@sarahmatthews@tweesecake.social avatar



Reader, Braille tutor, curious about new assistive tech, publishing and accessible art. Former illustrator, printmaker, bookseller. Fuelled by tea!
Here for all the lovely #AltText which brightens my day 😁
#bookstodon #blind #Braille
Volunteer for:
Listening Books https://www.listening-books.org.uk
ClearVision Library http://www.clearvisionproject.org

Twitter: https://twitter.com/sarahm_matthews

Location: UK


Profile photo: Me on holiday wearing sunglasses stroking a black cat who’s sat on a wall looking appreciative

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sarahmatthews, to Pubtips
@sarahmatthews@tweesecake.social avatar

uh oh, more AI experiments where they’re not needed! - “For readers, Hypnovels represents a new way to experience books aimed at making reading interesting for the ficklest audiences.” 🙃 @bookstodon


sarahmatthews, to deaf
@sarahmatthews@tweesecake.social avatar

We watched a bit of the Newcastle / Tottenham match earlier and were impressed to see this new initiative to include deaf fans more fully @disability | RNID goes to the Premier League! - RNID https://rnid.org.uk/2024/04/rnid-goes-to-the-premier-league/

sarahmatthews, to mastoblind
@sarahmatthews@tweesecake.social avatar

For anyone in the UK who’s an experienced reader, this looks like a great project to get involved in @mastoblind | Exciting Opportunity to Help Shape the Future of Braille Learning – The Braillists Foundation https://www.braillists.org/uncategorised/exciting-opportunity-to-help-shape-the-future-of-braille-learning/

sarahmatthews, to books
@sarahmatthews@tweesecake.social avatar

The Fortnight in September by R C Sheriff
Read on audio
Narrator: David Thorpe for RNIB
persephone Books
Pub. 1931, 304pp

I chose this book when I was in need of some comfort and it’s so wonderful I already know I’ll be reading it again in future. The story follows an ordinary family from Dulwich on their travels down to Bognor Regis for two weeks’ holiday, which they do every year. The routine ordinariness is the appeal and I related to many of the situations and feelings of the family, both in remembering being a child and now as a parent of a 12 year old. It’s staggering really how relevant the concerns expressed are to modern family life, given it was written in 1931. I definitely related to their anxiety about getting the train:
“There was plenty of time as there always is, if you panic sufficiently early and get it over with… there were so many little things that might happen, something forgotten that must be gone back for, a queue at the booking office window, a hich in labelling the luggage…one remote reason always haunted Mr Stephens with unreasoning and ridiculous fear; it was the possibility of a passing lady fainting or accidentally falling down. it would mean stopping and helping her up, brushing down her dress, picking up her umbrella and bag, possibly her spectacles. it was not that Mr Stephens lacked humanity or courtesy, it was simply the agonising delay that might be caused; for under such circumstances you cannot leave a lady with the cold blooded statement that you have a train to catch.”
The writing continues in this delightful way throughout their journey and, as there’s so much to say, they finally manage to get to the beach during Chapter 13!
We hear the anxieties and observations of each of the family as the story progresses and the characters are so beautifully written. the three children are growing up and there’s a melancholy atmosphere as they all reflect on their times at Bognor and wonder if this year will be their last.
I’ve been enjoying this gentle read at breakfast over the last couple of weeks and have loved every minute, I’m really going to miss it!

ChrisMayLA6, to london
@ChrisMayLA6@zirk.us avatar

This week I've been mainly reading, no. 142.

Ami Rao's short novel Boundary Road (2023) is set on a London Bus & relates the multicultural interactions of London through the journey (and inner reflections) of two passengers. It brings the two narratives together in a pay off that while (sort of predictable) remains a reflection of what London has become. As an ex-Londoner this struck me very much as a London novel of our time, showing both the good & bad of the city!


@sarahmatthews@tweesecake.social avatar

@ChrisMayLA6 @bookstodon Just read this one too and enjoyed it very much. I’m a Londoner and the mix of people on the buses has always interested me, you do find yourself wondering about the lives of others, especially on those long journeys across the city.And I was very invested in the story of Aron from the start

sarahmatthews, to bookstodon
@sarahmatthews@tweesecake.social avatar

One for fellow UK Daphne du Maurier fans @bookstodon | This Wednesday (27th March) on BBC 4 two programmes will be broadcast - the biographical drama, Daphne, and the interview, Daphne du Maurier talks to Wilfred De'Ath They will then be available on BBC iPlayer

sarahmatthews, to art
@sarahmatthews@tweesecake.social avatar

At the weekend I attended a brilliant event at the British Library in central London for blind and partially sighted people themed around portraits. I was excited to go because unusually there was the opportunity to get creative in response to the audio described works.
The workshop was run by artist Karly Allen who obviously had years of experience because her description of the 2 artworks we were introduced to was comprehensive and very natural.
We talked about a portrait of novelist Hilary Mantel by Nick Lord and a marble bust of King George III by Peter turnereli from the British Libry’s collection and were given a tactile drawing of them both which were printed using a Zychem machine which I desperately want to get my hands on now! I found them really pleasant to feel and although I did need the description to make full sense of the diagrams I felt they were very useful.
After the descriptions we were given a small circular frame and some clay along with some tools and Karly talked us through ideas of how we could get creative. I decided to use the various tools to draw into the clay which I’d filled the frame with and smoothed down. It was hard to get started and I experimented a bit and smoothed it out and started again several times. I kept in mind that the frame would be filled with plaster of paris and the clay discarded to make a tactile relief sculpture so whatever I drew would come out backwards. I cheated a bit and didn’t attempt a portrait as working in this way was new to me and my first attempts were awfully confusing! I decided to do an illustration of a flower instead because as I’m totally blind I couldn’t go back and add to the marks I’d made, I just had to go for it in one go, imagining the drawing as I went. I did ask my PA to tell me where there were some gaps so I could ad a couple of details which was helpful. I wasn’t the only person to take this approach.
We had a break for lunch and then went up to see the 2 artworks in the galleries and discuss them further while our sculptures set.
It was so exciting to feel the end result when we returned and we passed our creations around which got us talking to new people. Before the workshop I’d felt nervous about trying to do something creative again after 10 years of being blind and although it was frustrating at first I was relieved to find that we were encouraged to just get stuck in and have a go in any way we felt comfortable. I’ll definitely be returning to the library for future events of this kind!

sarahmatthews, to books
@sarahmatthews@tweesecake.social avatar

One of my favourite book bloggers is Moira of Clothes in Books who writes mostly about classic crime. She’s writing about every Agatha Christie novel but hit on a dodgy one recently, Elephants Can Remember (1972), which she struggled to find much positive to say about. Anyone read it?! #bookstodon #reading @bookstodon


@sarahmatthews@tweesecake.social avatar

@julieofthespirits @bookstodon Not one on the list for a reread then. I’ve not got to that one yet so might leave it to the end haha!

sarahmatthews, to bookstodon
@sarahmatthews@tweesecake.social avatar

Just finished Marking Time, the second in Elizabeth Jane Howard’s wonderful Cazalet Chronicle, set during WW2. again the characterisation is brilliant and the story so engaging. I’ve written a little more about it here @bookstodon

sarahmatthews, to books
@sarahmatthews@tweesecake.social avatar

It’s longlist announcement Day! Watch out for it on their website at 6pm @bookstodon | Women’s Prize For Fiction https://womensprize.com/prizes/womens-prize-for-fiction/

sarahmatthews, to books
@sarahmatthews@tweesecake.social avatar

I wonder if this book, Julia by Sandra Newman, will make it onto the Women’s Prize longlist next week? It sounds like a really intriguing idea - a retelling of Orwell’s 1984 from the perspective of Julia! I reread the original about 10 years ago now so am very tempted to read it again then read this novel @bookstodon

sarahmatthews, to bookstodon
@sarahmatthews@tweesecake.social avatar

Boundary Road by Ami Rao
Read as ebook using a mix of Braille and text-to-speech
Everything With Words
Pub. 2023, 239pp

I knew I was going to read this one as soon as I found out it’s about a bus journey through London. As much as I hated my various bus commutes many years ago I did at least enjoy the opportunity to indulge in a bit of people watching and the odd bit of eavesdropping, curious about all the many lives around me. So this book gave me a slice of that nostalgia!
Aron has just started a new job and is heading home on the No. 13 bus from Victoria to Boundary Road. He’s genuinely interested in other people’s lives and is an easy stranger to pass a few stops with. He takes the best seat on the bus – top left corner – and spends the ride pondering his life up to now and the possibilities for the future. His reflections on his early hopes as a talented footballer are woven in and we learn more about his family, his father’s arrival in England and struggles with alcohol, his grandmother Yvonne and mother Carol.
In the present we meet all kinds of characters as he travels including a man who shares the story of his first love and is persuaded to visit Aron’s shop for some new clothes in a charming accidental way, and a pregnant woman carrying twins. He’s on a high from his first day at work which has given him a renewed optimism after a dark period and this could explain why he’s so open with people.
Early on a young woman enters who Aron spots before she even gets on as she’s dressed unusually, and we suspect she’ll play a larger role later on.
We learn this is Nora as the perspective shifts in the secon part of the novel. I was so invested in Aron’s story that I didn’t connect quite so well with Nora, though she meets some interesting people including an architect who shares a story about his surprising reaction to a client’s painting, and also reflects on her own upbringing, further exploring the diversity of London’s population. I enjoyed the sharp observations from her perspective concerning the reaction to Aron:
“The elderly white couple on the seats two rows behind them turn their heads around anxiously, eyes darting here and there.two black youths fist-bumping directly in front of them with only one row in between. The woman… turns around and tries to catch Nora’s eye. It is a plea of sorts, a plea, as Nora understands, seeking solidarity. Nora pointedly looks away in these matters, her loyalty is unwavering.”
The final section is gripping and brilliantly written. This is a book with a hard-hitting message and I thought it delivers it very successfully.
i red this for @kaggsy59 and Lizzy’s month

sarahmatthews, to disability
@sarahmatthews@tweesecake.social avatar

This is great from Jamie Hale, of the disabled-led UK arts organisation Criptic Arts, in The Guardian - “When you go to a restaurant tell them you know a wheelchair user who would like to visit and ask if they’ve got a ramp. The more they are asked about it, the more they’ll think about it.”

sarahmatthews, to Pubtips
@sarahmatthews@tweesecake.social avatar

🙌Great to see the Women’s Prize for Non-Fiction longlist announcement! The one I’m most likely to read is Doppelganger: A Trip Into the Mirror World by Naomi Klein, Here’s the full list @bookstodon | “From gripping memoirs and polemic narratives, to groundbreaking investigative journalism and revisionist history, these 16 titles will change the way you view the non-fiction section of the bookshop.
Whether you are a seasoned non-fiction reader or considering trying for the first time, with this list you have at your fingertips a breadth of titles that reflects the quality and ambition of non-fiction writing by women around the globe that spark curiosity and might just change the world.”


@sarahmatthews@tweesecake.social avatar

@bookstodon …and here’s a link to Eric Karl Anderson’s brilliant video which gives a brief description of each book

ppatel, to random
@ppatel@mstdn.social avatar

reorganizing and downloading books from my library just made me realize that I have yet to read four of Annette Marie's books. This is a travesty. And, there's no way I'm going to be able to read all these books on my trrip. I do have other things to accomplish.

@sarahmatthews@tweesecake.social avatar

@ppatel Oh I’ve never read her books, what genre does she write in?

sarahmatthews, to books
@sarahmatthews@tweesecake.social avatar

This is a great read for anyone interested in Truman Capote and late 20th century US society in general. There’s a new mini series called Feud: Capote vs. the Swans out in America which I’ve no idea if we can get in the UK yet. i loved Swan Song by Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott which is a novel about Capote and his high society friends and I’ve read it twice so far, it’s so good! I had to break my usual rule of not giving my email address away to read this article (used an old account I don’t check of course) and it was worth it. Thanks to @BookJotter for the tip! @bookstodon

sarahmatthews, to random
@sarahmatthews@tweesecake.social avatar

It’s been a good day - had some great conversations and have some interesting volunteering work lined up. Also had an enquiry to teach to some learners in my local area who’re struggling to find anyone. I’ve no specific experience but would like to help if I possibly can as I do teach blind / partially sighted learners, so I’m now off down an internet rabbit hole to see if I can find some useful resources. Any advise from those in the know gratefully received!

sarahmatthews, to books
@sarahmatthews@tweesecake.social avatar

The Feast by Margaret Kennedy
Read on audio
Narrator: Colin Mace
Faber & Faber
Pub. 1950, 354pp

This was my second go at reading this book, I got it on Audible last year but when I started it I must’ve tried to read it while doing too many other things as I was soon confused by all the characters and changes of perspective. This time I took it a little slower and made notes as new characters were introduced, soon got into the story and was gripped.
This is a morality tale, set just after the end of the Second World War, which takes place in a seaside guest house called The Pendizack Manor Hotel run by the Siddal family. The story revolves around the various guests that come to stay and is told over a period of seven days. The reason for this is revealed in the prologue in which we find out that the cliff is unstable and that the hotel will be destroyed by a dramatic landslide in which some of the characters will be buried.
I enjoyed getting to know the families as we go along with the children being just as integral to the story as the adults. Class is explored through the contrast between the poor Cove children and the well off Giffords who spent the war in the US. I thought the scene on the train where the two families meet and argue over the ownership of the seats was very entertaining.
I also enjoyed the storyline of Nancibel, Bruce and Anna who are all brilliantly drawn characters. As a reader you’re constantly assessing who you’d like to be spared from the disaster and I enjoyed this tension.
There are some great pieces of dialogue in this book, including this marvellous surprising outburst from previously timid Mrs Paley:
“You are not a whole person, nobody is. We are members, one of another.an arm has no integrity if it has been amputated. It is nothing unless it is part of a body with a heart to pump the blood through it, and a brain to guide it. You have no more integrity than a severed arm might have.’
And this stood out from a heated discussion:
“It’s not the government” said Anna, a little uncertainly “any other government would be just the same. It’s the class war, this whole country’s being bitched by anger and spite and intolerance and aggressiveness”
I’m glad I didn’t know the concept behind this novel before I read it as it was so rewarding to piece it together and start to suspect what was coming as the narrative evolved.
This edition is a recent reissue and on Audible Cathy Rentzenbrink is listed as an author so I was expecting to hear her introduction, however, when I pressed play it wasn’t there. Maybe I’m doing something wrong but I couldn’t find anywhere in the app to access it which is disappointing as I like to read the intro once I’ve finished the book.
Overall a great read full of wonderfully observed details and one I’m so pleased I went back to.
@bookstodon @audiobooks

sarahmatthews, to Pubtips
@sarahmatthews@tweesecake.social avatar

This is an interesting read - “Among all of the book prizes in the UK and Ireland, the Republic of Consciousness Prize is unique in foregrounding small publishers. The publishers of the books chosen for the longlist, the shortlist and the eventual winner are awarded the prize money rather than the authors. The decision about which small press should be awarded the prize is based on evaluating a single book submitted by the press. The purpose of awarding the prize money is to aid the press in continuing to publish books of great merit.” @bookstodon | Choosing the Republic of Consciousness Prize 2024 longlist – The Irish Times https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/books/2024/02/05/choosing-the-republic-of-consciousness-prize-2024-longlist/

purplepadma, to random
@purplepadma@beige.party avatar

I’ve finished work for the day and I’m in the bath. Just after 5 I’m going to an online breathwork session, I used to go regularly but for some unknown reason I haven’t been for months. Then I guess I’ll read for a bit until dinner time, I’m working my way through a rather charming book about a feminist food writer in the 1930s. It’s called Good Taste and it’s by Caroline Scott, I hadn’t heard of it when I picked it up for 99p but I thought it could be interesting

@sarahmatthews@tweesecake.social avatar

@purplepadma Oh that book sounds very interesting!

sarahmatthews, to bookstodon
@sarahmatthews@tweesecake.social avatar

I’ve just finished The Light Years by Elizabeth Jane Howard, 1990, a truly memorable family saga set just before the Second World War and I’m so glad it’s the first of a series of 5 books! Some more thoughts on it here #bookstodon #BookReview #Storygraph #Braille @bookstodon

@sarahmatthews@tweesecake.social avatar

@bookstodon Just finished Marking Time, the second in Elizabeth Jane Howard’s wonderful Cazalet Chronicle, set during WW2. again the characterisation is brilliant and the story so engaging. I’ve written a little more about it here

@sarahmatthews@tweesecake.social avatar

@bookstodon I’ve just finished Confusion by Elizabeth Jane Howard, 1993, the third in the Cazalet Chronicles series and once again I was gripped by this family drama set during WW2. Some more thoughts on it here

@sarahmatthews@tweesecake.social avatar

@miki_lou @bookstodon So glad you’re enjoying it, I found it very memorable!

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