Book Review: ‘Three Things About Elsie’ by Joanna Cannon

Jo-Cannon---three-things-about-Elise-2

I found this lovely review on Emma’s Bookish Corner, and I simply had to share. I love Joanna Cannon’s work, and was lucky enough to be present in the room when her first novel The Trouble With Goats And Sheep won at a Literary Festival that ultimately landed her an agent. She is an amazing and inspiring person, and I hope you enjoy this beautiful review of her second novel Three Things About Elsie.


THE BOOK

“There are three things you should know about Elsie.
The first thing is that she’s my best friend.
The second is that she always knows what to say to make me feel better.
And the third thing… might take a little bit more explaining.”

84-year-old Florence has fallen in her flat at Cherry Tree Home for the Elderly. As she waits to be rescued, Florence wonders if a terrible secret from her past is about to come to light; and, if the charming new resident is who he claims to be, why does he look exactly a man who died sixty years ago?

From the author of ‘The Trouble With Goats and Sheep’, this book will teach you many things, but here are three of them:
1) The fine threads of humanity will connect us all forever.
2) There is so very much more to anyone than the worst thing they have ever done.
3) Even the smallest life can leave the loudest echo.


THE REVIEW

“’No matter how long or short a time you are here, the world is ever so slightly different because you existed.’”

Oh, this book, this lovely lovely book. There are books that move us beyond words. Books that set up home in our hearts. Books that make you see the world that little bit differently. Those are the books that are truly special and ‘Three Things About Elsie’ is one of those books. It is a book that is as wonderful to read as it is to look at. It brought tears to my eyes and joy to my heart. Thank you Joanna Cannon, for bringing Florence, Elsie and Jack into my life!

At the heart of this book is a tale of friendship, the friendship between Florence (who certainly did not buy those twenty-three Battenberg cakes in her cupboard) and Elsie, (who is ‘difficult to clip’ when having her toenails seen to). And also their friendship with General Jack, one of the rare male Cherry Tree residents. These two ladies have literally been best friend’s the whole of their lives and now they are spending their twilight years at Cherry Tree, sheltered accommodation, full of universal beige and with no actual cherry trees.

“We held hands as we climbed hills, as we waited on pavements, and as we ran through fields, as we held hands as we faced all the things in life we didn’t think we could manage alone.”

I love these two ladies, I can picture them perfectly sitting at Flo’s window, watching possibly spying, on the goings-on in the courtyard. When new resident, Gabriel, arrives at Cherry Tree, a ghost from Florence’s past, our intrepid threesome become determined to prove all is not right. The antics these three get up are so entertaining, they are certainly the troublesome, naughty children of Cherry Tree.

All the characters in this book leap from the page, they are so true to life it’s hard to believe they are fiction. During Florence’s story, we also get to hear a little from Miss Ambrose, who is second in command at Cherry Tree and Handy Simon, the handy man. The addition of these chapters really makes the story feel more whole. We get to see life from Flo’s point of view but also from the view of the people who care for her. This book really does show what life is like in care homes, from the residents to the workers to the visitors. It’s all too easy to forget that old people are still people and they have lived and are still living, Joanna Cannon has looked at this important subject with so much heart and sympathy.

“History is littered with people who achieved great things in old age.”

There are so many moments I adored when reading this. My copy is covered with post-its! There are moments where I laughed aloud, many moments when I laughed aloud actually. There are moments I cried. There are moments where I just had to sit and take in what I’d read. Joanna Cannon’s writing is beautiful, I am in awe of her ability to create such wonder with her words.

I honestly cannot tell you how much I love this book, I’ve already read it twice and I know I’ll be reading it again. It is something truly special. How I feel about this book can be summed up in one of my favourite quotes from it “it wasn’t always something you could necessarily put down in words. Words are not always adequate.”

Three Things, for me, is the most perfect of books. So settle into your favourite reading spot, pour a cup of tea, grab a something yummy (I recommend Battenberg, you can’t go wrong with Battenberg) and prepare to read a story that will touch the innermost corners of your heart and meet characters who will become your friends.

BOOKISH CORNER RATING – ALL THE STARS IN THE SKY!!


THE AUTHOR

Joanna Cannon graduated from Leicester Medical School and worked as a hospital doctor, before specialising in psychiatry. Her first novel ‘The Trouble With Goats and Sheep’ was a top ten bestseller in both hardback and paperback. She lives in the Peak District with her family and her dog – Seth.

‘Three Things About Elsie’ is published in hardback on the 11th January 2018 by Borough Press.

Via: https://emmasbookishcorner.wordpress.com/2017/12/22/book-review-three-things-about-elsie-by-joanna-cannon/

The 35 Best Books of 2017?

Best-Books-2017

2017 was a remarkable year for fiction and nonfiction. From fearless debut novelists to established literary veterans at the top of their games, authors provided the artistic tonic we needed to survive a turbulent time both politically and culturally.

Narrowing down a reading list of 116 titles to just 35 was torture. The final grouping you’re about to read (and judge) could have easily been expanded to include 50 to 60 books. Please feel free to debate these choices and add your own in the comments section.

As always, keep reading everyone!


35. Smothered by M.C. Hall

Megan Cassidy Hall deserves a writing award for the faux-comments section alone. Her epistolary exploration of a sensational crime, and how society reacts to it, is both haunting and incredibly sad.

34. Found Audio by N.J. Campbell

I still have this trippy, mind-bending novel in my head. You’ll question your own reality after reading this, but you won’t question N.J. Campbell’s talent.

33. Marcel’s Letters by Carolyn Porter

In a year when we desperately needed as many genuine love stories as possible, Carolyn Porter delivered a great one. Her hunt for the truth behind a World War II survivor’s letters led to a splendid and deeply personal read (as well as a beautiful font!).

32. Apollo 8 by Jeffrey Kluger

Jeffrey Kluger’s return to the Apollo missions provided 2017 with the same burst of hope that Apollo 8 gave 1968 (one of the most turbulent years in American history). A thrilling narrative featuring the crew of Apollo 8 that reminds you of what Americans are capable of when reaching for the same stars.

31. Blurred Lines by Vanessa Grigoriadis

Vanessa Grigoriadis’ curious and wide-ranging reporting in Blurred Lines warmed my journalist soul even while making my skin crawl. Sexual assault on campus remains a complicated, serious issue, and, judging by Grigoriadis’ revelations, will continue to be one until colleges and universities make even more substantial changes to their policies and punishments.

30. An Unkindness Of Magicians by Kat Howard

There’s not a bad sentence in this book. Kat Howard should be a household name. She makes you care deeply for all of her characters – even the evil ones – as she’s putting them all through (magical) hell.

29. The Weight Of This World by David Joy

David Joy is the poet of broken characters. He gets better and better with every novel. The Weight of This World puts a hole through your heart with a shotgun and uses bourbon to salve the wound.

28. The Last Ballad by Wiley Cash

Ella May Wiggins lives in the past, but would be right at home fighting against our current political demagogues. She’s a reluctant rebel, one driven to protest in order to feed her starving family. A finely drawn supporting cast experiences the novel’s tragic events through myriad personalities, racial identities, and disparate classes. Urgent historical fiction of the highest order.

27. Days Without End by Sebastian Barry

Still amazed at the answers Sebastian Barry gave during our podcast interview earlier this year. He combined his love of the American Civil War stories and his son to deliver a truly remarkable western.

26. The Lost Prayers Of Ricky Graves by James Han Mattson

A powerful read about the aftermath of a terrible tragedy perpetrated by a lost and confused teenager. No one comes off looking particularly well in this narrative, told in part through email chains and online chats, but it’s that broken humanness that makes The Lost Prayers of Ricky Graves so devastating and gripping. Top-notch writing.

25. Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie

The first chapter alone should win some kind of literary prize. It sets the tone of the novel and feels so immediate considering the political climate in the United States and around the globe. And that ending…so good!

24. The Story Of My Teeth by Valeria Luiselli

The Story of My Teeth further cements Valeria Luiselli as one of the most important voices in fiction and nonfiction. Read this and everything else she’s written.

23. American War by Omar El Akkad

American War is a cautionary tale that seems more and more realistic with each passing day. It’s a visceral, brutal thriller that peels apart the many layers of American dysfunction and partisanship.

22. The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker

Mel Vaught and Sharon Kisses were two of my favourite main characters in 2017. Whitaker puts them through hell (some of it self-inflicted), but never leaves them completely hopeless. Author Julie Buntin called this novel “goddamned brilliant” in June’s “Books That Should Be On Your Radar,” and she’s 100% goddamn right.

21. What It Means When A Man Falls From The Sky by Lesley Nneka Arimah

Lesley Nneka Arimah’s short story collection is masterful. I had so much fun listening to Levar Burton read the title story on his podcast “Levar Burton Reads,” and then hearing Arimah talk about the collection on a later episode.

20. Hum If You Don’t Know The Words by Bianca Marais

Bianca Marais’ storytelling is so mesmerizing that you’ll constantly mutter, “Just one more chapter…” while reading the novel. Robin and Beauty don’t have it easy for much of the narrative, but they’re equal parts fragile and flinty throughout the narrative. Marais’ sparkling debut explores everything from race relations to familial bonds.

19. The Force by Don Winslow

How do you follow up The Cartel, one of the best novels written about the ongoing drug war in Mexico and the Southern United States? If you’re the master of crime fiction, you write The Force, a gripping thriller about a corrupt cop in New York City. A master class in dialogue and plot.

18. The Refuees by Thanh Nguyen

Viet Thanh Nguyen won the Pulitzer Prize for The Sympathizer (#2 on last year’s list), and followed it up with an equally compelling, earthy, and poignant short story collection. He’s rightly become an essential voice on the literary scene.

17. Dark At The Crossing by Elliot Ackerman

It’s been such a joy following Elliot Ackerman’s career as a journalist and novelist. His debut Green on Blue was one of our favourite novels in 2015, and his stellar sophomore effort, Dark at the Crossing, was nominated for this year’s National Book Award.

16. I Was Told To Come Alone by Souad Mekhennet

I Was Told To Come Alone is an extraordinary memoir about a life in journalism. Souad Mekhennet’s journey from inquisitive child to fearless reporter tasked with communicating with jihadists is impossible to forget. Her final chapter is a call to arms for journalists and global citizens alike.

15. The Mothers by Brit Bennett

This is the first book I read in 2017, and it really set the bar high. Bennett’s wisdom and verve are evident on every page. I found myself falling in love with the characters all over again revisiting the novel for this post.

Note: The Mothers was published late in 2016, but I read it in January 2017 so I’m counting it for this year’s list. It’s my post, I can do what I want!

14. Salt Houses by Hala Alyan

I loved how Hala Alyan structured her debut novel. She wrote from multiple characters’ perspectives and jumped forward several years in the timeline throughout the book. This allowed her to explore themes like the aftermath of war and the development of familial relationships in a really heartfelt way. Her dialogue sang like poetry.

13. Sirens by Joshua Mohr

Joshua Mohr’s fiction is defined by brutal honesty. He upped the stakes by telling his own sordid (Mohr’s adjective of choice) tale. Make sure you listen to Mohr read from a section in Sirens (sure to elicit both laughter and tears) from our live event at Porter Square Books earlier this year. Very much looking forward to the follow up Model Citizen!

12. Stephen Florida by Gabe Habash

I finished Gabe Habash’s insanely well written debut in one sitting. Spending time in Stephen Florida’s head was like sitting on top of a runaway freight train.

11. Mrs. Fletcher by Tom Perrotta

The only thing I enjoyed more than this steamy satire was discussing it with Dave Pezza for #NovelClass. I loved the way Perrotta depicted his middle-aged female lead and how he crafted her eclectic supporting cast.

10. Marlena by Julie Buntin

As you’ve probably noticed, I’m a sucker for coming-of-age stories. Julie Buntin’s Marlena is one of the best ever written, and one that makes me want to up my writing game. It’s been rightly feted all year, and I’d love to see this story on screen.

9. Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

“Moving,” “romantic,” “tender,” and “violent” are all words I used to describe Exit West back in March. One of the central questions Hamid attempts to answer is, “Can new love blossom and survive in a war zone?” His answers are as poetic as they are heart breaking. And it all starts with this stellar opening line: “In a city swollen by refugees but still mostly at peace, or at least not yet openly at war, a young man met a young woman in a classroom and did not speak to her.”

8. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Celeste Ng has no rival when it comes to crafting characters. Those that populate Little Fires Everywhere are deliciously damaged. Tangled small town drama has never been this illuminating.

7. Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

Jesmyn Ward’s National Book Award-winning Sing, Unburied, Sing has its own heartbeat that you feel through its spine. All the ghosts that her characters are living with feel like they’re right next to you as you read.

6. Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran

Soli, one of Lucky Boy’s main characters, is one of the most memorable, tough, and fierce mothers in fiction. You’ll find yourself rooting just as hard for her brilliant counterpart Kavya. Between them is a young boy unaware of the passionate struggle to claim him on both sides of the U.S.-Mexican border. I read this early in 2017 when the first of President Trump’s Muslim bans was enacted. It was a powerful read then, and remains one now in the face of continued xenophobia and discrimination.

5. Spaceman Of Bohemia by Jaroslav Kalfar

Deep space, an astronaut tortured by the romance he left behind, and a spider that may or may not be imaginary. What’s not to love? Plus, my favourite cover of the year (not biased at all by the giant coffee cup)!

4. Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong

I’m still amazed that Rachel Khong packed so much heart, humour, and human themes into such a short novel. Khong is one of my favorite risk-taking debut novelists.

3. What We Lose by Zinzi Clemmons

Speaking of risk-takers, Zinzi Clemmons wrote an innovative, emotionally devastating novel that I continually re-read to get inspired. She’s a must-follow on Twitter as well.

2. All Grown Up by Jami Attenberg

I, perhaps unfairly, have compared every book I’ve read in 2017 to Jami Attenberg’s flawless All Grown Up. Attenberg told me in a podcast interview earlier this year that she wanted to “write something funny and contemporary, and loose and bittersweet.” She succeeded on all levels. This novel will be on my annual re-read list for years to come.

1. Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

Epic in scope and passionately written, Pachinko has been my number one since the day I started reading it. Min Jin Lee is a treasure. “History has failed us, but no matter,” my favourite opening line of 2017, still gets me.


So there you have it. These were the 35 best books of 2017 chosen by the Writer’s Bone crew – but what do you think? Do you agree? Are there books you would add to that list? Feel free to pop them in the comments below so we can check them out for ourselves.

Here’s to a biblio-fantastic 2018!

Via: http://www.writersbone.com/book-recommendations/2017/12/20/the-35-best-books-of-2017

17 Books That Should Be On Your Radar: December 2017

books-radar-dec-2017

Every month, the Writer’s Bone crew reviews or previews books they’ve read or want to read. This series may or may not also serve as a confessional for guilty pleasures and hipster novels only the brave would attempt. Here are their recommendations for December 2017:

  1. SMOTHERED BY M.C. HALL

  2. THE DEMON CROWN BY JAMES ROLLINS

  3. THERE ARE MORE BEAUTIFUL THINGS THAN BEYONCÉ BY MORGAN PARKER

  4. THE LOST PRAYERS OF RICKY GRAVES BY JAMES HAN MATTSON

  5. AMERICA’S WOMEN: 400 YEARS OF DOLLS, DRUDGES, HELPMATES, AND HEROINES BY GAIL COLLINS

  6. KING OF SPIES BY BLAINE HARDEN

  7. WHAT WE BUILD UPON THE RUINS BY GIANO CROMLEY

  8. CHASING PORTRAITS BY ELIZABETH RYNECKI
  9. THE FROZEN HOURS BY JEFF SHAARA

  10. DOUBLE FEATURE BY OWEN KING

  11. COLORADO BOULEVARD BY PHOEF SUTTON

  12. THE REPUBLIC FOR WHICH IT STANDS: THE UNITED STATES DURING RECONSTRUCTION AND THE GILDED AGE, 1865-1896 BY RICHARD WHITE

  13. A NEGRO AND AN OFAY BY DANNY GARDNER

  14. THE LAST PLACE YOU LOOK BY KRISTEN LEPIONKA

  15. THE PLOT IS MURDER BY VM BURNS

  16. ARE YOU SLEEPING BY KATHLEEN BARBER

  17. THINGS THAT HAPPENED BEFORE THE EARTHQUAKE BY CHIARA BARZINI

Click on the links above for a detailed synopsis of each book, or follow the following link to see what the Writer’s Bone crew had to say: http://www.writersbone.com/book-recommendations/2017/12/7/17-books-that-should-be-on-your-radar-december-2017

 

8 Best-Sellers Started During National Novel Writing Month

Bestseller-in-Nanowrimo

If you are doing NaNoWriMo, you will know by now that just getting it done is a challenge. So in order to provide you with some inspiration to keep going, here are 8 bestsellers that started out as NaNoWriMo projects.

Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen. Yes, the book that was on the best-seller lists for over a year, that was so popular that you read it in three different book clubs, and was turned into a movie starring Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson, started as a NaNo novel. This book is easily one of the biggest NaNoWriMo success stories, except for maybe…

The Night Circusby Erin Morgenstern. The buzz for this best seller was everywhere in 2011, and judging by its rapturous reviews and strong sales (not to mention the fact that the movie rights were snapped up by the producers of the Harry Potter films), the hype was warranted. Not bad for something that began as 50,000 words of unconnected scenes and imagery. What eventually became The Night Circus began life in 2004, seven years before it was finally published.

Fangirlby Rainbow Rowell. Granted, Rowell had already published her first novel, Attachments, and sold her second, Eleanor & Park, when she sat down to write Fangirl in 2011. And though the book ended up being double the 50,000-word monthly goal, she credits the exercise for forcing her to dive into the world of her story and characters like never before, producing “some of the bravest writing” she’s ever done.

Woolby Hugh Howey. Howey’s dystopian sci-fi novel is one of those credited with putting self-publishing on the map: after selling tens of thousands of ebooks directly to readers, he signed a six-figure deal with a major publisher. Wool was originally issued as five separate novellas; Howey wrote three of them (and even published one!) in November 2011.

The Darwin Elevator, by Jason M. Hough. Hough’s first NaNoWriMo attempt resulted in a 50,280-word novel that “fell apart” after one good chapter. His second eventually became a New York Times best seller, the first in a trilogy of sci-fi thrillers that has earned the author comparisons to recent Hugo Award–winner John Scalzi.

CinderScarlet, and Cress by Marissa Meyer. Each of the three books in Meyer’s successful YA series of futuristic reimaginings of classic fairytales began as NaNoWriMo projects. How’s that for consistency?

Hopefully, proof that all your pain can amount to something positive will have reignited those burning desires that got you taking part in the madness in the first place. Now, back to the writing desk with you!

***

Via: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/8-best-sellers-started-during-national-novel-writing-month/

19 Books That Should Be On Your Radar: November 2017

books-radar-nov-2017

Every month, the Writer’s Bone crew reviews or previews books they’ve read or want to read. This series may or may not also serve as a confessional for guilty pleasures and hipster novels only the brave would attempt. Here are their recommendations for November 2017:

  1. Little Fires Everywhere By Celeste Ng
  2. The Winter Of Frankie Machine By Don Winslow
  3. Garden Of The Lost And Abandoned By Jessica Yu
  4. In The Distance By Hernan Diaz
  5. Mister Monkey By Francine Prose
  6. Siddhartha By Hermann Hesse
  7. The First Day By Phil Harrison
  8. Vacationland By John Hodgman
  9. Eileen By Ottessa Moshfegh
  10. A Head Full Of Ghosts By Paul Tremblay
  11. Jane Steele By Lyndsay Faye
  12. Sunburn By Laura Lippman
  13. Little Deaths By Emma Flint
  14. The Castle By Jason Pinter
  15. Under The Harrow By Flynn Berry
  16. The Cutaway By Christina Kovac
  17. Titus: The Life Story Of Dr. Plomaritis by Dr. Titus Plomaritis
  18. Strange Weather By Joe Hill

Click on the links above for a detailed synopsis of each book, or follow the following link to see what the Writer’s Bone crew had to say: http://www.writersbone.com/book-recommendations/2017/11/8/18-books-that-should-be-on-your-radar-november-2017

 

11 Reasons The Best Relationships Are With Books

a-woman-reading-a-book

Boyfriends come and go, best friends move away, and family drive you crazy…. but books, unlike people, are always reliable. If you’re a true bibliophile, than books will already have a special place in your life. You constantly surround yourself with them, and unlike your romantic partner’s crap, you never get mad when you find them laying around the house. You make sure that no matter where you go, you go together, and you always go to bed holding onto a book. Even if you’re at work or out with friends, you’re mind constantly wanders back to the same thing: books. You just can’t help it, they’re always on your mind and you miss them when you’re apart. Try as you might, but there’s no denying it: books are your true love, and one of the best relationships you have.

No matter how great your girl gang is or how wonderful the new love interest in your life may seem, you can’t escape the truth: your relationship with them will never be the same as your relationship with your books. Not sure if you believe me? Then here are 11 reasons that the best relationships are with books.

1. You Prefer Going to Sleep With A Book Over A Person.

While your partner hogs the blanket and snores in your ear, books never do that to you. Sure, they may leave lines on your face when you fall asleep reading, but can you really blame the books? You’d much prefer waking up to find yourself surrounded in novels than in your partner’s drool.

2. Books Are Always There To Catch Your Tears.

When books make you cry, which they do often, they are also the ones there to catch your tears, and they do it without complaining about how you look when you cry, or telling you to blow your nose.

3. The Bookstore Is Your Regular Date Spot.

If you spend your Friday nights cruising the fiction aisle with a few new books in your arms, then chances are you have a better relationship with books than you do the friends you ditch on weekends to stay home and read. Hey, no judgement here.

4. You Go Everywhere Together.

Whether it’s on the train to work, on vacation, or just out to the bar, you and books go everywhere together. You’d never dream of leaving the house without one, unlike your partner who you don’t mind leaving behind for some alone time with your new novel.

5. They Give You Butterflies In Your Stomach.

From the subtle romance to the hot-and-heavy sex scenes, books always find a way to give you all the good feelings. Can you still say that about the partner who shamelessly burps and farts in your presence? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

6. You Spend A Lot Of Alone Time Together.

You can truly tell if you like someone (okay, something) if you find yourself having a lot of one-on-one time together. In the case of books, there’s plenty of that.

7. Even Though You See More Than One At Once, No One’s Feelings Get Hurt.

Your books understand they aren’t the only one, and unlike your romantic partners, they never get jealous when you’re juggling multiple books at once. They understand your unquenchable need for good storytelling, and they never judge.

8. No Matter How Much You Yell At Your Books, You’re Books Never Yell Back.

You can get as mad at you want at your books for having terrible plot twists or for killing off your favourite characters, but yell as loud as you can, and books will never raise their voice to you. They’re here for you, to let you vent, and isn’t that what we all want in a relationship?

9. You’re Constantly Talking About Them To Friends.

At brunch, when you’re out shopping, or on a girl’s night out, the story is always the same: you cannot shut up about the book you’re reading. Whether you’re friends asked or not, you can’t help but gush over your current selection, and you don’t even care if anyone is listening. You won’t hide your love, no matter how many eye rolls you get.

10. They Are Always There For You At The End Of The Night.

It doesn’t matter where you’ve been, or who with, books are always happy to see you at the end of the night. Because the best relationships are the ones you can count on, always.

11. You Can’t Get Them Off Your Mind.

Whether you’re at work or out with friends or even laying around with your partner, you can’t help but let your mind wander back to the same thing: books. They’re always on your mind. True love? I’d say so.

Via: https://www.bustle.com/articles/11-signs-books-are-the-best-relationships