My Review of Fred’s Funeral by Sandy Day #RBRT #TuesdayBookBlog


I received this book as a member of Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team (#RBRT) in return for an honest review.

 I gave Fred’s Funeral by Sandy Day 5* out of 5*

Book Description:

Fred Sadler has just died of old age. It’s 1986, seventy years after he marched off to WWI, and the ghost of Fred Sadler hovers near the ceiling of the nursing home. To Fred’s dismay, the arrangement of his funeral falls to his prudish sister-in-law, Viola. As she dominates the remembrance of Fred, he agonizes over his inability to set the record straight.

Was old Uncle Fred really suffering from shell shock? Why was he locked up most of his life in the Whitby Hospital for the Insane? Could his family not have done more for him?

Fred’s memories of his life as a child, his family’s hotel, the War, and the mental hospital, clash with Viola’s version of events as the family gathers on a rainy October night to pay their respects.

My Review:

 I think the book description, with all the open questions, reveals all that is needed to say about the story to draw any reader in.

I loved this novella. Although inspired by letters written by the author’s Great Uncle Fred, and written from a third person point of view, it’s Sandy Day’s light touch in her writing style that brings out the poignancy of what is essentially a ghost story.

I actually found it strangely frustrating that Fred Sadler is unable to make his relatives understand that it was his experiences in the First World War that permanently damaged him and led to his erratic lifestyle afterwards .

And it reminded me that ultimately we are all seen by others from their own perspectives. Bearing in mind that this is essentially a true story, (and not knowing if Viola’s viewpoint of him has, in truth, been gleaned from those letters of his) this disturbed and upset me for Fred.

 Which, I suppose, shows how strong is the portrayal of the protagonist – ghost or not.

 The juxtaposition of memories and present day actions, recollections and interpretations of Fred’s life through the contents of his battered old suitcase ,as the family study and comment over them, saddened me.

 This is a reflective and insightful story that will stay with me for quite a while.

 And, my goodness, the cover!  The young soldier, veiled by the handwriting, standing upright and proud in his uniform, as yet unaware of what faced him. Powerful image.

 And what I would give to be able to read those letters.

I realise this is quite a short review for me but I hope it’s enough to show how strongly I recommend Fred’s Funeral to any readers. A novella not to be missed.



About the Author

sandy day


Sandy Day is the author of Fred’s Funeral and Chatterbox, Poems. She graduated from Glendon College, York University, with a degree in English Literature sometime in the last century. Sandy spends her summers in Jackson’s Point, Ontario on the shore of Lake Simcoe. She winters nearby in Sutton by the Black River. Sandy is a trained facilitator for the Toronto Writers Collective’s creative writing workshops. She is a developmental editor and book coach.

Find Sandy on Twitter@sandeetweets



Everybody’s Somebody by Beryl Kingston #RBRT #TuesdayBookBlog

everybod's somebody

I received a free copy of this book as a member of Rosie’s Book Review team in exchange for an honest review.

 I gave Everybody’s Somebody 4*out of 5*

Book Description:

“Life’s for real an’ you got to get on with it.”

Rosie Goodison is not one to shy away from life’s problems. Whether it’s finding work or challenging injustice, Rosie squares her shoulders, sets her chin high and faces it full on.

Born at the end of the nineteenth century, in the rural south of England and sent into service aged just twelve, Rosie quickly discovers that many good people spend their lives toiling for very little reward, whilst others ‘have it all’.

She decides it won’t be like that for her. Why can’t she ride in a car? Why can’t she work when she’s pregnant? Why can’t she live in a nice flat? Why can’t she be an artist’s model?

Whilst working as a housekeeper for two upper-class boys, Rosie starts to learn more and more about the world, gleaned from overheard conversations and newspapers left lying around. This triggers an ongoing thirst for knowledge, which shapes her views, informs her decisions and influences her future. 

Rosie aspires to have a better life than that of her parents: better living conditions, better working conditions and pay, better education for her children, to be able to vote, to be able to control how many children she has…

Without realising it, this young woman is blazing a trail for all those who are to come after.

Whilst working in London, Rosie meets her sweetheart Jim, but the The Great War puts paid to their plans for the future, and matters worsen afterwards, as she, along with the rest of society, tries to deal with the horrors and losses.

This heart-warming story follows the events of the early twentieth century – the impact and horrors of WW1, the financial crisis and the rapid social and political changes that took place.

All that remains of Rosie now is a quartet of paintings in an art gallery. The artist, now famous but the model, unnamed and forgotten; nobody of consequence.

But everybody has a life story. Everybody leaves some kind of mark on this world.

Everybody’s somebody.

My Review:

 I was really looking forward to reading Everybody’s Somebody. This is my kind of book, set in an era I have read and researched. I wasn’t disappointed; the story has  a true sense of the time, the place, the people. Told with great attention to period detail, there are some lovely passages of descriptive writing, particularly in relation to the interior scenes of buildings and houses.

The characters are well drawn: Rosie Goodison, the protagonist, has many layers; loyalty, love, pride, independence, and holds a great sense of self-preservation. I empathised with her from the word go. I had reservations sometimes with Jim, Though sensitive to a point with Rosie, I found him to be slightly self-centred and self-indulgent. But, for me, this was a sign of good writing, he is brilliantly  rounded. As is his sister, Kitty. And I liked the friendship and solidarity the two women are shown to share.

One of the themes running throughout the book is that of these two women, as well as others, fighting to asserting themselves, both within relationships and in society. This struggle is carried out before a backdrop of patriarchy,  poverty, unemployment and the devastation of the First World War. It is obvious that the author has researched both the social, economical and political backgrounds and changes: the book covers the Suffragette movement, WW1,the London floods of 1928,.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story and the few problems I had with Everybody’s Somebody are slight and two of the reasons are purely personal. But to balance the review, I will mention them here.

The first is with the dialogue. I found the overuse of dialect a bit irritating and, for me, there was little to distinguish the voice of one character from another,especially between Rosie and Kitty. This wasn’t helped by the ‘head-hopping ‘ between them; in the middle of one character’s point of view, the voice of one of the other character would pop in.

And, for me, the dropping in of so many names of famous people in real life at that time felt contrived. One or two would have worked. As far as I was concerned so many were not needed; it’s blatantly obvious the author knows this era like the back of her own hand.

And, also, sometimes I felt as if time was skimmed over; I was just settling into a certain scene or set of circumstances and  the story moved on. However this is a personal thing; I so love this era I just wanted to read more about particular scenes or circumstances. I do realise that this could have made the book impossibly long,.. though it did cross my mind that Everybody’s Somebody could have stretched to a sequel… even a trilogy. 

But, as I’ve said, I’m only adding the above to balance the review.  I really liked this book, the plot is excellent with many twists and turns and Beryl Kingston has an easy to read writing style.

I would recommend Everybody’s Somebody to any reader who is interested in history, feminism and family sagas with a hint of mystery.

About the author

I was born in 1931 in Tooting, and when I was four was enrolled at a local dancing school run by a lady called Madam Hadley, which I attended until I was eight when the war began. Because of the war my school career was – shall we say – varied. I was evacuated twice, the first time to Felpham which is near Bognor Regis and the second to Harpenden in Hertfordshire, and consequently went to ten different schools. I ended up at Streatham Secondary School, an LCC grammar run on the Dalton system, which offered a few lessons as sparking points and then required pupils to be responsible for their own learning, either in study rooms with their teachers on hand to help and advise, or on their own in the library or the school hall. It suited me to a T. Then to King’s College London, where I read English and enjoyed myself a lot, but wasn’t particularly distinguished, having other things on my mind by then.

I am proud of the fact that I was in Tooting for the first four months of the blitz, and only left it to be evacuated again when our road was bombed and our house was uninhabitable. I spent the middle part of the war in Harpenden and returned to live in London again at the end of the war at the time of the V2’s, this time without my family.

When I was just sixteen I met the love of my life, who arrived on my doorstep in Air Force blue one February evening in the coldest winter on record. Despite heavy opposition from my parents, we married three years later during my first year at King’s and spent the next 53 years 11 months and 6 days living more and more happily together. We had three much loved children and five much loved grandchildren and once I’d embarked on my career as a novelist, researched all the books together, which was great fun. We finished work on ‘Gates of Paradise’ six weeks before he died. So this publication is special to me.

I have enjoyed two careers in my life – as a teacher from 1952 to 1985 (with ten years off to bring up my family, which some might consider a third career) and as a published writer from 1980 to date. I am also, although it sounds immodest to say it, an easy and charismatic public speaker, usually unfazed by any audience no matter how big or how small or what questions they might throw at me.

In the two schools where I was head of the English department, I deliberately covered the full range of age and ability, believing that as I was paid the largest salary I should carry the heaviest responsibility. My work was filmed by KCL Education Department for use in their PGCE course and I have given talks at various colleges and schools on a variety of educational subjects, from teaching poetry to ‘tackling’ sex education. I have never subscribed to the Gradgrind theory of education which is current now, but always believed that the job of a teacher is to enable her students to learn.

I have always been a political animal, taking part in street demonstrations, walking from Aldermaston to London, involved in the 1945 election despite the fact that I was only fourteen, taking to the streets again, along with a million others, to protest against the Iraq war when I was 72.

And as a last and rather lighter touch, I was a beauty queen in 1947. It wasn’t all protests!

My Interview with the Talented and Successful Indie Author Alex Martin

  1. Please introduce yourself:

Hi, my name is Alex Martin and I’m an independently published author of three novels – and loving it! I’ve lived in lots of places but have settled in south Wales on the Gower peninsula. It was a long-held ambition to live by the sea and an even longer one to write for my living. Here I am (dressed in 1920s racing gear at Brooklands Motor Racing Museum on a research trip), living those dreams. I feel very lucky.




  1. What first inspired you to start writing?

Learning to read opened up an escape hatch into worlds that lit up my imagination and it was but a short leap into writing. Nothing ever excited me so much as creating a story out of nothing, and that’s still true. I loved writing essays at school and summer holidays were spent either skinning my knees up a tree or tapping away at an ancient black and gold typewriter. I’ve written professionally for magazines since and I have a lot of unfinished manuscripts littering the place!



  1. Tell us about your new book.

My new book is called Speedwell. It will be the third book in ‘The Katherine Wheel’ series.



An image posted by the author.














The first two are Daffodils, set in WW1 and Peace Lily, set in the immediate aftermath of 1919. Speedwell covers the entire decade of the roaring twenties and takes the characters back to America and on to various race tracks, particularly Brooklands in Weybridge, near London.

Katy Phipps is running a garage with her husband Jem, trying to raise a family, make innovations on cars and be a race mechanic all at the same time. She is co-driver to Douglas, an American who married her best friend and ex-employer Cassandra Smythe, the heiress of the local estate, Cheadle Manor in rural Wiltshire. Douglas has underwritten the garage and hopes to attract sponsorship and car sales to help support both the garage and his growing family.

His father, who lives in Boston, doesn’t approve, and Douglas relies on his rich mother for financial backing. When she dies, everything is put in jeopardy and Douglas risks his life trying to beat all his competitors to secure the future. Katy invents a vital car component to get the edge on their rivals and this has a profound effect on the future of Peacehaven Garage. In order to put the component into production without Douglas’s support, she and Jem have to put themselves deep into debt.

Will Douglas secure sponsorship? Will Katy and Jem be able to sell her invention? The suspense as the characters struggle with these pressures builds to an unusual climax and chimes with the innovation and excitement of this post-war decade when the modern age was born.


  1. Why do you write?

Good question, as it’s often more like exquisite torture! People say anyone can write, and of course that’s true, but I think not everyone feels it’s their vocation.

I do. It has been my bliss and passion. If I don’t write, I’m no fun to be around.

On the other hand, I can be pretty awful when the writing isn’t going well. I’m also pretty impossible when it is and I’m in what I call a ‘writing vortex’ and can’t stop. So, I’m either antsy because life is getting in the way of the creative process, fed up because it won’t flow, or over-excited and irritable because I can’t stop.

I’m heaven to live with. I suppose it could be described as a compulsion.


  1. Do you have to plan to write or are you constantly jotting ideas and lines down?

Usually the initial idea comes to me in a dream. It’ll be a different sort of dream to the norm; clear and memorable with visual scenes in sharp focus. I scribble it down and, even if I can’t, it tends to stay in my head, refusing to be ignored, remaining crystal clear until I can. Of  course it can be years before I settle down to the planning, the outlining, the synopses, the character profile breakdowns and the plot. I have many, many ideas I can’t wait to bring to life. I just don’t have enough hours in the day or energy to concentrate to finish all the projects sitting on the back-burner at the back of my head. Wish I had eyes and a computer memory stick in there!


  1. What do you think it takes to stand out from the indie author crowd?

It takes time, perseverance but above all, quality. There’s lots of fiction out there and probably if I wrote erotica or gory thrillers it would be easier but I can’t. So, I can only answer for me, and that means really good research, hopefully good prose, a well crafted sentence (they tend to get re-written many, many times), many drafts, lots and lots of editing. I edit as I go and then re-draft half a dozen times at least. Good formatting helps and great beta-readers – whose opinion you trust and you know will tell you the brutal truth, before letting your vulnerable, naked manuscript out into the real world.


  1. What is the ultimate goal you hope to achieve with your writing?

To earn my living by creating stories readers can escape into.


  1. Do you only write one specific genre or are you multi-talented?

So far it’s been historical fiction set around the First World War, with Speedwell and a further book planned, Woodbine and Ivy, which takes the characters into the second generation as they face the challenge of WWII.

But my first book, The Twisted Vine, was set in France in the 1980’s and is more of a mystery/suspense type of story.

The Twisted Vine

I’ve also written quite of lot of poetry, some short stories and I have other projects which include contemporary novels, a ghost story or two and many others.


  1. Give us a random fact about yourself.

I write in a shed I built (with help from my dear spouse) from a kit. From my writing desk I can see the Brecon Beacons.

See where tales from The Plotting Shed can be found about my writing projects. I’m still applying the paint here, if you look closely!





My Blog: – tales from the Plotting Shed

My first novel: The Twisted Vine – a sensuous and mysterious journey through the vineyards of France in the 1980s


The Katherine Wheel Books:

1) Daffodils – emotional and tender love story set in WW1

2) Peace Lily – the sequel to Daffodils


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