Archive for the ‘parchment poll’ category

Parchment Poll May 2017

1 May, 2017

It’s been rather a long time since I published a Parchment Poll! So, here we are with the first one for 2017!
I first read The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in my early teens, when I borrowed this very large volume from the library. Now, thirty years later I have my own hard back copy and it has been a delight to re-read! As a teenager, I don’t think I really appreciated Holmes’ sarcasm and wit. Conan Doyle’s writing is incredible. I remembered a lot of the tales, others I couldn’t recall at all. My favourites are still The Hound of the Baskervilles and The Valley of Fear. If you’ve only seen the films or series about Sherlock Holmes, you should read this – it is far better than any of the visual productions! Though, I have to say that Jeremy Brett was nearly 100% Holmes and the modern Sherlock series is an excellent modern take on these tales.
I’m afraid I had to give up reading The Golden Bough by Sir James George Frazer. I got about three quarters of the way through it and just stopped reading. It is very interesting but extremely repetitive. In the end, I wasn’t reading anything at all, feeling I had to finish the book. But then, my friend Libby also admitted she’d once started it and never finished it either – I think her comment was “life is too short to read books I’ve lost interest in”. So, I gave up! And started reading some other books instead …
Magic meets a forgotten technology in Fire & Ice by Patty Jansen. Jansen writes in a high fantasy style with plenty of intrigue and sexual tensions to keep the reader fascinated until the end.
Having been told in the past that Ian Fleming’s books were badly written, I picked up Diamonds Are Forever and was hooked by the opening paragraphs. I’m wondering now if the person who put me off the books just didn’t like that particular genre? I actually preferred the book to the film. (The film bears no resemblance to the book whatsoever). It’s gritty, fast-paced and Bond comes across as a real person. I’ll definitely read more!
Cloud Nine And Other Poems by Elaine Patricia Morris is a treasure box of being and observing with a good helping of humour. Morris fluctuates between blank verse and traditional poetry with ease and the images she conveys are beautiful, often rural, but never sentimental. The collection is available direct from the author.
A friend gave me Honour by Elif Shafik. This is not the kind of thing I usually read but the way the book is written held me enthralled. The author shows the double-standards in how men and women are treated in some Islamic societies. She doesn’t provide any remedies, but enables her characters to find some peace within themselves at the end. I did guess the outcome, I have to admit! But it didn’t spoil the story!
Books that left no impression on me …
Midnight in St Petersburg by Vanora Bennett Nothing much really happened even though it was one of the most dramatic times in Russian history!
Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them?
A word of warning – this could be my only Parchment Poll in 2017! I have moved house and am starting up a new enterprise and haven’t got much time to read at all at the moment!
© Freya Pickard 2017
I’ve started making some videos about my writing! Please check them out at YouTube

Parchment Poll October 2016

24 October, 2016

Here is my last Parchment Poll for 2016…
The Golden Bough by Sir James George Frazer
This is hard going but fascinating! (Yes, I’m still reading it!) I’m learning the differences between sympathetic and homeopathic magic and how they’ve influenced modern day superstitions. I think this is a “must read” for any fantasy / speculative writer because it shows you the variety and similarities of many magical practices. The reason I’ve struggled to read it is that it is definitely “research” rather than a story. My concentration is low still, but if there is a good plot and fascinating characters, I read the book very quickly!
I needed a break from such intense research and decided to read Catweazle by Richard Carpenter (a children’s book based on the TV series that my soulmate grew up with). It’s really funny! But, ironically, it’s all about sympathetic magic – lots of things I’d been reading about in TGB, are in Catweazle! It made me laugh!
I’ve also read Patchwork An Anthology of Poetry from The Christie Autumn 1994. Unfortunately it’s no longer available in print. A friend gave me a copy as it is written by and about people who have experienced cancer. I found this slim volume very encouraging and uplifting, even though many of the poems talk about death or the person’s imminent demise. The one that really struck a chord was Tamar Hodes’ “For My Father-in-Law” which was so positive, amidst the sorrow.
I read Selected Cautionary Verses by Hilaire Belloc in about 30 minutes, whilst waiting in the doctor’s surgery for a blood test. I have to say it was an hilarious read – had to stop myself laughing out loud because English people don’t do that in public places in front of strangers! These verses are timeless, cruel sometimes, but excellent entertainment.
Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them?
© Freya Pickard 2016
I’ve started making some videos about my writing! Please check them out at YouTube

Parchment Poll – August 2016

15 August, 2016

Here I am again with my second Parchment Poll of 2016…
The Dark Citadel by Jane Dougherty If you want something different to read, buy this. If you love Celtic symbols and arch types, you’ll love this story. I even discovered a few Norse myths creeping in as well! Although Dougherty writes about arch types in her monsters and angels, nothing about her writing is stereotypical.
Brilliant prose – will re-read
The Nutmeg of Consolation by Patrick O’Brian Continuing on from The Thirteen Gun Salute, this story also leaves the reader on another cliff-hanger! Full of action and intrigue from the high seas to the prison colonies in Australia, the observations of flora and fauna are fascinating.
The Subtle Fiend by Jane Dougherty This is the second book in The Green Woman Series. It’s dark but full of hope. Terrible things happen but the main characters survive…
Brilliant poetry – will re-read
Blue Moon by Claudia Messelodi A bi-lingual poetry collection! Not only does Claudia write about blue moons, the blood moon makes several appearances too. Her writing is fecund and passionate. When The Clouds Dance by Sharmishtha Basu Proverbial without being preachy. This collection is easy to read and is one that you can dip and and out of. Refreshing and inspiring. Versions of the Self by Christy Birmingham This is a poet being honest and unpretentious. Challenging but not disturbing. Inspiring even in the sorrowful verses.
Current Read
Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them?
© Freya Pickard 2016
I’ve started making some videos about my writing! Please check them out at The Essence of Thyme and Patreon

Wednesday Words – Parchment Poll August 2015

5 August, 2015
I’m presenting my Parchment Poll slightly differently this time… What do you think?
Brilliant books – will re-read
Lord Hornblower by CS Forester A tale of daring and adultery; Hornblower’s adventures continue to intrigue and inspire. The twists and turns in this tale will keep you guessing right to the last page. Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald An engaging first person narrative leads the reader straight into the story. This is a tale of deception, fraud and adultery. Fascinating reading with an intriguing last line. A thought-provoking and challenging read from CS Lewis in Christian Reflections. Daphne’s Diary #4 2015 Inspiring and refreshing as always! Sinuosita by Claudia Messelodi Utterly delightful! If you enjoy reading haiku – this is the book for you. Daphne’s Diary #5 2015 Amazing and inspirational – so refreshing to read through…
Interesting but probably won’t re-read
Interzone 258 Excellent unicorn story (re’em) but the rest was a bit too bloke-ish for me… Interzone 259 Do I detect an anti Tolkien feel to this magazine? Still very blokey and just didn’t understand the James White Award winning story at all… Commentary on Matthew by RT France Interesting read but not as thought provoking as either CS Lewis or David Pawson. Poems of John Donne These were hard going but interesting. I liked the Divine poems best because I could understand what he was talking about easily. Mslexia #66 Interesting articles as always but oh my goodness, the winning short stories were SO depressing…! Healthy Eating for the Menopause by Dr M Glenville Interesting recipes but the author assumes you are a vegetarian or just eat fish as your main source of protein which is a bit limiting for me…
Bridget Jones’ Diary and The Edge of Reason are still both relevant and entertaining if you need easy-to-read escapist material to dip into. The Letters by Fiona Robyn This is Fiona’s best book in my opinion – I love the character development and the way the plot keeps you guessing until right at the end… Thaw by Fiona Robyn Still as beautiful and as striking on this re-read as it was the first time I read it. The Temp by Serena Macksey Absolutely hilarious but it doesn’t make me miss my temping days at all. Thunder on the Right by Mary Stewart If you need something light and easy to read that’s romantic, try this. The descriptions are lush and vivid.
Currently reading: –
“Daphne” by Justine Picardie
Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them?
© Freya Pickard 2015

Wednesday Words – Parchment Poll May 2015

20 May, 2015
This is the first Parchment Poll for nearly a year…
Due to being diagnosed with bowel cancer, having three lots of major surgery and then six months chemotherapy, I’ve had a lot of time for reading. Mainly because I’ve been unable to do anything else. Books are my dream food and soul food.
I can recommend Patrick O’Brien’s Aubrey/Maturin series as a distraction from pain. I read 14 out of the 20 books in the series whilst recovering from surgery. You have concentrate a lot on the writing which takes your mind off the pain…! I still have 8 more to read, but am waiting for the chemo fog to clear before I start them.
Re-reading old favourites was all I could manage during the 6 months of chemotherapy. Familiar texts are easy to read and distract one’s mind from the utter awfulness one is going through. I recommend Tad Williams’ Memory, Thorn & Sorrow trilogy for pure escapism. If you want epic grandeur, try Terry Brooks’ original Shannara Series (not the later ones, they’re very samey). JRR Tolkein’s The Lord of the Rings and other books are brilliant for getting lost and feeling refreshed with each chapter you read. Robert Jordan’s 14-book series The Wheel of Time took me nearly 4 months to read. But it’s worth it. Anne McCaffrey’s Dragons of Pern series never ceases to impress (joke!) and satisfy. Though the earlier novels are more exciting than some of the later ones. I particularly enjoy Moreta; Dragonlady of Pern, The White Dragon and the Menolly books.
I’ve also discovered 3 books that are ideal for reading when ill/recuperating. All 3 were sent to me by friends. Amanda sent me “God’s Little Book of Hope” which is essential during the “dark” days of Chemo. Nick sent me “Benedictus” by John O’Donaghue. This is a book of blessings but I read them as poems and prayers. It’s a fascinating and inspiring read. And Willow sent me “Romancing The Ordinary” by Sarah Ban Breathnach. This is an amazing book full of hope and ideas and inspiration. Even if you’re not ill, read it!
Next time I’ll try not to leave it nearly a year before I let you know what books are there to be read (or not!)
Currently reading: –
Matthew (Commentary by R T France)
Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them?
© Freya Pickard 2015

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