Good Advice Is Rarer Than Rubies by Salman Rushdie: Review

‘Good Advice Is Rarer Than Rubies’ by Salman Rushdie is the first short story in a collection of ten. It tells of one of the British Consulate’s Tuesday women, Miss Rehana. On the last Tuesday of the month, young women travel long distances to try to gain entry into England and be with their fiancés. The lala at the gates asserts his authority and power over them, even though he is only guarding the Consulate entrance. Most of them are accompanied by one or more male relatives, but Miss Rehana is alone because she is an orphan.  Continue reading

How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff: 100 Word Book Review

This review is the result of a writing exercise: write a book review in one hundred words or less.

Boston-born Meg Rosoff‘s multi-award winning debut novel has wide appeal. Wise-cracking fifteen year old Manhattan girl, Daisy comes to visit her English country cousins.

Through Daisy’s eyes, Rosoff explores many voyages of discovery: of self, sexual love, new ways of life, and of learning to cope with the unknown. We see a magical, idyllic age, suddenly become tarnished by harsh and brutal times when war breaks out. Rosoff keeps us page-turning with minimal effort. Her descriptions like ‘I made jam sandwiches for breakfast and they tasted hoepful’ are delicious!

If you liked Mark Haddon‘s Curious Incident… you’ll like this!

Mirror, Mirror: Alternative Point of View

I am sure the Queen will appear again soon, with her illusions and delusions of grandeur. I have never seen anyone so vain before. There is no denying it, the nasty old witch is the fairest in the land. But I cannot help wondering what the King would say if he were to discover that his wife is a six hundred year old hag who finds her youth and beauty in potions and spells.

It is not only the Queen who suffers from the disease called Vanity. Her husband also comes to admire himself. ‘How handsome are you?’ he asks as he struts around, preening like a peacock. Ugly duckling would be closer to the truth.

I lost count long ago of how many women have looked into my frame and dreamed of being the most beautiful. Oh, if only I could tell them what I really thought of them! ‘Tis a pity I am not allowed to speak to anyone but my mistress.  There is much I could have told them. But it is probably just as well…

Things can get so tedious and predictable sometimes. Methinks ’tis time for a change. Here comes my Queen.

‘Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?’

My shimmering pane, have I got news for HER, today!


On Starting Writing

The first step to writing is to actually start writing. Do that and you’re well on your way. It sounds easy. I know it isn’t. We find a million ways of procrastinating and doing anything but write. But you must start getting your story down. It doesn’t matter how: on paper, in a notebook, onto a laptop – anything you prefer. Or try drawing a mind map or spidergram of ideas and things you want to tell the reader about.

Once you have these basics, you can start building on them. Work out what works best for you:

– work on one idea at a time

– get notes down for anything you can think of, as you go along

– a combination of both

It’s all about experimenting and finding out what works best for you. Try it. If it doesn’t work, try something else.

Salt and Honey by Candi Miller: Book Review

Image courtesy of Tindal Street Press, and permission from Candi Miller.

Salt and Honey by Candi Miller is an epic saga posing as a small book which deals with issues of major importance not only in Africa but on a global level too: persecution of ethnic minorities; apartheid; inequality; and mixed race relationships.  These are slipped seamlessly into the narrative. Reflections on the class divide and social commentary are effortless and non-judgmental. Candi Miller does not preach to her readers, she just presents things as they are.  This treatment of issues that matter to all of us worldwide makes Salt and Honey very easy to read. We do not feel as if we’re being directed to feel a certain way about the issues that are presented or about the fascinating characters; we are left to make our own minds up.

The book is full of beautiful words and imagery which take us into an unfamiliar landscape. The world of Koba is one that will be unknown to many, but the author weaves it in a way which feels like a blanket: it becomes familiar rather than foreign in her expert hands.

Changes made to the text for the Tindal Street Press edition of Salt and Honey have helped to make an already great book even better. The glossary of words is helpful, but not complete.

Despite Candi Miller’s attempts to explain the sounds of the different clicks in the Ju’hoansi language, these are not easy to grasp unless you are a linguist, or hear someone vocalise them. With this in mind, I can’t wait to listen to an audio version of this book.

Candi Miller, Salt and Honey  (Birmingham: Tindal Street Press, 2011)

Candi Miller, Salt and Honey (London: Legend Press, 2006)



Welcome to my website.  Here, you can find out a little more about me and what I’m up to, and read my blog posts.  You can also read some extracts of my work: poetry and narrative; and see photos or videos of me in action.  See also what I like to read in my spare time. If you’re stuck with your writing, take a look at ideas and suggestions on my site, for example, check out the inspirations and writing tools.