Monday, February 27, 2017

The Beatles and Me by Ivor Davis



Paperback: 313 pages                                                                                                  
Genre: Non Fiction, Biographical, Memoir,
Publisher: Cockney Kid Publishing 2013
Source: Sent to me in November 2015 by Clive Walters, agent on behalf of the author.
First Sentences: Introduction - It was 1964 and I was the slightly wet-behind -the ears, twenty six year old West Coast correspondent for one of Britain's biggest newspapers, the London Daily Express - circulation four million daily.
My Opinion: This title was published to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Beatles 1964 tour of North America. In 1964 I was a young Beatles fan so was delighted to be given the opportunity to read and review this account by Ivor Davis of his experiences whilst on tour with them. As he was with them the entire time during the tour, which was over a month, so he became quite close to them. The tales he tells and the many photos that are included give us another insight into The Beatles. This was a very special era in musical history and I urge all fans of any age to pick up this book as it is well written and interesting either to dip into or read from cover cover.


Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:

In the summer of 1964, the Beatles took America by storm and changed rock ’n’ roll forever. In this first-ever chronicling of that revolutionary tour from the inside, author Ivor Davis serves up the stories behind the stories as only an insider can.

In the rowdy and riotous recollections of THE BEATLES AND ME ON TOUR, Ivor Davis, then a reporter for the London Daily Express, shares his unrestricted access to the Liverpool lads as a member of the Beatles entourage. From inside the band’s hotel suites to the concert arenas to the private jets, the madness and magic plays out through Davis’ personal accounts of hanging with the Beatles for thirty-four jam-packed days.

Go behind the scenes for all-night Monopoly games with John Lennon, witness the Beatles’ legendary living-room jam with Elvis, and be there the night Bob Dylan introduces the band to pot. Roll up for this definitive account of the legendary band at a critical moment in the history of rock ’n’ roll.



Author Profile




Biography Courtesy of Goodreads.
In the summer of 1964, the Beatles embarked on a record-breaking pandemonium-inducing tour of America and Canada. The Beatles and Me on Tour presents the first chronicle of that tour told by an insider: author/journalist Ivor Davis, then a young British reporter for the London Daily Express. Ivor was the only British newspaper writer invited on the entire tour.

Through thirty-four days and twenty-four cities, Davis traveled with the Beatles watching them make rock history. He enjoyed unrestricted access to the four boys fresh from Liverpool—from their hotel suites to backstage at concert arenas to their private jet. He fended off excited girls, and their insistent mothers, attempts to hook up with the band. Ivor played all night games of Monopoly with John Lennon, became the ghostwriter of a newspaper column for George Harrison, and witnessed the night Bob Dylan “deflowered” the young marijuana virgins.
London-born Ivor Davis first came to America in the early sixties and was appointed West Coast correspondent for the 4-million-a-day circulation London Daily Express in l963.
Over more than four decades as a writer for the Daily Express and the Times of London, Ivor covered major events in North America. He penned a weekly entertainment column for the New York Times Syndicate for over 15 years, interviewing some of the biggest names in show business, from Cary Grant to Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton to Tom Cruise and Muhammad Ali.
In 1962 he was smuggled onto the campus of the riot-torn University of Mississippi when James Meredith was enrolled and three years later was in the front lines as Los Angeles’ Watts riots erupted.
Ivor covered Robert Kennedy’s 1968 presidential bid and was in the Ambassador Hotel the night Kennedy was assassinated. He was one of the Boys on the Bus chronicling the life of actor-turned-politician Ronald Reagan, first in his campaign for governor of California, then for president.
He was a co-author of the l969 political book Divided They Stand, which chronicled the Presidential election; and witnessed some of the biggest trials in American history: Sirhan Sirhan, convicted of killing Bobby Kennedy in 1969; black-power militant Angela Davis, acquitted of murder in l972; a year later, Daniel Ellsberg’s trial for leaking the Pentagon Papers, and, in 1976, he was in San Francisco to see heiress Patty Hearst convicted of robbery after being kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army.
In l969 he co-wrote Five to Die, the first book ever published about the Sharon Tate murders. (The book was updated in 2011.) As a foreign correspondent, he traveled throughout the western hemisphere covering riots, floods, earthquakes and politics. As Editor at Large for Los Angeles Magazine, he and his late wife Sally Ogle Davis wrote over 100 major magazine and cover stories. He has reported on four World Soccer Cups for CBS radio.
He currently lives in Southern California and is working on two new books: one about movies the other a true crime story.


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


Goodreads Author Profile    Ivor Davis Official Website    Amazon - Ivor Davis Page

Friday, February 10, 2017

The Girl In The Red Coat by Kate Hamer




Paperback: 375 pages                                                                                                 
Genre: Thriller Mystery
Publisher: Faber and Faber 2015
Source: Tywyn Public Library
First Sentence: I dream about Carmel often.
Review Quote:  Hamer’s novel aims to be more than a thriller, and the real heart of the book is not its suspense, but its explorations of grief and how we weather it. The Guardian
Literary Awards: Shortlisted for The Costa First Novel Prize, the British Book Industry Awards Debut Fiction Book of the Year, the John Creasy (New Blood) Dagger and the Wales Book of the Year
My Opinion: This title was read for one of my book groups. The standard of the writing and the fact I wanted to know the outcome made this a readable story but not one that particularly enthralled me. Maybe my expectations were raised by the fact that other members of my book group were particularly excited to be reading this novel. Also the author is coming to Tywyn in March to speak at a Literary Dinner. It will certainly be interesting to hear her speak and I am sure people will have some interesting questions for her.

The way the story is told from both the point of view of both protagonists is gripping and it was certainly not what I expected. Beth is the devastated mother desperately trying to rebuild her life after the abduction of her daughter and the story alternates between her telling of her experiences and those of Carmel, as a man claiming to be her grandfather whisks her away to a new and very strange life!  There are certainly many unexplained things in this world but it is with Carmel's so called gift which I found difficulty coping with, making the story less plausible for me. Although despite my nagging doubts it was Carmel's sections of the novel that held my interest far more.

The final scenes of the novel I found something of an anti-climax because they were dealt with in such an abrupt manner, I  personally needed much more to be made of it and was left feeling disappointed.  This though should not put you off reading as if you are looking for something different from the normal abduction tale then this may well be for you.




Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:

She is the missing girl. But she doesn't know she's lost.

Carmel Wakeford becomes separated from her mother at a local children's festival, and is found by a man who claims to be her estranged grandfather. He tells her that her mother has had an accident and that she is to live with him for now. As days become weeks with her new family, 8-year-old Carmel realises that this man believes she has a special gift...

While her mother desperately tries to find her, Carmel embarks on an extraordinary journey, one that will make her question who she is - and who she might become.



Video Trailer for 'The Girl In The Red Coat ' Courtesy of YouTube


Author Kate Hamer appears at Tonyrefail Arts Festival 2015 to discuss her debut novel 'The Girl in the Red Coat'. [Amateur Footage] This is a long video at 36 minutes but if you have the time, it is well worth a listen.


Author Profile

Kate Hamer's first novel 'The Girl in the Red Coat' (Faber & Faber, 2015) was shortlisted for The Costa First Novel Prize, the British Book Industry Awards Debut Fiction Book of the Year, the John Creasy (New Blood) Dagger and the Wales Book of the Year. It was a Sunday Times bestseller and has been translated into 16 different languages. Kate won the Rhys Davies Short Story Prize and she has had short stories published in anthologies such 'A Fiction Map of Wales', 'New Welsh Short Stories' and broadcast on BBC Radio 4. She's written articles and reviews for The Independent, The Mail on Sunday and The New York Times. Kate grew up in the West country and rural Pembrokeshire and now lives with her husband in Cardiff. Her second novel, to be published by Faber & Faber in February 2017, is 'The Doll Funeral'.


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


Amazon Author Page      Goodreads Author Profile       YouTube Video    

   Facebook - Literature and Lasagne           Kate Hamer - Author's Official Website.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan




Paperback: 448 pages                                                                                                 
Genre: Literary Fiction, War
Publisher: Vintage 2015
Source: Tywyn Bookclub Choice
First Sentence: Why at the beginning of things is there always light?
Favourite Quote: “In trying to escape the fatality of memory, he discovered with an immense sadness that pursuing the past inevitably only leads to greater loss.”
Review Quote: "Flanagan can stop a reader's breath." (Los Angeles Times)
Setting:Tasmania, Burma, Myanmar, Thailand, Japan, Changi (Singapore), Sydney (Australia)
Literary Awards: Man Booker Prize (2014)The International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award Nominee for Shortlist (2015)Miles Franklin Literary Award Nominee (2014)Prime Minister's Literary Awards for Fiction (2014)Australian Independent Booksellers Indie Book Award for Book of the Year (2014) etc.
My Opinion: This is not a choice I would have made myself as the story is so deeply entrenched in the horrors of war, not a genre that appeals to me. However I soon discovered that there is so much more to this well deserved winner of the Man Booker Prize, which the author wrote in tribute to his father, who actually survived the horrors of working on the Thailand to Burma Railway. Richard Flanagan is quoted as saying 'that more people died building this railway than words in my novel'
At the centre of the novel is the intense and horrific story of the time the protagonist Dorrigo Evans spent in the Japanese POW camp working on the so called Death Railway. To be honest I found parts of the novel very difficult reading as it was very descriptive and the brutality was very disturbing. It took perseverance but as the intertwined love story, that motivated Dorrigo to survive balances the novel I kept going. The narrative is not presented chronologically which helped because just as I was wondering how much more I could take of the sickening descriptions, the story would move to another time and place, a much needed break. In conclusion well worth reading if you can cope with the disturbing aspects, will I think appeal to fans of Sebastian Faulks.  



Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:

A novel of the cruelty of war, and tenuousness of life and the impossibility of love.

What would you do if you saw the love of your life, whom you thought dead for the last quarter of a century, walking towards you?

Richard Flanagan's story — of Dorrigo Evans, an Australian doctor haunted by a love affair with his uncle's wife — journeys from the caves of Tasmanian trappers in the early twentieth century to a crumbling pre-war beachside hotel, from a Thai jungle prison to a Japanese snow festival, from the Changi gallows to a chance meeting of lovers on the Sydney Harbour Bridge.


Taking its title from 17th-century haiku poet Basho's travel journal, The Narrow Road To The Deep North is about the impossibility of love. At its heart is one day in a Japanese slave labour camp in August 1943. As the day builds to its horrific climax, Dorrigo Evans battles and fails in his quest to save the lives of his fellow POWs, a man is killed for no reason, and a love story unfolds..


Video Trailer for 'The Narrow Road to the Deep North' Courtesy of YouTube



Courtesy of BBC Newsnight.

Published on 14 Oct 2014
Live after the Man Booker 2014 awards ceremony Kirsty Wark talks to the winner, Australian Richard Flanagan who has scooped the £50,000 prize for his wartime novel, The Narrow Road to the Deep North.

Author Profile



Richard Flanagan was born in Longford, on the west coast of Tasmania, Australia on January 1st 1961.
His novels Death of a River Guide, The Sound of One Hand Clapping, Gould’s Book of Fish, The Unknown Terrorist, Wanting and The Narrow Road to the Deep North have received numerous honours and are published in 42 countries. He won the Man Booker Prize for The Narrow Road to the Deep North in 2014.
Two of his novels are set  where he lived in the township of Rosebery as a child. Death of a River Guide relates to the Franklin River, Gould's Book of Fish to the Macquarie Harbour Penal Station, and The Sound of One Hand Clapping to the Hydro settlements in the Central Highlands of Tasmania.
An author, historian and film director, he has also been  president of the Tasmania University Union and a Rhodes Scholar. Each of his novels has attracted major praise. His first, Death of a River Guide (1994), was short-listed for the Miles Franklin Award, as were his next two, The Sound of One Hand Clapping (1997) and Gould's Book of Fish (2001). His earlier, non-fiction titles include books about the Gordon River, student issues, and the story of conman John Friedrich.


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


Amazon Author Page   YouTube Video   Goodreads Author Profile   Wikipedia - Richard Flanagan

Richard Flanagan - Author Official Website



Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The Liberation by Kate Furnivall





Paperback: 552 pages                                                                                     

Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: November 3rd 2016 by Simon & Schuster Ltd
Source: Tywyn Public Library
First Sentence: Caterina Lombardi didn't want Nonno to die.
My Opinion: It was quite by chance that I came to read this very readable novel set in southern Italy just after the Second World War. I just happened to see it on display at my local library recently and as an Italophile it appealed to me. I have never read any of Kate Furnivall's novels before but after enjoying this one she is an author I will not hesitate to read again.
The story is a tangled web of intrigue and deceit, a very descriptive account of a country that was struggling to survive. Caterina, the protagonist is a truly amazing young woman prepared to go to great lengths to protect her family. Highly recommended to fans of historical romantic fiction and Italophiles.


Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:


Italy, 1945: as British and American troops attempt to bring order to the devastated cities, its population fights each other to survive. Caterina Lombardi is desperate - her mother has abandoned them already and her brother is being drawn into the mafia. Early one morning, among the ruins of the bombed Naples streets, she is forced to go to extreme lengths to protect her family and in doing so forges a future very different to the one she expected. But will the secrets of her family's past be her downfall? This epic novel is an unforgettably powerful story of love, loss and the long shadow of war.



Video Trailer for ' The Liberation ' Courtesy of YouTube






Author Profile





Kate Furnivall was born in Penarth, Wales, UK to an English father and a Russian mother. She grew up there with her twin sister, an older brother and a sister.


Her mother's childhood was spent in Russia, China and India, and it was her that inspired her daughter to write, when she discovered the story of her grandmother. A White Russian refugee who fled from the Bolsheviks down into China. That extraordinary tale inspired her first book, The Russian Concubine. From then on, she was hooked.

Kate is the author of eight novels, including The Russian Concubine, The White Pearl and The Italian Wife. Her books have been translated into more than twenty languages and have been on the New York Times Bestseller list.

She went to London University where she studied English and from there she went into publishing, writing material for a series of books on the canals of Britain. Then into advertising where she met her husband, Norman, with whom she has two sons.


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



YouTube - The Liberation     Wikipedia - Kate Furnivall    Goodreads Author Profile

Amazon Author Page    Kate Furnivall - Author Official Website