Friday, June 15, 2018

Last Seen by Lucy Clarke

Paperback:  433 pages                                                                                                
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Harper Collins 2017
Source: Tywyn Public Library
First Sentence: Prologue: Salt water burns the back of my throat as I surface, coughing.
Review Quote: ‘With twists, turns, secrets and lies aplenty, you’ll have no choice but to devour it in one’ HEAT
Main Characters: Sarah,( mother of Jacob) Isla, (mother of Marley)
Setting: Beach huts on a stretch of the south coast of England.
My Opinion: Keeping secrets is destructive and although this novel was not the tense thriller I expected from the blurb, it is definitely worth reading.  The setting alone a beach hut on the south coast made it the sort of book to read whilst enjoying the lovely weather we have had recently! The female protagonists have been friends for many years and despite disaster striking when one of their sons goes missing, the friendship survives. Or does it because when disaster strikes again seven years later all sorts of betrayals surface, some of them I guessed correctly but there were also surprises right to the end.

Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:

In a small seaside community, there’s always somebody watching…

Twisty, pacy, and superbly plotted, Last Seen is the perfect psychological page-turner for fans of Clare Mackintosh and Sabine Durrant.

Seven years ago, two boys went missing at sea – and only one was brought to shore. The Sandbank, a remote stretch of coast dotted with beach huts, was scarred forever.

Sarah’s son survived, but on the anniversary of the accident, he disappears without trace. As new secrets begin to surface, The Sandbank hums with tension and unanswered questions. Sarah’s search grows more desperate and she starts to mistrust everyone she knows – and she’s right to.

Someone saw everything on that fateful day seven years ago. And they’ll do anything to keep the truth buried.

Author Profile

Photo courtesy of  James Bowden


Novelist, traveller, and fresh air enthusiast, Lucy Clarke is the author of four novels.

Lucy graduated from university with a first class degree in English Literature, but it wasn't until she was on a six month road trip across the US and Canada, that she decided she'd love to be a novelist.

Many twists and turns later, Lucy's debut novel, The Sea Sisters, was published (HarperCollins, 2013). It was a Richard & Judy Book Club choice, and has been published in over ten countries.

Since then she has released three more novels, A Single Breath (HarperCollins, 2014), The Blue (HarperCollins, 2015), and most recently Last Seen (HarperCollins, 2017).

Lucy is married to a professional windsurfer, and together with their young children they spend their winters travelling, and their summers at home on the south coast of England. Lucy writes from a beach hut.

Photographs and Biographical Information courtesy of the following sites.

Goodreads Author Page   Facebook - Lucy Clarke    Instagram - Lucy Clarke Author

Official Author Website    Lucy Clarke - Twitter    Amazon Author Page

Monday, June 11, 2018

The Toy Makers by Robert Dinsdale


Hardback: 468 pages                                                                                                 
Genre: Literary Fiction
Publisher: Del Rey, Ebury Publishing, Penguin Group.
Source: Tywyn Public Library
First Sentence: The Emporium opens with the first frost of winter.
Favourite Quote: page 356 - This Emporium of ours, it crystallises childhood. It makes us long for those days, when all the world was a toy and all of life was the adventure you had when you closed your eyes and made it happen.
Review Quote: "There is magic at the heart of The Toymakers, a glittery inventiveness that shimmers through the dark corners of a story about love, war and sibling rivalry...Robert Dinsdale's imagined toys are truly glorious...a gripping, moving story." (Sunday Express) 
Main Characters: Emil Godman, Kaspar Godman, Cathy Wray, Mrs Hornung, Papa Jack. 
Setting: Papa Jack's Emporium, Iron Duke Mews, London.
My Opinion: This is an imaginative, historical love story that revolves around the magic of childhood. I must admit that I would never have chosen to read this had it not been a book club choice. Described by some as a 'Marmite' title, love or hate. In my case feelings for the novel were not that strong, it was just a fascinating read which I enjoyed more than I expected to considering the magical aspects. Very cleverly written the novel makes one realise how important the innocence of childhood actually is in our lives, particularly when one has to face many dark and disturbing things in life. Even if like me you do not really like fairy tales and magic I recommend you read this as it is a beautifully written story of family dramas showing us where the access to toys and childhood magic can balance out the terrible atrocities that occur in the real world. 

Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:

Do you remember when you believed in magic?

The Emporium opens with the first frost of winter. It is the same every year. Across the city, when children wake to see ferns of white stretched across their windows, or walk to school to hear ice crackling underfoot, the whispers begin: the Emporium is open!

It is 1917, and London has spent years in the shadow of the First World War. In the heart of Mayfair, though, there is a place of hope. A place where children’s dreams can come true, where the impossible becomes possible – that place is Papa Jack’s Toy Emporium.

For years Papa Jack has created and sold his famous magical toys: hobby horses, patchwork dogs and bears that seem alive, toy boxes bigger on the inside than out, ‘instant trees’ that sprout from boxes, tin soldiers that can fight battles on their own. Now his sons, Kaspar and Emil, are just old enough to join the family trade. Into this family comes a young Cathy Wray – homeless and vulnerable. The Emporium takes her in, makes her one of its own. But Cathy is about to discover that while all toy shops are places of wonder, only one is truly magical...

Author Profile

Robert Dinsdale was born in 1981 in North Yorkshire where he grew up.  He currently lives in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex with his daughter, where between school runs he variously tramps along the seafront, sits hunched over a computer screen, or is to be found loitering in the local library.

He is the author of The Harrowing, Little Exiles, Gingerbread and The Toy Makers.

Photographs and Biographical Information courtesy of the following sites.

Amazon Author Page   Goodreads - Author Profile   Author Official Website

Thursday, May 31, 2018

The Break by Marian Keyes

Paperback: 570 pages.                                                                                             
Genre: Contemporary Romantic Fiction
Publisher: Michael Joseph Penguin 2017
Source: Penguin - Bookmarks - Complimentary Copy
First Sentence: 'Myself and Hugh,' I say. 'We're taking a break'
Favourite Quote: 'Life is for living. Never let anyone tell you you're too old. If you want to do something, do it now because you might not get your chance again.'
Review Quote:'Classic Marian Keyes: a blizzard of wit and wisecracks. Mercilessly funny' The Times
My Opinion:  570 pages! If you are a fan of Marian Keyes then I guess this will please you as one can never get enough of a favourite author? There is no doubt that Marian Keyes is a great storyteller and I found myself reading a 100 pages a night as I kept just wanting to read a bit more. She successfully, sympathetically covers the serious and topical issues of grief and abortion.  Besides covering difficult issues providing food for thought there are also plenty of laugh out loud moments.

Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:

Amy's husband Hugh isn't really leaving her.

At least, that's what he promises. He is just taking a break - from their marriage, their children and, most of all, from their life together. For six-months Hugh will lose himself in south-east Asia, and there is nothing Amy can say or do about it.

Yes, it's a mid-life crisis, but let's be clear: a break isn't a break up - yet . . .

It's been a long time since Amy held a briefcase in one hand and a baby in the other. She never believed she'd have to go it alone again. She just has to hold the family together until Hugh comes back.

But a lot can happen in six-months. When Hugh returns, if he returns, will he be the same man she married? And will Amy be the same woman?

Because falling in love is easy. The hard part - the painful, joyous, maddening, beautiful part - is staying in love.

Video Trailer for 'The Break ' Courtesy of YouTube

                        Marian tempts you into reading The Break by reading the first chapter.

Author Profile

Marian Keyes was born 10 September 1963 in Limerick, Ireland. She writes both fiction and nonfiction and is best known for her work in women's literature. She is an Irish Book Awards winner. Over 22 million copies of her novels have been sold worldwide and her books have been translated into 32 languages. She became known worldwide for Watermelon, Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married, and This Charming Man, with themes including domestic violence and alcoholism.

For a full and interesting biography visit Marian Keyes - Website

Photographs, Trailer and Biographical Information courtesy of the following sites.

Goodreads - Author Profile    The Break - YouTube   Marian Keyes - Author's Official Website

Instagram Account     Facebook Profile     Twitter Account     Amazon Author Profile

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Novella Nostalgia Series by Tony Drury


Paperbacks:  Varying from 44-80 pages.                                                                               
Genre: Novellas
Publisher: City Fiction 2017-2018
Source: The author in exchange for honest and unbiased reviews.
My Opinion:
If you refer back to my first review of a Tony Drury novel in 2014, you will find my opinion was that his writing is fun to read. This still remains true four years later, as I have just finished reading the first four titles in his Novella Nostalgia series.

I am not a fan of short stories or novellas and therefore rarely read or review any. However Tony Drury kindly sent me the first four titles in the series to me for an honest and unbiased review, so I read them! The series links iconic cinema classics with modern stories, though to be honest the former is rather wasted on me as though a fan of modern cinema I am not well up on the classics.

As I have already said, these were fun to read, a successful and innovative idea that will appeal to a wide cross section of readers. My review is a general one of the series and I have not gone into the specifics of each story for that reason. In my opinion they were all fascinating reads, in different ways, which I definitely recommend to fans of the genre.

My Previous Reviews for Tony Drury's Novels:

Megan's Game   The Deal   Cholesterol   

I have also read, but have yet to publish a full review for,  A Flash of Lightning  


Lunch With Harry

The first of five publications which form part of the Novella Nostalgia series linking iconic cinema classics with modern stories.

Is it possible that Audrey Hepburn was in Regent Street, London in 2016?

Perhaps not. But her memory is recreated in the desirable shape of Dr Ella van Houten who accidentally stood on Harry’s foot outside Hamleys, the world’s oldest toy shop. Ella was imagining that she was Holly Golightly, the character that Hepburn played in one of the greatest ever romantic films: Breakfast at Tiffany’s’.

This riveting novella tells how they begin a relationship which is dominated by two features: Ella’s reprise of Holly’s quirky and insecure nature and Harry’s guilt over the loss of his wife. There is also the impending death of Ella’s brother which bizarrely leads them chasing a figurine of the Mexican general Santa Anna who won the battle for ‘the Alamo’.

Their differing personalities dominate this fast moving story which takes in London, Europe and lunches with Harry. The ending produces a moment of pure cinema as Ella and Harry fight against the one obstacle which threatens their future together.

Twelve Troubled Jurors

Twelve Troubled Jurors is the second publication forming part of the Novella Nostalgia series linking iconic cinema classics with modern stories.

Is it possible that one person can change the opinion of eleven others in a criminal trial?

The Judge requires a unanimous verdict. It is Friday and, increasingly, there are compelling reasons why several of the jury members need to be released from service. The foreman, a local business women, struggles to hold on to her authority.

The first vote results in a count of eleven for ‘not guilty’ and one saying ‘guilty’. As the discussions proceed, and the drab, secured jury room produces additional pressures, the jurors begin to clash. This leads to an extraordinary outcome as the justice system is tested to its limits.

Forever On Thursdays

The third publication forming part of the Novella Nostalgia series linking iconic cinema classics with modern stories.

Is it possible that two people can meet on a railway station and fall in love?

Carey Ryan is the victim of an assault on Platform B of St Pancras International station in London. She is rescued by a stranger called Mark who takes her for a coffee. He rushes off to meet a rich widow but asks to see her again. Soon, they are meeting every Thursday.

Carey is fighting to sort out her loveless marriage and aimless life. She employs the crazy Jonathan to teach her to write a book. He becomes her mentor as they explore the world of novella construction. Slowly, her growing love for Mark becomes intertwined with the romantic odyssey that she and Jonathan are progressing.

Then their consciences cause them both to hesitate. A brief encounter with Mark having a romantic outcome is perhaps a cinematic indulgence. That is until Jonathan intervenes and tells Carey why she holds the key to their future.

The Man Who Hated

The fourth in the Novella Nostalgia series is inspired by the Michael Douglas film ‘Falling Down’. Does Milton Grant, an evil, vindictive ex-police officer, reflect the hatred that lies within modern society?

Milton has just been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Divorced, and with an estranged daughter, he feels he has nothing to live for – and nothing to lose. He begins a self-imposed mission to ‘correct’ what he believes are some of the main faults of his fellow human beings. In his way is a fumbling old lady at the supermarket checkout, an inconsiderate driver, selfish users of mobile phones, and self-satisfied chief executive Ray, who boasts about tax avoidance.

Milton’s acts of corrections get more extreme and violent as the novella progresses. He is spiralling out of control. In the meantime, two police officers, Lucy and Dave Smith, are close to exposing Milton. In the explosive finale Lucy finds herself facing him, as he points a gun at her head. She is alone, and has no backup. Dave is four minutes away.

Will Milton kill Lucy? Or will good triumph over evil?

Author Profile

       Tony has an about page on his website which I refer you to for biographical information.

       Photographs and Biographical Information courtesy of the following sites.

City Fiction Publishing - FB     City Fiction Publishing - Website    Tony Drury on Twitter

Tony Drury - Amazon Author Page     Author's Official Website      Goodreads Profile