Book Review: Recognitions by Daniela I Norris

RecognitionsRecognitions by Daniela I. Norris

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Here we have three intertwined stories. The paths through time and space are interconnected.

Daily, we tread the here-and-now road. We can make decisions as to how we interact with the road and with everything and everybody else on that road. Occasionally, other roads intersect our own. We can observe those who travel down those roads, and connect with them, but we have little influence on their direction. But could they influence our own direction?

Amelia is an American editor, working in Manhattan. As she struggles to cope with bringing up her two children following the breakup of her marriage, she resorts to trying hypnotherapy. This leads her to connections with Adele, an eighteen year-old living in pre-revolution, south-eastern France, and a shaman living in an African riverside village which is in danger from Portuguese slave-traders.

Her life is further complicated by a chance meeting with an old school classmate from her own teen years in San Francisco: a fourth strand to the story.

As the book concludes, Amelia comes close to bringing the four strands together and providing a semblance of clarity. There is still a long way to go and I can’t wait to find out what happens in the second book in the trilogy, Premonitions, which was published in June 2019.

Note: This book means a lot to me. It was the last book that my Dad ‘read’ before he departed from this life. In fact, it was read to him by myself, my sister and my step-mum. Reading the whole book to fill in the chapters that I’d missed as I read to him, made me feel whole. Furthermore, he was with me all the time that I was reading Recognitions.

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Words to Make You Think

Here’s a very interesting article from the Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP) which I picked up from LinkedIn.

It commences with:
       What do you think of when you read the words ‘inclusion’ or ‘diversity’?


Image credit: SfEP

Did you know that, ironically, the word ‘inclusion’ originally meant to shut someone in as a form of imprisonment or that the heart of the word ‘diversity’ means to turn in different directions?

View the original article from Susie Dent, honorary vice-president of the SfEP here:

At the end of the article, you are encouraged to give feedback on what comes into your mind when you think of these words: ‘inclusion’ and ‘diversity.’

My reaction was to come up with another word that may inspire you to think. What does the word ‘sanity’ mean to you. Please leave your comments below and, perhaps, suggest more words to make people think.

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Book Review: The Longhand Option by Dinesh Allirajah

The Longhand Option (Comma Singles)The Longhand Option by Dinesh Allirajah
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It is unlikely that robots will ever replace the entire complexity of human beings but we are seeing rapid progress in the automaton technology to replace humans for some tasks such as mowing the lawn and driving cars and trains. The inventiveness of humans both drives and limits the ways in which we can use these technologies.

The late Dinesh Allirajah collaborated with Professor Francesco Mondada to produce this story about a futuristic family and some of their innovative uses of technologies. The robots are just part of every day life for the people of the age, but Nat invents a new virtual reality world for his grandmother, Rosa, to explore, which helps her with her writing.

I really enjoyed the story and I marvelled at the creativity of the author.

Two memories came into my mind as I read it.

The first was the game of ‘inventions’ that my father, a nutty but brainy professor, introduced me to almost as soon as I could walk and talk. He got me to think of something that I would really like in my life which did not yet exist. Then he would ask me to imagine that the concept was already reality. What would I desire as the next stage? He would throw in his own suggestions to improve upon mine. By the time we’d gone through five or six iterations, we would have leapt decades or even centuries, into the future. Strangely, some of those inventions are now reality. Shame we never patented them.

The second was an encounter that I had with Jaron Lanier, the founding father of virtual reality, when I worked at Computer Associates in the mid-nineties. He was a keynote speaker at CA-World in New Orleans. Jaron showed us his weird and wonderful musical world of virtual instruments as he sat on the stage playing them with Zimmerman’s data glove. He then told us about how he had used virtual reality to help skilled surgeons share live feeds of their real micro-surgery with medical students around the globe. That was amazing! His final show was a virtual kitchen that could be created by the customers of his client, a Japanese company, to design and create their dream kitchen using, colours, positioning of storage and appliances even to the extent of how it would feel to use the kitchen. Fascinating!

This short story is equally amazing and fascinating. I really enjoyed it.

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Book Review: Folktales and Legends by Adalbert Stifter

Folktales and LegendsFolktales and Legends by Adalbert Stifter
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a delightful collection of folk tales. Although translated into English from the original German, the translator has managed to retain the authentic atmosphere of the old-fashioned language. One can just imagine a Bohemian grandfather sitting in a candle-lit cottage parlour, telling these tales to the children as they sit, open-mouthed on the floor in front of the fire.

They carry the mystery of magical figures, of Christian and pagan beliefs as they would have existed a century or two ago.

The trees and streams and rocks and caves all bear their own secrets.

Although I didn’t feel the terror that I sometimes experienced as my mother read the fairy tales of the brothers Grimm to me more than five decades ago, there were some slightly scary scenes. There were also some very enchanting stories.

I enjoyed the collection and the connections between some of the stories and I would recommend them to you if you can get your hands on a copy. I bought this book in a shop in Wenceslas Square in Prague. That makes it even more special to me.

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Books and Bookmarks

Books and Marks 02

I was delighted to take delivery of two packages this morning.

The first, from SoloPress, contained promotional bookmarks for my two novels, Eleven Miles and Knitting Can Walk!. I have taken great care in designing these and the quality of the product is excellent. I shall be handing them out at forthcoming events and leaving them in friendly cafés, retail outlets and libraries. I’ll also be taking a batch along with me to the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School next month.

The second package was from Lulu. It contained ten copies each of Eleven Miles, Knitting Can Walk! and When Pleasure Blooms (by Auridius O’Conner).  These will be on sale in the bookroom at the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School.

Also in the package from Lulu was a copy of Space Dust by my very good friend, Eloise De Sousa. This is a super children’s book that introduces a series about the adventures of Big Ox and Little One as they travel around in space in Big Ox’s canoe, propelled by his absolute favourite spoon. It is a lot of fun and the illustrations that are painted by the author are enchanting.

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Book Review: Jamrach’s Menagerie by Carol Birch

Jamrach's MenagerieJamrach’s Menagerie by Carol Birch
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The intensity, the deep feeling, the strong relationships, the joys, the horrors, the experiences, the adventures are all described so wonderfully by the author through the senses of Jaffy Brown in the first person, that I shall not even attempt to tell you about them. You need to read the book for yourself.

Short-listed for the Man Booker Prize in 2011, I cannot imagine how good the eventual winner must’ve been in the eyes of the judges to have beaten Jamarach’s Menagerie.

Towards the end, I was beginning to think of alternative titles for the book. Jaffy’s Oceans or The Long Voyage of Jaffy Brown came to mind, but I suppose that the title is appropriate, as it all started when eight year-old Jaf Brown stroked the nose of a Bengal tiger which had broken loose from Jemrach’s Menagerie and he was carried off by the magnificent beast. This incident is based on fact. The rest of the story is mostly based on fiction.

I can’t tell you the other fact without ruining the reading for you. But I’ll tell you about one if the early events which told me that I was going to love this book.

On the day following the tiger incident, Mr Jamrach sent his “boy”, Tim, round to find Jaffy and to buy him a raspberry puff. Jaffy had never sampled raspberry or cream or puff pastry in his eight years on Earth. The description of his happiness as he enjoys his first bite of this wonderful experience is guaranteed to make you enjoy it with him. How far from his previous life of scraping through the stinking sewers of Bermondsey could be this new joy?

There he [Tim] stood with his hands in his pockets and watched me eat the raspberry puff. The first bite was so bitterly sweet the corners if my mouth ached. So beautiful, a film of tears stung my eyes. Then the pain dispersed and there was only delight.”

Tim eventually becomes Jaffy’s very best friend, and that friendship has its ups and downs. Some of them are very severe. I suppose one could argue that Tim’s sister, Ishbel, becomes Jaffy’s best friend, but I am not about to enter a debate on the matter, because it doesn’t really matter.

Be warned that there are some very moving, sad parts to this story. If you are not careful, you could end up joining melancholics anonymous before you’re finished, but you should read it. You will not regret it.

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Wearing Silk

the unbreakable bond of eternal friendship and love.

Before I open my eyes,

I see you.

I feel you.

I slip out of bed,

Naked, yet enveloped by you.

I slip on my running shorts,

My shirt, my socks.

But I am already wearing you,

Like a silk cloak.

You envelope me.

You wrap yourself around me.

I am inside you.

As I stretch and start to run,

I feel you,

Soft against my skin,

Strong, soft silk.

My cadence becomes your rhythm.

As I push myself up the first hill,

I wrap myself around you,

Like a silk cloak.

I envelope you.

I wrap myself around you.

You are inside me.

You feel me,

Soft against your skin,

Strong, soft silk.

We are sheets of strong, soft silk,



A strong wind tries to rip us apart,

But we merge: a silk banner,

Blowing in the gale,

Defying the storm.

We are so closely bound that

Not even the fiercest maelstrom could rip us apart.

Our every ripple, every wave,

Is as one.

We are together,


I wear you like silk.

You wear me like silk.

I am inside you,

And you in me.

We are bonded: a strong, beautiful silk sash,


Read more of my poetry and some amusing short ditties on my Titbits and Poetry page.

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