Saturday, November 21, 2015

Dangerous Waters by Anne Allen

Paperback: 302 pages.                                                                                                      
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Mystery, Romance.
Publisher: Matador 2012
Source: The author in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.
First Sentence: Jeanne went out on deck as the spring sun broke through the clouds.
Review Quote: The island of Guernsey is so vividly evoked, one feels as if one is walking its byways. An atmospheric and tantalising read. --Elizabeth Bailey, author of The Gilded Shroud
My Opinion: I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and am now looking forward to reading the rest of The Guernsey Novels of which this is the first of four already published. With the fifth due out in the spring of 2016, I had better get a move on if I want to catch up and read the others before then. 
'DangerousWaters' is set in Guernsey and the author's imagery conjures up the beauty of the island. The setting combined with the mystery and romance surrounding the protagonist Jeanne, this story will whisk you away to another world. A novel to immerse yourself in and for awhile forget the trials and tribulations surrounding us all in reality.

Précis Courtesy of Goodreads

Tragedy seems to follows Jeanne Le Page around ...
Can she really go through it again and survive?
Jeanne Le Page is lucky to be alive … 15 years ago she was almost killed in a boating accident which brought heart-breaking family tragedy. Now 31, Jeanne is reluctantly returning to the Island of Guernsey following the death of her beloved Grandmother. Struggling for breath as the ferry nears the Island, Jeanne feels a dark foreboding overwhelm her as hazy memories of that terrible day resurface.
Only back on the Island to sell her inheritance - her Grandmother’s old cottage - she has no intention of sticking around to pick up her old life. But the cottage holds a secret, dating back to World War II, and Jeanne becomes drawn into discovering more. Then, shortly after her arrival, a chance meeting with an old teenage crush leads her to thoughts of love.
Jeanne is forced to face her demons, reliving the tragedy as her lost memory returns.
The truth is finally revealed, endangering Jeanne’s life for a second time…

Dangerous Waters is a heart-warming, contemporary romance and mystery that captures the reader’s imagination, written in a style comparable to that of Maeve Binchy.

Video Trailer for 'Dangerous Waters' Courtesy of YouTube

Author Profile

Author Biography in her own words from her website

I live by my beloved sea in Devon and have three adult children – two boys and a girl – and two small grandchildren.  A restless soul, I have moved  around a lot and spent many years in Guernsey after falling in love with the island. I managed to leave one son behind to give me a valid reason for   frequent returns! Another son is in London which proves handy for City breaks. I’m now in Devon to be near my daughter and grandchildren and love the fact that I’m still by the sea. I was born in Rugby, right in the middle of the country and as far from the sea as you can get, so spent most of  my adult life moving to coastal areas. Am particularly happiest in warmer climes, having lived in Spain for a few years. My ideal would be to spend  part of the English winter somewhere warm, possibly Spain, so that I can recharge my body and soul. 

By profession I was a psychotherapist but have long had creative ‘itches’, learning to mosaic, paint furniture, interior design and sculpt. Although I had often thought about being a writer, life had always seemed to get in the way. Bringing up three children on one’s own didn’t make it any easier! Then, a few years ago, I won a true-life story competition run by Prima magazine, which was featured in a two-page spread when published. A real boost to my writer’s ego!  

About this time I ran out of excuses for not writing a novel and the story for Dangerous Waters came unbidden after reading Joanne Harris’s Coastliners, set on a small French island. It reminded me of Guernsey and I was drawn to write a novel that was both about love and loss – central to everyone’s lives – and family secrets going back many years. My experience as a psychotherapist helped me enormously, having spent many years helping people to deal with serious issues like the loss of loved ones. I’ve also had my own life experiences to draw on…! But I must stress that the novel is not based on anyone’s real story, it is fiction. At the time I didn’t appreciate how much work it would take to bring it up to a publishable standard so it’s not been a quick journey.  But very worthwhile ☺ 

I have since published three more books – The Guernsey Novels – and am now writing the fifth, Echoes of Time, due out in 2016. Watch this space!  

Additional Author Info I read on Goodreads
Anne Allen was born in Rugby, to an English mother and Welsh father. As a result she spent many summers with her Welsh grandparents in Anglesey and learnt to love the sea.

Photographs and biographical information courtesy of the following sites.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Marriage to Measure (Serenity Holland 3) by Talli Roland

Ebook: 473KB or 141 pages
Genre: Contemporary Romantic Fiction
PublisherNotting Hill Press (10 Dec. 2014)
Source: Author in return for an honest and unbiased review.
First Sentence: Proposal etiquette was definitely not designed with females in mind.
My Opinion:I have been reading and reviewing the writing of this talented author since 2010, when she asked me to review her first novel, 'The Hating Game',  Since the publication of her first novel Talli has embraced the importance of social media as a marketing tool for her novels as that is where she finds her target market. I am probably one of her older fans but 'Marriage to Measure' is the sixth one I have read and once again she has not failed to make me smile. A good enough reason in my opinion for me to continue to enjoy her writing! 

I found this to be an amusing and light hearted read, somehow made more relevant as one of my daughters got married last year. ' Marriage to Measure' is the third in the trilogy featuring Serenity Holland this time organising her wedding over a short period of time which makes for some interesting scenarios. Recommended to fans of contemporary romantic fiction, it will not fail to make you smile.

Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:

When Serenity Holland proposes to her long-time boyfriend Jeremy, she’s certain ‘forever’ is a perfect fit. As the wedding train steams forward, though, Serenity starts to wonder if they really are an ideal match. From a crusty old ring to a dilapidated house she’s left to renovate on her own – not to mention the appearance of Jeremy’s clingy ex-fiancée – engagement feels more like disengagement. 

Even worse, wedding planning’s like a bad hangover as Serenity juggles the wishes of family and friends with her bossy mother-in-law-to-be, resulting in a Frankenwedding nothing like the simple ceremony she envisioned. 

Can Serenity knit her relationship back together and fashion a celebration that suits, or will ‘I do’ become ‘I don’t’?

My reviews of her earlier novels can all be found elsewhere on this blog, just click on the titles.

The Hating Game    Watching Willow Watts   Build A Man  Construct A Couple   The Pollyanna Plan

Author Profile:

Talli Roland was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, by the age of 13, she’d finished her first novel and received very encouraging rejections from publishers. Talli was very athletic at school and university, achieving provincial records and becoming a Canadian university champion in the 4 × 400 meter relay. After getting her BA, she turned to writing again, earning a Masters in Journalism. 

A few years later, she left Canada behind and settled in London, where she now lives with her husband and their young son.

Her début novel, The Hating Game, was short-listed for Best Romantic Read at the UK's Festival of Romance, and her second, Watching Willow Watts, was selected as an Amazon Customer Favourite.

You can  learn more about Talli in the About Me section of her website.

Biographical, other information and photo are with thanks to the following links where you can find out more about Talli Roland.

Photograph and biographical information courtesy of the following sites.

Talli Roland Official Website    Goodreads Author Profile   Amazon - Author Profile

Twitter - Talli Roland      Facebook Profile

Friday, October 30, 2015

The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng

Paperback: 352  pages                                                                                                        
Genre: Historical Fiction, Malaysian Literature
Publisher: Canongate Books May 2013
Source: Tywyn Public Library
First Sentence: On a mountain above the clouds once lived a man who had been the gardener of the Emperor of Japan.
Favourite Quote: Memory is like patches of sunlight in an overcast valley, shifting with the movement of the clouds. Now and then the light will fall on a particular point in time, illuminating it for a moment before the wind seals up the gap, and the world is in shadows again.
Review Quote: "Complex and powerful . . . sophisticated and satisfying" (Sunday Times)
Literary Awards: Man Booker Prize Nominee (2012), International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award Nominee for Shortlist (2014), Man Asian Literary Prize (2012), Walter Scott Prize (2013)
My Opinion: A great read with evocative descriptions of the surroundings. A very moving and haunting novel. Highly recommend to anyone that enjoys a really good story.

' The Garden of Evening Mists' Précis Courtesy of Goodreads

It's Malaya, 1949. After studying law at Cambridge and time spent helping to prosecute Japanese war criminals, Yun Ling Teoh, herself the scarred lone survivor of a brutal Japanese wartime camp, seeks solace among the jungle-fringed plantations of Northern Malaya where she grew up as a child. There she discovers Yugiri, the only Japanese garden in Malaya, and its owner and creator, the enigmatic Aritomo, exiled former gardener of the Emperor of Japan.

Despite her hatred of the Japanese, Yun Ling seeks to engage Aritomo to create a garden in Kuala Lumpur, in memory of her sister who died in the camp. Aritomo refuses, but agrees to accept Yun Ling as his apprentice 'until the monsoon comes'. Then she can design a garden for herself.

As the months pass, Yun Ling finds herself intimately drawn to her sensei and his art while, outside the garden, the threat of murder and kidnapping from the guerrillas of the jungle hinterland increases with each passing day. But the Garden of Evening Mists is also a place of mystery. Who is Aritomo and how did he come to leave Japan? Why is it that Yun Ling's friend and host, Magnus Praetorius, seems almost immune from the depredations of the Communists? What is the legend of 'Yamashita's Gold' and does it have any basis in fact? And is the real story of how Yun Ling managed to survive the war perhaps the darkest secret of all?

Author Profile

Tan Twan Eng

Tan Twan Eng was born in 1972 in Penang, but lived in various places in Malaysia as a child. He studied law at the University of London and later worked as lawyer in one of Kuala Lumpur’s most reputable law firms. He also has a first-dan ranking in aikido and is a strong proponent for the conservation of heritage buildings.

Tan Twan Eng talked about his background, his second novel, and his writing process in a May 2012 interview live-tweeted by BooksLiveSA from a literary festival in Franschhoek, South Africa. His hometown is Penang, Malaysia, and he received a law degree there. He said being a lawyer helped him be organized, disciplined, and meticulous, and that lawyers have to craft stories. While he grew up with Malay, Hokkien, and English spoken at home, the author said he thinks and dreams in English. Currently he writes full time, splitting his time between Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and Cape Town, South Africa. His first novel, The Gift of Rain, set in Penang during World War II was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2007. His second novel, The Garden of Evening Mists (2012), which opens just after World War II, is written from the perspective of a female judge and involves three cultures: Malay, Japanese, and South African. The author says his third novel will be set in China.

Photographs and biographical information courtesy of the following sites.

Amazon Author Profile  Goodreads Author Profile   Facebook - Tan Twan Eng

Tan Twan Eng - Author Website    Wikipedia - Tan Twan Eng

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The King's Mistress by Gillian Bagwell

Hardback: 400 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Avon 2012
Source: Read on My Kindle
First Sentence: The afternoon sun dappled through the leaves of the oak tree. Jane Lane sat in its shade, her back against its stalwart trunk, the Second Folio of Shakespeare's works open on her lap.

Review Quote: “The King’s Mistress is that spellbinding combination of history, adventure, suspense and a fast-beating pulse of pure eroticism…a real romantic treat.” Lancashire Evening Post

My Opinion: As far as I have been able to ascertain this novel is the only fictional account of the real-life adventure of Jane Lane, who risked her life to help the young Charles II escape after the Battle of Worcester in 1651. An important  moment in the history of the British Monarchy. Gillian Bagwell with her love and fascination of British History and her through research brings this captivating tale to life for the reader. For fans of historical fiction that have not yet discovered this author's work, I recommend you give her a try as she writes with passion about real people and places.

Precis of 'The King's Mistress' courtesy of  Goodreads

Set against the volatile backdrop of the English Civil War, dive into this enthralling tale of danger, bravery, and a woman who would do anything for the man she loved.

It's 1651 and Jane Lane leads a privileged life inside the walls of her family's home. At 25 years old, her parents are keen to see her settled, but Jane dreams of a union that goes beyond the advantageous match her father desires.

Her quiet world is shattered when Royalists, fighting to restore the crown to King Charles II, arrive at their door, imploring Jane and her family for help. They have been hiding the king, but Cromwell's forces are close behind them, baying for Charles' blood -- and the blood of anyone who seeks to help him. Putting herself in mortal danger, Jane must help the king escape to safety by disguising him as her manservant.

With the shadow of the gallows dogging their every step, Jane finds herself falling in love...

My Previous Review of a Gillian Bagwell novel

The Darling Strumpet

Author Profile

Gillian Bagwell grew up in Berkeley, California, and began her professional life as an actress, studying at the University of California Berkeley and the Drama Studio London at Berkeley before relocating to Los Angeles to pursue a career in film and television. She moved into directing and producing theatre, founding The Pasadena Shakespeare Company, where she served as artistic director for nine years, producing thirty-seven critically acclaimed productions. 

She united her life-long love of books, British history, and theatre in writing her first novel, "The Darling Strumpet," based on the life of Nell Gwynn. Her second novel, 'The September Queen' is called 'The King's Mistress' in the UK has Charles II and Jane Lane as protagonists.  Her third novel  "Venus in Winter" is based on the first forty years of the life of the formidable four-times widowed Bess of Hardwick,  

Photographs and biographical information courtesy of the following sites.

Goodreads - Author Profile     Facebook - Gillian Bagwell  

 Official Author Website           Amazon's Gillian Bagwell Page