Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

Last Letter Home – Rachel Hore

Historical Fiction
4*s

I do love a good dual time-line story and this one has two geographical references to enhance the experience even further.

In Last Letter Home historian Briony Andrews visits Italy with her friends and finds a link to her past in an old derelict house. Not totally unsurprising as she knew that her Grandfather had fought there during the war, but even so what could be more magical than to see him on an old reel of film. Even better she is handed a letter written by one Sarah Bailey to an as yet unknown man.

In 1939 Sarah Bailey settled in Norfolk after spending some time in India. She lives with her mother and sister mourning the loss of their father. While there she meets a distant relative of their neighbours at Westbury Hall, a young man Paul Franklin who is half-German. Not a great nation to have hailed from at this time!
The past story is a particularly interesting twist on the usual WWII storyline due to the inclusion of Paul Franklin. I think few of us consider what it must have been like to be a settler in the UK at this time as a German. How would your neighbours react? Where would their loyalties lie if they were to fight? And a myriad of other questions are subtlety posed through the characters Rachel Hore has so richly drawn.

Of course being Rachel Hore this isn’t simply a character study, her books, and I’ve been a fan for years, all are backed up with meticulous research. In this book we learn about the campaign in Naples in 1943 and we are not spared some of the crueller realities of what war is really like some of which we view in letters home from the front-line, others are told through the research our fictional historian carries out in her quest to find out what became of Paul and Sarah after the war was over.

Briony’s story is also fascinating as she lives a modern life as a single woman with a close friend Aruna. As the story opens it is social media that is in the spotlight as Briony is invited to do a piece on TV for which she gets mauled. The contrast between 2016 and the past could not be more clear despite Paul being distrusted by some of his peers back then. The holiday to Naples is born from Briony’s mishap and Aruna’s new boyfriend Luke is more than welcoming even if the other couple are of the kind that you’d rather not be stuck on holiday with!

Rachel Hore has excelled with both her characterisation and the descriptions of her settings, I was easily transported to Italy in both the past and present. However it is well-rounded characters and interesting storylines that make these kind of historical novels and although I was inevitably drawn towards the mystery of the past, Briony’s life in the present was far from boring giving a story that had me longing to know what would happen in both the past and the present.

I’d like to say a huge thank you to Simon & Schuster UK who allowed me to read an advance copy of this book ahead of publication on 22 March 2018. This unbiased review is my thanks to them.

First Published UK: 22 March 2018
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
No of Pages: 560
Genre: Historical Fiction 
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Weekly Posts

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph (March 13)

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Vicky from I’d Rather Be At The Beach who posts the opening paragraph (sometime two) of a book she decided to read based on the opening. Feel free to grab the banner and play along.

On 22 March 2018 Rachel Hore’s new book Last Letter Home will be published by Simon & Schuster. I do enjoy this author’s historical novels having first found her by reading The Glass Painter’s Daughter which was published way back in 2009.

Blurb

On holiday with friends, young historian Briony Wood becomes fascinated with a wartime story of a ruined villa in the hills behind Naples. There is a family connection: her grandfather had been a British soldier during the Italian campaign of 1943 in that very area. Handed a bundle of letters that were found after the war, Briony sets off to trace the fate of their sender, Sarah Bailey.

In 1939, Sarah returns with her mother and sister from India, in mourning, to take up residence in the Norfolk village of Westbury. There she forms a firm friendship with Paul Hartmann, a young German who has found sanctuary in the local manor house, Westbury Hall. With the outbreak of war, conflicts of loyalty in Westbury deepen.

When, 70 years later, Briony begins to uncover Sarah and Paul’s story, she encounters resentments and secrets still tightly guarded. What happened long ago in the villa in the shadow of Vesuvius, she suspects, still has the power to give terrible pain … Amazon

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph ~ Intro

One

They call it a storm and after days of it she felt storm-tossed clinging to the wreckage of her life each new attack dashing against her with a force that left her bruised and gasping. She might have borne it if it had simply been words, painful, devastating words though they were, words that cruelly shredded her self-worth, her professional reputation, her trust in her own judgement, her identity as a woman, but it was more than that; her sense of safety was threatened.

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (March 7)

This Week In Books
Hosted by Lipsy Lost & Found my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I am reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words

I am currently reading Come and Find Me by Sarah Hilary which will be published on 22 March 2018. This is the fifth in the DI Marnie Rome series.

Blurb

On the surface, Lara Chorley and Ruth Hull have nothing in common, other than their infatuation with Michael Vokey. Each is writing to a sadistic inmate, sharing her secrets, whispering her worst fears, craving his attention.
DI Marnie Rome understands obsession. She’s finding it hard to give up her own addiction to a dangerous man: her foster brother, Stephen Keele. She wasn’t able to save her parents from Stephen. She lives with that guilt every day.
As the hunt for Vokey gathers pace, Marnie fears one of the women may have found him – and is about to pay the ultimate price. Amazon

This fast paced mystery is very different to my last read The Trick to Time by Kit de Waal, who has produced another accomplished story that had me captivated.

Blurb

Mona is a young Irish girl in the big city, with the thrill of a new job and a room of her own in a busy boarding house. On her first night out in 1970s Birmingham, she meets William, a charming Irish boy with an easy smile and an open face. They embark upon a passionate affair, a whirlwind marriage – before a sudden tragedy tears them apart.

Decades later, Mona pieces together the memories of the years that separate them. But can she ever learn to love again? Amazon

Next up I’m changing genre again to a bit of historical fiction from an author whose latest time-slip novels have been on my must-read list for years: Last Letter Home by Rachel Hore.

Blurb

On holiday with friends, young historian Briony Wood becomes fascinated with a wartime story of a ruined villa in the hills behind Naples. There is a family connection: her grandfather had been a British soldier during the Italian campaign of 1943 in that very area. Handed a bundle of letters that were found after the war, Briony sets off to trace the fate of their sender, Sarah Bailey.

In 1939, Sarah returns with her mother and sister from India, in mourning, to take up residence in the Norfolk village of Westbury. There she forms a firm friendship with Paul Hartmann, a young German who has found sanctuary in the local manor house, Westbury Hall. With the outbreak of war, conflicts of loyalty in Westbury deepen.

When, 70 years later, Briony begins to uncover Sarah and Paul’s story, she encounters resentments and secrets still tightly guarded. What happened long ago in the villa in the shadow of Vesuvius, she suspects, still has the power to give terrible pain … Amazon

That’s my reading week. What does your week have in store for you? Do share in the comments box below.

Posted in Books I have read

A Week in Paris – Rachel Hore

Historical Fiction 4*'s
Historical Fiction
4*’s

Rachel Hore has produced another complex and historically accurate tale set in the iconic capital city of France where just the mention of the Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile gives the readers a visual hook for the rest of this turbulent tale of a young woman facing seemingly insurmountable situations purely by virtue of the time and place she is living in.

Fay is an accomplished violinist who first travels to Paris during her teens and despite her mother, Kitty’s reservations, she relents and lets her daughter go. While there Fay has a frightening incidence of deja vue which disturbs her because she knows she has never visited France before.

Years later her mother’s sadness over the death of Fay’s father at times appear to overwhelm her and this is only compounded now that Fay has left home and is on the verge of travelling to Paris once again, this time as a second violinist in an orchestra for a week long event. With her early life shrouded in mystery Fay is shocked when she is given the task of visiting the convent where her mother had stayed when she was a pupil at the conservatoire in Paris and she seizes the opportunity to find out more about her mother and her own childhood.

With most of the story set in Paris, in 1961 and earlier during World War II Rachel Hore has written an intertwined tale, Fay’s ‘present’ is narrated by herself as she begins to trace her mother’s footsteps while Kitty’s story is told mainly through the eyes of an old friend Nathalie which brings to life the reality of living in Paris during the troubled years of the war years.

I really enjoyed Kitty’s story, it was easy to lose myself in this part of the story and believe the events as they were described my only criticism was that this central story didn’t start until quite a way through the book but once it began I almost resented returning to Fay’s present day story. In addition to the fascinating story of Kitty’s life there is an element of romance told in keeping with the time period the women live in. The theme of friendship is strong in Kitty’s story with the need to know who could be trusted imperative when living under the rule of the Germans but for friendship is on the periphery of her story as she begins to uncover the truth about her early life which is very different to the story she has been told by her mother, it is up to the reader to judge if this was the right decision to make.

I love historical fiction particularly those stories where the past has an impact on later generations but only when they are researched and written in a believable way; Rachel Hore achieves this and at the same time bought to life a time and place that is far removed from my own. I admired the young Kitty and by the end of the book understood why when we first meet her she is in hospital following a ‘nervous breakdown.’ Fay was a more elusive character and as is often the case in these dual time-line stories, had the lesser storyline although the story in the past became her story too. I would recommend this book to lovers of well-written historical fiction.

I’d like to say a big thank you to the publishers Simon & Schuster UK for allowing me to read this book in return for my honest review. A Week in Paris will be published on 9 October 2014 perfectly timed for reading while wrapped up in the warm as the nights draw in.

Over the years I have read and enjoyed each one Rachel Hore’s previous books and if you look closely at the header of this blog you will see some of the copies sat upon my bookshelf – my favourite is The Glass Painters Daughter, a book that I still remember in detail despite last reading it quite a few years ago.

Previous books by Rachel Hore

The Dream House
Kate stumbles upon the house of her dreams, a beautiful place, full of memories, it is tantalizingly out of her reach. Its owner is the frail elderly Agnes, whose story – as it unravels – echoes so much of Kate’s own. And Kate comes to realize how uncertain and unsettling even a life built on dreams can be – wherever you are, at whatever time you are living and whoever you are with.

The Memory Garden

When Patrick finds some old paintings in an attic,he and Mel investigate the identity of the artist, they are drawn into an extraordinary tale of illicit passion and thwarted ambition from a century ago, a tale that resonates in their own lives. But how long can Mel’s idyll last before reality breaks in and everything is threatened?

The Glass Painter’s Daughter

Zac accept a beguiling commission – to restore a shattered glass picture of an exquisite angel belonging to a local church. As they reassemble the dazzling shards of coloured glass, they uncover an extraordinary love story from the Victorian past, sparked by the window’s creation. Slowly, Fran begins to see her own reflection in its themes of passion, tragedy and redemption. Fran’s journey will lead her on a search for the truth about her mother, through mysteries of past times and the anguish of unrequited love, to reconciliation and renewal.

A Place of Secrets

As Jude untangles Wickham’s tragic story, she discovers threatening links to the present. What have Summer’s nightmares to do with Starbrough folly, the eerie crumbling tower in the forest from which Wickham and his adopted daughter Esther once viewed the night sky? With the help of Euan, a local naturalist, Jude searches for answers in the wild, haunting splendour of the Norfolk woods. Dare she leave behind the sadness in her own life, and learn to love again?

A Gathering Storm
Beatrice’s story is a powerful tale of courage and betrayal, spanning from Cornwall to London, and Occupied France, in which friendship and love are tested, and the ramifications reach down the generations.
And, as Lucy listens to the tales of the past, she learns a secret that will change everything she has ever known…


The Silent Tide


When Emily Gordon, editor at a London publishing house, commissions an account of great English novelist Hugh Morton, she finds herself steering a tricky path between Morton’s formidable widow, Jacqueline, who’s determined to protect his secrets, and the biographer, charming and ambitious Joel Richards. But someone is sending Emily mysterious missives about Hugh Morton’s past and she discovers a buried story that simply has to be told

Posted in Weekly Posts

WWW Wednesday (October 1)

WWW Wednesday green

Hosted by Miz B at Should be Reading

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…
• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

I am currently reading, and thoroughly absorbed by A Week in Paris by Rachel Hore, a dual time-line novel

A Week in Paris

Blurb

The streets of Paris hide a dark past…
September, 1937. Kitty Travers enrols at the Conservatoire on the banks of the Seine to pursue her dream of becoming a concert pianist. But then war breaks out and the city of light falls into shadow.
Nearly twenty-five years later, Fay Knox, a talented young violinist, visits Paris on tour with her orchestra. She barely knows the city, so why does it feel so familiar? Soon touches of memory become something stronger, and she realises her connection with these streets runs deeper than she ever expected.
As Fay traces the past, with only an address in an old rucksack to help her, she discovers dark secrets hidden years ago, secrets that cause her to question who she is and where she belongs…
A compelling story of war, secrets, family and enduring love. Amazon

Revealing a totally different set of secrets was my recent read, This Little Piggy by Bea Davenport. This crime novel from written from the point of view of a local journalist during the miner’s strike in 1984.
Click on the book cover to read my review

This Little Piggy

Next I am going to read Hide and Seek by Amy Bird which has been published in three parts, the first being free on kindle.

Hide and Seek

Blurb

Nobody’s life is ever perfect. Families tell lies. People keep secrets. But the life which Will and Ellie Spears have built together is as perfect as it’s possible to be.
Until one day something is let slip. A discovery is made. And all of a sudden Ellie and Will’s life falls down, as acceptance gives way to an obsessive search for answers. Families tell lies. People keep secrets. But sometimes the truth is much more dangerous. NetGalley

What are you reading this week? Please share in the comments below.

Posted in Weekly Posts

Teaser Tuesday (September 30)

Kindle,jpg

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My teaser this week is from A Week In Paris by Rachel Hore

A Week in Paris

Blurb

1961: Born on the day that WW2 broke out, 21-year-old Fay Knox cannot remember her early childhood in London, before she moved to a Norfolk village with her mother, Kitty. Though she has seen a photograph of her father, she does not recall him either. He died, she was told, in an air raid, and their house destroyed along with all their possessions. Why then, on a visit to Paris on tour with her orchestra, does a strange series of events suggest that she spent the war there instead? There is only one clue to follow, an address on the luggage label of an old canvas satchel. But will the truth hurt or heal?
1937: Eugene Knox, a young American doctor, catches sight of 19-year-old Kitty Travers on the day she arrives in Paris, and cannot get her out of his mind. She has come to study the piano at the famed Conservatoire, and lodges at a convent near Notre Dame. Eugene and Kitty will fall in love, marry and have a daughter, but France’s humiliating defeat by Germany is not far behind, and the little family must suffer life under Nazi occupation. Some Parisians keep their heads down and survive, others collaborate with the enemy while others resist. The different actions of Eugene, Kitty and their friends will have devastating consequences that echo down the generations. NetGalley

My Teaser

Everything rang true. But if Mme Ramond was telling the truth, that made her mother dishonest and she didn’t like to think about that. And yet… if her mother was hiding secrets maybe it was for a good reason.
‘I do trust you, yes,’ she said simply.

 PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT with either the link to your own Teaser Tuesdays post, or share your ‘teasers’ in a comment here (if you don’t have a blog). Thanks!

Posted in Weekly Posts

Friday Finds (July 25)

Friday Finds Hosted by Should be Reading

FRIDAY FINDS showcases the books you ‘found’ and added to your To Be Read (TBR) list… whether you found them online, or in a bookstore, or in the library — wherever! (they aren’t necessarily books you purchased).

So, come on — share with us your FRIDAY FINDS!

Happy Friday! So this week I have a few more finds that have made their way into my house. NetGalley have provided me with some wonderful books starting for The Girl Next Door by Ruth Rendell which I really wanted to read as this contains crimes from the past and the present.

The Girl Next Door
Blurb

When the bones of two severed hands are discovered in a box, an investigation into a long buried crime of passion begins. And a group of friends, who played together as children, begin to question their past.
‘For Woody, anger was cold. Cold and slow. But once it had started it mounted gradually and he could think of nothing else. He knew he couldn’t stay alive while those two were alive. Instead of sleeping, he lay awake in the dark and saw those hands. Anita’s narrow white hand with the long nails painted pastel pink, the man’s brown hand equally shapely, the fingers slightly splayed.’
Before the advent of the Second World War, beneath the green meadows of Loughton, Essex, a dark network of tunnels has been dug. A group of children discover them. They play there. It becomes their secret place.
Seventy years on, the world has changed. Developers have altered the rural landscape. Friends from a half-remembered world have married, died, grown sick, moved on or disappeared.
Work on a new house called Warlock uncovers a grisly secret, buried a lifetime ago, and a weary detective, more preoccupied with current crimes, must investigate a possible case of murder.
In all her novels, Ruth Rendell digs deep beneath the surface to investigate the secrets of the human psyche. The interconnecting tunnels of Loughton in THE GIRL NEXT DOOR lead to no single destination. But the relationships formed there, the incidents that occurred, exert a profound influence – not only on the survivors but in unearthing the true nature of the mysterious past. NetGalley

Next I got a copy of Heartbreak Hotel by Deborah Moggach, I have loved so many of this author’s previous books and this sounds like a real winner.

Heartbreak Hotel

Blurb

When retired actor Buffy decides to up sticks from London and move to rural Wales, he has no idea what he is letting himself in for.
In possession of a run-down B&B that leans more towards the shabby than the chic and is miles from nowhere, he realises he needs to fill the beds – and fast.
Enter a motley collection of guests: Harold, whose wife has run off with a younger woman; Amy, who’s been unexpectedly dumped by her (not-so) weedy boyfriend and Andy, the hypochondriac postman whose girlfriend is much too much for him to handle.
But under Buffy’s watchful eye, this disparate group of strangers find they have more in common than perhaps they first thought…NetGalley

… and another book that was on my wishlist, A Week in Paris by Rachel Hore, another of my must read authors.

A Week in Paris

Blurb

1961: Born on the day that WW2 broke out, 21-year-old Fay Knox cannot remember her early childhood in London, before she moved to a Norfolk village with her mother, Kitty. Though she has seen a photograph of her father, she does not recall him either. He died, she was told, in an air raid, and their house destroyed along with all their possessions. Why then, on a visit to Paris on tour with her orchestra, does a strange series of events suggest that she spent the war there instead? There is only one clue to follow, an address on the luggage label of an old canvas satchel. But will the truth hurt or heal?
1937: Eugene Knox, a young American doctor, catches sight of 19-year-old Kitty Travers on the day she arrives in Paris, and cannot get her out of his mind. She has come to study the piano at the famed Conservatoire, and lodges at a convent near Notre Dame. Eugene and Kitty will fall in love, marry and have a daughter, but France’s humiliating defeat by Germany is not far behind, and the little family must suffer life under Nazi occupation. Some Parisians keep their heads down and survive, others collaborate with the enemy while others resist. The different actions of Eugene, Kitty and their friends will have devastating consequences that echo down the generations. NetGalley

Lastly, yes only 4 from NetGalley this week, is Broadchurch by Erin Kelly. Now I didn’t watch the TV series and so I wasn’t planning on reading this book until I realised that it is written by one of my favourite authors, which you’ll know all about if you have read my rave reviews of The Burning Air and The Ties That Bind. Fortunately I’m sure I’ll enjoy the book having listened to others discussing the show.

Broadchurch

Blurb

It’s a hot July morning in the Dorset town of Broadchurch when Beth Latimer realises that her eleven-year-old son, Danny, is missing. As Beth searches desperately for her boy, her best friend, local police officer DS Ellie Miller, arrives at work to find that the promotion she was promised has been given to disreputable Scottish outsider DI Alec Hardy.
When Danny’s body is found on the beach Ellie must put her feelings aside as she works with DI Hardy to solve the mystery of Danny’s death. As the case becomes a murder investigation the news hits the national press, jolting sleepy Broadchurch into the national spotlight.
As the town’s secrets begin to unravel, members of this tight-knit community begin to consider those in their midst. Right now it’s impossible to know who to trust…NetGalley

Lastly after reading about Drawn from Memory by E.H. Shepard on Heavenali’s blog I simply had to own a copy – so I do! This autobiography of the man who illustrated my favourite childhood book, Winnie The Pooh is full of illustrations of his childhood in London towards the end of the nineteenth century. Heavenali’s description of this magical book, and later its sequel Drawn from Life is well worth a read, in fact I can confidently predict it won’t be long before you see the sequel featured here!

Drawn From Memory

Blurb

An evocative childhood memoir by the much-loved illustrator of Winnie the Pooh and The Wind in the Willows. In this autobiography, E.H. Shepard describes a classic Victorian childhood. Shepard grew up in the 1880s in Saint John’s Wood with his brother and sister. He was surrounded by domestic servants and maiden aunts, in a an age when horse-drawn buses and hansom cabs crowded the streets. Recalling this time with charm and humour, Shepard illustrates these scenes in his own distinctive style. Goodreads

So go on tempt me; what have you found this week?

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read, Five Star Reads

The Silent Tide – Rachel Hore

Dual Time Zone 5*'s
Dual Time Zone
5*’s

For me there is something magical about a book set around the literary word. This dual time zone novel is set around the world of publishing and authors which combined with the dual-time zone device, made it the perfect read from this book-lovers perspective.

The past is 1948, features Isabelle, a young woman who left her oppressive home life as a teenager. Isabelle is really leaving a life dominated by her father who had been damaged by World War II and a life of drudgery helping her mother with the house and her younger siblings. She turns up at her aunt’s house in London and soon becomes immersed in the literary world.

The present is Emily who is the editor for Hugh Morton’s (a famous author) autobiography. Having been given a copy of a little-known early book Emily is captivated by references to Isabelle and keen to find out more about this young woman’s life.

Rachel Hore has done a fantastic job of research for this novel and it speaks volumes about women’s lives in post-war England, not just Isabelle’s but those of Emily’s mother and aunt too. The characters are life-like being complicated and making decisions that are not always easily understood. The interspersed stories move the book on at a good pace. As with many of these books you do need to suspend belief at times particularly in the way Emily is drip-fed pieces of information about Isabelle but I was captivated by both women’s vulnerability which was sensitively portrayed.

This was a thoroughly enjoyable read with a plot that holds its ground despite the inevitable co-incidences to tie up the loose ends neatly in a bow.

This is the sixth book written by Rachel Hore

The Dream House – The past is Victorian England

Its owner is the frail elderly Agnes, whose story – as it unravels – echoes so much of Kate’s own.

The Memory Garden – Some paintings found in the attic spark the mystery in this one

Then Patrick finds some old paintings in an attic, and as he and Mel investigate the identity of the artist, they are drawn into an extraordinary tale of illicit passion and thwarted ambition from a century ago, a tale that resonates in their own lives.

The Glass Painters Daughter – this is my favourite, set in Victorian England in a shop that deals in stained glass.

In a tiny stained-glass shop hidden in the backstreets of Westminster lies the cracked, sparkling image of an angel.

A Place of Secrets – a connection to an 18 Century Folly drives this novel

‘Rachel Hore’s intriguing Richard and Judy recommended read, which is layered with a series of mysteries, some more supernatural than others’ –Independent

 A Gathering Storm – The role of female SOE Agents in the Second World War

spanning from Cornwall to London, and Occupied France, in which friendship and love are tested, and the ramifications reach down the generations.

 

Posted in Books I have read

Holiday Reading 2013

Kindle

Sadly the week before my holiday I realised my original Kindle Keyboard had died, the screen just wouldn’t clear previous images. KK did me well lasting 3 years (almost to the day) so it was off to order a newer model to avoid my holiday reading being thrown into disarray!  Being a list maker and my holiday reading list had been in production since May as books were swapped in (and more rarely) out, tracked on eReaderIQ for those crucial price drops  until a select few were chosen to accompany me on my 2013 holiday!

My new Kindle arrived on island, two days later I had the magic card through the letter box instructing me to take my id and card to the post office.  I woke up bright and early on the day of departure, rushed to the PO and quickly transferred the relevant books ready for reading.

So what did I read?

Holiday Pics

Sixteen Sixty-One was an even better read than expected.  I think that anyone who has been in  a difficult relationship will relate to elements of the story related by Natalie Lucas. This is not a poor little me story as I had half-expected, rather it lets the reader see how the relationship started, and why it continued. Best memoir this holiday!

The best historical read was The Silent Tide by Rachel Hore set in the late 1940’s, perfect for book lovers as it concerns the world of publishing and authors!

This is where I confess that for all my planning I had a DNF this year.

The Last Gift

I read about a fifth of this before I decided that I couldn’t spoil my holiday with a poorly researched book. I’m not quite sure what the time setting for this tale but believe it was the mid nineteenth century. The problem I found it hard to believe a number of things:
Parents have only one child following death of twins born when said child was 6 (possible but not typical)
Catholic’s mentioning going to chapel
Being so poor yet far fewer mouths to feed than many at that time (one child was not common at that time)
Mother able to write letters but daughter had to wait until she was a nursemaid to learn how to read them from the governess (which she mastered really quickly of course)

So this one was not for me and Carla Acheson will have to depend on far more forgiving readers than me.

The winner of my award for perfect beach reading was What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty mainly for its novel approach to a bit of romance although it must have been windy on the days I read this as my eyes kept watering! This is quite unlike The Husband’s Secret which is one of my favourite books of 2013 but the strength of writing shone through.

I have now added another downfall to e-readers.  Although I find mine essential for holiday reading, when everyone else adopts them I am unable to tell what is being read up and down the beach.  Out of the physical books I did spot The Husband’s Secret was the most common….

My favourite holiday read was The Burning Air by Erin Kelly for sheer mastery of story-telling with this chilling tale set in Devon. The book is set over the weekend of 1 November 2013 and is claustrophobic, surprising and populated by brilliant characters.

I have read books set in the Netherlands, Australia, Birmingham and Devon. I have read lots about mother’s relationships with their child(ren).  I have read two books called The Doll’s House (one by Louise Phillips and one by Tania Carver). I have thought about how I would react in all sorts of scary situations (I usually use my brave alter ego for these wonderings) and in short have read a great selection of books. I will be sharing reviews for each and every one over the next few days.

I’m now off The Guide Dog for the Blind Annual Book Sale because I clearly need some more books!

Posted in Uncategorized, Weekly Posts

Musing Mondays (September 2)

musingmondays51Hosted by shouldbereading.wordpress

Musing Mondays asks you to muse about one of the following each week…

• Describe one of your reading habits.
• Tell us what book(s) you recently bought for yourself or someone else, and why you chose that/those book(s).
• What book are you currently desperate to get your hands on? Tell us about it!
• What you’re reading right now — what you think of it, so far; why you chose it; what you are (or, aren’t) enjoying it.
• Do you have a bookish rant? Something about books or reading (or the industry) that gets your ire up? Share it with us!
• Instead of the above questions, maybe you just want to ramble on about something else pertaining to books — let’s hear it, then!

My Musing

I am currently re-reading A Funeral for an Owl by Jane Davis. Why am I reading this again?

Well I’m really excited; the book is due to be published at Christmas time (hence why there is no book cover for this one) and Jane has agreed to do an interview with me on my blog! Now I know lots of you do this sort of thing regularly but it is my first time so I want to ask the right questions so I’m reading it with that in mind now.

Jane has amazed me again by coming up with an entirely different type of book from a subject matter viewpoint although the writing still immediately draws you into the storyline. This book-to-be starts with a playground fight, a teacher getting injured and a compelling back-story of a bright boy born on the wrong side of the tracks (literally). If that has whetted your appetite come back for the full review in December.

Jane’s first book Half-Truth and White Lies was a worthy winner of the Daily Mail/Transworld First Novel Award. There is nothing of the novice about her technique, which shows all the confidence of a natural-born writer. (John Harding, Daily Mail) in 2008. I read and reviewed this on Amazon in 2010 and got a reply from Jane which started our correspondence.
Jane kindly gave me a preview of I Stopped Time a long time before it was published and I fell in love with it. This book reminded me of Kate Morton and Rachel Hore in this dual-time novel with a focus on photography.

“Three. I have three stories,” Lottie Parker tells her solicitor while putting her affairs in order. “But it was Oscar Wilde who said that a story is almost certainly a lie.”

Since then I have read her latest novel These Fragile Things that is set in Streatham in the 1980’s

“Would you risk ridicule and scorn – knowing others besides yourself will be affected – to voice a seemingly impossible claim?
How would you react if your daughter claimed to be seeing visions?
What if you and your wife couldn’t agree whether to support her or to demand a medical explanation?
What then?”

I have to admit the subject matter could have put me off if I didn’t trust the author to tell a good story and I wasn’t disappointed.

So I’m back to reading the manuscript of A Funeral for an Owl so I can do the author justice in my very first interview!
Did I also tell you I’m mentioned in the acknowledgements so my name will be in print!

Christmas present

This is one of the best Christmas presents ever!!!

Reviews for Jane Davis

 

Half-truths and White Lies
These Fragile Things
I stopped time

Jane is looking for advance reviewers and posted the following comment

If any of you would like to be advance reviewers of a Funeral for an Owl please get in touch as I’m trying to get a bit of momentum going! (Cleo has beaten me to it.) You can contact me via my website or on janerossdale@btinternet.com. You can also read extracts of my other books there. Jane