Milly Reynolds the Crime and General Fiction Author

Creator of crime sleuths Mike Malone and Jack Sallt and writer of other general fiction

Summer cleaning madness

It’s the school holidays and the time to do all of those things that I never get time to do. Kitchen cupboards have been tidied and cleaned. Jars of out of date pickles have been thrown away along with the half empty packets of almonds, walnuts and brazil nuts. What is it with nuts? I always seem to have lots of half packets dotted around the kitchen. Am I a squirrel? Am I storing food for winter?

So, one thing ticked off my to do list.

The main task that I have set myself is de-cluttering. I cannot believe the things that I have hoarded over the years. Every notebook and drawing that my son ever carried home from school has been stashed under beds, at the back of wardrobes, on top of wardrobes. Do I really need to keep the exercise book that he practiced his letters in? I think I have also kept every item of clothing that he ever wore. Why? Is it because I think that he will ‘grow’ into it again?

This is clearly a work in progress.

Photographs. So many photographs. Whoever invented digital photos that I can store on a hard drive was a genius. I have photos of flowers, of trees, of skies, of people I don’t know. Photos of every birthday, holiday and Christmas. What have I done with these. Simple. I’ve put them all in a ‘big’ box and stored them in the loft for another day.

Books. My weakness. I am always buying books, my husband is always buying books. This was the easy part. I have kept only the books that I truly love. Several large bags of books were taken to the local charity shop yesterday so others can get pleasure from them.

Another job ticked off.

I’m getting there – still a lot to go. But now I need a rest. Where did I put that book?

School’s Out For Summer

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Tomorrow school finishes for 6 weeks and I can’t wait. It will be nice to be able to spend some time actually being able to write and plan, rather than having to spend my evenings engrossed in marking and preparing lessons. I have another Mike Malone mystery bubbling away – it needs completing. In addition, I have made a few notes for a stand-alone novel, which, if it is successful, might become a new series. I also want to put at least two more of the Mike Malone series out as paperbacks.

So, apart from writing – what other plans do I have?

1. De-clutter the bedroom. This is a job that has been on my to do list for the last few summers.

2. Take my 93 year old father out for day trips.

3. Catch up with friends that I have neglected during term time.

4. Experiment with new bread flavours.

5. Try to read at least one book a week.

6. Catch up on my sleep.

7. Try to visit my favourite nature reserve once a week.

Will I have time to fit everything in?

Review – The Testament of Gideon Mack by James Robertson

The Testament of Gideon Mack

by James Robertson

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A very different read for me, accustomed as I am to a wide range of detective/crime fiction. Gideon Mack is a Church of Scotland minister who does not believe in God, who runs marathons and who has friendships with individuals frowned upon by his parish clerks. He is also a man who disappears into a ravine trying to save a friend’s dog. He reappears three days later telling all that he was rescued by the Devil and has been his guest for the past few days. The Devil is wonderfully drawn – not a horn or a tail to be seen – and is a ‘creature’ who has grown rather tired of everything.

This book is Gideon’s manuscript of his life and his experiences. It is charming, thoughtful, and asks questions about love, religion and the afterlife.

I was pleasantly surprised.

Grimsthorpe Castle – again.

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The last time we went to Grimsthorpe, we only wandered around the park and gardens as it was such a glorious day. With the weather a little less bright a couple of weeks ago – see, said I was behind – we decided that this time we would visit the house itself.

Grimsthorpe is a house that I have visited in the past, but not for many years, so some items/paintings seemed totally ‘new’ while others stirred long forgotten memories. What we adore doing is talking to the guides and hearing stories about the house and the personalities that have inhabited it through the years. Grimsthorpe is still a ‘lived in’ house with the Baronness Willoughby de Eresby in residence. In fact, when Prince William, Duke of Cambridge graduated from RAF Cranwell, members of the Royal Family stayed at the house. For this reason, the house has a more homely feel than some houses that we have visited.

We learned other little nuggets, such as the way to remember the order of the titles; Did Mary Visit Every Bad Beach – Duke, Marquis, Viscount, Earl, Baron, Baronet. Not sure when I will use that information, but you never know when something like that might come in handy.

A lovely afternoon out and a glorious house in which to spend a couple of hours.

A belated review – I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak

I am the Messenger

by Markus Zusak

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I am getting behind with my blog entries. I blame the good weather and a desire to enjoy weekends after a week surrounded by 11 – 16 year olds. But more of that in a later blog.

I read Zusak’s ‘The Book Thief’ several years ago and when I came across this title, I was intrigued to read another by him. I had seen from reviews that it is not to be compared with ‘The Book Thief’ so I dived into in with a completely open mind.

I thoroughly enjoyed it. Ed is an underage cab driver who accidentally stops a bank robbery. Then he starts receiving playing cards which give him a mission – a daunting thing for a character who doesn’t seem to have an awful lot going for him.

The book is heart-warming, funny, and dark in places. Ed is a likeable chap and as for the others in the book, Zusak gives us well rounded characters. I dare anyone not to fall in love with The Doorman – Ed’s dog. It keeps your interest, gives you twists and leaves you feeling all warm. What more could you ask for?

Review – Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

by Ransom Riggs

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I hadn’t actually realised that this was a YA novel when I bought it, I was just intrigued by the photographs and curious to see how they would be used to tell the story.

The book is littered with eerie photographs of Victorian children doing extraordinary things which adds to the ethereal quality of the story; these are Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children. The story revolves around Jacob Portman who travels from his home in America to Wales to find out the truth behind his grandfather’s stories. Are they really as fantastical as they appear? In Wales he finds the children that his grandfather told him about and this is when we get swept into the paranormal. The story is captivating and engaging; the pictures add to the other-worldly feel. I’m definitely going to have to buy the sequel at some point.

So, without giving too much away, this is a book of monsters, time-travel, horror, goodness and even love. Intrigued? Then try it, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. And – even if you don’t like the story, you can always look at the mesmerising photographs.

Almost forgot – a Google search revealed that Tim Burton is creating a film of the novel. Will it live up to the book in my mind? I’ll have to wait and see.

The Hunger Games

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As the first book in the trilogy , ‘The Hunger Games’ is on the curriculum for next year at the school that I am presently working part-time in, I thought I had better, finally, read it. I ended up reading all three books in the series.

For the few out there who have never read this series, this is a dystopian series. Katniss lives in District 12 and the Capitol decree that every year, two tributes are chosen from every district to battle it out to the death in the arena. Makes Big Brother look a bit tame, doesn’t it? The tributes – well,they’re aged 12-18. This is a novel about children killing children. Of course to the victor, wealth and food for their family. They will never go hungry again.

I’m not giving any more of the story away – but if you like dystopia, you will enjoy this series.

I can’t make up my mind whether or not I like Katniss. She is a strong female character which will attract the young teenage girls. I occasionally find her cold and manipulative. As for the subject matter – citizens ruled by fear, by starvation, by violence these are fairly common themes. But the idea of a society condoning the killing of children – well that does feel uncomfortable to my adult mind. Best to leave it to young adults who will enjoy it as a story without getting hung up on the grittier themes.

Nevertheless, I read all three books within a week and did not feel that they had been a waste of my time. In fact they are books that I will look forward to reading with my groups next year. it will be interesting to listen to their opinions and insights.

Now – where to buy the movie?

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