Review: “The Muse” by Jessie Burton

The Muse | [Jessie Burton]
  • The Muse
  • by Jessie Burton
  • Narrated by Cathy Tyson
  • I really enjoyed the first part of the story as we follow a young black woman in London making professional progress and some intriguing discovery at the art gallery where she works; all the while falling for a white man who has a painting of interest and a fascinating personal story with a mystery.
    The sense of time and the portrayal of racial relations were remarkably well set up while fitfully only serving as background to the mystery plot.The other part of the story is set in the 1930s in Spain, linked to the present by this special painting. I probably have read / listened to too many stories with a ‘clever’ narrative that switches back and forth between timelines and separate strands of the story, and found myself mildly bored and annoyed with this. I wonder if the story, if told in a simple chronological order, would appeal as much or needs this inversion to create suspense. One of the reasons I’m not a Harry Potter fan is the – to me – excesive use of cliffhangers and above technique, but I appreciate that this is a legitimate technique that others enjoy very much.

    Anyway, those apprehensions aside, the historical aspect of the Spanish Civil War and the insights into the art world were astonishing and very rewarding to be part of. Interpretations of art work and the socio-cultural aspects of the novel kept me going. As the novel progressed and you;re meant to get into the characters deeper and get more involved, I found that I didn’t care for the characters in the 1930s as much, to be honest, and longed for the part in the present where I rooted for our black heroine and her quest for the truth.
    The mystery aspect itself was not as exciting as I had hoped it would be, but, it was a still a very gripping and fascinating read and an entertaining one.
    Definitely worth reading.

Fflur Dafydd yn siarad am y gyfres, Parch a’i ffilm arobryn, Y Llyfrgell/ The Library Suicides

Llandeilo Litfest

Sunday April 30th
at 11amOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAat the Horeb Chapel, Cawdor Hotel 


Eventbrite - Fflur Dafydd yn siarad am y gyfres, Parch a’i ffilm arobryn, Y Llyfrgell/ The Library Suicides  £5,90 Fflur Dafydd

Fflur Dafydd yn siarad am ei rhaglenni teledu a ffilm arobryn.

Meet Fflur for a late morning talk about her award winning TV programmes and debut feature Y Llyfrgell/Library Suicides

Fflur Dafyddfflurdafyddblog3

Mae Fflur yn nofelydd, yn gantores, yn sgriptwraig ac yn gyfrifol am greu y  gyfres ddrama boblogaidd Parch ar S4C. Yn 2016 derbyniodd glȏd am ei ffilm Y Llyfrgell / The Library Suicides a enillodd gwobr yng Ngŵyl Ffilm Caeredin. Seliwyd y ffilm ar y nofel o’r un enw a  gipiodd Gwobr Goffa Daniel Owen yn Eisteddfod Genedlaethol 2009.

Bydd hi’n cael ei chyfweld gan Heledd Cynwal.

rasalcd020mSinger-songwriter,, novelist, and the creator of popular S4C series Parch and the award winning film  Y Llyfrgell/Library Suicides. . The film, directed by multi award winning director Euros Lyn, (Doctor Who, Broadchurch, Happy Valley) was based…

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Sally’s Bookstore and Cafe – New on the Shelves – A PorterGirl Novel- First Lady of the Keys by Lucy Brazier

Smorgasbord - Variety is the spice of life

new-on-the-shelves-updateToday I am delighted to welcome Luzy Brazier to the bookstore. Lucy has converted her very successful blog into a debut novel that is already receiving wonderful reviews.  Here is A PorterGirl Novel – First Lady of the Keys.


About PorterGirl: First Lady Of The Keys

‘Porters are not the carriers of bags, they are the keepers of keys!’

As one of the most ancient and esteemed establishments of the academic elite, Old College is in for something of a shock when it appoints its very first female Deputy Head Porter. She struggles to get to grips with this eccentric world, far removed from everyday life. PorterGirl, the proverbial square peg in the round hole, begins to wonder quite what she is doing here.

PorterGirl – First Lady Of The Keys is a touching, and at times laugh-out-loud funny, glimpse into a world that is usually reserved for the upper…

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Review “A Man is Just a Man (A Loving Nate Novella Book 1)” by Janice Ross

A Man Is Just A Man (A Loving Nate Novella Book 1) by [Ross, Janice]I’ve been a fan and friend of Janice Ross for some time now and admire her genuine and passionate writing, her reflective and balanced outlook on life and her charming personality. I may not be all objective when it comes to her work but I truly do enjoy it.

“A Man is Just a Man” starts off beautifully with an odd encounter at work, the first day at a new job at that, and it turns out that a slightly emberrassing moment involves the new and rather handsome boss.
As Leah Daniels starst dating this wonderful Nate and begins to find her feet at work, she is subject to jealousy and work intrigue. Of course, it couldn’t be this easy.

Playful, charming, warm and passionate this romance digs deeper into the emotions and complications and had me hooked from an early stage.

The two alternate endings, however, make this particularly interesting, as the reaeder is confronted with their own response to opposite ways of dealing with Leah’s problem. What was a simple romance fairy tale becomes a tool for reflection and assessing your own strength – at least that’s how it affected me. Read for yourself, it’s definitely worth it.
Review of Janice previous work

An image posted by the author.Janice Ross was born in Guyana, South America and migrated to the USA in 1980. Although her citizenship certificate now reads the United States of America, she considers herself a citizen of the world. Sure she has not physically been around the world and back, but she’s travelled in her mind and dreams.

Janice enjoys Zumba, Kickboxing, and most exercise classes. When she’s not pushing her physical limits, Janice spends time working on her craft, as well as lending a hand to other aspiring writers.

Be sure to sign up to the newsletter for Janice Ross:




Winners of the X-mas Book Fair 2016: Theo Dunham


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Ahead of the #LlandeiloLitFest 2017 Short Story Competition (find details at the end of this post)  I’m delighted to publish some of the winning entries of the 2016 competitions here.

Here is a picture of three winners from the Christmas Book Fair Story competition December 2016: – Lorna Wright, Theo Dunham and Daisy Ayscough

“A Christmas to Remember” by Theo Duncan from Bro Dinefwr School won best Short story, with an Award Certificate and a Kindle Fire as prize.

Further winners were:
“Sheep for Reindeer” by Daisy Ayscough (Second in the Youth Category)
“A Christmas Tale” by Lorna Wright (First in the Youth Category)
“War and Toys” by David Beach (First in the Senior Category)

For details of the 2017 competitions scroll down. Here is the winning story by Theo:


Review: “All That Man Is” by David Szalay

All That Man Is | [David Szalay]
  • All That Man Is
  • by David Szalay
  • Narrated by Huw Parmenter , Mark Meadows , Sean Barrett
  • I listened to this on audible after a friend recommended it very highly.
    The novel is a mapping out of the stages of life, illustrated by several parts focusing on different men in different European locations and of different age.
    We start off with some young and careless men, travelling and largely sexually motivated ones, and end up with the lonely and ill old man who spends his time in the hospital, reflecting and observing the diminuishing of his life.
    I enjoyed many of the stories, found them well written and difficult to fault. Much is shrewdly observed, well put and, for this middle-aged man, fascinating as reflection and mirror.
    Yet, my biggest problem with this is that it seems to focus only on the negative side. These are all anti-heroes, almost devoid of morals, meaning in their life and without purpose. For me it’s missing some of the better parts that man is. The men here only seem happy when achieving sexual conquests or business success – even if this is hurting others.
    In that the novel paints a bad picture of men and a bleak, depressing outlook, despite some fabulous writing and characterisation. It’s easy to point out flaws but much harder to show how to be a better man. One or two more inspiring stories might have made a difference for me.
    Having said all that, the novel definitely engaged me throughout and stayed with me for days after.

Graham Watkins gives a talk on Welsh Legends and Myths

Llandeilo Litfest


Saturday April 29th
at 11am
at the Angel Inn

Eventbrite - Graham Watkins gives a talk on Welsh Legends and Myths  £2,71 Welsh Legends and Myths

Graham Watkins is an experienced orator and prolific author. He writes in a variety of genres including most prominently Welsh mythology and Welsh historical fiction.

His talk will tie in with an illustration competition in cooperation with the local schools and the Welsh Tourist Board’s Year of the Welsh Legend.

If you enjoy a good tale and get pleasure from Welsh legends you mustn’t miss this event. Apart from “Welsh Legends and Myths”, Graham has written the “Walking with Welsh Legends” series. In it, he’s retold eighty Welsh legends and linked each legend to the place it sprang from. There are five volumes, covering different parts of Wales, each containing sixteen legends and including stunning strolls, exploring our beautiful welsh countryside.

Graham dressed up at the Llandeilo X-mas Book Fair with Wendy White

graham watkins author, welsh legends and mythsdscn2957Graham Watkins…

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Review: “The Little Red Chairs” by Edna O’Brien

The Little Red Chairs | [Edna O'Brien]
A war criminal from the Balkan starts a new life as healer and sexual therapist in Ireland, of all places. Soon he starts having an affair and experiences some close calls with the authorities. Very engaging at first it started off well, leaving me wondering where the story would go and how the characters would be affected by the looming thread and the unknown of how the war criminal might adapt and change. There was a frequent change of focus between his story and that of some villagers, a perspective change between the characters that lost me soon, though.
I understand the point of this but I couldn’t settle and longed to skip forward to the next bit I was really interested in.Then the novel changed pace and the focus shifts again, which didn’t work for me.
We were now suddenly in London, in a different world, and with different characters bar one, yet, with flashed back to the original story. While all this serves to illustrate points of the often bleak message of the book, I found myself disappointed that the story had taken this direction. Yet, I was drawn into the second part eventually and some minor unnecessary characters aside, began to settle in again.
Juliet Stevenson gives a great performance as narrator with plenty of foreign accents pulled off believably.
I think the author has achieved some great things in this book and has affected me intensely. I would recommend the book but warn readers not to expect a smooth flow or classic story telling. It reads more like two disjointed parts that make sense together but only fitted somewhat awkwardly for me.
I see great talent here and hope the issues with the book were maybe just me and my expectations. It’s impossible, however, to dismiss the book or write it off. Very powerful.