Friday, September 19, 2014

The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell







Paperback: 422 pages
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Random House 2013
Source: Tywyn Public Library
First Sentences: Well, I must say, I didn't think for a minute you'd be called something earthy like Jim! The Barbour and natty waistcoat in your profile photo make you look more like a Rupert or a Henry, something serious with two syllables, you know!
Review Quote: "Compelling. possibly the author's best yet. An intensely moving study of grief and family relationships, this is also a fantastically gripping story with a couple of powerful shocks." (Hello!)
My Opinion: A pleasant read involving complicated relationships and believable characters

Lisa Jewell is an author whose name I was familiar with, so when this title was selected as a Book Club read I checked to see what other titles I have read by her. Surprisingly just three over a period of two years in the mid noughties before I started writing reviews.

This was a pleasant read involving complicated relationships and believable characters about a family that has kept a dark secret for years. Everything unravels when the family are forced to return altogether to the family home one Easter. The four children, Meg, Beth, Rory and Rhys had all grown up with memories of an idyllic childhood in the cottage in the country with its rambling garden. Something happened during that period of their lives that they all pushed to the back of their minds, although the event still manages to almost unobtrusively come between them. They are about to discover the truth about a family tragedy.

It is one of those novels where if one says too much the story is spoilt and as I do not believe in spoilers, this all I am going to say. Sorry but some reviews in my opinion are in danger of completely ruining the element of surprise, which is surely what reading a good book is all about!

 Fans of contemporary fiction are bound to enjoy this one, especially if they are already fans of this author.
 I will probably pick up her new book The Third Wife to read having enjoyed this one.

Author Profile






Lisa Jewell was born 19th July 1968 in Middlesex, London. She was educated at St. Michael's Catholic Grammar School in Finchley, North London, leaving school after one day in the sixth form to do an art foundation course at Barnet College followed by a diploma in fashion illustration at Epsom School of Art and Design. 
She worked in fashion retail for several years, namely Warehouse and Thomas Pink.
After being made redundant, Lisa accepted a challenge from a friend to write three chapters of a novel in exchange for dinner at her favourite restaurant. Those three chapters were eventually developed into  Ralph's Party, which then became the UK's best selling début novel of 1999. See below for her list of published novels.

Lisa Jewell now  lives in Swiss Cottage, London with her husband Jascha and daughters Amelie Mae (born 2003) and Evie Scarlett (born 2007).

Novels

  • Ralph's Party (1999)
  • Thirtynothing (2000)
  • One Hit Wonder(2001)
  •  A Friend of the Family (2004)
  • Vince and Joy (2005)
  • 31 Dream Street (2007)
  • The Truth About Melody Browne (2009)
  • After The Party (2010)
  • The Making Of Us (2011)
  • Before I Met You (2012)
  • The House We Grew Up In (2013)
  • The Third Wife (2014)

The biographical information and photo used in this post are with thanks to the following websites, where you can also find more information about the author and her writing.

Goodreads - Author Profile    Lisa Jewell - Facebook Page  Lisa Jewell on Twitter   


Author - Amazon Page

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Before The Fall by Orna Ross


eBook: 416 KB, Paperback has 231 pages.
Genre: Historical Fiction.
Publisher:  Font Publications (27 February 2012).
Source: The author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.
First Sentence: Here comes Useless John skulking up the road.
Review Quote:  SUNDAY INDEPENDENT: "A highly ambitious, engaging and evocative novel and a hauntingly captivating read."
My Opinion: Love and grief intertwined with mystery.


It worked well reading this immediately after finishing 'After The Rising' 'After the Rising' as it follows on with events in Mucknamore seamlessly continuing the modern day (1995) story of Jo Devereux, who is still in Ireland researching into the family history and trying to deal with her feelings for her old love Rory O'Donovan.

As in the first volume of the trilogy the storyline jumps between locations and generations. Continuing the family dramas, though this time concentrating more on the characters of Peg and Norah and what happens to them in the 1920's. Besides being set in Ireland the contemporary part of the story also takes the reader to the USA where AIDS was starting to take a hold when Jo first went to live there in the 1980's. 
As Jo comes to understand exactly what freedom cost the families and how the past has haunted three generations, she realises that once can never truly break free from family.
There is so much love and grief intertwined with mystery, which if you have read the previous volume I do not think you can fail to be moved by. 

Just like the first volume this is written in a flowing expressive style and left me knowing a little more about Irish history. Still looking forward to reading the third title in the trilogy, recommended to fans of historical fiction. 


Author Profile



Orna Ross (Aine McCarthy) was born in Waterford, Ireland but is now living in London. She writes novels, poems, non-fiction and she also blogs about creative writing living. She has a dedicated belief in the power of the published word to transform and liberate. When she's not writing, you'll probably find her reading.

Orna has been published by Attic Press and Penguin, but she now publishes her own work. She is founding author & Director at 'The Alliance of Independent Authors',  for which she has been named "one of the 100 most influential people in publishing" by The Bookseller magazine.



ORNA SAYS: (Reproduced from her Amazon Profile)

"My NOVELS usually take the form of family-based dramas. Often they are historical fiction and usually there's a murder mystery or other buried secret from the past causing chaos in the present. I enjoy writing emotional twists and surprises around big themes -- identity, family loyalty, truth, sex and death, the struggle between freedom and belonging.

My POEMS are simple and accessible and tend towards the inspirational. I think everyone should read a poem a day (keep a poetry book in the bathroom is my advice).

My NONFICTION is about applying the creative process to everything in life. We've all been educated to neglect our creative capacities -- a big mistake, as the Creative Age overtakes the Information Age. Thankfully, like any other muscle, creative ability is strengthened by being flexed and used. The 'Go Creative!' books show how to become more creative.

ORNA'S INSPIRATIONS: (Reproduced from her Amazon Profile)

1: HISTORY: I agree with Mr Hartley that the past is, indeed, another country and it's my favourite place to travel -- reading and writing historical fiction is my favourite thing to do. I'm especially drawn to bohemian times and places where shackles are thrown off and creativity flourishes -- fin de siecle Paris (1890s); literary revival and revolutionary Ireland (1910/20s); hippy (1960s) and gay lib (1980s) San Francisco...

2: GENDER: I write the kind of women's fiction that explores what it is to be a woman, in various times and places. But I think both men and women have feminine and masculine dimensions. We are all seeded by man and born of woman and we all carry 'male' and 'female' characteristics. How these play out, in an individual life and in different societies, is endlessly fascinating to me.

3: IRELAND: I don't only write about Ireland but it is a strong influence. Because so many millions have emigrated from there, its stories reach beyond its own shores. There is always a particular flavour to Irish writing and readers tell me they experience in my books too.

4: THE SEA: Everything I really needed to know, I could have learned by watching the waves.

5: THE SPACE BETWEEN THE WORDS. About which the less said, the better.

How Orna got her writing name and more interesting biographical details can be found in the about me section on her website.

The biographical information and photo used in this post are with thanks to the following websites, where you can also find more information about the author and her writing.

Author Goodreads Profile   Orna Ross - Twitter Profile    Amazon Author Page - Orna Ross

Orna Ross - Official Author Website   Orna Ross - Google Plus

Friday, August 22, 2014

After The Rising by Orna Ross


eBook: 674KB, Paperback has 296 pages.
Genre: Historical Fiction.
Publisher:  Font Publications (16 Dec 2011).
Source: The author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.
First Sentence: The thick double door beneath the sign - Parle's Bar and Grocery - is shut.
Review Quote: SUNDAY INDEPENDENT: "One is immersed in this epic story immediately and effortlessly... The main characters are so well-drawn that you feel you have heard about them in your own life. The novel's strength is that it puts culpable, fragile flesh and blood - lots of blood - on a defining moment in Irish history... Of particular delight are the many unexpected twists and turns. When you think you've figured out the secrets, you may have got it all wrong. Orna Ross has written a highly ambitious, engaging and evocative novel and a hauntingly captivating read." 
My Opinion: Flowing and expressive.



This novel was Orna Ross's début, originally published with the sequel as 'Lovers' Hollow' by Penguin in 2006. The title has recently been reissued by the author. It is the first time I have read anything by Orna Ross and I feel very guilty that it has taken me so long to read and review 'After The Rising' and the sequel 'Before The Fall' which I read immediately after this one, so will publish the reviews simultaneously. The author was kind enough to provide copies for My Kindle via Amazon a long time ago. A problem I do find with eBooks is that they can easily get lost amongst the many other titles, a case of out of sight out of mind! I must be more careful in future.
The titles mentioned are I and II of an Irish Trilogy and I will certainly be hoping to read the final volume one day, I learnt so much about Irish history following the trials and tribulations of the Mucknamore families.

What a wonderful name for a village, Mucknamore, a fictional village set in the Wexford countryside of Ireland, but the events that took place were real events in Ireland's history.  The female protagonist is Jo Devereux who has returned home to Ireland after twenty years away to attend her mother's funeral. Through dealing with her mother's affairs after her death, she finds herself coming into contact with Rory O'Donovan, a man she had a teenage love affair with. Probably the only man she ever truly loved but he is now married. A conflict between their families split them up and she fled to the USA. 
Now though back in Ireland reading the family history that her mother has left to Jo, she discovers some surprising truths about her mother and grandmother. She learns about the role of the women in the Irish Civil War of 1923 and about a mysterious incident involving the death of Rory's uncle in the same war. It is these events that have caused on going conflict between the families continuing with each new generation. Probing for the truth Jo is astonished by the similarity to her own life where she has endeavoured to balance love and freedom. What will happen between her and Rory, if anything and how will learning about the past impinge upon her decisions? If you want to find out you will have to read the book.

Written in a flowing expressive style this story left me knowing more than I did about Irish history and looking forward to reading the third title in the trilogy, recommended to fans of historical fiction. 


Author Profile




Orna Ross (Aine McCarthy) was born in Waterford, Ireland but is now living in London. She writes novels, poems, non-fiction and she also blogs about creative writing living. She has a dedicated belief in the power of the published word to transform and liberate. When she's not writing, you'll probably find her reading.

Orna has been published by Attic Press and Penguin, but she now publishes her own work. She is founding author & Director at 'The Alliance of Independent Authors',  for which she has been named "one of the 100 most influential people in publishing" by The Bookseller magazine.



ORNA SAYS: (Reproduced from her Amazon Profile)

"My NOVELS usually take the form of family-based dramas. Often they are historical fiction and usually there's a murder mystery or other buried secret from the past causing chaos in the present. I enjoy writing emotional twists and surprises around big themes -- identity, family loyalty, truth, sex and death, the struggle between freedom and belonging.

My POEMS are simple and accessible and tend towards the inspirational. I think everyone should read a poem a day (keep a poetry book in the bathroom is my advice).

My NONFICTION is about applying the creative process to everything in life. We've all been educated to neglect our creative capacities -- a big mistake, as the Creative Age overtakes the Information Age. Thankfully, like any other muscle, creative ability is strengthened by being flexed and used. The 'Go Creative!' books show how to become more creative.

ORNA'S INSPIRATIONS: (Reproduced from her Amazon Profile)

1: HISTORY: I agree with Mr Hartley that the past is, indeed, another country and it's my favourite place to travel -- reading and writing historical fiction is my favourite thing to do. I'm especially drawn to bohemian times and places where shackles are thrown off and creativity flourishes -- fin de siecle Paris (1890s); literary revival and revolutionary Ireland (1910/20s); hippy (1960s) and gay lib (1980s) San Francisco...

2: GENDER: I write the kind of women's fiction that explores what it is to be a woman, in various times and places. But I think both men and women have feminine and masculine dimensions. We are all seeded by man and born of woman and we all carry 'male' and 'female' characteristics. How these play out, in an individual life and in different societies, is endlessly fascinating to me.

3: IRELAND: I don't only write about Ireland but it is a strong influence. Because so many millions have emigrated from there, its stories reach beyond its own shores. There is always a particular flavour to Irish writing and readers tell me they experience in my books too.

4: THE SEA: Everything I really needed to know, I could have learned by watching the waves.

5: THE SPACE BETWEEN THE WORDS. About which the less said, the better.

How Orna got her writing name and more interesting biographical details can be found in the about me section on her website.

The biographical information and photo used in this post are with thanks to the following websites, where you can also find more information about the author and her writing.

Author Goodreads Profile   Orna Ross - Twitter Profile    Amazon Author Page - Orna Ross

Orna Ross - Official Author Website   Orna Ross - Google Plus

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Little Lies by Liane Moriarty


Paperback: 450 pages
Genre: Contemporary Fiction 
Publisher: Michael Joseph 2014
Source: Lovereading Reviewer Panel
First Sentences: "That doesn't sound like a School Trivia Night," said Mrs Patty Ponder to Marie Antoinette. "That Sounds like a riot."
Favourite Quote:“It had never crossed her mind that sending your child to school would be like going back to school yourself.” 
Review Quote: Here at Company HQ we're all obsessed with Little Lies by Liane Moriarty. This juicy seaside-town murder mystery will be one of the biggest books this autumn (Company Magazine
My Opinion: Entertaining and compelling read

Please note this title is published as 'Big Little Lies' in USA and Australia.


Although you know right from the opening paragraphs that something dreadful has happened in Pirriwee, this compelling story keeps you guessing.  Tragic yet hilarious, so much more than a murder mystery this novel kept me reading well into the night, as I kept telling myself just one more chapter!

The protagonists Jane, Maddie and Celeste are all mothers of children at Pirriwee Public School, all very different but drawn together by events at school. Jane is the single parent, new to the area, with nothing to say about her son's father. Celeste is the happily married one, also wealthy and beautiful, the envy of all the other Mums. Maddie or Madeleine is the lively one, having problems with her teenage daughter from a previous marriage. The scene is set, disaster has struck, but to find out exactly what the author takes us back to the start of the school year to tell us the whole story. The characters and their relationships are all very realistic and sadly totally believable.  I say sadly as these are everyday situations that readers are going to be familiar with. Nobody's life is quite as it seems and as we are taken behind the scenes of the characters relationships with their partners and families one is pulled into the complicated webs of deceit.  Bullying both mental and physical is a sad fact of life, the added drama is that all through the book you know the result is catastrophic but you do not know exactly what happened until the very end!  

In conclusion an entertaining and compelling read, which gains pace as the dreadful facts emerge. Another good choice for book clubs as the story raises plenty of subjects for discussion. Fans of  Sophie Hannah and Jojo Moyes will probably find they like Liane Moriarty's writing.


LITTLE LIES by Liane Moriarty: One fateful night -- can you unravel the truth?       No spoilers.






Author Profile


Biography mainly courtesy of Goodreads Author Profile  To read even more about Liane click here

Liane was born on a November day in 1966 in Sydney, Australia. A few hours after she was born, she smiled directly at her father through the nursery glass window, which is remarkable, seeing as most babies can’t even focus their eyes at that age.

Her first word was ‘glug’. This was faithfully recorded in the baby book kept by her mother. As the eldest of six children, Liane was the only one to get a baby book. 

As a child, she loved to read, so much so that school friends would cruelly hide their books when she came to play. She does not go to sleep at night without first reading a novel for a very long time in a very hot bath.

She can’t remember the first story she ever wrote, but she does remember her first publishing deal. Her father ‘commissioned’ her to write a novel for him and paid her an advance of $1.00. She wrote a three volume epic called, ‘The Mystery of Dead Man’s Island’

After leaving school, Liane began a career in advertising and marketing. She became quite corporate for a while and wore suits and worried a lot about the size of her office. She eventually left her position as marketing manager of a legal publishing company business called The Little Ad Agency. After that she worked as a freelance advertising copywriter, writing everything from websites and TV commercials to the back of the Sultana Bran box.

She also wrote short stories and many first chapters of novels that didn't go any further. The problem was that she didn't actually believe that real people had novels published. Then one day she found out that they did, when her younger sister Jaclyn Moriarty called to say that her novel, Feeling Sorry for Celia was about to be published.

In a fever of sibling rivalry, Liane rushed to the computer and wrote a children’s book called The Animal Olympics, which went on to be enthusiastically rejected by every publisher in Australia.

She calmed down and enrolled in a Masters degree at Macquarie University in Sydney. As part of that degree, she wrote her first novel, Three Wishes. It was accepted by the lovely people at Pan Macmillan and went on to be published around the world. Her latest books are published by the equally lovely people at Penguin in both the US and the UK. Since then she has written two more novels for adults, as well as a series of books for children.

Liane is now a full-time author. She lives in Sydney with her husband, her daughter Anna and son George.



The biographical information and photo used in this post are with thanks to the following websites, where you can also find more information about the author and her writing.



Goodreads Author Profile      Liane Moriarty - Amazon Page  


Author's Official Website      YouTube - Little Lies


Facebook Profile - Liane Moriarty        Wikipedia - Liane Moriarty