Friday, 20 February 2015

Pride by Jonathan Hill

I think the book cover for Pride by Jonathan Hill is really eye-catching. It's not often that I'm bothered about a book cover. I belong to the generation that borrowed most of its books from the public library where they were displayed spine outwards with only the title and author's name visible. So the fashion in recent years for artwork book covers has largely passed me by. But on this occasion I've gone back to look at this proud bird several times and think it is truly stunning.

Don't let the simple, easy narrative of Pride lead you into thinking this is a simple book; it isn't and that's because it works on a number of levels.

On the surface Pride tells the story of Liam, an adolescent who is coming-of-age and coming-out. It's a charming story of a young man who meets another and falls in love. There are ups and downs in an ever-changing social whirl but all is resolved in a happy-ever-after ending.

At the next level Pride is an exploration of the difficulties encountered by a young person who has come to terms with their orientation but is struggling to share the news. The author has explored sensitively some challenging relationships between parents and child. The reactions of others, both those who are empathetic and those who are openly hostile, adds depth to the story and provides the conflicts and tensions which make the book so engaging and interesting.

And at a third level author Jonathan Hill has managed to create a story which, although focussed on a young man who is gay, over-arches the emotional development of all adolescents. The values explored at this level are relevant to any situation where individuals from one social group move outside pre-conceived and expected mores. Pride is a paradigm of otherness and the search for inclusion.

There is an interesting juxtaposition of narrative intercut with reflections from the older, and wiser, Liam. And it's here where there are hints that all is not quite as happy-ever-after as the young Liam's story suggests. Maybe there is more of this story yet to tell.

You can find details of all Jonathan Hill's books on his website or his Amazon author page.

Monday, 16 February 2015

219 Cooking Tips and Techniques you might find useful by Suzy Bowler

I'm straying away from my usual reviews of indie fiction to write about Suzy Bowler's free booklet 219 Cooking Tips and Techniques you might find useful. I downloaded this because:

1 I read a review on Amazon a few days ago of Blood-Tied by Wendy Percival written by someone with a quirky pseudonym.
2 I recognised the pseudonym on Twitter and followed the person.
3 She followed me back and I clicked on her Twitter profile and followed the link to her Amazon Author page.
4 I liked the fresh, crisp appearance of the food on her book covers and 
5 even though I don't need any more cooking books I clicked and got myself a free copy of 219 Cooking Tips and Techniques you might find useful.

And I'm really pleased I did.

I thought that by my advanced years I'd got the kitchen department sorted but of the 219 tips and techniques in this booklet there are:

95 I've never come across / thought of / worked out for myself

47 that I did know but had forgotten and

76 that are part of my everyday kitchen behaviour. 

I think I've lost one somewhere but you get the idea. The booklet is a quick, easy read and the author writes in a light hearted, amusing and accessible style so 219 Cooking Tips and Techniques was a pleasure to read. I'm not saying that all the unknown tips and techniques are ones that I will use but they're interesting to read.

I'd got a few minutes to spare so I went straight on and downloaded Suzy Bowler's Easy Ways to Pimp Your Food. As a confirmed slap it on the plate and eat it type of cook I was interested to see what ideas she had for improving presentation. Again, I enjoyed reading the booklet. It's a bit on the short side but the ideas are clearly explained and, more importantly, seem to be quick and easy and I can envisage that next time I have anyone round for a meal I'll be adding some decorative touches. I've already put into practice her suggestion for making rice look better which to some people will seem obvious but it was something I'd never thought to do and it did look considerably more appetising.

I've downloaded Suzy Bowler's Soup (Almost) the Only Recipe You'll Ever Need but haven't tried any yet. Her basic recipe seems easier than the one I currently use and some of the variations seem to me to be amazingly original and unusual. The photos of the soup dishes look really attractive and you almost get delicious smells as you turn the pages so I don't think it will be long before I'm trying some of them out.

Usually I read on a first generation Kindle but realising there were photos included I downloaded each of these books onto the Kindle app on my iPad and I'm glad I did.

If you click this link you can get yourself a free copy of 219 Cooking Tips and Techniques you might find useful and for details of Suzy Bowler's other cookbooks go to her Amazon Author Page.