Friday, March 13, 2015

The Girl Who Wouldn't Die - Marnie Riches - Début Novel - Cover Reveal

 A sneak peek of the cover of The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die – the exciting debut novel from Marnie Riches.

The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die


When a bomb explodes at the University of Amsterdam, aspiring criminologist Georgina McKenzie is asked by the police to help flush out the killer. But the bomb is part of a much bigger, more sinister plot that will have the entire city quaking in fear.

And the killer has a very special part for George to play…

A thrilling race against time with a heroine you’ll be rooting for, this book will keep you up all night!

Marnie Riches grew up on a rough estate in Manchester, aptly within sight of the dreaming spires of Strangeways prison. Able to speak five different languages, she gained a Master’s degree in Modern & Medieval Dutch and German from Cambridge University. She has been a punk, a trainee rock star, a pretend artist, a property developer and professional fundraiser. In her spare time, she likes to run, mainly to offset the wine and fine food she consumes with great enthusiasm.

Having authored the first six books of HarperCollins Children’s Time-Hunters series, she now writes crime thrillers for adults.

I was invited to join this cover reveal today, something I have never participated in before on the blog. However as I was asked especially to do so I decided why not.

I will of course be reading the novel and reviewing here at a later date as well.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Separation by Dinah Jefferies

Paperback: 383 pages
Genre:  Historical Romantic Fiction.
Publisher: Penguin 2014
Source: Tywyn Public Library
First Sentence: The man smoothed down the lion's paws with a sponge he'd dipped in a bucket of water, then withdrew a knife from a leather pouch at his waist.
Review Quote: 
'The tears are still streaming down my face ... I have three words to describe the book: Captivating, Powerful and Passionate.'

Deborah Rodriguez - author of 'The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul'.
My Opinion: A captivating début.

This début novel which I picked up recently at my local library, was as captivating as the blurb on the cover led me to believe it would be. Dinah Jefferies spent her own childhood in Malaya and was there at the time of the Emergency that took place there in the 1950's. The novel is set in this period and she freely admits that although the characters are imaginary she has of course drawn on her own experiences. It is these memories, plus her mothers memoirs and photographs that have helped make this novel feel so authentic in its 1950's setting. If you want to know more about the background I recommend you read the author's note at the end of the novel.

A heartbreaking story, as the novel opens it is Malaya in the mid fifties and Lydia Cartwright returns home from visiting a friend to find her home is deserted. Her husband, Alec and their daughters Emma and Fleur are not there. To make it worse the phone is dead and the servants have also disappeared. Lydia contacts her husband's boss only to be told he has been sent into the jungle on a posting. She cannot understand why her husband has departed without her and not even left her a message. Setting off on a dangerous journey through the war torn area to catch him up, she has to turn for help to a friend from her past, Jack Harding. Not a good idea as he is a man she had vowed to leave in her past, however she is prepared to sacrifice everything to be reunited with her family.
Lydia has secrets but she is about to face much worse a devastating betrayal! Encouraging you to read this for yourself, without spoilers is my policy, when writing reviews. 

Highly recommend this new author to readers that enjoy fairly contemporary historical fiction and those that like to be transported to foreign shores. I am already looking forward to reading The Tea Planter's Wife which is due for publication in August 2015.

Author Profile

Dinah was born in Malaya in 1948 and moved to England at the age of nine. In 1985, the sudden death of her fourteen year old son changed the course of her life, and deeply influenced her writing. Dinah drew on that experience, and on her own childhood spent in Malaya during the 1950s to write her début novel, The Separation.  She has worked in education, once lived in a 'rock 'n roll' commune and, more recently, been an exhibiting artist

Now living in Gloucestershire with her husband and slightly overweight Norfolk terrier, she spends her days writing, with time off to make tiaras and dinosaurs with her grandchildren.

I am not sure if this video will work here, but if not do visit the Amazon Profile Page where it can be viewed. Well worthwhile if you need further tempting to read and there are no spoilers.

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.

Amazon Profile Page   Goodreads - Dinah Jefferies - Author Profile

Twitter - Dinah Jefferies    Author Official Website

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Summer at the Lake by Erica James

Hardback:  383 pages.
Genre: Contemporary Romantic Fiction.
Publisher:  Orion Books 2013

Source: Tywyn Public Library.
First Sentence: It had been a mistake to open the envelope.
Review Quote: The Hidden Cottage is a heart-warming, romantic story full of engaging characters, an emotional rollercoaster. (DAILY EXPRESS)
My Opinion: Pure Escapism

I have been enjoying Erica James writing since 1996, so definitely consider myself a long time fan of her particular brand of escapism.  Contemporary romantic fiction with characters that one can often identify with people you come across in real life. This time set in Oxford and Lake Como both places I was instantly transported to with the authors realistic descriptions.

The three protagonists of the novel meet in dramatic circumstances right at the opening of the story. A group of individuals thrown together by fate Floriana, Esme and Adam find themselves surprisingly becoming firm friends. Florianna is involved in an accident and it was Esme and Adam that had rushed to her aid.
As the relationships develop between this unlikely group the life stories of the three of them unfolds. The three had kept in touch after the accident and found despite the fact that they were all so different that there was a strong connection concerning relationships and broken hearts. It seems as if they are all going to be of help to each other with regards putting their pasts to rest. Woven together seamlessly the characters stories made for a very engrossing read.

In conclusion then if you are looking for contemporary fiction that is pure escapism then Erica James will satisfy your requirements. According to the Guardian  Summer at the Lake was one of the 100 best-selling books in 2014. 

 I have reviewed some of her earlier novels on the blog. They are Tell It To The Skies,  It's The Little Things,   Hidden TalentsThe Hidden Cottage and  The Real Katie Lavender

Author Profile

Erica James, née Sullivan was born in 1960 in Surrey, England, UK and she grew up on Hayling Island, Hampshire from the age of 4.  Now divorced, with two grown-up sons, Edward and Samuel, she divides her time between Suffolk, UK and Lake Como, Italy

 She began writing after attending a creative writing course at the Arvon Foundation, and published her first novel in 1996. In 2006, her novel Gardens of Delight won the Romantic Novel of the Year Award from the Romantic Novelists' Association. Erica James  is the author of sixteen best selling novels including her most recent, The Real Katie Lavender.

Apparently she has an insatiable appetite for other people's business and will readily strike up a conversation with strangers in the hope of unearthing a useful gem for her writing. She finds it is the best way to write authentic characters for her novels, although her two grown up sons claim they will never recover from a childhood spent in a perpetual state of embarrassment at their mother's compulsion.

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

Goodreads - Author Profile  Erica James - Official Author Website  Erica James - Twitter

Amazon Author Profile   Erica James - Facebook  

Thursday, February 26, 2015

A Week in Paris by Rachel Hore

Paperback: 472 pages
Genre: Romantic Fiction
Publisher: Simon and Schuster 2014
Source: Tywyn Public Library
First Sentences: She was a scrappy wisp of a girl who lived with forty-three other children in a large ugly house on the edge of a country town.
Review Quote: The Paris of both ages is beautifully drawn and the women's stories are skilfully interwoven, resulting in a richly emotional story, suspenseful and romantic, but unflinching in its portrayal of the dreadful reality and legacy of war. --Deirdre O'Brien, Sunday Mirror
My Opinion: This novel disappointed me.

I have a number of other titles on my bookshelves by this author but this is only the second one I have actually picked up and read. They obviously do not jump out at me when choosing something to read, this latest one was borrowed from the local library. Not even sure what attracted me to pick this one up, a very average read.  I am struggling to pinpoint exactly why this novel disappointed me, as it is visually and historically readable, it was the storyline that felt flat, somewhat predictable, plus the title somehow does not work for me either! 

The story of two women interwoven with Paris as the backdrop. Fay Knox was born in 1945 on the day war was declared and she has very little memory of her early childhood. As a young woman of twenty one in 1961 she visits Paris, on tour with the orchestra she plays in. This is just her second visit to the city, the last time being whilst she was still at school, strange feelings upset her on that first trip and this time events back home in the UK have sent her to Paris thinking she may have been there as a child. Does she discover the truth?

Interspersed with Fay's story is that of her mother Kitty Travers back in 1937 when she met and fell in love with an American doctor, whilst studying piano in Paris. Trapped their by the Nazi occupation of the city and the difficulties of survival in such a situation. Events of the time have traumatic repercussions not only for themselves but also the next generation.

Although I have admitted disappointment with this one, it will not stop me reading the other titles I have by this author as I feel this may have just been a blip. 
In conclusion as her historical detail creates the atmosphere and makes up for the weakness in the characterisations, I would still recommend to her many fans and to those that enjoy novels set in WWII or Paris. 

Author Profile

Rachel Hore was born in Epsom, Surrey. As an adult she worked in London publishing for many years before moving with her family to Norwich, Norfolk.

The author of 7 novels, most recently A Week in Paris in 2014. Her previous novels are
The Dream House (2006), The Memory Garden (2007), The Glass Painter's Daughter (2009), which was shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists' Association Novel of the Year 2010, A Place of Secrets (2010), which was a Richard and Judy Bookclub pick, and A Gathering Storm (2011), which was a Sunday Times Top 5 bestseller and short listed for the RNA Historical Novel of the year, 2012 and The Silent Tide 2013. 

She now  teaches publishing and creative writing at the University of East Anglia.

In her own words.......
An early childhood photograph shows me puzzling away at a Ladybird learn-to-read book. I was an early starter on the reading front but didn’t become a writer until I was a mum with three growing children. Indeed, if anyone had told the very young me that one day I’d be a published author I’d never have believed them.
My reading addiction got properly under way when I was five and our family moved from Surrey, England, where I was born, to live in Hong Kong because of my father’s job. I loved Hong Kong, but I also missed home, and one of the great excitements was receiving parcels of books from relatives in the UK. When the tropical heat got to me, which it often did, being red-haired with fair skin, I’d lie on my bed and lose myself in Enid Blyton, Black Beauty or the Chronicles of Narnia.
Back in an English primary school, aged eight, I was fortunate to have a teacher who read to the class every day, especially books by historical authors like Cynthia Harnett, Hilda Lewis and Rosemary Sutcliff. In this way my love for tales about the past was born.
During my early teenage years I perused Jackie magazine and longed for romance, but instead fell in love with English literature. I tried Jane Austen and the Brontës, raided my grandfather’s bookshelf for Dickens and my local library for Virginia Woolf, George Orwell and Wilkie Collins. I owe a huge debt to the public library system and believe passionately that we should maintain it for future generations.
History is full of fascinating stories of how we came to be, and that’s why I chose it to study at Oxford University. After I graduated I had a brief flirtation with museum work, but eventually books won out again. I took a secretarial course and landed a junior position at Cassells Publishers in Westminster and knew at once I’d found a career where I felt totally at home. Three years of enjoyable dogsbodying later I emerged as a fledgling editor. It was then I landed my dream job: assistant editor at HarperCollins Publishers in the Fiction department! I worked there for many wonderful years, eventually becoming a senior editorial director and looking after my own stable of well-known names. As an editor I learned a great deal from my authors – about the craft of storytelling, how to develop strong characters and write good dialogue, all sorts of writerly tricks. I observed with admiration the huge amount of work that my authors put into their novels and, above all, I learned the discipline of editing and re-editing work, which even the best writers need to do.
My life, however, was about to change. During my time at Harper Collins I’d met and married one of my authors, D.J. Taylor (David), and in due course we had three lovely sons. In 2001 I gave up my job and we all moved from London to Norwich, my husband’s birth place. Here it was that I finally gave in to the desire to write. I started with a short story, but it went on growing and became The Dream House. It was thrilling, but also nerve-wracking, to send it out into the world to find a publisher.
The above is reproduced from the  Author Official Website - Rachel Hore 

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.