Thursday, March 31, 2011

Max Factor, murder and men

Book News:

A sudden flurry of activity for A Dangerous Man this week, which has been very pleasing. It briefly turned up at No 62 in the Amazon US Kindle charts and at No 54 in the Amazon UK Kindle charts, so many thanks for buying. And it also achieved a 5-star review at Goodreads (thank you, Dlee) and some lovely comments at Reviews by Amos Lassen (many thanks, Amos).

Meditation poems this week so far are:

Meditation 509

An army that never

goes to war

is one that wastes

its labours

but when all is said

and much is done

it surely gives peace

to the neighbours.

Meditation 510
When kidnapping great men
and workers

it’s key to remember
the blacksmiths

due to the value
of horses and iron

and more to the point
they’re not shirkers.

Meditation 511
When God seems always cross
you have no hope
of winning

so you may as well throw caution
to the winds
and keep on sinning.

Life News:

It's been quite a good week and a restful one which has been nice. Much to my joy they're restarted reflexology sessions at work so I spent a lovely lunch hour on Wednesday having my feet rubbed by the new reflexologist, Hilary. Bliss. I've booked again for next week and sod the expense, eh.

I also popped into the bible study last night (I missed last week as I didn't feel so good) - and so had all the drama and peculiarity of the ten plagues of Egypt. Marvellous. Just the sort of topic you need for Lent - and we did indeed have a great deal of fun with that one.

Other than that, it's been a week for TV, both good and bad. My, but I will miss the legal drama, Silk, whose last episode of the first season aired on Tuesday. I've loved it. Thankfully they're doing a second series but I will have to wait till 2012 to catch up with them all, sigh. And, also thankfully, Midsomer Murders was slightly better this week (well, nothing could be worse than last week, really ...) but I still don't like the way the relationships are being played within the team now. It's most unsettling and I do hope they start being more pleasant to each other soon - this kind of frustration and outright dislike is not what we watch Midsomer for!...

Meanwhile, I worry deeply for young teenager, India, in the increasingly bizarre and somehow grippingly shallow The Model Agency.  India: you so nearly escaped from the evil bookers' clutches in an earlier episode - so don't let yourself be enticed back into their strange and secretive fold! Run, my gal, run for the hills ...

And is it just me, or is the woman in the Max Factor Makeover advert so much more alluring in her "before" shot than in the "after" one?? Before the wicked Max Factor people get their hands on her, she looks very pretty and a nice normal person I would probably chat to. After they've ruined (ruined, darlings, utterly ruined!) her hair and trowelled her with warpaint, she just looks like every other 20s blonde on the street and the personality is gone. Shocking! I'm all for the value of makeup (Lord knows I need it) but not when it covers up a character completely - there's a lesson for us all in there somewhere ...

Anne Brooke

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Leaving things till tomorrow ...

Life News:

Everyone, stop doing what you're doing at once and relax ... This weekend has contained the wonderfully-named International Procrastination Day, which highlights the existential wisdom of not acting instantly and putting things off till tomorrow. Ah, there's joy in inaction, you know, and the creator of this auspicious event even says we can put off celebrating the day itself, so if you didn't know it was happening, you've not missed out ...

You'll also be pleased to hear (and surely celebrating the pleasures of the last paragraph in itself) that I've finally got round to using the first of my Christmas stamps, thus ensuring the joys of the season can even last until spring, hurrah.

Thursday night, K and I had a great time seeing Guys & Dolls at Haslemere Hall, as Ruth from work was in it. It's ages since I've seen the film and I don't ever think I've seen it on stage before and it was fan-bloody-tastic. I am still humming the tunes, so well done, Ruth, and the Salvation Army hat looked worryingly good on you ... Other good news is that (double hurrahs and put out the bunting) I don't have to have the bowel cancer screening - the doctor spoke to the expert who says that apparently having an uncle who died from the disease and a mother who's survived it is not reason enough to put me on the checking list just yet. However the medical advice is that I should be screened at 55 years instead of the compulsory 60 years, so there's another thing I can put off until tomorrow, and round about 8 years of tomorrows at that.

Marian and I had a wonderful time on the golf course during one of the first glorious spring days of the season on Friday - and I even beat her for the first time in a long time too. Though, to be fair, it was rather that she lost the game with her unfortunate putting rather than me actually winning it with my amazing play - I wish, eh. Still, it was great not to have to wear my woolly hat and I think I might even have taken off my scarf at one point, well gosh.

Yesterday, K and I had free tickets for the Ideal Home Show, which I was very much looking forward to, and K less so, I think. In the end it was quite fun and certainly an eye-opener, but also very busy & exhausting and I'm not sure I'll be rushing to go again. But the cappuccino was nice. Because of the huge busyness of Saturday, today is turning out to be a total chill-out day, which is lovely. Mind you, what with the clocks going forward yesterday night, I am missing my hour, and will no doubt be trying to catch up with it all summer, hey ho.

Book News:

At Vulpes Libris, I've reviewed Serena by Ron Rash - which is a novelistic take on Macbeth, but rather diluted, I feel.

Not much else this week really. I'm slowly getting to the end of The Executioner's Cane, and I've also started a new erotic short story I'm calling For One Night Only. Still, no rush on either, I don't think - as I've learned this weekend, there's always tomorrow, eh.

The Sunday haiku is:

This first spring sunlight
leads me to the lake: mirror
of heat and comfort.

Anne Brooke

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The British are here ...

Book News:

Be afraid, be very afraid!... British Fortnight at Brief Encounters is now in full and glorious swing, where you can discover all about my own royal wedding experience and where to get the best cream tea EVER - along with a whole host of other authors & goodies so do pop along and join in the party. Anyone for a cucumber sandwich?...

At the same time, you can find a review of Entertaining the Delaneys, and don't forget that both The Delaneys and Me and Entertaining the Delaneys are being offered as one of the British Fortnight prizes, along with many others, so it's definitely an offer not to be missed.

Also this week, I've been additionally lucky in being interviewed at the Book Wenches site, so you can read all about my current and future plans there.

Reviews this week have included an unexpected review of Maloney's Law at the Niciasus Book Blog and a 5-star review of Brady's Choice, also at Niciasus (thanks for both these, Nicci), and a 4-star review of The Delaneys and Me at Goodreads (thank you, Casey).

Recent meditation poems are:

Meditation 506
There’s not much truth,
but a great deal of silver
and gold:

a combination of factors
that never bodes well,
I’m told.

Meditation 507
If in doubt or under threat
create a tax to fleece ’em.

The enemy must be appeased
and as for friends – police ’em.

Meditation 508
The past has its own echoes
that enrich the mind

like a memory of God
or the scent of jasmine,
fragrant and kind.

Life News:

What can I say? Still we struggle on in the ongoing battle with the pesky middle neighbours and their really irritating solicitors. Our desperate attempts to make some kind of contact with the bloke buying the middle flat last week via the estate agents met with friendliness on the part of the estate agents and absolutely no action. Surprise, surprise. So first thing this morning, I ring up the middle flat estate agents again and they're all very friendly and promise to ring back as soon as possible - and so far (3pm) nothing. Hey ho. I don't expect anything either - but hey at least the woman I spoke to actually seemed to grasp the concept that if we sign their transfer document which has the incorrect address for the new middle neighbour on, then yes that does mean we can't sell our own flat to our buyer as we can't get the new middle neighbour to agree to the leasehold transfer as we don't know where he lives now, and the sale of our flat is therefore put into jeopardy. Deep deep sigh.

In the middle of all that it appears that our own solicitor has a Cunning Plan but has only this afternoon seen fit to reveal it to us. Bloody hell (sorry ...) but if she'd simply had the sense to talk to us two weeks ago, then we wouldn't have had to run around like the proverbial attempting to explain to the very deaf ears of the horrid middle neighbour solicitors why we'd love to sign their wretched transfer (we hate the current middle neighbours! We want them out, as indeed do most of the other neighbours too!) and why we can't (it means we can't then sell our flat, you ridiculous people, as you won't tell us where the new middle neighbour actually lives ...) Nor would I have had to - twice - attempt to contact the new middle neighbour's estate agents for this vital legal information, and nor would K and I have had even half of the amount of angst we've had to go through for the last two weeks. Ruddy solicitors ... (sorry).

Anyway, it is a Class One plan and may actually get us round the obstacles the middle neighbours and their solicitors are putting in our way, and with no legal prejudice to us and our sale - which is of course my only concern. I don't care two hoots about them and would like nothing more than to take their transfer document and shove it where the sun don't shine, my dears. Now there's a happy smiley thought that is cheering me mightily, ha!

But, hey, I'm not worried - it's Lent! And hopefully soon (please God) we'll have a lovely happy house in Woking with a garden all of our very own, and we will never ever have to think about shared leaseholds again - what bliss! There's always hope, eh.

Turning to the simpler joys (or possibly not) of TV, I must say I thought last night's episode of the new Midsomer Murders was very choppy to say the least. K did point out that there were indeed, as the recent media row has pointed out, no black people anywhere, not even in the city disco scene, though we did keep our eyes peeled just in case ... The main problem though was what the heck have they done with Sergeant Jones??!!?? Last time we saw him, he was the nice, bumbling, pleasant copper we all know and love, but yesterday he was a rude, angry, punch-the-witness-and-hold-him-down-till-he-confesses yob. What??!!?? Did I miss something? Is Jones so distraught that the original Barnaby (not to mention the nice police lady - where is she?) has gone that he has had a total personality transplant?? The Case of the Missing Sergeant: it's a plot worthy of Midsomer indeed ... Whatever next?

Anne Brooke

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The British are coming!...

Book News:

Next week sees the start of UK Fortnight at Brief Encounters Reviews, which will include spotlights on lots of good authors and your chance to win prizes! Enter now to avoid disappointment ... My own special day will be Tuesday 22 March so do pop in to Brief Encounters Reviews on that and indeed any other day. Satisfaction guaranteed.

At the same time, I'm happy to say that Entertaining the Delaneys is now available as a Kindle book both at  Amazon US and Amazon UK and should liven up your Sunday afternoon no end - so buy early buy often. As they say.

During the week, A Dangerous Man received an interesting 4-star review at Goodreads - many thanks for that, Rod. And you can find out what's coming up at Vulpes Libris this week, which includes exciting new authors, Macbeth and the Bay of Pigs, so never let it be said we don't work hard to revolutionise your reading lists indeed.

The latest meditation poems are:

Meditation 504
Even if you give away
everything you have
and the best of your heart

God cannot be bought
by tricks, deceit
or a liar’s art.

Meditation 505
If you must die
make sure there are men
and chariots enough
to mourn you;

the last thing you desire
is the enemies
of your land
to scorn you.

And the Sunday haiku is:

Waiting by the sink
the pink cupcake umbrella
expects a girl, soon.

Life News:

In a last-ditch and, may I say, really rather generous attempt to sort out the pesky middle neighbours (and their increasingly snippety solicitors - how rude can they get!...), we have tried to make contact with the new middle flat buyer directly via his estate agent to ascertain his address, confirm the ownership of the internal stairs, and a couple of other issues our own buyer has asked us for (and which those wretched solicitors won't answer either). The estate agents are proving very amenable, but so far no response from the middle flat buyer or his solicitors. We will wait and see - but K can foresee a time where we simply have no option but to refuse to sign the transfer agreement for the middle neighbours and they no doubt will refuse to sign the same agreement for us. It may yet be that nobody will be able to sell their respective flats, a situation we don't particularly want to happen in terms of our plans (though we don't care two hoots about them, really) but we may have to live with. Ah well. As I say, we will see, but we are in all honesty doing the best we can under very difficult legal circumstances. Sigh.

To cheer us up, K and I spent a really lovely day yesterday wandering around Nymans Garden and nearby Wakehurst Place (Kew). And for the first time it felt really springlike, which was wonderful. The rhododendrons and camellias were beautiful.

Finally, I must say what a gripping, well-acted and truly classy drama last night's Christopher and His Kind was on TV. Matt Smith really owned that role and, for the first time, I began to see what people see in him. Great stuff - more like that, please. TV producers, take note.

Anne Brooke

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Collections and contracts

Book News:

I've very happy to say that Untreed Reads has produced my first short story collection which you can buy at the Sony Bookstore at a very reasonable price. And what a marvellous book title it is too, tee hee.

Meanwhile, one of the stories in the collection, A Woman like The Sea, was briefly at No 15 in the Amazon UK Kindle charts this week, but has dropped its placing since then. And The Delaneys and Me was at No 68 in the same charts, again briefly.

Other book news this week relates to Vulpes Libris, where you can find (a) a fabulous article about growing up in a bookish family which seems to have seriously keyed in to people's experiences; and (b) my review of Maeve Binchy's The Return Journey - in honour of St Patrick's Day.

Life News:

The middle neighbours are again being difficult, or rather their solicitors are, deep deep sigh. They've sent us the contract to sign our agreement to transfer the middle flat to the new buyer as we're all part of a shared freehold but they've (a) failed to provide us with his current address, simply stating that he already lives in the flat he wants to buy (which he doesn't as he doesn't legally own it); and (b) stating that the internal stairs are not ours but theirs. Which is untrue according to the lease - they own the external stairs, not the internal ones. To be fair, I'm assuming that Point B is simply a typing error but we'd like it cleared up before we sign anything as our own buyer is entitled to those stairs! In addition, if we sign the dang agreement, yet we don't actually know where the new middle neighbour lives now, that messes us up for our own flat transfer as we can't get anyone to sign the shared freehold contract to let our buyer in if we don't know where the new neighbour  is - and who's to say that he might not take months to actually move in? We've never even met the guy ...

Anyway (sorry it's confusing, but the law is alas never simple), the middle neighbours' solicitors are now getting very snippety and demanding that we sign "urgently", as well as contacting our own solicitor (who has nothing to do with their case) asking her to hurry us up. The laughable thing is that we are more than happy to sign anything (anything!!) that will get the ruddy awkward neighbours out of the middle flat and out of our lives, but we'd darned if we're doing it when it puts us in a very tricky legal position. Some people have no sense, my dears. All they have to do is answer our questions ...

With all this going on, and still no exchange date on the house we are so very desperate now to move to, it's a relief that the new anti-depressants appear to be working. I had a lovely chat with the nice doctor this week, and she tells me that I'll be on these for nine months. Then I'll come off them. If I have a relapse then I'll go back on them for 3-5 years, then they'll try to come off them again. If that doesn't work, then I'm on them for life. Seems a reasonable rule of thumb to me, and nice to have an aim, and I'll see how I get on. But I do definitely feel more like myself, and more hopeful. Gosh. Whilst there, the doctor and I were also chatting about family medical history - which in my case is crammed full with diabetes (I'm regularly tested for that) and bowel cancer. Ah, the trick is which of these will get me first! She suggested that it would be a good idea to get an early screening for the bowel cancer possibility via GUTS who are of course local to here - which makes perfect sense to me even though, rest assured, I am symptom-free, so we're arranging for that. Lord knows what exactly they'll do to me but I suspect I won't be able to sit down for a week, remembering what other members of the family have had to go through - ah the fun and games of it all indeed.

Today, I've had a lovely relaxing morning having tea and chocolate biscuits with Jane H (hello, Jane - great to see you!) and we've put the world to rights again, hurrah, and now - well now I'm about to go for a well-deserved nap. How I do love a busy day.

Anne Brooke

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Prostitution, pimps and pornography

Book News:

Much to my delight, Brady's Choice gained an "Excellent" review at Well Read Reviews, and Entertaining the Delaneys received a 5-star review at Literary Nymphs Reviews, so many thanks to both reviewers for their comments.

My review at Vulpes Libris was on Jonathan Kemp's London Triptych, which must be the most unsexy erotic novel I've ever come across. Probably more pornographic than erotic, to be honest, and I certainly didn't take to it. Still (and strangely), many have, so I am obviously a lone voice of dissent in the reviewing wilderness. Again!

My latest meditation is:

Meditation 503
When the work is done
the party starts

so he captures their strength
and then their hearts.

And the Sunday haiku is

Small bright narcissi
dance in the shade of the house
where my neighbour lived.

Life News:

I've had a good haircut this week and played a bad game of golf, so the universe is balanced once more, hurrah. The haircut must have been more radical than I'd thought as I popped in to the local Quaker service again today and they didn't recognise me. Though, on second thoughts, they don't often recognise me, bless them, so I must try to make more of an impression. Perhaps I'm simply too quiet?? No, don't laugh ...

Yesterday, K and I had a lovely day out at The Vyne, near Basingstoke. The gardens and woods were very relaxing though there's not much out yet in terms of flowers. It should be wonderful in two or three weeks or so however. We'd forgotten, in our tour of the house, how keen the National Trust volunteers are in the early part of their season to talk to you and tell you everything they've just learnt. I did have a desperate urge to rugby tackle one sweet old gent just to make him be quiet for a second, but managed to stifle the urge. That said, the volunteer in the Stone Gallery was great and I learnt a lot of interesting stuff about the Kent school that was evacuated to The Vyne during the war. Some fascinating stories there.

And last night, we attended the Guildford Choral Society concert at the Cathedral and cheered on Robin, Gavin, Beryl and Liz (yeah, all!) in their singing endeavours. I enjoyed the Rutter piece in the second half, but thought the first half might have been a tad too relaxing. It was great to catch up at the bar after the show too - it's the first time the Cathedral has left the bar open after the interval's done and I'm sure it's a tradition in the making. One hopes.

Anne Brooke

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Read an Ebook Week!

Book News:

Welcome to Read an Ebook Week! I hope that those of you who read ebooks are having a great time and those of you who haven't taken the plunge yet might get the urge to have a go, especially in view of the range of discounts offered during the week by a wide variety of publishers.

In terms of my own books on offer this week, here's what there is:

1. 20% discount on all my work at Rainbow Ebooks - until this Saturday
2. 25% discount on The Hit List - direct from the publisher
3. 20% discount on all my ebooks at Dreamspinner Press
4. 20% discount on my haiku collection, Sunday Haiku - direct from the publisher
5. If you buy A Woman like The Sea, then my other books at Untreed Reads are at a 40% discount

And what could be nicer than all that? Enjoy!

Other book news is that Creative Accountancy for Beginners was briefly at No 43 in the Amazon UK Kindle charts, and The Delaneys and Me came in at No 90 in the Amazon UK Kindle Gay charts, so that certainly put a smile on my face.

In addition, Entertaining the Delaneys is now available from All Romance Ebooks, and I'm also happy to announce that I'll be taking part in the British Author Fortnight at Brief Encounter Reviews - my slot is 22 March so I'm looking forward to that.

Meanwhile, I'm quietly pleased to say that I've reached my 500th meditation poem. Doesn't mean a lot to anyone else, I know, but I feel pretty happy about it. Maybe I'll reach No 1000 one day - there's plenty of bible left to read, that's for sure! Here are the most recent poems:

Meditation 499
To make a fresh start
sometimes all you need

is a trusted road
and an open heart.

Meditation 500
God is best discovered
in the search
for something else

when we become aware
of the shimmer
at the edge of vision,

the thought
we can’t quite capture,
the friend we’ve forgotten

to meet:
that borderline land
where dreams still stand.

Meditation 501
Words when spoken aloud
create their own
unknowable life:

they break down
ancient temples,
destroy the history

we thought we knew,
change men’s lives,
reshape what is to come.

Meditation 502
After activity
the time comes
for celebration and rest,

the rhythm
of life’s seasons
being only the best.

Life News:

Well, we've had Pancake Day on Tuesday (mmm, pancakes - always good with ice cream and treacle, mmm ...), so Lent has begun in full. Forty days of trying to ease down on the worrying - I'm doing okay so far, but hey it's only Day Two. But I'm not worrying about it (ha!) so that's all right. My mantra, or rather two of my mantras, so far are: it might just work out well if I leave it alone; and God's more worried about this than I am, so let him do his job ... Not catchy, I know, but I'm letting them settle. The anti-depressants are good so far too, and are no doubt helping my Lenten focus. I feel surprisingly calm, even measured. That's not a feeling I've had for a while - it's very pleasant change. It may be psychosomatic as I've not been on them for more than a week, but I'm not complaining.

I even quite enjoyed staffing the Student Care table at last night's Postgraduate Open Event with one of my colleagues from Student Advice. It was great to catch up and we had some good conversations with visitors. At one stage, I even sounded fairly knowledgeable, which surprised me most of all. I doubt that will last long as really I don't know a bean.

And television is weaving its strange and mystical spell upon me. I was severely disappointed with the utter melodrama and laughable plot of the last episode of South Riding on Sunday. What were they all thinking? I giggled all the way through it (is it the pills?). As Andrea at work said, how can a cliff fall down onto a beach taking horse and rider with it and not one person notices that the cliff is missing. What??! I blame the lack of electricity they appear to have oop North - as everything was done in the utmost gloom. Somebody switch a light on and we can all head for the door ...

Mind you, I am still gripped with the huge amount of Awful People (capitals deliberate) who work at The Model Agency. They are all utterly horrid, my dears, honestly. It comes to something when the sanest, nicest and most sensible people in a TV programme are the teenage models themselves. It's the old people at the agency I despair of. What is the world coming to?

Anne Brooke

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Of farmers and kings

Book News:

I now have a new webpage for The Art of the Delaneys which is due out on 15 May 2011, and you can also read an extract. I've tried to put more about Liam's working life in this one, though obviously those Delaney Twins also loom large (as it were). More plot and less sex, eh - whatever next ...

In terms of recent reviews, I'm pleased to say that The Bones of Summer gained a 5-star review at Goodreads (thanks, Deb), and The Delaneys and Me received a 4-star review there (thank you, Lucy). Still at Goodreads, How to Eat Fruit had an interesting review (thanks, Jarrah) and I was grateful for that.

Meanwhile, I was thrilled that Brady's Choice was included in the February Recommended Reads list at Jessewave Reviews, and in addition Creative Accountancy for Beginners was briefly at No 80 in the Amazon UK Short Story charts, gosh indeedy.

However, the very exciting news of the week was that Vulpes Libris was mentioned on the BBC website for our recent Archers' interview, so well done, Moira, for that. Double gosh.

The latest meditations are:

Meditation 497
After bitter secrets
blood spills

which can never
be wiped clean

for all the water
in Judah’s hills

and all the good
you’ve seen.

Meditation 498
When the noteworthy fact
about a man
is that he’s dead

it’s probably time
to read about
someone else instead.

And the Sunday haiku is:

Whenever I'm sad,
cupcakes and cappuccinos
make everything glad.

Life News:

Marian and I went to see The King's Speech at Godalming Borough Hall, which is a charming little occasional cinema which always has an interval halfway through the film (while they change the reel). Bliss really - all cinemas should do that. And what a truly fantastic film. I loved it. Geoffrey Rush and Colin Firth were especially amazing, and it also brought back fond memories of having my own speech therapist when I was a lass (couldn't say a hard "k" sound for the life of me, you know, and of course having the slight family stammer didn't help ...) - how I loved that woman. It was also interesting to see that King George VI being forced to use his right hand instead of his left in writing etc brought on his stammer - which is exactly what happened to my middle brother at school, and his remained the worst stammer of all of us really, at least for a very long time. I also enjoyed seeing that George marked his speeches with notes of when to pause and difficult words he needed to take time over - which is just what I do too. Though actually when I'm reading out any passages from my books in public (a rare event but it happens), I change the words I can't say to those I can - author's privilege, don't you know. Ha! Anyway, it's a great film and, if you haven't seen it already, I can heartily recommend it.

Yesterday, K and I spent a pleasant morning and lunchtime at Wisley, which you can really never have enough of, and found a big container where they were offering free pots. Free pots - what heaven! We took loads - hope we weren't supposed to be limited to just one ...

Today has been a day for relaxing and doing nothing very much - though we did pop into church this morning just to show willing. We were bamboozled by some of the hymns but we did our best, especially when we (yikes!) had to tackle a dreaded Graham Kendrick classic, Lord preserve us. Way too modern for our tastes and he never seems to quite get the words (such as they are) to fit the music. As you can tell, we're not fans, ah well ...

Anne Brooke

Thursday, March 03, 2011

The Importance of Fruit and the welcoming touch

Book News:

It is a matter for general astonishment on all sides that during February when it was offered as a free story, How to Eat Fruit was actually downloaded 4,800 times. Ye gods and little fishes, that's more than a 1,000 times a week! I know at least a couple of those who took the punt didn't enjoy it, but I hope some of the others did. Now, just imagine how big a smile I'd have if it hadn't been free! But in any case it's lovely to think of 4,800 readers, or potentially so - therefore a BIG thank you to all who clicked on that button! Well gosh.

A Woman Like The Sea now has its earlier review up at Queer Magazine Online, so thank you to Victor and Anders for that. In addition, if during March you buy A Woman Like The Sea, than you can get any other of my Untreed Reads books with a 40% discount - so there's another good offer to whet your reading appetite. Keeping with Untreed Reads, I was pleased to see that The Girl in the Painting was No 3 on their international bestseller list for February, gosh again.

Reviews this week so far have been as follows:

The Delaneys and Me gained a 4.5 star review at MichelenJeff Reviews.
At the same review site, Entertaining the Delaneys gained a 5 star review.
And Brady's Choice received a 5+ star review, so that was thrilling, I can tell you. Gosh indeed! And thank you to Jeff for reviewing all those so kindly.

Not to be outdone, Sunday Haiku was briefly at No 68 in the Amazon UK Kindle chart, and I even managed to reach the 110,000 word marker in The Executioner's Cane, huzzahs galore and put out the bunting. Heck, I might even finish the trilogy one day - who knows.

This week I've reviewed Ron Butlin's Vivaldi and the Number 3 for Vulpes Libris, which is a musically surreal short story collection that it's wisest not to consume all at once. And recent meditations are:

Meditation 494
The shadow from the sun
retraces the silent step

for a paste of figs
and bitter tears

so one man’s grief
exceeds the worth

of the truth carved out
through all the years.

Meditation 495
Do not trust
the messengers of Babylonia,
do not let them in:

they’ll admire
everything you own then take it
when they leave again.

So do not trust
the messengers of Babylonia,
my friend:

they come
with gifts and smiles but they’ll only hurt you
in the end.

Meditation 496
To be remembered for water
is how to begin

so still the tongue
and let the brightness in.

Life News:

A difficult week, health-wise, but also positive really. Without the HRT, I've been all over the place so I finally bit the proverbial damn bullet and went to the doctor this week about my mood (low, if you're asking). I did the mercifully short (as I didn't have my reading glasses) test she gave me and we discovered I'm 9/21 for anxiety and 8/21 for depression. Which apparently makes me moderately, but not severely, depressed. So it's not all bad news and gloom really! Lord knows it could be worse ... Anyway, the upshot is I'm now on my first medically-prescribed anti-depressant (ah, welcome to mid-forties womanhood indeed ..) which is called Cipramil. Yes, of course I looked up the list of side effects on the NHS site but it was so long I thought I'd stop reading before I jumped out of the nearest window. Ha! Anyway, I'm now on Day 2 of the new Happy Pills and am feeling surprisingly perky. Which must be psychosomatic as they're not supposed to kick in for at least 2 weeks. I can't take the St John's Wort with these, alas, so they're on their own, the pesky little devils. We will see, eh ...

On a happier note, I have decided, along with the lovely Kirsty at Vulpes Libris, to give up worrying for Lent. I was toying with giving up chocolate, but hell I could do without the pressure right now, so an attempted lack of worrying seems like a better idea. I've also enjoyed finishing off the story of Joseph and his brothers at bible study this week. Now there's a disfunctional family if ever I saw one. Too much favouritism is never anything but a dangerous game, my dears ...

I also spent a lovely lunchtime at Wisley yesterday, though I'm afraid there were no cupcakes and the cappuccino just isn't as good as at The Savill Garden, but nonetheless the camellias were out, alongside some gloriously scented daphne sprigs and irises, amongst others. It was all very relaxing which was just what I needed really. And I've popped in to see my former neighbour in Woking today, so that was good to catch up.

I'm hoping all this positive input will help me through the no doubt agonising final episode of the increasingly grim South Riding on TV - I am still traumatised by last Sunday so who knows what I'll be like after the weekend. Someone get me some happy TV to watch, soon!

Finally, I am beyond thrilled to announce that it's now official: UK students have voted our University as the most welcoming in Britain, and my boss gets to have a few words in the article too, hurrah! Good for Student Care is what I say - we all put a heck of a lot of work into Welcome Week arrangements and changes (which takes up a good portion of our year and takes me a month to recover from afterwards!) and it's lovely to think that the students do get something out of our efforts. Well done to them and us, and here's to this year's Welcome Week also - the champagne's on me ...

Anne Brooke