2018 LUCINDA’S BEST BOOKS PART 1

For the third year I would like to share with you the books that I have enjoyed the most in 2018.

This is the first time I joined the Goodreads challenge and optimistically filled in 100 books. I will manage that, just, and I have reviewed all but two of them. And note, this is besides some beta reading and proof editing for author friends. Yes, I love reading.

These are not the only good books I’ve read this year, but those that have stayed with me long after I’ve put them down. These are the stories that either touched my heart, entertained me, taught me things I didn’t know or caused me to weep, sit and question.

I wish I could include more but I have managed to get the list down to 16. The first 5 this week in no particular order:-

tears of innocence

TEARS OF INNOCENCE  by T R Robinson

A HEART BREAKING STORY

The introduction tells us this is a true story and it is one of the saddest I have ever read. Don’t let that put you off buying it as it demonstrates the amazing resilience of one woman who, from one trauma after another from the age of 5 managed to survive against the odds. The author lived through World War II and the horrors of that time. Every time she thinks she has found safety and shelter, life throws her another curved ball. A brilliant tribute to a brave and courageous women you cannot help but admire more than any other writer whose biography I have read. Every woman should read this book and gain strength from it. I immediately bought the second book in the trilogy. This book deserves to be up there in the bestsellers once I started reading it I was unable to put it down.  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01DUSKEYU 

eVERY NOTHERS FEAR

EVERY MOTHER’S FEAR by  Joanna Warington

GREAT STORY

Having a relative who gave birth to a child after taking Thalidomide, I was drawn to this story. It recounts the lives of two women affected in quite different ways to the effects of this insufficiently tested drug. I had already decided in my mind what path the story was going to follow, but I was so wrong. It’s a well written book, fast paced and you cared about the characters Rona and Sandra – they are excellently portrayed. I admit to being a fan of this author and will buy and read anything she writes. Highly recommended, especially if you remember living during the 1960’s, there were so many references to life at that time it brought back memories.  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B078JX8559

origin

ORIGIN by Dan Brown 5 stars

GREAT!

Now I know that his writing has been panned by the literati, who pronounced Dan Brown couldn’t string two sentences together, but he writes great stories – stories that make you think and stretch your brain. And remember his books were picked up for Hollywood films something most of us only dream about. I enjoyed this book the 5th in the Robert Langdon series. The research must have taken days, I learned a lot and used my kindle dictionary many times. Well written, the story was fascinating although there were no real surprises at the end.  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01LXCD7FU

 

PONTIFEX MAXIMUS

PONTIFEX MAXIMUS   by Damien North

THOROUGHLY GOOD READ

I raced through this book, it was an easy read as the words flowed beautifully and I kept going page after page. It’s not often I finish a book and then go to look for the next one to buy, but this is the second time this week it’s happened to me. Be warned, this ends on a cliff hanger and if I’d known this I would have waited until books 2 and 3 were available before starting this one. An author after my own heart who isn’t afraid to kill off his main characters just as you get to love them. I also appreciated the in-depth knowledge of the higher workings of the Catholic Church. Good book, would recommend. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01M9DOBVX

THE PENCIL CASE

The Pencil Case by Lorriane Cobcroft

Much has been written about the indignities meted out to the Aborigines by the Australian authorities, but this is the first book I’m aware of that relates the injustices to white children. This a harrowing read, but I could not stop turning the pages. The book is so well written, I felt I was there with Paul and Jenny, suffering with them, feeling angry at how they were treated and routing for a happy conclusion. The writer takes you into the mind of Paul as he struggles to adjust, contain his anger and frustration as he attempts to cope with the demons who rule his life and his behaviour. The Pencil Case by Lorriane Cobcroft is one of those books which will remain with you long after you have read the last page. A sad story, beautifully told and I wish I could award it ten stars.  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00C4B9QLW

Next week the next 5 on my list.

Until then, take care

Lucinda

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IN THE FIRING LINE

For years I’ve been a victim of scribbling mania. It’s a disease that can start in early childhood and stays with you until you are no longer compos mentis and unable to hold a pen or identify the letters on a keyboard.

I am one of the lucky ones who managed to support a family by utilizing this malady and would jump out of bed crying “Yeah, it’s Monday!” On the other hand, public holidays would throw me into a deep depression as I couldn’t get more work done or filming venues were closed.

few of the videos I made

Yes, I’ve been a lifelong sufferer.

It was not all plain sailing. Often clients would say “This is brilliant … but …” and I knew that the criticism was coming. It was all a learning curve and hopefully, as the years went by, I improved, the negatives declined and I learned to understand that all people don’t like all literature, films, plays and even the adverts I composed and produced.

When I retired, I stupidly thought I was over this disease, but the symptoms got worse. My fingers would wander towards the keyboard, the ideas whirl round and round in my head screaming to be let out, I got jumpy if I couldn’t plant words on the screen.

I tried to cure the agony by writing a monthly column in a local magazine but it wasn’t enough to get my fix. I turned to writing novels and memoirs and 12 books later, the symptoms have not abated in the slightest, even though I am wearing myself to a frazzle.

Not everyone raved about my talent, or lack of it, but I’d been blooded in the media and do not take a one-star review to heart. I even do my best to cheer up other authors who are devastated by criticism. “Put your head above the parapet as a professional and expect to be shot down by someone, somewhere who does not connect with your literary work. It’s nothing personal.”

But, it seems today, it is.

woman typing writing programming

A few weeks ago, my monthly column raised a storm. It was a satirical piece with politics at the centre. Now, I’ve been writing on this subject 12 times a year for almost 10 years, but this one struck the wrong chord with a few readers.

They tracked me down on Facebook and wrote the most horrendous things that were personal, cruel comments, suggestions as to what I should do, or what should happen to me for having the temerity to put such words on paper. At the least I should be fired.

They wrote to the editor – who refused to let me see the emails as they were just too hurtful – and threatened to close the publication down by lobbying the advertisers who pay for the magazine. (I don’t get paid, I do it to help alleviate my addiction).

standing man wearing gray hoodie in front of magazine in rack
Photo by Bagus Pangestu on Pexels.com

None of these readers saw the humour or the satire in the piece which was so over the top it bore no relation to the truth.

I can take criticism, I really can, but was shook me was the level of intense hatred, vitriolic comments, the depth of fury and aggression.

What has happened to ‘Live and let Live?’ What caused these people to express their feelings in such a vicious way? They even threatened to report it to the police as a hate crime.

adult alone boy building

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The very least they demanded was a grovelling apology from both me and the editor.

In the next issue I wrote that I was sorry my article had upset anyone, it was never intended to do so, and mentioned some world issues such as FGM, poverty, climate change, pollution and dictatorships that are real world problems.

I was all for giving up the column but both DH and the editor begged me not to. That way the vindictive people would win, although if they had had their way, I would no longer be able to write anything.

However, I am now off the political scene – a bit of a relief as it was getting tiresome and  I will now satirise life in general.

On the upside, there have been lots of supportive emails, phone calls and messages to both me and the editor which has restored my faith in human nature. But it worries me that we live in a world that has so much underlying hate waiting to leap out at the slightest provocation. Has it always been this way? What do you think?

On a more cheerful note:- Next week, the first of my Great Reads of 2018. Don’t miss it.

Till then, take care

Lucinda

A CASTLE AND A CHILD

TRAVEL – PRAGUE

More pictures of St Vitus cathedral as I took rather a lot of them and it would be a shame not to share them.

They started to build it in 1344, so as you can see, it’s quite new! I can truthfully say this as it was finally finished in 1929 in time for the St Wenceslas jubilee. The style is Gothic, which is very popular for large churches as they look big and important. Even today you can look in awe and wonder how they built them without modern cranes and machinery.

HISTORY – ISABELLA OF SPAIN

Ferdinand is trying to reach Princess Isabella to marry her. Eventually, very late the small party of merchants arrive outside the castle of the Count of Trevino. It’s well guarded as the Count is ready for an attack, it’s also well known that he supports Isabella and will give sanctuary to Ferdinand.

Osama castle

(I’m not absolutely sure this is the right castle, but I like the picture and you get the general idea).

The merchant’s party are tired and with no money to buy a meal, they are hungry and thirsty too.  They shout for the drawbridge to be let down, but seeing a party of rough travellers, one of the soldiers pushes a boulder off the top of the battlements.  Ferdinand is almost crushed to death. Obviously, he wasn’t expected.

I told you this was exciting, didn’t I?

AFRICA FACTS

As this bounces out through space and into inboxes, I will be in Miami for the Reader’s Favorite Awards. The book that has won the gold medal is the second book in the Amie in Africa series “Amie and the Child of Africa.”

I got the idea for the story from a news item. On the night of 14-15 April 2014 Boko Haram a fundamentalist group abducted 276 schoolgirls from their school in Chibok in Borno State, Nigeria. As far as I know not all the girls have been reunited with their families.

In the first book, Amie loses Angelina the little orphan she adopts when the civil war breaks out and so I put the two ideas together. A fast page turning tale with lots of adventure – pure escapism – pun intended.

Till next time, take care.

Lucinda

ST VITAS AND A VEHICLE

TRAVEL – PRAGUE

This week a few pics of St Vitus Cathedral. I usually take a photo of the name of a church, but this time I forgot and I’ve had to hunt on Google maps street view to identify it.

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It was quite awe inspiring.  It’s 600 years old and has in turn been called St Vitus, St Adalbert and St Wenceslas. (When I was little and sang that carol “Good King Wenceslas looked out…”  I thought it was – last looked out – and wondered what happened to him after that. My writer’s mind had him hung drawn and quartered, strung up, boiled in oil, burned at the stake or something worthy of the saint status).

In olden days in was the venue for coronations of kings and queens. It’s a Roman Catholic place of worship and this form of Christianity was forced on the Czechs under dominance by the Habsburgs. I discovered that in 1910 Catholicism was the professed religion of 96.5% of the population. The latest figures show 39.8% as atheist and 39.2% as Catholic.

HISTORY – ISABELLA OF SPAIN

To be honest, Ferdinand is a bit cheesed off acting as a servant to one of the merchants. He’s a bit of a spoiled brat and doesn’t like being bossed about. He’s not too good at this undercover stuff, and grooming the mules and serving at tables and to now skulk around dressed in servant’s clothes on the way to a country where he is only going to be the king consort is demeaning.

The party travel mostly by night, but when they stop at an inn, they become fearful they have been discovered.  As soon as they finish their meal, they decide to press on with the journey. They discover that they have left the purse with all their travelling money behind.  It’s too risky to go back for it, so they ride on, penniless. Is there no end to this excitement?

AFRICA FACTS

Of the 54 African countries I have only lived in and or visited 12 of them. I count myself very privileged to have travelled deep rural, into informal townships and many places not frequented by either tourists or local residents.

CATO MANOR 8

With the film crew, we spent days in communities talking to local people, in broken English or with an interpreter. We also talked to wealthy people in positions of power. People are the same the world over, yet I saw more resilience, more fatalism and more courage than I have seen in so called civilised, western countries.

They  have a more happy go lucky approach too, as this picture below shows – yes the caption is true, I saw the paperwork.

KZN 05 Silver-2

I was thrilled to hear that Truth, Lies and Propaganda was chosen by a book club in America. I do hope I get to hear what they thought of it.

Till next time, take care.

Lucinda

STREETS AND SECRECY

TRAVEL – PRAGUE

I don’t think of myself as a travel writer, so it’s always a tussle between noting down what I have seen and taking time to look at things. I didn’t keep a diary when we were in Prague, so I’m relying on my memory here and that’s a very dangerous thing to do.

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Many of the roads are quite wide and there are tram lines everywhere. We did take a short ride on one on the last day, and they are more fun than riding on a bus, but don’t ask me why – they just are.

Two views from the Charles Bridge.

HISTORY – ISABELLA OF SPAIN

Now we’re coming to another exciting bit. I left off when Isabella is in hiding but under protection and she has decided it’s time for Ferdinand to come and marry her, but he must be quick. Lots of people want to stop them.

ferdinands dad

 

But there is a problem – isn’t there always? King John of Aragon, Ferdinand’s dad has fallen on hard times and he doesn’t have enough money to fit out his son with all the clobber needed for a royal wedding. Sad eh?

That’s King John on the left.

Ferdinand 5

First though he tries to fool King Henry of Castille – remember he doesn’t want Isabella and Ferdinand to get married. So King John makes very noisy preparations to send a whole retinue to the court of Castille.

Meanwhile, a party of 6 merchants quietly leave for Valladolid which is where Isabella sits waiting.

That’s Ferdinand on the right. Can you see the family resemblance? No, I can’t either.  I just love that saying “Momma’s baby, Poppa’s maybe.”

AFRICA FACTS

There are a total of 54 countries on the African Continent, among which are the 5 poorest in the world –

  1. Central African Republic — GDP per capita: $656 (£535)
  2. Democratic Republic of Congo — GDP per capita: $784 (£639) …
  3. Burundi — GDP per capita: $818 (£667) …
  4. Liberia — GDP per capita: $882 (£719) …
  5. Niger — GDP per capita: $1,113 (£907) …

The two richest are Nigeria and South Africa followed by Egypt, Algeria and Angola. Much of this wealth is due to the minerals beneath the ground, especially the oil in Nigeria and a wide range including gold and diamonds in South Africa.

Maps often distort the size of Africa, this one is more realistic. This shows you how large it is in comparison to other places.

AFRICA REAL SIZE

Often I get carried away and forget to mention my books, but you can find them all here on my Amazon page,

https://www.amazon.com/Lucinda-E-Clarke/e/B00FDWB914

or click through from here to my web page.  https://lucindaeclarkeauthor.com

Whoops, just remembered – Unhappily Ever after my political satire is on sale for $/£0.99 until the end of the month. Picture Fairyland in chaos as the royals wallow in their misery and unhappy marriages and the Green Giant is sent from the Red Party to foment unrest among the happy peasants.

Till next time, take care

Lucinda

I MUST BE ON A WATCH LIST BY NOW

I got the following email this week:

 

My nickname in darknet is ryley58.
I hacked this mailbox more than six months ago,
through it I infected your operating system with a virus (trojan) created by me and have been monitoring you for a long time.

So, your password from lucindaeclarke@gmail.com is …..

Even if you changed the password after that – it does not matter, my virus intercepted all the caching data on your computer and automatically saved access for me.

I have access to all your accounts, social networks, email, browsing history.
Accordingly, I have the data of all your contacts, files from your computer, photos and videos.

I was most struck by the intimate content sites that you occasionally visit.
You have a very wild imagination, I tell you!

During your pastime and entertainment there, I took screenshot through the camera of your device, synchronizing with what you are watching.
Oh my god! You are so funny and excited!

I think that you do not want all your contacts to get these files, right?
If you are of the same opinion, then I think that $859 is quite a fair price to destroy the dirt I created.

Send the above amount on my BTC wallet (bitcoin): 1NXNt72qfMhPZDffUEqryCYpEUzyR6LmgH
As soon as the above amount is received, I guarantee that the data will be deleted, I do not need it.

Otherwise, these files and history of visiting sites will get all your contacts from your device.
Also, I’ll send to everyone your contact access to your email and access logs, I have carefully saved it!

Since reading this letter you have 48 hours!
After your reading this message, I’ll receive an automatic notification that you have seen the letter.

I hope I taught you a good lesson.
Do not be so nonchalant, please visit only to proven resources, and don’t enter your passwords anywhere!
Good luck!

But it gave me food for thought – I had checked out a site which I guess could have been called porn but it was in connection with my story about Ben and his circumcision ceremony – honestly!

Like many other writers I’m probably on a watch list by now as I merrily google guns, explosives, torture techniques and similar stuff. I was warned by the team at Quora that my question about the distance you could throw certain kinds of bombs was inappropriate.  I guess they have a point  but it was information I couldn’t find on Google and several helpful people told me what I needed to know before the post was pulled.

And recently I needed to gather information about embassies and consulates and how they worked for Amie Savage Safari. Now put those altogether and I’m really a shady character.

This is maybe why I always get pulled over at the airport for that extra frisking. It can’t be my stunning looks or legs which start at my armpits, as I’m  old and wrinkly, and if the clefts in my face get any deeper they will make excellent smuggling hidey-holes.

Writing can be a minefield but we need vital and correct information for our books – the experts out there are ready to pounce and review our mistakes in CAPITAL LETTERS for the whole world to read.

Not one but 2 new books out in the Amie Backstory series – Samantha and Ben. Both available wide and both only $/£ 0.99.

Sam is a light, fluffy, cozy, comedy set in Benidorm, Spain and Ben is more serious – he is about to enter manhood in his rural African village where things don’t go to plan.

This is the link for Sam https://www.books2read.com/u/3J8B7e  

I’m still hoping to publish Amie Savage Safari before I go to Miami but it has to be just right and I’m a picky Virgo.

Take care

Lucinda

SQUARE AND SQUATTERS

TRAVEL – PRAGUE

Close to the Charles Bridge is the Old Town Square – the focal point of the city.

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Old vintage Hollywood era cars were popular as tourist transport, though I suspect most were only a couple of years old if that.

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The square is lined with high end shops – DH had a very firm grip on my arm –

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The weather when went – beginning of June – was overcast and threatened rain, so many of the pictures are quite gloomy.

They have a Christmas market in this square and even at the end of June, it was buzzing

HISTORY – ISABELLA OF SPAIN

Isabella decides she’d hung around long enough over all this marriage nonsense and all these men queuing up to wed her (a medieval form of all those unwanted friend requests on Facebook). It’s time to take action and she sends a letter – the postal service was much better in those days – to Ferdinand, telling him that it’s about time they got hitched and he better be quick about it.

Fedinand 3

There is something our heroine doesn’t know – her being all good and simple and praying a lot – but her intended is no angel. He does like the ladies and he already has a son by one of them and he’s only 16. I can only think she forgot to take the pill.

Isabella has one condition though. Once married Ferdinand must come to her to get married not leave Castile without her permission. There were a whole lot more things he had to agree to but seems it was worth getting at least a foot into Castile which was so much bigger than Aragon his home country.

 

AFRICA FACTS

It’s very frustrating when politicians or even tourists take a whirlwind trip and then come back with all the facts. For example, I don’t know what it’s like to live in Prague after a few days there. Most guests are carefully shown handpicked projects, on routes that avoid the scruffy side of town and all the hosts are carefully coached beforehand.

It’s too easy to judge one culture by another. Take a squatter house for example. Built of wooden car-part packing cases, with tin roofs held down with old car tyres and draft-proofed with mud. Then you notice the satellite dish on top and gasp at the size of the television inside.

CIMG7575

Many happy residents were presented with newly built brick houses with indoor water connection and electric lights. It wasn’t long after the officials drove off that these new houses were up for rent while the ‘deserving’ families moved back into their makeshift house in the informal settlement. The money earned from letting was more important than the comfort of the modern conveniences.

CIMG7599

Time for this weeks advert – just what you have been waiting for!

 

AMIE OVERVIEW

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Lucinda-E-Clarke/e/B00FDWB914

Till next time, take care.