Category Archives: reviews

Where be the happiness?…

(Held over from yesterday as Blogger broke …)

Life News:

Lordy, what a week. I have to say it’s been pretty bad really and I do feel quite depressed. Groan. I think the fact that, as per the doctor’s instructions, I’ve been slowing coming off the HRT to try to solve the cyst issues, and this is my last week of having it hasn’t been helping. The HRT really lifts my mood but, without it I feel utterly overwhelmed by everything and basically tired and tearful. Poor K …

Neither has the fact that I’ve had to work Monday, Wednesday and tomorrow (Friday) been easing the confusion – I don’t really know what hat I have to wear in the mornings, and I just get used to the work hat when the home hat must be worn and vice versa. And it’s so ruddy busy and difficult too in the office, there’s hardly a moment to breathe. God, what a moaner I am. No change there then.

In addition I’ve had a screaming/swearing/shouting/sobbing match with the other consultant and AXA Healthcare, as they for some unknown reason have involved me in the fact that the consultant hasn’t been paid yet – as AXA say he’s not sent them the report and GP letter which enables them to pay my bill, though the consultant’s secretary says they have sent it, so I then went back to AXA who say they haven’t got it, and could I ring the consultant’s secretary back to get them to fax it to them, and no they can’t ring the doctor’s to get their fax numbers direct as they’re too busy to do that (as if I’m lazing around doing nothing, eh, eh …) and I must do it even though yes they understand that I pay for their ruddy private health cover and I’m the client. By which time I’m barking mad and so tearful I can barely speak to the sodding phone-idiot. Eventually he tries to ring the doctor whilst I’m sobbing on the phone but he says (liar, I’m sure) he can’t get through so I must ring back and get the fax number. So I put the phone down on him and ring the consultant’s secretary again by which point I’m beyond reason and shout at her to give me the effing fax number without any chit-chat as I don’t have time or energy for this kind of thing which in my view she should ruddy well be doing anyway. I get the fax number, ring AXA back, chant it to them, tell them to sort it out if they haven’t got paid without involving me again because I’m the sodding patient and I can’t be arsed with their stupidity and put the phone down on them too. Plonkers. If I never have to deal with (a) ruddy AXA Healthcare or (b) the other consultant’s secretary again, then frankly it won’t be a bloody moment too soon.  All that whilst at work too – no wonder Ruth took pity on me and got me a coffee, fully-caff. Ruth is an angel. No argument about that.

But really, no wonder I’m pissed off …

Not only that but the troublesome absentee neighbours in the middle flat are causing a fuss about K very kindly paying their share of the house building insurance for them as it was due and we thought the building should really continue to be insured (well, it seemed logical to us …). Anyway, they’re querying the long-standing division of costs, the rebuilding costs, the lease, the contents, what we might do if we decide to flood them (oh the temptation, don’t even mention it …) and anything else that springs to their troublesome minds. In addition, they have now started questioning the very lovely downstairs neighbours about whether she has been using their lawnmower (um no, she hasn’t …) and whether the garage she owns is in fact hers (it is. We know it is as this flat sold it to them in the 1960s and so it’s got nothing whatsoever to do with the ruddy middle neighbours, who really just try to get their facts right or simply butt out of what is none of their business). The crux of the matter is I understand they hate us (we hate them too so it’s fair dues) but why they have to interfere with the perfectly innocent downstairs neighbour is way way beyond us. Perhaps they are just insane? It’s a definite possibility.

So, what with all this, I’m now deeply worried about what will happen and what problems they might cause if we ever get a buyer for our flat (academic question at the moment as dammit but no-one’s come near the place and it’s been a week already, sigh …) and whether they’ll decide to block the sales agreement (their right as a one-third freeholder) and therefore prevent us from selling at all. Maybe I’m over-dramatising, but yes I am worried about this. Whatever happens, I do not want to be in this flat for my next birthday in summer 2011. I’ve really seriously got to be out of here by then, if only for reasons of mental wellbeing, even if we have to abandon it and simply buy a similar property elsewhere. I fear Flat 2 might become an albatross round our neck we’re never going to be rid of and therefore the dream of an extra bedroom we might use as a study plus a garden and a garage might be vanishing away. And if the neighbours won’t let us sell it, then they’re unlikely to allow us to rent it out either, further sighing … If all this has taught me one thing and a thing I will freely share with you now, it’s this: never ever buy leasehold, no matter how lovely the people are you’re sharing it with – as things move on and other people come in, and you can never ever tell what might happen. Still, I hope it doesn’t come to this, as I just want us or them to leave. Yes, I’m probably being paranoid, but it’s been a difficult week and getting perspective is really really tough. On the brighter side, I’m sure (sort of) that the middle neighbours must want us to leave – why wouldn’t they?? After all, from the evidence of this paragraph we are of course insane … In the meantime I’ve started to take 2 St John’s Wort pills per day instead of one to try to bring back the happiness though – I’ll let you know if it works, ho hum.

Book News:

A Dangerous Man did really well in the recent giveaway at Jessewave Reviews, so I’m very pleased about that. It’s also now available at Amazon UK and also at Rainbow Ebooks, so that’s nice. Apparently people are even buying it, well gosh.

At Vulpes Libris, I reviewed The Book of Happy Endings by Elise Valmorbida – she’s an author I do admire, but I don’t think true short stories bring out any of her natural clarity and humanity, which is a shame. Neither are they very happy either, but hey maybe that’s my mood. Who can tell.

Meditation 449

Any miracle
leaves its mark:

the memory of poison
thwarted; bread

too numerous to eat;
an echo of wonder.

Meditation 450

If only all diseases
could be cured as easily

by this simple matter
of washing

and understanding
the subtle magic
in the earth.

Anne Brooke

Holidays and haikus

Life News:

We had a totally lovely time with the Egypt Gang oop north (hello, all, and thank you again!) and catching up was as grand as ever. The only problem was that I spent the whole weekend and indeed the rest of this week being not very well at all, so I hope nobody else has caught what I’ve had – keep taking the tablets … Lord K and I then moved a little further south to County Durham and spent a few days at a hotel before coming home. I must say the hotel was rather too Fawlty Towers than was good for it but the food was good and the staff meant well so all was not lost. I did spent a lot of time asleep and/or using up the whole of the UK tissue supply blowing my nose so I can’t really say it was the best holiday ever but the weekend with The Gang made it all worthwhile, hurrah! Am definitely not looking forward to the return to work though – I could do with another week’s holiday, sickness-free indeed.

Book News:

I have a new webpage for upcoming gay short story, Tommy’s Blind Date, which is due out from Amber Allure Press on 12 September.

Meanwhile, the guns are pointing in my directions with tricky reviews here and here – obviously no-one like male hookers or wolves, but sorry for the trauma, Hayley … Martin and The Wolf did slightly redeem itself however with a 4-star review at Goodreads – many thanks, Ami. In addition, Painting from Life gained its second 5-star review at Amazon US.

I’m also happy to note that during the week (though they’re not there now), Maloney’s Law unexpectedly found itself in the Top 100 Gay Books at Amazon UK, whilst The Bones of Summer was No 74 in the Amazon UK Gay Erotica charts, well gosh. Not to be outdone, The Delaneys and Me came back in at No 39 in the Amazon Gay Fiction charts and, to my astonishment, three of my Untreed Reads stories were in the Waterstone’s Short Stories Top 10 chart, although one of them got a 1-star review (which is much like being blooded at the hunt …), but you’ll have to click on the link to find out which one. I do rather enjoy these 1-star ratings – it’s always better to be hated than tolerated, as my grandmother used to say.

There’s been one new poem this week:

Unseen
The thing seen
stands for absence
in grey and blue:

part blemish
part blessing
understood by you.

And two haikus:

The north swallows us:
skies of brindled blue and grey,
the woodlands’ dark song.

Alnwick Garden
Poison infiltrates
my skin: henbane, rosemary,
wormwood and willow.

Anne Brooke

A Dangerous Man, books and interviews

Lots of exciting news this week, so hang on to your hats! I’m thrilled to say that Cheyenne Publishing will be publishing a new edition of A Dangerous Man later in 2010, so more news to follow shortly on that front. A big thank you to Mark for saying yes!

I’m also happy to say that all my Untreed Reads eBooks are now available at Books on Board and Powell’s so thank you to Jay for sorting all that out. It’s much appreciated.

Other writing news is that my GLBT fantasy short story, Tuluscan Six and the Time Circle, will be published by Amber Allure on 18 July and you can also read an extract here. Love the cover too! In terms of reviews, it’s been a nice week also: The Bones of Summer gained two reviews at Goodreads, which you can read here and here – two very different reactions, but thank you to both readers for sharing their comments. At the same time, Maloney’s Law gained a 5-star review at Goodreads, and Painting from Life also gained a similar review at Goodreads – so many thanks to those readers also.

Astonishingly, and thanks again to Jay at Untreed Reads, I’ve been interviewed twice this week, once talking mainly about The Delaneys and Me at Author Offerings, and once more generally about my writing life by Kipp Poe. I hope you enjoy finding out my little never-before-revealed secret in one of those! Ah, the shame …

Meanwhile, GLBT Week at Vulpes Libris comes to a stonkingly riproaring finish (oo-err, missus …), with my review of Clare London’s wonderful PI novel, FreemanSam’s review of Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides; and last but by no means least, Rosy’s amazing article on Brideshead Revisited – a big thank you to everyone for taking part and for reading. We’ve all had a fabulous time! Let’s hope we can do it all over again next year.

Speaking of things fabulous, Lord H and I had a great time out at the Guildford Theatre on Thursday seeing Headlong Theatre’s production of Oscar Wilde’s Salome. I have to admit I wasn’t hugely looking forward to it, as I’ve studied the play in the past but have never seen it – it’s rarely performed, and though the poetry is rich and lush and amazing, it’s always been hard for me to really “get” it in my head. Well, Thursday was a revelation and it completely opened up the whole thing for me as a play rather than as a poem-drama, proving once again just what an astonishingly good playwright Wilde was, in whatever genre he was writing in. I loved the passion, the humour, the teenage angst, the hugely complex adult relationships shown, the setting and the actors. Everything really – especially that marvellous scene at the end where Salome drinks the blood pouring from John the Baptist’s head. Oh, yes, bring it on – I’m a Jacobean tragedy girl at heart and really can’t get enough of that sort of thing on stage – Lord H said when that happened I was the only one in the audience smiling and sitting up. Ah well – the more blood and death and drama, the better really … Anyway, the play was amazing – if you get the chance to go, for heaven’s sake do, as it may not be an opportunity we’ll see again in our lifetimes. And kudos galore to Headlong Theatre for having the balls to revive it when the audience can be counted on the fingers of one hand – hell, we may have been small in number, but we loved it.

But, keeping to the theme of poetry, I’m pleased to say that two of my poems have just been published in the spring edition of Mayo Review. And there’s been 3 meditation poems in the latter half of this week, plus the Sunday haiku:

Meditation 355
Just when you thought
everything you held dear
was lost,

someone you hardly know
steps forward
to stand with you,

taking with him something
of the pain and making
everything clearer:

even the wilderness journey,
even the wild river crossings,
even the grief.

Meditation 356
If you want to steal
your master’s life,

take as much
bread, raisins, fruit

and wine
as you can carry

to your master’s master
and wait

for your ship
to come in.

Meditation 357
Sometimes it’s necessary
to endure the stones

and insults,
knowing the truth

that lies
within them.

This week’s haiku:

A silent poem
drifts across the page, seeking
the margin’s embrace.

Anne Brooke
The Prayer Seeker’s Journal