Tuesday, January 28, 2020

The Dragon Lady by Louisa Treger


306 pages                                                                                                
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Source: The publisher in return for an unbiased review.
First Sentence: I've spent a lifetime trying to forget, yet the smallest thing takes me back to the time the Dragon Lady was shot.
Review Quote: A fascinating fictionalised account of the life of Lady Virginia Courtauld... a spirited account of a flamboyant life. (Antonia Senior The Times)
Main Characters: Lady Virginia Courtauld and Stephen Courtauld 
Setting: UK, Italy and Rhodesia
My OpinionThe author has written with great passion this story of Lady Virginia Courtauld. With a mystery at the centre of the narrative, it opens with the shooting of the protagonist Ginie in Rhodesia where she and her husband moved after being ostracised by British society.

Once I finished reading this delightful novel I looked into the historical background, as I knew very little about the Courtauld family. It is obvious that Louisa Treger did very through research and has produced a very readable novel with her excellent blend of fact and fiction.

Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:

Opening with the shooting of Lady Virginia 'Ginie' Courtauld in her tranquil garden in 1950s Rhodesia, The Dragon Lady tells Ginie's extraordinary story, so called for the exotic tattoo snaking up her leg. From the glamorous Italian Riviera before the Great War to the Art Deco glory of Eltham Palace in the thirties, and from the secluded Scottish Highlands to segregated Rhodesia in the fifties, the narrative spans enormous cultural and social change. Lady Virginia Courtauld was a boundary-breaking, colourful and unconventional person who rejected the submissive role women were expected to play.
Ostracised by society for being a foreign divorcée at the time of Edward VIII and Mrs Simpson, Ginie and her second husband ,Stephen Courtauld, leave the confines of post-war Britain to forge a new life in Rhodesia, only to find that being progressive liberals during segregation proves mortally dangerous. Many people had reason to dislike Ginie, but who had reason enough to pull the trigger?
Deeply evocative of time and place, The Dragon Lady subtly blends fact and fiction to paint the portrait of an extraordinary woman in an era of great social and cultural change.

Author Profile:

Louisa Treger

Born in London, Louisa Treger began her career as a classical violinist. She studied at the Royal College of Music and the Guildhall School of Music, and worked as a freelance orchestral player and teacher.

Louisa subsequently turned to literature, gaining a First Class degree and a PhD in English at University College London, where she focused on early twentieth century women’s writing.

Married with three children, she lives in London.

Photographs and Biographical Information courtesy of the following sites.

Author's Official Website   Goodreads Author Profile  Amazon Author Page

Friday, October 4, 2019

No One Is Too Small To Make A Difference by Greta Thunberg

Paperback:  68 pages                                                                                                
Genre: Non-Fiction
Publisher: Penguin Books 2019
Source: Amazon
First Sentence: Last summer, climate scientist Johan Rockstrom and some other people wrote that we have at most three years to reverse growth in greenhouse-gas emissions if we're going to reach the goals set in the Paris Agreement.
Favourite Quote: “Homo Sapiens have not yet failed. Yes, we are failing, but there is still time to turn everything around. We can still fix this. We still have everything in our own hands.”
Review Quote: The speeches of a young climate crisis activist who inspired global school strikes are sobering but tentatively hopeful. The Guardian Newspaper
Main Characters: Greta Thunberg
My Opinion: A little book of just 68 pages but with a huge message. It contains the content of the speeches that Greta has now repeated many times.

Not enough notice is being taken because of who she is and what she represents, however she is only repeating the facts she has learnt from the scientists.

About time some serious action was taken for the sake of future generations.

If you are not already aware of what this exceptional young lady has to say, then it is time you were!

Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:

The history-making, ground-breaking speeches of Greta Thunberg, the young activist who has become the voice of a generation

'Everything needs to change. And it has to start today'

In August 2018 a fifteen-year-old Swedish girl, Greta Thunberg, decided not to go to school one day. Her actions ended up sparking a global movement for action against the climate crisis, inspiring millions of pupils to go on strike for our planet, forcing governments to listen, and earning her a Nobel Peace Prize nomination.

This book brings you Greta in her own words, for the first time. Collecting her speeches that have made history across Europe, from the UN to mass street protests, No One Is Too Small to Make A Difference is a rallying cry for why we must all wake up and fight to protect the living planet, no matter how powerless we feel. Our future depends upon it.

Video Trailer for ' Greta Thunberg Rips World Leaders at the U.N. Over Climate Change     ' Courtesy of YouTube

Author Profile:  

Greta Thunberg, born January 3rd 2003, is a Swedish schoolgirl who, at age 15, began protesting outside the Swedish parliament about the need for immediate action to combat climate change and has since become an outspoken climate activist.

She is known for having initiated the school strike for climate movement that formed in November 2018 and surged globally after the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP24) in December the same year. Her personal activism began in August 2018, when her recurring and solitary Skolstrejk för klimatet ("School strike for the climate") protesting outside the Swedish parliament in Stockholm began attracting media coverage, even though Sweden has already enacted "the most ambitious climate law in the world" – to be carbon neutral by 2045.

On 15 March 2019, an estimated 1.4 million students in 112 countries around the world joined her call in striking and protesting. A similar event involving students from 125 countries took place on 24 May 2019.

Thunberg has received various prizes and awards for her activism. In March 2019, three members of the Norwegian parliament nominated Thunberg for the Nobel Peace Prize. In May 2019, at the age of 16, she featured on the cover of Time magazine. Some media have described her impact on the world stage as the Greta Thunberg effect.

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

YouTube Videos - Greta Thunberg    Amazon Author Page    Goodreads Profile

Monday, June 3, 2019

Love Unscripted by Owen Nicholls

Paperback: 373 pages                                                                                                  

Genre: Romantic Comedy
Publisher: Headline Publishing, August 2019
Source: Headline Publicity, Advanced Proof Copy.
First Sentence: When we were eleven, Leon Woodward told me about his plan to kiss Sally Carter.
Review Quote: High Fidelity with celluloid replacing vinyl - an astutely observed romantic comedy that had me shaking with laughter and sniffing away tears. Pure pleasure. (Nev Pierce, Contributing Editor EMPIRE Magazine)
Main Characters: Nick Marcet and Ellie Brown.
Setting: London, England.
My Opinion: Owen Nicholls debut in the world of romance is a romantic comedy with many classic film references. The latter of which were mainly lost on me although I do enjoy modern cinema.  Excited to be given the opportunity to read and review the paperback edition before publication by Headline Publicity I was disappointed when it did not meet my expectations, especially with the apparent current revival and popularity in romantic comedies.
Although the story is at times warm and funny, for me this is just another love story, where the protagonist a film projectionist is trying to understand what the difference is between his passion for love on the big screen and the reality of his own love life. 
The style is in my opinion reminiscent of Nick Hornby so if you enjoy his writing you will probably enjoy this.

Pre Publication Details Courtesy of Amazon: 

For film projectionist Nick, love should mirror what he sees on the big screen. And when he falls for Ellie on the eve of the 2008 presidential election, it finally does.
For four blissful years, Nick loved Ellie as much as he loved his job splicing film reels together in the local cinema. Life seemed... picture-perfect.
But now it's 2012, Ellie has moved out and Nick's trying to figure out where it all went wrong.
With Ellie gone and his life far from the happy ending he imagined, Nick wonders if their romance could ever again be as perfect as the night they met.
Can love really be as it is in the movies?

Author Profile:

Owen Nicholls is a screenwriter with a Masters in Scriptwriting from the University of East Anglia. His work has appeared in both Empire and the NME and earlier this year 'Love Unscripted' was selected for the Escalator Scheme run by the Writers Centre in Norwich. He lives in Norfolk with his partner and their two sons.

Photograph and Biographical Information courtesy of the following sites.

Amazon Author Page     Goodreads Page   Owen Nicholls - Twitter Profile 

Headline Publishing - Owen Nicholls

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell

Paperback:  424 pages                                                                                                
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Publisher: Arrow Books 2017
Source: Tywyn Public Library
First Sentence: Those months, the months before she disappeared were the best months.
Favourite Quote: “Poppy’s hands fall on to the book. ‘Stories’, she says, ‘are the only thing in this world that are real. Everything else is just a dream.”
Review Quote: "Jewell builds a gripping novel around a maze of dark secrets, a tautly wound psychological thriller in which the suspense builds slowly. Her storytelling is immaculate, hopping between past and present, and in and out of characters. It’s a tough read at times, but Jewell always keeps everything moving. The intrigue never flags as she pushed towards a redemptive resolution. As astute and emotionally charged read, riddled with creepiness. Fully recommended" (Irish News)
Main Characters: Laurel Mack, Ellie Mack, Paul Mack, Hanna Mack, Floyd Dunn, Poppy Dunn Sara-Jade Virtue and Noelle Donnelly.
Setting: London Suburbs
Literary Awards: Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Mystery & Thriller (2018)
My Opinion: This months choice for my Book Club group  'Then She Was Gone' is about the disappearance of a teenage girl, some ten years previously and the effect this not unsurprisingly is still having on her parents and siblings.
A great plot that makes for compelling reading, which from every viewpoint it is heart wrenching. Although some parts may be considered a little improbable, as shocking as it may sound, most of the happenings in the story line are events with a scary ring of the truth. Considering what a strange world we appear at times to live in, this could have happened!
A quick read but emotionally not an easy one, recommended to readers that enjoy a contemporary psychological thriller.

I have only read four previous titles from Lisa Jewell's back catalogue, the most recent was
The House We Grew Up In in 2014, also for Tywyn Book Club.

Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:

Ellie Mack was the perfect daughter. She was fifteen, the youngest of three. She was beloved by her parents, friends, and teachers. She and her boyfriend made a teenaged golden couple. She was days away from an idyllic post-exams summer vacation, with her whole life ahead of her.
And then she was gone.
Now, her mother Laurel Mack is trying to put her life back together. It’s been ten years since her daughter disappeared, seven years since her marriage ended, and only months since the last clue in Ellie’s case was unearthed. So when she meets an unexpectedly charming man in a café, no one is more surprised than Laurel at how quickly their flirtation develops into something deeper. Before she knows it, she’s meeting Floyd’s daughters—and his youngest, Poppy, takes Laurel’s breath away.

Because looking at Poppy is like looking at Ellie. And now, the unanswered questions she’s tried so hard to put to rest begin to haunt Laurel anew. Where did Ellie go? Did she really run away from home, as the police have long suspected, or was there a more sinister reason for her disappearance? Who is Floyd, really? And why does his daughter remind Laurel so viscerally of her own missing girl?

Video Trailer for Lisa Jewell reading an extract from 'Then She Was Gone' Courtesy of YouTube

Author Profile:

Lisa Jewell is the internationally bestselling author of sixteen novels, Then She Was Gone, I Found You, The Girls in the Garden, and The House We Grew Up In. Her debut novel in 1998 Ralph’s Party, was an instant bestseller. In total, her novels have sold over 2 million copies across the English speaking world. Her work has also been translated into sixteen languages. Lisa lives in London with her husband and their two daughters.

For more biographical information check out her Goodreads Profile

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

Amazon Author Page     Lisa Jewell - Official Facebook Page     Wikipedia - Lisa Jewell

Twitter Profile    Goodreads Author Profile