Poem!💖

Rather proud of this poem from my daughter :). She’s been making her own podcasts, too!

Flora's Week Show Blog

I’ve been thinking of doing a poem for a long time and here it is.

Winter

Frost curls up on my window,

Like my cat inside.

I run my hands through the condensation.

I Whisper ‘it’s winter

The winter like sun shone through the Grey, Puffed up clouds

The grass is as moist as fruitcake freshly baked.

It’s winter.

It’s winter.

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Fear and Darkness in The Karate Kid. (Or, how I learned to look properly at Johnny Lawrence.)

**This is part one of a short series of blog posts about my observations of the Karate Kid franchise of films and the TV show Cobra Kai. First up; how perceptions of a text can alter, the older you get.**

Karate kidIf someone had told my thirteen year old self I’d be writing a blog post (not that there were such things as blogs when I was thirteen!) on the subject of The Karate Kid‘s chief antagonist, Johnny Lawrence, I’d have giggled pathetically and pledged eternal allegiance to Daniel LaRusso. At aged thirteen, for me, the narrative of that most perfect of films was clear cut; light versus darkness; Cobra Kai versus Miyagi-do; hero wins, villain loses. Scrappy kid from New Jersey moves to California, gets bullied, learns karate from enigmatic teacher-handyman, falls in love, wins tournament, job done.

But perhaps not.

Fast forward thirty years and it’s a slightly different story. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I haven’t watched The Karate Kid in over twenty five years. I know for a fact that I’ve never watched it with my husband, and we’ve been together that long! But yesterday afternoon I decided it was time to introduce KK to my daughters, and, despite the fact that my husband fell asleep (so we’ve still, technically, never watched it together!), a good time was had by the remaining three of us!

screen-shot-2020-10-19-at-17.23.13Anyone who’s been following my Twitter feed lately will know that I recently watched the YouTube produced (and now Netflix streamed) Cobra Kai, and to say that CK is a gamechanger is a bit of an understatement. I absolutely adored it, so part of the reason for wanting to watch KK again was to refresh my memory and see if I’d caught all of the references in CK. But in the end, it wasn’t quite the experience I’d anticipated.

screen-shot-2020-10-20-at-11.50.57-1Now, I’ll admit freely that CK turns the KK world on its head a bit. Following, as it does, the potentially redemptive journey of Johnny Lawrence, 34 years after he lost the final of the All Valley Karate Championship, it’s very much through Johnny’s eyes that we recall the events of the first (and to a point the second) KK film. But what interested me from the moment William Zabka came on screen in the original film was how I, as an adult, immediately changed my perspective of that character. A lot of this, of course, comes from the back story and world building of CK, but there was one thing that struck me about Zabka’s performance in nearly all of the film’s scenes. He’s playing Johnny as completely and utterly terrified, almost the whole time. Barring his entrance scene on the bike (where there’s certainly anger and heartbreak framed as aggression), and the couple of rare moments where he’s at ease (mostly with friends, sitting on the bike at school, or schmoozing Ali’s mum at the country club), Johnny is scared.

For me, it’s in the eyes it’s most obvious – Zabka’s playing Johnny as on the verge of tears that never come, almost the whole time. 
Screen Shot 2020-10-19 at 17.57.05Once I’d realised that, I just kept noticing it, all the way through the film. Take, for instance, the scene after Mr Miyagi has taken on Johnny and the gang after the Hallowe’en dance. Johnny’s distracted by Daniel and Mr Miyagi at the back of the Cobra Kai dojo. But is he scared of Mr Miyagi because of the night before, or because he’s afraid of what John Kreese will do when he finds out why he’s sporting a black eye? He seems reassured when Kreese responds positively to him, but that nervous half-smile when he tells Kreese feels forced, as if he knows there will be worse to come. His body language here is not that of someone who’s been reassured; it’s as if he just knows this isn’t the end of it. And while, of course, he’s a footsoldier in the image below, standing at attention beside his General, and that might explain the body language, there’s a palpable tension here perhaps interpreted as fear of attack from all sides.Screen Shot 2020-10-20 at 13.47.57

Throughout the whole film, there’s just this sense of ‘banked fires under colossal control’ (to quote Jilly Cooper) when it comes to the character of Johnny Lawrence. You can see the fear, the nerves, the genuine terror of failure written all over him, even when he’s trying his hardest to be the opposite, and I think that’s Zabka’s real strength, even at that young age. To an adult, that kind of reaction to stress in a young man would suggest trauma, abuse, grooming, even, and yet as a teenager I just didn’t see it. Of course, the intuitive links are obvious; one reading of the film is that Kreese is an arch manipulator who sets his students against one another and against the outsiders of Daniel and Mr Miyagi. That kind of behaviour has more than a suggestion of abuse. Close ranks, deny everything, but bleed to death on the inside. It’s testament to both William Zabka and the fabulous Martin Kove that this dynamic works so well on film.

Screen Shot 2020-10-20 at 11.48.03That realisation, that all is much darker in the Cobra Kai dojo than I’d ever imagined as a teenager,  is the thing that really shocked me this time around, more than anything, and it goes to show what a couple of decades does to alter your perception of events. Right at the end of the film, after the crane kick that wins Daniel the fight, Johnny is absolutely alone. Apart from the match officials, there’s no-one there to pick up the pieces, to offer any comfort. His friends are on the sidelines, as is Kreese; Johnny’s isolation is total. The contrast between him and Daniel is obvious, with Daniel being surrounded by friends and family in triumph. That’s what makes Johnny’s last gesture particularly powerful as he takes the trophy from the official and presents it to Daniel himself, uttering ‘you’re all right, LaRusso, good match.’ Broken grace just about sums it up. He’s on the verge of breaking down, but he doesn’t. And that’s something I noticed even more when I started watching Cobra Kai, of which more in the next post!

Screen Shot 2020-10-20 at 13.54.15

 

 

Snowflakes over Bay Tree Terrace by Fay Keenan

Thanks so much for the review, Katherine – I’m really glad you enjoyed ‘Snowflakes Over Bay tree Terrace’!

Just Katherine

About the Book: 
As the snowflakes fall, new love blossoms…
When teacher Florence Ashton receives a surprise inheritance, she decides to make the life-changing decision to up sticks to the charming town of Willowbury in Somerset. With a new house and a new job, she’s too busy putting down roots to think about love.
Air Ambulance pilot Sam Ellis is definitely not looking for romance either, especially not on his doorstep. When Florence, his new neighbour, complains about his noisy housemate, he feels more cross than star-crossed.
But as the nights draw in and both find themselves thrown together in Willowbury’s seasonal drama production, will they overcome their differences and allow a little bit of winter magic to fall along with the snow? And what secrets will be revealed by the box of memories Florence finds in the attic at Bay Tree Terrace?
Let Fay Keenan transport you to the…

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‘Snowflakes Over Bay Tree Terrace’ by Fay Keenan

Such a gorgeous review – thank you so much for reading and being part of the tour xxx

gingerbookgeek

Snowflakes Over Bay Tree Terrace (Willowbury Book 2) by [Fay Keenan]

Synopsis

As the snowflakes fall, new love blossoms…

When teacher Florence Ashton receives a surprise inheritance, she decides to make the life-changing decision to up sticks to the charming town of Willowbury in Somerset. With a new house and a new job, she’s too busy putting down roots to think about love.

Air Ambulance pilot Sam Ellis is definitely not looking for romance either, especially not on his doorstep. When Florence, his new neighbour, complains about his noisy housemate, he feels more cross than star-crossed.

But as the nights draw in and both find themselves thrown together in Willowbury’s seasonal drama production, will they overcome their differences and allow a little bit of winter magic to fall along with the snow? And what secrets will be revealed by the box of memories Florence finds in the attic at Bay Tree Terrace?

My Review

I have read a couple of Fay’s…

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Birthday Resolutions

Everyone has their milestones through the year, I think. For me, apart from New Year’s Day, there’s the start of the Autumn term, and, especially now I’m getting older, my birthday, which was yesterday. It’s a time to reassess, I suppose, and to try to put some things in place for the following year. I can’t always say I stick to them, but the hope is always there! It’s been a full on week, as well, starting as it did with a funeral, then a book launch and ending with a birthday.

A couple of years ago on my birthday, I resolved to give up alcohol for a year. For four whole months I kept to it, and I felt hugely better, more alert and more healthy. Then, on Boxing Day of that year I fell off that particular wagon in a gloriously sozzled heap in front of a load of Christmas movies and a table load of snacks. For a moment I was disappointed that I hadn’t made the year (or even the end of the calendar year!), but then I figured that four months was pretty good for a girl who likes a drink, and felt a bit better. This year I’m determined to be more ‘one day at a time’ in my approach to this particular aim.

There’s always the perennial ‘I will lose X amount of weight before my next birthday’ resolution, which comes with being a curvaceous blonde who likes food and drink a little too much. This year, that feels more important with concerns about Covid-19 and excessive weight being linked. While I’m not in the obese category, I could stand to lose a few stone, so this may well end up being a resolution if only to try to keep myself safer from the virus.

And, linked to these, there’s the idea of self-care, not self-indulgence. I’m not great at the former, and a little too good at the latter – letting myself off the hook for things I should know better about, and compensating myself with things that are bad for me to make myself feel better – usually cake, biscuits, cheese and wine! I do have a self-sabotaging streak, but I’m determined to get that under control this year. Even if it’s tiny things, like remembering to slap on some moisturiser in the morning, I think this might have to be a goal. I’m indulgent of my own failures to the detriment of my own physical and mental health, and this needs to stop. No more making excuses for cracking open the wine, stressing out or eating the cake. I’m going to try to be more mindful and control my impulses when needed!

It’s not just my 43rd birthday that has made me think about all this this week, though. We lost someone very important recently, who we laid to rest on Tuesday in beautiful and moving service. She was one of the coolest, loveliest, most kick-the-ass-out-of-life people I’d ever known, and I, like everyone who knew her, felt blessed to have had her in my life. Fighting fit before the cancer came, she lived life on her terms, and made a huge success of it. I will miss her a great deal, and her passing has made me consider so much about the way I handle day to day life. Although I might still eat the cake, drink the wine and make excuses, I want to make this birthday year the one where I do, actually, see some differences in my physical and mental health, and stop worrying about the irrelevant things in life. Here’s hoping this time, that might be the case.

My new novel, ‘Snowflakes Over Bay Tree Terrace’ is out now! Click the pic to buy:

When teacher Florence Ashton receives a surprise inheritance, she decides to make the life-changing decision to up sticks to the charming town of Willowbury in Somerset. With a new house and a new job, she’s too busy putting down roots to think about love.

Air Ambulance pilot Sam Ellis is definitely not looking for romance either, especially not on his doorstep. When Florence, his new neighbour, complains about his noisy housemate, he feels more cross than star-crossed.

But as the nights draw in and both find themselves thrown together in Willowbury’s seasonal drama production, will they overcome their differences and allow a little bit of winter magic to fall along with the snow? And what secrets will be revealed by the box of memories Florence finds in the attic at Bay Tree Terrace?

Let Fay Keenan transport you to the perfect country winter wonderland, with roaring firesspectacular scenery, and unforgettable characters.  Perfect for all fans of Cathy Bramley, Fern Britton and Katie Fforde.

What authors and readers say about Fay Keenan’s novels:

 ‘A gorgeous rural romance full of warmth and charm.’ Victoria Connelly

‘Guaranteed to put a spring in your step. Feel-good, frisky and great fun with a hearty dash of romance and intrigue.’ Julie Houston

‘Moving, funny, thoughtful and romantic. Bring on the next one!’ Jenny Kane

Want to read the books in order? Try this one first!

Birthday resolutions…

Snowflakes over Bay Tree Terrace Fay Keenan

Such a beautiful review of ‘Snowflakes…’ – I’m touched beyond belief. Thanks so much! x

Little Miss Book Lover 87

Thrilled to join this blog tour.

As the snowflakes fall, new love blossoms…

When teacher Florence Ashton receives a surprise inheritance, she decides to make the life-changing decision to up sticks to the charming town of Willowbury in Somerset. With a new house and a new job, she’s too busy putting down roots to think about love.

Air Ambulance pilot Sam Ellis is definitely not looking for romance either, especially not on his doorstep. When Florence, his new neighbour, complains about his noisy housemate, he feels more cross than star-crossed.

But as the nights draw in and both find themselves thrown together in Willowbury’s seasonal drama production, will they overcome their differences and allow a little bit of winter magic to fall along with the snow? And what secrets will be revealed by the box of memories Florence finds in the attic at Bay Tree Terrace?

Let Fay Keenan transport…

View original post 136 more words

Snowflakes Over Bay Tree Terrace by Fay Keenan Blog Tour – Review

And another lovely review from Julie – thank you so much !

Bookish Jottings

As the snowflakes fall, new love blossoms…

When teacher Florence Ashton receives a surprise inheritance, she decides to make the life-changing decision to up sticks to the charming town of Willowbury in Somerset. With a new house and a new job, she’s too busy putting down roots to think about love.

Air Ambulance pilot Sam Ellis is definitely not looking for romance either, especially not on his doorstep. When Florence, his new neighbour, complains about his noisy housemate, he feels more cross than star-crossed.

But as the nights draw in and both find themselves thrown together in Willowbury’s seasonal drama production, will they overcome their differences and allow a little bit of winter magic to fall along with the snow? And what secrets will be revealed by the box of memories Florence finds in the attic at Bay Tree Terrace?

REVIEW

I read Fay Keenan’s enchanting Snowflakes Over Bay Tree…

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Book Review: Snowflakes Over Bay Tree Terraces by Fay Keenan

This is such a beautiful review from Katie – thank you so much for being part of the ‘Snowflakes Over Bay Tree Terrace’ book tour!

From Under the Duvet

I know it is only August and the sun is shining but it is never too early to add Christmas books on to your TBR pile for the darker, colder nights. The first festive novel of the year is Snowflakes over Bay Tree Terrace by Fay Keenan.

Book Review: Snowflakes Over Bay Tree Terraces by Fay Keenan

Snowflakes Over Bay Tree Terrace HI RES Snowflakes over Bay Tree Terrace by Fay Keenan

Title: Snowflakes Over Bay Tree Terraces

Author: Fay Keenan

Publisher: Boldwood Books

Release Date: 20th August 2020

Genre: Festive Romance, Women’s Fiction

Blurb:

As the snowflakes fall, new love blossoms…

When teacher Florence Ashton receives a surprise inheritance, she decides to make the life-changing decision to up sticks to the charming town of Willowbury in Somerset. With a new house and a new job, she’s too busy putting down roots to think about love.

Air Ambulance pilot Sam Ellis is definitely not looking for romance…

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‘Borrowing’ the Bard for a Book – Fay Keenan

Ever since I read Alison May’s fabulous Much Ado About Sweet Nothing, I’ve been dying to have a go at incorporating Shakespeare’s original into a novel of my own. Also, in my other life as an English teacher, I love a bit of the Bard, and I’ve been lucky enough to have taught a fair few of his works over the years. Whether my students consider themselves so fortunate, I’m not sure, but you can guarantee that I, at least, am having a great time in the classroom whenever Will pops up on the syllabus! Not to mention my great love of Shakespeare adaptations, with 10 Things I Hate About You and Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson’s wonderful take on Much Ado being right up there in my affections.

With all that in mind, and having the additional challenge of writing a winter themed book, I needed to make sure that I could ‘tweak’ the source play to fit the winter world of Willowbury, instead of the sun drenched shores of Sicily, so I came up with a kind of panto-play hybrid that might fit the bill. The result, I hope, is a comic retelling of Much Ado within the Willowbury Dramatical Spectacular itself, and lots of allusions to the Beatrice and Benedick storyline in the rest of the novel. At times, I had to do some ‘creative accounting’ to make them fit, but I’m sure Shakespeare wouldn’t be offended; after all, a slightly zany Somerset town certainly isn’t the most bizarre setting for a Shakespeare play, if some of the versions I’ve seen over the years are anything to go by!

And of course, I couldn’t resist including some allusions to my own experiences of teaching Shakespeare to secondary school students in the novel, too, since Florence Ashton, the novel’s heroine, is an English teacher. Many of the lines that Florence and her students speak in the novel are allusions to things I’ve either heard or said over the years, including her attempts to get away from the ‘but I just don’t get Shakespeare, miss!’ plea that I’ve heard so often in the classroom. Much like Sam Ellis, the hero of Snowflakes Over Bay Tree Terrace’, students have to be able to relax into Shakespeare, to breathe into the language, and not get hung up on understanding every single word. Perhaps that’s a metaphor, in the end, for life and love, too…

Source: ‘Borrowing’ the Bard for a Book – Fay Keenan