Saturday, 24 June 2017

IGISIRI books for May 2017 - what were your reads?

(Photo © Lorna Fergusson)
It's a measure of my life that I'm posting my IGISIRI reads for May when we're coming up to the end of June! This will be a very quick post - next time I'll be posting about Winchester Writers' Festival and the Triskele book launch I attended this month. In the meantime, here we go:

Both my May IGISIRIs are poetry books -

Poems that Make Grown Women Cry, edited by Antony Holden and Ben Holden (Simon and Schuster).
This collection is named to match the earlier collection Poems that Make Grown Men Cry. I have to say I find both titles irritating, as if an emotional response is something to be wrung out of us in spite of ourselves and our adult status. Poetry is more than a sob-fest, anyway. So my advice is ignore the titles and relish the range of poems and, what is more, the short essays written by the contributors describing why they chose the poems they did. Their reasons are both moving and enlightening, sometimes sending you back with new insights to a poem you thought over-familiar. And if no other poem does make you cry, Claire Tomalin's choice will: it's a poem written by her daughter, Susanna Tomalin. 'It is a poem of farewell, clearly stating her intention to be gone.' As I have lost someone from my life too, who wished to be gone, the last verse of this calm, lovely and resolute poem in particular broke my heart.

Alice Oswald, Falling Awake (Jonathan Cape)
Poetry is all about perception and expression of that perception. I bought this book after standing entranced in a shop, reading the first few poems. All too often with modern poetry I feel shut out by the knowingness of it, the archness, the deliberate obscurity or awkwardness. Here I felt that sense of revelatory recognition you should feel when the poet pounces, captures, holds up to the light, the thing, the sense, the perception. It's a blend of the familiar and the utterly refreshed - something I have always loved in metaphysical poetry when poets like Herbert and Donne dazzle with a swift piercing image, like an arrow thocking into the bullseye. Oswald's title poem, written in rhyming couplets, has the deceptive simplicity of a poem by George Herbert, her poem Swan has a fairy tale quality like Angela Carter as the dead swan lifts from the 'plane-crash mess of her wings', the 'clean china serving-dish of a breast bone' and her 'black feet/lying poised in their slippers.'

Poetry is never well-served in reviews, I feel, by short quotations. Somehow the spell of all is lost - so I highly recommend you take up these books and make your way through them, putting them down at intervals to absorb the beauty or the power of what you've just read.

[What is IGISIRI? remember, IGISIRI means 'I've Got It, So I'll Read It!' and it's a simple project where you read two books each month, books already on your bookshelves. You choose them quickly and without too much consideration. And you read them. That's all there is to it! I'd be delighted to hear about your latest reads. You can comment here on the blog or on my Facebook pages, LornaFergussonAuthor and Fictionfire.]

IGISIRIs for April 2017 here: March here; the campaign introduced here.

Friday, 12 May 2017

IGISIRI books for April 2017 - what were your reads?

Here I am with my latest IGISIRI update: remember, IGISIRI means 'I've Got It, So I'll Read It!' and it's a simple project where you read two books each month, books already on your bookshelves. You choose them quickly and without too much consideration. And you read them. That's all there is to it!

For the past two months I managed four books off my TBR pile each month, not two, and last week I was enjoying the first break I've had this year down in Cornwall, so I was armed with several paperbacks and my trusty Kindle. The irony is, I didn't read as much as I expected in April. First, I was up to the wire finishing a client's edit and report before I left. Secondly, Cornwall is just so lovely (as you'll see from the photo here!) I spent far more time gazing at the sea and going out for great meals than reading...

Anyway, here's the latest IGISIRIs for me - and as usual, I'd be delighted to hear about your latest reads. You can comment here on the blog or on my Facebook pages, LornaFergussonAuthor and Fictionfire.

Remember, I list my latest reads briefly here - I'm not writing lengthy reviews.

Two thrillers, this month, then:

J J Marsh, Raw Material - this is one of the Beatrice Stubbs series of novels. I'd read one before (Tread Softly) and certainly intend to read the whole series. Pacy, witty, quirky, yet dealing with dark topics - human trafficking and sexual exploitation. Great use of location. You won't meet anyone else quite like Beatrice in other detective stories! I read it in two sittings - I love J J Marsh's writing.

Tess Gerritsen: Playing with Fire - longterm readers of Literascribe will know she's one of my favourite thriller writers and a lovely person too (I met her several years ago). This is one of her standalone novels, rather than one in the Rizzoli and Isles series. Here she starts with what looks like a kind of Exorcist situation, with an innocent-seeming child and a strangely powerful piece of music. What unfolds is a historical tragedy with a powerful moral message. Extremely moving.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

IGISIRI books for March 2017 - what were your reads?

A reminder that I'll be teaching at
Winchester Writers' Festival in June.
 Bookings are now open
 so visit the website for details.
In February I told you about my IGISIRI campaign and I hope you were interested enough to start your own! If you remember, IGISIRI stands for 'I've Got It So I'll Read It' and the simple concept is that you read two books a month, two books you already own and are selected quickly and without too much thought or dithering from the many many I know are sitting on your bookshelves. If they're anything like mine, they reproach you silently every time you scan those shelves. 'Read me, read me!' they plaintively call ...

So here, slightly late, are my ISIGIRIs for March (it's not my intention to write full reviews here - just record them and draw your attention to them in case they might interest you):

Jessica Bell: The Book - a novella written in several different voices, at the heart of which is a troubled child. Compelling in its satire of relationships and the lies we tell ourselves, with a very moving ending.

Clare Flynn: A Greater World - a damn good historical read, mainly set in Australia after World War 1. A classic search for self and love against a very well realised backdrop.

Kathleen Winter: Boundless - a poetic account of being writer in residence on board a ship travelling through the North West Passage. Fascinating blend of history, travelogue and introspection.

Marcus Ferrar: The Fight for Freedom - a lucid summary of how various kinds of freedom have been worth struggling for over more than two thousand years of civilisation.

As you'll see, instead of two books, I give you four! That's the remarkable thing - in saying I only read two I seem to facilitate the ability to read more than that.

I hope you'll join me and share your recent IGISIRIs
- you can do so by commenting on this post or by visiting my Facebook pages, Lorna Fergusson Author and Fictionfire-Inspiration-for-Writers.

You can see my introductory post about IGISIRIs and the books I read in January here.

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Twelve free books too good to miss

Time has almost run out but until midnight on 28th February you can take your pick of any or all of these twelve amazing reads, simply by visiting!

I've got together with eleven other women writers in an experiment in co-promotion of our stories. It has been a revelation to work this way, where we can pool our resources and talents to improve our chances of discoverability. We're hoping to increase our lists of subscribers and develop that relationship between writers and their readers that's so important to us. After all, we write to be read!

Let me introduce you in this video.

If you visit the landing page you can download any or all of the books, in return for subscribing to the author's mailing list (and you can unsubscribe later, of course, if you want!).

Here are the twelve books, including with my own An Oxford Vengeance:

I hope you'll enjoy these reads and for those of you who are writers, I'll report back on how this sort of promotional activity has worked - or not - for me!

Remember, you can always sign up for my newsletters at and and you can follow me on Facebook at LornaFergussonAuthor and at Fictionfire-inspiration-for-writers!

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

What is IGISIRI? Well, it's to do with reading ...

This photo tells you something about what is known by addicted book-buyers as the TBR pile. This is just a tiny corner of mine! Shelves fill up, nooks and corners fill up, the space by the bed fills up, the floor starts to disappear ... wonderful books, all deserving of attention, all wait patiently to be read.

So today, I want to introduce you to a fun activity to help you start to tackle the TBR pile if you ever, like me, stand in front of your bookshelves and find yourself in a state of guilt and near-panic! Do you find yourself overwhelmed by the sheer number of books sitting there, beautiful, enticing, intriguing, entertaining, worthy, informative – and you haven’t read them yet? Do you worry that you never will? Do you approach the shelves determined to pick one to read – and then, because there are so many, you can’t choose?! Argh!

I’ve been in that state of mind all my adult life, it sometimes feels! So, just after Christmas, I made a decision.

I am going to tackle the To Be Read pile, I said to myself.

A small voice deep in my brain, chortled at that. Not for the first time.

Ah! But I have a cunning plan, I replied.

Oh yeah? The small voice said.


This is what I’m doing – and I’m inviting you to join in, if you like. This is not an ambitious, discipline and demanding reading programme. Like diets, plans like this are all very well when you start, but real life and distractions pull you away from sticking to them.

So here it is, and it's really simple. I decided to read two books from my TBR pile, per month. Couldn’t be simpler. Not one book a day or week. Two per month. But they have to be from the TBR pile – not newly-bought ones. I am playing with the notion of making one fiction, one non-fiction, but that’s not a binding rule. The whole point about this is not to feel bound at all, not to be obligated, driven or burdened. I make my decisions each month as quickly and spontaneously as possible because if I look at the shelves for too long then all those lovely books will start nagging me – Pick me! Pick me!

I walk over, grab one, start. There we are.

So far it’s working – and the paradox is that I’m actually reading more than two because there’s a kind of playful liberation going on with this process.

Want to join me? I’m going to post which TBR books I’ve read each month here on  Literascribe, and on my Facebook pages – both LornaFergussonAuthor and Fictionfire-Inspiration-for-Writers. I may say a few words about them, I may not. I am not going to write long reviews because then the playfulness will go out the window and I’ll feel like I’m tackling a task – guilt and pressure will sneak back in, before I know it.

If you’d like to join in – I’m calling it ‘I’ve Got It, So I’ll Read It!’ (IGISIRI for short) - add what you’ve been reading to my Facebook page discussion, or subscribe to Literascribe and add your comments. If you discover one of those books that has been lurking on your TBR pile is a total gem and you think everyone should read it – let us know! (Although, of course, that will mean you’re adding to our TBR piles …!)

To kick us off: my IGISIRI books this year so far are:

·       Georgette Heyer’s Snowdrift – a Christmas gift from my sister, a collection of short stories which were a nostalgic pleasure
·       Vanessa LaFaye’s Summertime – beautifully written, set in Florida after World War I and culminating in an edge-of –the-seat account of the worst hurricane ever to hit that region
·       Catherine Ryan Howard’s Distress Signals – an enjoyable thriller set on a cruise ship, with really sparky dialogue

·       Jane Alexander’s The Last Treasure Hunt – a darkly witty satire on our hunger for fame and how feeding the public’s hunger for inside stories can spiral out of control.