in his case and he wants to tell us about it. He has a song that he wants us to listen to.

Bird Therapy is as enchanting as it is unusual. It’s a very unique book, powered by honesty and courage. It’s not easy to admit to suffering from mental illness and one has to admire the author for doing so. He also reveals his own early blunders when bird watching and so as well as sharing his story of healing, he also shares tips and tricks about dipping into the wealth of beauty and intelligence that birds display to us. Patience and perseverance are key to both recovery and discovery.    

I came to this book already a bird-lover. I keep all sorts of poultry and have many exotic birds too. Our French farm is home to at least 64 different species of wild bird. However, my respect for birds and the wonder they arouse have both increased after reading this book. It’s impossible not to absorb some of the author’s gratitude and reverence towards these marvels of nature.

This is a book that will stay with you for a long time, and perhaps alter your way of thinking about both mental health and the bounties and healing power of nature permanently.

 

About the author

Joe Harkness has been writing a Bird Therapy blog for the last three years. In 2017, he had articles published in The Curlew   and Birdwatch  magazine, as well as recording three ‘tweets of the day’ for BBC Radio 4. He is employed as a Special Educational Needs teacher and  has worked in the youth sector for nine years. He lives in Norfolk.

@birdtherapy

 

 

 

Synopsis

The Mongol Derby is the world’s toughest horse race. A feat of endurance across the vast Mongolian plains once traversed by the people of Genghis Khan, competitors ride 25 horses across a distance of 1000km. Many riders don’t make it to the finish line.

In 2013 Lara Prior-Palmer – nineteen, underprepared but seeking the great unknown – decided to enter the race. Driven by her own restlessness, stubbornness, and a lifelong love of horses, she raced for seven days through extreme heat and terrifying storms, catching a few hours of sleep where she could at the homes of nomadic families. Battling bouts of illness and dehydration, exhaustion and bruising falls, she found she had nothing to lose, and tore through the field with her motley crew of horses. In one of the Derby’s most unexpected results, she became the youngest-ever champion and the first woman to win the race.

Told with terrific suspense and style, in a voice full of poetry and soul, Rough Magic’s the extraordinary story of one young woman’s encounter with oblivion, and herself. LARA PRIOR-PALMER was born in London in 1994. Her aunt is Lucinda Green, a legendary rider and one of the UK’s best-ever equestrians.  Lara studied conceptual history and Persian at Stanford University. In 2013, she competed in the 1000-kilometer Mongol Derby in Mongolia, sometimes described as the world’s toughest and longest horse race. Rough Magic is her first book.

 

My review

This is an exhilarating account of a very exciting and gruelling race told in a very memorable way. Almost lyrical at times, the writing is also as brutal as the race itself.

It’s hard to believe the narrator is so young. This is such an incredible undertaking for anyone, let alone someone just out of school, to undertake. From drifting indecision, Lara Prior-Palmer becomes incredibly focussed and tackles the various problems and difficulties in signing up for and funding her participation in the race.

The race itself is recounted in a fascinating way. As well as discovering the scenery, the author discovers a lot about herself. She tells it as it is, at times not showing herself in her best light but a test like this is pushing her to the limit. Her admiration for the animals she rides really shines through because to her they are the stars of the show, although I think the reader is more impressed by this tenacious young lady.

It’s an unusual and gripping memoir, thoroughly enjoyable and absolutely one to read.

  

MORE ADVANCE PRAISE FOR ROUGH MAGIC

“Rough Magic is (Prior-Palmer’s) chronicle of the experience, and if her debut as an author is half as strong as her maiden effort in racing, it will be well worth the read.”  HuffPost

“Rough Magic is the most entertaining memoir I’ve read in years. It’s thrilling, hilarious, unexpected, and ultimately breathtaking. I loved every minute of this wild ride.”  Abbi Geni, author of The Wildlands and the award-winning The Lightkeepers

“Prior-Palmer’s style is a fascinating mix of pep and poignancy. A really terrific story by a spirited new voice.”  Sara Baume, author of A Line Made by Walking

“In Rough Magic she possesses Annie Dillard’s brilliance for noticing, laced with a wild and glistering humour. If an intellect can be said to be elemental, this is it.”  Josephine Rowe, author of A Loving, Faithful Animal

“This debut memoir is a brilliant literary exploration of loneliness and an exhilarating, funny, soulful account of how one young woman, against all odds, won a truly extraordinary race.” Kristen Radtke, author of Imagine Wanting Only This

“As fast-paced as the swiftest Mongolian race horse, Lara’s searingly honest account of her astonishing rise from hopeless underdog to Mongol Derby Champion leaves grit in your teeth and dust in your hair. I laughed, I cried and I felt every bruise. I was riveted till the last word and left with lasting daydreams of Mongolian horizons.” Felicity Aston, author of Alone in Antarctica

Bloom where you are planted (Life the Expat way)

Are you contemplating a move abroad?

Don’t panic!

From culture shock to capable, from language barriers to lifelong friends, and from foreign land to the familiar. Being hurled into life in a strange new place can be daunting and overwhelming, but it can also be exciting and enjoyable.

Rich with tips on how to expat like a boss, Lasairiona McMaster’s “Bloom where you are planted”, takes you on a journey from packing up her life in Northern Ireland to jumping in at the deep-end as an expat in two countries.

An experienced expat from a decade of living abroad, her honest and uncensored tales of what to expect when you’re expatriating, are as funny as they are poignant, and as practical as they are heartfelt. If you’ve lived abroad, or you’re considering the move from local to expat. If you’re looking to rediscover yourself, or simply wondering how on earth to help your children develop into adaptable, resilient, and well-rounded people, this book has something for you.

 

My review

As an expat myself twice over (UK-born but since 1992 I’ve lived in Ireland and then France), I couldn’t resist this book. It’s always fascinating to learn about other expats’ experiences and this one promised to be not only entertaining but helpful too.

I wasn’t disappointed on either account. The author has a lively, chatty style that’s a real pleasure to read. She shares her warts-and-all experience of expatdom, never hesitating to mention the grittier side of it and her own mistakes, but always aspiring herself and encouraging us to make the most of such an opportunity. She makes very valid points about how you need to be extra-organised and flexible, how you have to allow yourself settling-in time, how to cultivate friendships and cope with culture shock. Take your rose-coloured spectacles off before you embark on such an adventure.

Lasairiona takes a very practical and pragmatic approach. There will be good things, there will be bad things living the expat life –  you have to take the rough with the smooth. Compromise is key, both with your partner and affected family members, and also with the country you move to. You have to realise that it will be better in some ways than in your native country, but almost certainly worse in others. But you need to take the overall view and not focus on the negative unduly.

I honestly think she covers everything you need to consider when contemplating life as an expat, from packing, making friends, coping with stressful foreigness, struggling to fit in,  homesickness, issues that concern your Third Culture Kids (= nationals of one country through birth but living in another) and maintaining your sanity and identity. There’s a collection of tales from other expats at the end, which are  enlightening and add a few more tips and tricks to absorb.

The book is a must-read for all expats, but even if you’re not now, never have been or ever will be an expat, you’ll still enjoy this book. No, actually you’ll love it! It’s not didactic – do this, do that – rather the instructive element emerges indirectly through the ordeals and general discussion that Lasairiona presents. You’ll laugh and cringe, but the over-riding emotion  you’ll feel is admiration for this valiant author, who’s had the courage not only to embrace expatdom but share her ups and downs with us.

An excellent and very entertaining read.

 

Purchase Links:

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07RQ9BL6D/

US – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07RQ9BL6D/

 

About the author 

Lasairiona McMaster grew up dreaming of an exciting life abroad, and, after graduating from Queens University, Belfast, that is exactly what she did – with her then-boyfriend, now husband of almost ten years. Having recently repatriated to Northern Ireland after a decade abroad spanned over two countries (seven and a half years in America and eighteen months in India), she now finds herself ‘home’, with itchy feet and dreams of her next expatriation. With a penchant for both travelling, and writing, she started a blog during her first relocation to Houston, Texas and, since repatriating to Northern Ireland, has decided to do as everyone has been telling her to do for years, and finally pen a book (or two) and get published while she tries to adjust to the people and place she left ten years ago, where nothing looks the same as it did when she left.

 

Social Media Links –

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/QueenofFireLas

Twitter –  https://twitter.com/QueenofFireLas

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/queenoffirelas/?hl=en

Synopsis

Not just another romance, but a story of escapism, coincidences, friendship, luck and most of all… love.

Chickens Eat Pasta is the tale of how a young Englishwoman starts a new life after watching a video showing a chicken eating spaghetti in a mediaeval hill village in central Italy.

“Here I was, 26 years old, alone and numb with boredom at the prospect of a future which until recently had seemed to be just what I wanted.”

This is not simply an account of a foreigner’s move to Italy, but a love story written from the unusual perspective of both within and outside of the story. As events unfold, the strong storyline carries with it a rich portrayal of Italian life from the inside, with a supporting cast of memorable characters. Along the way, the book explores and captures the warmth and colour of Italy, as well as some of the cultural differences – between England and Italy, but also between regional Italian lifestyles and behaviour. It is a story with a happy ending. The author and her husband are still married, with three children, who love the old house on the hill (now much restored) almost as much as she does.

Chickens Eat Pasta is Clare’s autobiography, and ultimately a love story – with the house itself and with the man that Clare met there and went on to marry. If you yearn for a happy ending, you won’t be disappointed. It’s a story that proves anything is possible if you only try.

 

My review

This book is so atmospheric that I can hear those chickens clucking as they eat pasta and feel that Italian sunshine!

This book recounts the author’s experience of moving to Italy and creating a new life there, with all the difficulties and demands that come with that alongside the pleasure and achievement. As an expat myself, I know that ‘living the dream’ can involve plenty of nightmares en route! The author candidly shares her triumphs and tribulations with us, and it’s all very interesting, not to say fascinating.

As well as travelling abroad, we travel back in time to 1980s’ or so rural Italy, which itself is running a decade or so behind urban Italy. It is nice to be reminded of simpler times before the internet and other modern conveniences we take for granted. However, that comes at the cost of a more tougher, more constrained life for women, something that emerges clearly in this book.

The story of settling into a new home evolves into a romance. Just as there are problems with the house renovations and becoming a resident, which are part of the author’s love affair with the country, so too are there hiccups in the love affair with her future husband, compounded by the culture clash that inevitably exists.

The book makes for an enjoyable, uplifting and inspiring read.

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Chickens-Eat-Pasta-Escape-Umbria-ebook/dp/B012GZXOPY

US – https://www.amazon.com/Chickens-Eat-Pasta-Escape-Umbria-ebook/dp/B012GZXOPY

UK Audiobook  – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Chickens-Eat-Pasta/dp/B07BYLZX3X

US Audiobook – https://www.amazon.com/Chickens-Eat-Pasta/dp/B07CBJRG9C

 

About Clare Pedrick

Clare Pedrick is a British journalist who studied Italian at Cambridge University before becoming a reporter. She went on to work as the Rome correspondent for the Washington Post and as European Editor of an international features agency. She still lives in Italy with her husband, whom she met in the village where she bought her house.

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You can follow Clare on her Facebook Book Page, her own Facebook page and on Twitter.

Read her blog about life in Umbria here

 

Tales from the Pays d’Oc

Twenty-one tales of life, love and laughter in the land of sun and vines.

What is Matthieu doing up an olive tree?  Why won’t Joséphine ever eat pizza again?  Who went four by fourth? And who rescued two hapless Americans at Armageddon Falls?

Travel to the Languedoc, feel the scorch of the sun on your shoulders, smell the dust and the lavender and the ripening grapes and follow the adventures of the Saturday Club and the regulars at l’Estaminet.

In this collection of stories, Patricia Feinberg Stoner revisits the territory of her memoir, ‘At Home in the Pays d’Oc’ with a whole host of new and familiar characters.

 

My review

As an expat in France myself I was really looking forward to reading this book, which turns out to be a total gem. I love discovering other people’s versions of France. With this book it’s via a fictional route, but I think it’s safe to assume it’s based, however loosely, on the author’s experiences.

You don’t have to be an expat to love every minute of this charming collection of vignettes set in and around the Languedoc village of St Rémy des Cévennes.

The antics of members of the Saturday Morning Club, who meet at the Café de l’Ane (the Donkey Café, which I suspect is a tongue in cheek name!) keep us entertained. This assortment of characters, some local but most blow-ins from various distances, form a good-natured assembly with their shared love of their life in France as the gelling point. We meet most of them in more detail in various amusing exploits. The author is particularly good at portraying relationships – the way Henry plays the part in the Club of the old-fashioned English gentleman who’ll never quite fit in, but with his French wife he’s actually more immersed than others. The patient ‘yes dears’ from tolerant wives, the teasing by one partner of another, and so on. It’s beautifully done and really brings the book to life.

The descriptions are wonderfully detailed. I can picture every scene clearly and feel the heat of the summer days, hear the sounds of the busy market, and smell the truffle that Useless (who isn’t at all) finds.

This is a light and enjoyable read, something you can devour in one go, like a warm croissant, or take leisurely nibbles from, like baguette that accompanies a salad-based lunch. Either way, it’s thoroughly delightful.

 

Purchase Links

UKhttps://www.amazon.co.uk/Tales-Pays-dOc-laughter-vines-ebook/dp/B07JF8RV2N

US – https://www.amazon.com/Tales-Pays-dOc-laughter-vines-ebook/dp/B07JF8RV2N

About Patricia Feinberg Stoner

Patricia Feinberg Stoner is a former journalist, advertising copywriter and publicist. For four years she and her husband were accidental expatriates in the Languedoc, southern France.  During that time she wrote a series of magazine articles which eventually became her first book about the Languedoc: ‘At Home in the Pays d’Oc.’

?Now back in the UK, she lives with her husband in the pretty West Sussex village of Rustington, where Michael Flanders encountered a gnu and the mobility scooter is king.

She spends much of her time writing short stories and comic verses. Her first book, ‘Paw Prints in the Butter’, is a collection of comic poems for cat lovers, and is sold in aid of a local animal charity.  In 2017 she published her second book of comic verse: ‘The Little Book of Rude Limericks’.

?In the autumn of 2018 Patricia returns to the locale of ‘At Home in the Pays d’Oc’ with a new collection of stories: ‘Tales from the Pays d’Oc’.

Patricia welcomes visitors to her Facebook page (Paw Prints in the Butter) and to her blog www.paw-prints-in-the-butter.com.

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You may occasionally find her on Twitter @perdisma.

I’m beyond thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour for Dave Hill of Slade’s autobiography. I grew up in the glam rock era and loved every minute of it!


Synopsis

Slade’s music and style dominated and defined the 1970s. With six consecutive number one singles they were the UK’s number one group and sold millions of records all over the world. At their peak, Slade enjoyed success and adulation not seen since The Beatles. Now, for the first time, the man whose outlandish costumes, glittering make-up and unmistakable hairstyle made Slade the definitive act of Glam Rock tells his story.

Growing up in a council house in 1950s Wolverhampton, Dave always knew he wanted to be a musician and in the mid-sixties, with Don Powell, founded the band that in 1970 would settle on the name Slade. Their powerful guitar-driven anthems formed the soundtrack for a whole generation, and their Top of the Pops performances, led by their flamboyant, ever-smiling lead guitarist, became legendary.

But So Here It Is reveals that there’s much more to Dave’s life than Top of the Pops and good times. Packed with previously unseen personal photos, the book uncovers surprising family secrets, tells the inside story of the original band’s painful break-up, explores Dave’s battles with depression, his decision to reform Slade and go back on the road and his recovery from the stroke that threatened to cut short his career.

My review

I was nine when Slade (consisting of Dave Hill, Noddy Holder, Jim Lea and Don Powell) shot to fame in 1971 with their first of six number one chart-toppers: Coz I Luv You. I had a brother and sister who were a good bit older than me and so I guess I was a bit precocious pop-music wise as I could listen (not always with their permission) to the singles albums they bought. These included Slade’s. I quicky fell in love with glam rock. Like every other young person in Britain at the time, I’d watched Top of the Pops every week, hoping Slade would be on, and if so, what on earth would Dave Hill be wearing this week!

So it’s been absolutely fascinating to read his autobiography. For all that Dave was the glitzy showman of he band (he used to say “You write it, I’ll sell it!”) with his outlandish, flamboyant outfits, he’s basically a grounded, positive, family man. He had a supporting and loving upbringing, although it wasn’t always an easy one as his mother suffered from mental health issues, something that Dave has been blighted with too. He grew up on a council estate in Wolverhampton, where he continued to live for a while even after he made the big time. He made his own success and worked hard to achieve his lasting fame but sporadic wealth.

The book takes us through Dave’s career, from his early short-lived bands to forming Slade and its enduring legacy. He gives the ups and downs of life as a rock star, and it seems that the downs are the more common: constantly striving to get the next hit, to break into a new market, to keep momentum up. Even if a member is out of action for only a relatively short time because of an accident or illness, something that happened to Slade a few times, that can knock the band off its feet for ages. Slade always managed to bounce back, but it took effort.

Dave recounts how and why the original band split up and reformed with Dave and Don at the helm, but the foreword by Noddy Holder shows that there are no ill feelings. It was the nature of the beast, with all the stresses resulting from such a pressured and exposed career, for bands to reach exploding point. Slade continues to this day, even though Dave had a stroke on stage a few years ago. It speaks volumes about this man’s courage, commitment and strong personality that he’s overcome that and still performs.

The book is absorbing. It’s well written and very lively. Slade rubbed shoulders with all the big names of pop of that era, but there’s no name dropping. If, for example, Elton John wandered into a dressing room where Dave’s sister Carol was waiting for her brother, then that’s included as a fun but relevant snippet, rather than an exercise in showing-off. Carol supplies a few short passages of this book, and that’s a nice touch.

Through this thoroughly entertaining account of the fascinating life that he’s still leading, the author’s down-to-earthness and values of family love and loyalty shine through even more brightly than some of his metallic outfits! Wonderful book by one of pop’s legends. An Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without listening to Slade’s ‘Merry Christmas Everyone’ at least twenty times!

About the author

Dave Hill was born in a castle in Devon and moved with his parents to Wolverhampton when he was a year old. As a teenager he taught himself to play guitar and in 1966 formed the band Slade. After the break-up of the original band, Dave eventually re-formed Slade, and twenty-five years later, they are still regularly touring the world, playing to hundreds of thousands of fans. Dave married his wife Jan in 1973, and they have three children and six grandchildren. They still live in Wolverhampton.

 

 

Blurb

For some people, retirement dreams can consist of comfy slippers and gardening. Not so David and Helene, whose dream was of adventure. They presented Audley Travel with the challenge of exploring the history, landscape, wildlife, people and food in fifteen countries over ten months.

Fortunately, they were up to the task so David and Helene traded their slippers and gardening gloves for 53 flights, 30 trains, 8 boats, 3 cruise ships, 1 light aircraft, I hot air balloon, a motorbike and sidecar, countless speedboats, taxis, tuk-tuks, cyclos and bicycles. And a disobedient horse.

Turning Left Around the World is an entertaining account of their adventure, often intriguing, frequently funny and occasionally tragic. Share their adventure, enjoy the surprises and meet some fascinating people along the way.

The book is published by Mirador Publishing.

My review

This is a truly impressive and inspiring travelogue.

At an age when some people might consider putting their feet up after a busy career, David sets off to see those places in the world he’s always wanted to. He’s given a gentle prod – or maybe it’s more like a shove, at least to start with  – from his partner Helene, who sounds to be one of those wonderfully organised and energetic people that many of us wish we were, but never quite find the energy! They take in the places Helene’s longed to see too.

The couple do things thoroughly and hire guides when they arrive at their various far-flung destinations so as to get an insider’s view of the place. They thus glean every interesting nugget of information possible, which the author then shares with us. The whole book is a rich tapestry of snatches of their interactions, historical and geological background facts, social commentary, people-watching and detailed observation of the cultures they immerse themselves in. It’s totally absorbing and immensely readable. There’s no overwhelming or impersonal info-dumping. The author has a wonderful flowing style that is so easy to take in. I can’t remember absolutely every fact he shares, but I’ve stored a lot of them away and hope to drop them smugly into those conversations that begin with ‘Did you know…?’!

David and Helene travel to an astounding assortment of fascinating places in Chile, Ecuador, Peru, Hawaii, Fiji, New Zealand, Australia (the only spot on their itinerary that I’ve been to!), Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar, China and Japan. And that’s possibly just for starters since Helene asks where they’re planning to go next. Maybe this wasn’t the once-in-a-lifetime trip David thought it was!

There are emotional ups and downs to match the physical ascents and descents they make, muddles, a few shocks and frustrations, but the overall mood is of excitement and optimism. They bump into all sorts of people, from quirky to downright scary! Truly never a dull moment.

Their massive undertaking is an inspiration, and a reminder that life is for living to the full. Hats off to David and Helene for having the courage and determination to go for their dream, and I can’t wait to see if there’ll be a sequel…

 

About the author

David owned and managed a London marketing agency for 15 years, creating advertising campaigns to promote iconic international brands including Mars, Kellogg’s, Disney and Coca-Cola. Following the sale of his agency in 1999 he became one of the leading Consultant Marketing Directors in the UK, steering business in the launch or re-launch of their consumer brands including B&Q, Direct Line and RBS. David lives in Berkshire with his wife Helene. www.davidcmoore.author.com

 

This book is deliciously fascinating. What better way to learn about a country’s history than by being introduced to it around a certain food item, such as artichokes, wine or cheese. The author explains how politics, economics and culture link with food in ‘foodways’, which reveal a great deal about a country. We discover many such foodways in this book.

The book is like a plate of nibbles – bite-sized chunks of history and food at a time. We learn about Gauls as the same time as wine, Barbarians and table manners, The Battles of Tours and Poitiers and goat cheese, Charlemagne and honey, Viking invasions and Bénédictine liqueur, feudalism and diet, the Crusades and plums, Eleanor of Aquitaine and claret, Cathars and vegetarianism, taxes and seasalt, the Black Prince and cassoulet, the plague and vinegar, Charles the Mad and Roquefort, the Renaissance and oranges, colonisation and chocolate, sugar, forks and Catherine de Medici, chickens and King Henry IV… and that’s just for starters! Many other snippets of info are sprinkled like condiments over the main ingredients to pique our appetite. This really is a feast of a book.

Just as it’s hard to relinquish a plate a plate of moreish food, it’s very hard to put down the book once you’ve started reading. The author’s style is thoroughly engaging and enjoyable. He’s witty as well as wise, and you learn so much without realising it. He communicates so passionately and knowledgeably it’s hard not to be won over.

Like your favourite restaurant, this book is absolutely to be recommended.

The book is due out on 10 July 2018 from The New Press. My only quibble – it’s rather pricey. The Kindle edition is priced at €18.99 and the print copy at €24.24, which will surely affect its sales. This book has massive appeal but that price tag will put many purchasers off.    

This book

 ‘A comic tale of lessons in life, love, dating and the odd samosa party’

The contents lists seems to cover every possible thing you might want to know about dating from creating a profile to telephone interviews with prospective dates to handling speed dating. And that’s only part of it.

We begin with finding out about our author. Raj is sadly divorced but is now back in the dating game. He describes himself at the beginning of the book, and claims that he’s not a writer, but that’s not true at all. He has a wonderful way with words and a wicked sense of humour. Once you’ve started reading, you just can’t stop. I’m the absolute proof of that. I’m in my fifties and have been married to the same man for thirty-two years, so you might not think this book wouldn’t appeal to me at all. However, I loved every minute of reading Raj’s entertaining anecdotes and now reckon I could hold my own on Mastermind with the specialist subject of the dating game, having investigated the process thanks to Raj! 

After meeting Raj we get the lowdown on the Indian perspective on dating, and all the extra complications that brings. We meet the all-important Aunties (matrimonial intermediaries) who make things happen, and tag along to a function introduction samosa party where the faux pas are just waiting around every corner. I love how Raj describes how internet dating is really just the digital version of a match-making Auntie. We then go through all the various stages and explore this minefield alongside our very entertaining guide. If you thought, as the author did, that internet dating was only for freaky nerdy recluses or scary cat women, you’ll soon learn otherwise. There are a lot of perfectly normal people out there who are just needing a little help to meet their Mr or Mrs Right. For them, but actually for anyone, this is a superb hands-on, slightly tongue-in-cheek account of everything, and more, you need to know.