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Big Sky by Kate Atkinson

Big Sky by Kate Atkinson

Bookchat: 10 books for summer reading (and events July 2 onwards)

Sun sweetly shines, sea gently ripples, relax and reach for a book.  Angela J. Phillip offers ten sizzlers you might like to try from detective stories through a strange tale with a philosophical slant to moving tales of love and music.

Here they are in no particular order. Please buy them locally if you can from The Bookkeeper Bookshop, Bookbuster, Printed Matter Bookshop or other local independent bookshops. I’ve seen some of these on their shelves and they will order for you, too. In case you can’t, I’ve also included links to the books on Amazon.

  1. ‘Big Sky’ – Kate Atkinson
    This is the latest Jackson Brodie mystery after a long pause and it’s the most recently published book on this list so it’s still quite expensive. Did you see Case Histories on tv when Kate Atkinson’s detective stories were dramatised? This is the same detective – still struggling through life, still as lovable, still with a good heart despite the ravages of time and increasing years. Big Sky – Kate Atkinson
  2. ‘Body Heat’ – Candy Denman
    A Jocasta Hughes mystery set in Hastings where, as you might guess, there’s fire involved. Dr Jo looks for answers while struggling not to get involved with the exasperating DI Miller. Nice to drop into some of our favourite Hastings watering holes along the way – a light-hearted page turner.

  3. ‘All the light we cannot see’ – Anthony Doerr
    One of the most moving books I have read. (I saw it in Bookbuster at a knock-down price – don’t know if it’s still there.) It’s about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France. It shows how people, against all odds, try to be good to each other. It won the Pulitzer Prize in 2015.

  4. ‘The closer I get’ – Paul Burston
    And now for something different again. This is a social media psychological thriller set partly in Hastings. The story is about author Tom and stalker Evie but things turn out to be not quite as they might seem. (There will be a feature soon on Paul Burston another brilliant author  based in Hastings – and you can catch him at the Hastings Litfest on 31 Aug.)

  5. ‘Kafka on the shore’ – Haruki Murakami
    Nothing is as it seems as those familiar with Murakami’s novels will know. Kafka is a boy who ran away from home and whose life gets mixed up with an ageing cat tracker and a girl who quotes Hegel.

  6. ‘The Miniaturist’ – Jessie Burton
    This is a gripping page-turner set in 17th century Amsterdam with a female protagonist who will win your heart.       

  7. ‘Home Going’ – Yaa Gyasi
    An epic tale starting with two sisters, Effia and Esi. One is sold into slavery and the other becomes a slave trader’s wife and the story follows their descendants from Ghana through Mississippi to Harlem. Not only pain and sadness but much joy in this tale that brought tears to my eyes more than once as well as a smile.  

  8. ‘Small Island’ – Andrea Levy
    You will already know that Andrea Levy died in February this year so it is a good time to read or reread Small Island. It’s 1948 just after the war and Queenie Bligh agrees to take in Jamaican lodgers. These were the days of ‘no dogs, no blacks, no Irish’ and it’s the story of Gilbert Joseph who fought in the war and his wife Hortense who had believed England to be the land of her dreams and what happened when they arrived in London.

  9. ‘My brilliant friend’ – Elena Ferrante
    This is the first book in Ferrante’s quartet of books about life in Naples starting in the middle of the last century and following Elena (the narrator) and Lila, her friend over the next sixty years. They grow up and become wives, lovers, mothers and much much more. 

  10. ‘Half blood blues’ – Esi Edugyan
    When I read this book, I thought I was there. Transported. Listening to the jazz, feeling with Hiero (Hieronymous Falk) and Sid. It was after Paris had fallen in 1940, Hiero was a cabaret star, a musician and was arrested never to be seen again. He was German and he was black. What a story! What a writer!



Hastings Litfest 30 August – 1 September, 2019

Sarfraz Manzoor, author of Blinded by the light

Sarfraz Manzoor, author of Blinded by the Light

Sat 31 August 19.00 – 22.00 at Kino Teatr, St Leonards ‘Blinded by the Light’ – a film about a teenager of Pakistani descent growing up in the 80s and finding comfort in Springsteen’s music. It is based on the autobiographical book by Sarfraz Manzoor who will be there to talk about it. Tickets for Blinded by the Light with Sarfraz Manzoor are available from Kino Teatr or by clicking the link on the Hastings LitFest site.
For the full programme for the Hastings Literary Festival, please see: Hastings Litfest Programme

Bookbuster 39 Queens Rd, Hastings
Thurs 18 July, 6 – 9 pm £2 entry Sheer Poetry – an open mic poetry night

Printed Matter Bookshop 185 Queens Rd, Hastings TN34 1RG
Thurs 4 July, 6 pm Book launch and Q&A with Richard King and Ben Thompson
Mon 8 July 6 pm Planning meeting for Spirit of Robert Tressell Festival
Mon 15 July 6 pm Book launch of Moonstomp with Tim Wells.
Mon 22 July 6.30 pm PM Book Club discussing Akala’s Natives

The Bookkeeper Bookshop 1a Kings Rd, St Leonards
Sun 14 July, 7 pm Bronwen Griffiths & Steve Amos will be talking about their new short story/flash fiction collections based on their childhoods/parenting.

The Literary Shed Writing Sessions run by A. Vasudevan
Two-hour weekly writing sessions in safe, creative spaces in Hastings and St Leonards
Tuesday 2 July 10 – 12 am (free) at Sea Kale, St Leonards
Thursday 11 July 10 – 12 am (£6) Writer Exchange Session at The Blue Bee, Hastings Old Town
Thursday 18 July, 10–12 am (free) at Stooge Coffee Bar, Hi Store, Trinity, Hastings
On the first Thursday of each month, there is also a writing critique group in which members share work.
For further information, please email:, subject: WRITE-INS.

Writing Courses from CWP with New Writing South
2 year Creative Writing Course
Advanced Writing Course
Autobiography and Life Writing Course
for details on all courses, please see  Creative Writing Programme in collaboration with New Writing South

Dear friends, that’s it for this week. Please see this week’s feature – Word of mouth on marvellous creative writing courses from CWP and New Writing South. Please do post comments either here on in the Facebook Bookchat group.

Thanks for reading.

Angela J. Phillip

Posted 09:05 Tuesday, Jul 2, 2019 In: Hastings Bookchat

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